Journeys through an ovine wasteland

Saturday, May 1, 2010


4:29 pm: Have returned to the bare, unmarked borderlands where no language gets through. Lone sentinel greets me - in wind-furrowed garments - at the final crest. No words are spoken.

4: 50 pm: A standoff. Momentary tension as hooves steady to position in the bony soil. The flock disperses. Silent knowledge held only between brothers.

5:40 pm: The party has retreated to evening pastures, leaving me alone in threadbare clothes and skin flushed red from exposure. Good Lord, but I am thankful for Spring's final arrival in Estérençuby.

Map Coordinates

Sunday, April 18, 2010


6:21 am: Remnant taste of blood, drying up at first light. The evening's failed hare kill left my stomach in tatters, body collapsed at the foot of a naked oak by nightfall.

Woke this morning to a quiet gathering of white-legged Plins. Watched mist curl up from the rim of Nivelle Creek and trundle away toward foothills with no names. Here I wait, on the edges of Cherchebruit, hidden amid acrid dung heaps and couch grass. The air feels damp and forgiving.

One week has come and gone. Still wandering ragged and alone, caught between the banks of the Nive and the unmarked Spanish frontier. I bear naught but an oxhide satchel and a bloodless wolf gaze.

O, gentle and pungent brothers: a little warmth!

Map coordinates.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


7:06 am: Early morning in the pastoral fringes of Itxassou village. Have been awake since pre-dawn. I find myself red-eyed and without shelter, in an open valley amid the solemn and unwavering company of white-legged Plins.

I am thankful to a kind Basque innkeeper, who - in forbidding Estérençuby - procured for me the supplies required to fashion a makeshift raft some two nights past. From the three head rivers of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, among weary pilgrims set for Galicia, I have found myself pulled in the opposite direction along the ambling vein of the River Nive. Had I adequate rations, I might let this tributary carry me over and beyond; away to the great Adour, and eventually: the blind, open sea.

Map coordinates

Friday, April 9, 2010


6:51 pm: Approaching the confluence of Apalimalda Brook and Harpeko Erreka. I remain lonesome and adrift in this rolling, treeless cordillera of northern Basque country. The animals here are black-legged, taciturn, bearing little charity to the outsider. Dreams have been riddled with Erreka after Erreka, secret channels of water known only to the Basque people.

Tonight I seek shelter in the nearby stable house.