The forecast for today was for temperatures of 30 degrees Centigrade, hotter than yesterday. I had completed over 30 kilometres the day before and my feet were telling me the story. I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that anything over 25 kilometres was when the problems started. Other walkers had come to the same conclusion.
It was warm when I set off after thanking the farmer and his wife. Soon the temperature built and rumbles of thunder could be heard in the distance. Approaching the village of Pomps, the rain had started. It was soon heavy and some of the heaviest on the Way so far. Again the poncho was put to good use. By the next village, Castillon, the storm had arrived. There, on my right opposite the church, was an old barn set up for pilgrims with tables and chairs inside. I assembled the gas stove and made some coffee as five others arrived. I shared the hot coffee round and we all snacked on our collective stores of biscuits and nuts till the enormous storm passed.
Four kilometres later was the larger town of Arthez de Béarn. The town was long and thin spread along a ridge and the architecture was changing. Several buildings were of Basque appearance with white washed walls and red painted balconies. It was still wet but I continued along the ridge and out of town. After the rain stopped everything dried quickly and I went off the Way to cook some soup in a field. After the storm there was a warm wind as the rumbles receded into the distance. The view was magnificent looking down into the wide long valley below. A view only marred by the huge Total Lacq industrial gas complex.
It was a Sunday and everything was closed in Maslacq, my stop for the night. I found the gite that had only six beds. The door was locked and there was no sign of life. A local seeing my plight suggested the new Gite La Halte nearby. Again it was deserted so I made myself comfortable and chose a bed. Later a friendly lady appeared to collect the €15 which would include breakfast. Maslacq got my vote for the most deserted French town on the Way so far! After dinner I recalled how I had only taken two photographs that day. Some days were inspiring, others wet and grey. Today had been one of the latter. Just like life, days of inspiration and joy could be followed by simple ones but none the less were enjoyable. It made the next moments of inspiration even more relevant. The Way of Saint James highlighted that experience.