Pilgrim's Progress
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Saint-Paul-lès-Dax -

After the warm welcome in Taller, we leave the paved roads and enter the last of the pine forest of Les Lands. This is Les Landes humide and ferns dominate the undergrowth. In Les Landes Seches the land is clear beneath the trees because the pine needles decompose slowly creating a barrier to undergrowth.

The trail is well marked but we come to a fork that shows the Chemin de Saint Jacques going in both directions. Our guidebook says to take the chemin grimpette. I don't know this word so we guess left and march off boldly. When we figure out that we guessed wrong it is too late. We added an unnecessary five kilometers to a thirty-two kilometer day and limp into Dax.

The savage woods of Les Landes suddenly disappear and we enter civilization again. It is late in the day and we are exhausted so we don't see much of Dax. However, when we pass the bullfighting arena, I ask a man if there is a bullfight today. He tells me it is finished for the season and that we have just missed the big week of parties and bullfights. People were dancing, singing and drinking in the streets all night long.

I saw a local newspaper that had big front-page stories about the week's events. In fact the whole newspaper was dedicated to reporting the results. From what I can tell, it is all about the bulls. Either the bulls were disappointing or the bulls of a certain farm did well which enabled a bullfighter to get an ear or a tail. The articles never mentioned the courage or skill of the bullfighters.

When I asked Jean-Jacques Pagerie what he thought of Pamplona, he said "Pamplona? Pamplona? I slept in Pamplona and know nothing about it. I can say the same for Dax but I know enough to want to come back for the bullfights next year.

Keep checking back over the summer to get up-to-date account of the
anarchy pilgrim style all the way to Santiago, Spain



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