Monday, March 3, 2008


We eventually arrived at the Pyrenees to be greeted by Red & Black Kites & Griffon Vultures. Elated we found a nearby campsite and brewed up. It started to rain, not heavy, so we set off for a local restaurant & had an evening meal. Weather beginning to break up, dragon's breath rolling down mountains.

After breakfast we walked round some of the Cirque de Gavarnie. Very dramatic treading along wood edges, finding endemic plants including Dragonmouth, Pyrenian, Columbine, P.Squill, P. Cranesbill, P.Valerian & P. Saxifrage. Also a snowfinch, not more than ten feet away, happily eating seeds. Maybe a Golden Eagle too, high up in the sky.

After a wet evening, we broke camp and pushed on through the French & then the Spanish Pyrenees, rain following us as we climbed up & then down the mountains. Dragon’s breath not far behind us.

Once we reached the plains, clouds disappeared, opening up into vast clear blue sky. We stopped off for Spanish bread. I'm sure that by then we were all suffering from mountain madness. Too many late nights of endless rain & that French Old Lady Gin, leading to big bluesy Jack Kerouac hangovers.

Mountain madness –
soaking wet, like tattered rags
laughing at ourselves
Steve spoke to the shop owner, in English, "Hello mate, a loaf of bread please." This had brother Tony in stitches, & I had to help him out of the shop, before he finally flipped. It turned out that Steve had thought the shop owner was speaking to him in English.

We drove off & stopped again for cheese and bread, Tony in fits whenever we mentioned the bread shop. As we ate, relaxing in the heat, a quail walked indifferently past us.

Sweltering sun
"wet my lips" – the quail seems to
have the right take on things
After further adventures in Spain, only to be rained off, we made our way back to Gavarnie & found an ideal campsite on a farm. Rain holding back as we put up our tents. We explored the countryside, finding in the meadow above us five different orchids, Tunic Flower, & Carthusian Pink. We had a cook up, tin of beans, lentils & sausages, onions, garlic & carrots. Just as we finished the meal, the sky opened up & off to bed. Woke up around 4am. to find that the tent was awash with water. Tony soaked right through in his sleeping bag. I wasn't too badly off, as I had a camp bed, which kept me off the wet floor. But rain coming in through the sides of the tent. Tony disappeared into Steve's car until daylight.

So, enough was enough & we broke camp in the morning. In dismal rain we headed back for the coast & England. Followed by dragon’s breath, always on our tail.

Dragon’s breath
covering the morning sun –
muffling birdsongs

by Bill Wyatt
Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, England
first published in Presence 31, Jan. 2007

No comments: