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The Third Place

Sat 24 Jul 2010 17:17 » Jon

After 37 days going back and forth across the border between France and Spain, we reached our third country on Thursday: Andorra. I’ve never been here before and don’t know a great deal about it, but I learnt the other day that the official language is Catalan. They learn that together with French and Spanish at school, and most of the people we’ve met seem to speak English too.

Speaking of Catalan, we met some kids from Catalunya at the campsite in Arties. They seemed as keen as the Basque people to be independent from Spain – they’d been supporting Holland against Spain in the world cup final, so were commiserating with Klaas.

Our recent run of poor form continued on the departure time front this morning. We beat our last two attempts, but didn’t leave the campsite till 09:00. I’d have thought the Dutch Army’s influence might have instilled some discipline in the team, but apparently not. Having left late, the situation deteriorated when we reached El Serrat: when we passed a cafe at 09:51 we agreed that it was far too early for an ice cream – “Not before 15:00″ said Klaas. Five minutes later we were sitting outside a second cafe eating Magnums.

We did a fairly short walk today, up the beautiful Sorteny valley, which is famous for it’s wild flowers. At lunchtime we stopped near an unstaffed refuge called Cabana Serrera, pitched the tents (photo) and ate, then spent the afternoon washing clothes, mending kit and relaxing.

Walking through the villages of Llorts last night and El Serrat this morning has been a bit of a shock. For seven days we haven’t had any decent phone reception, haven’t seen a single bin, and haven’t passed a normal village. It’s been a relief to make contact with the outside world and get rid of seven days’ rubbish – there seem to be bins everywhere now!

Since we began the “wilderness” section I’ve met seven Brits, compared with two in the entire trip before that, and including a guy from down the road in Fulham. Today we met a couple from even closer – Chiswick. It seems the wilderness is popular with people from West London…


  1. Glad to see you’re still surviving despite the best efforts of nature it seems! Love the fact that you were more concerned about losing your food than the fact that a bear was chomping its way into your tent presumably a few feet from your head – something tells me my bro wouldn’t approve of your state of thinness again! Anyhow, enjoy & keep conquering those climbs


    Comment by H — July 25, 2010 @ 12:31 pm

  2. By the time I was aware of the damage, the bear was long gone, so no point worrying about that! As for my thinness – I’ve made a massive effort to eat this time, bearing your bro’s words in mind! Think it’s worked ok so far – I’ve lost weight, but I don’t think I’m dangerously thin yet…

    Comment by Jon — July 27, 2010 @ 10:20 am

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