I don’t know how to say this without sounding ridiculous. It’s beautiful everywhere I look. I don’t have to hunt out the beautiful moments here. I feel so stupid. I should have just taken a shortcut and moved here after art school. Game over.  Side step the school of hard knocks: stand at the mouth of this mountain pass. Stupid beautiful. 

Oh, the crooked paths we take! If we’re lucky, despite ourselves, one day we end up here at the Pied de Port (the foot of the entrance). The door to stupid beautiful.

Today was about snooping around. The best way we both know of to get to know our way around is to sort of get lost. So after petit dej, we got in the van and went up the hill, then past the edge of we-know-not-where. Pointing and conjecturing about pig breeding locations and the design of animal sheds and stopping once in a while for sheep. And then after passing the same field of sheep twice, we drove by our first pilgrim, a solitary young man with an orange backpack and a walking stick. I don’t remember if we waved. But all his walking was making us hungry.  So when we found ourselves back in St Jean PdP, we turned up another hill in the other direction and found ourselves among the vineyards. 

“I bet there’s a good place where the vintners eat lunch,” Kate said. Kate has survival-skills-luxe. (You want to be with her during the zombie apocalypse. She’ll find a nice spa to hunker down at until a proper cure is found.) Sure enough, we drove past the wine making facility, into a small village, more like a T-intersection in the road where some quaint white buildings with red-brown shutters had grown up, oh, about two to three hundred years ago (or maybe yesterday). We pulled over and stepped into a restaurant where most of the men were eating at a common table. We found a table of our own under this:

Yes, of course the picture is needlepoint.

Our proprietress rattled off the menu and Kate said, “Perfect,” or however you say that in French. I was too distracted by the rest of the room. We agreed it would be uncool to take those pictures until the other guests had left. 

 By the time we were finishing the lomo with lentils, the bevy of Basque men had left. When the lomo was cleared, I bolted to the back of the restaurant and to the piano where this was happening. 

…and in the far corner this was guarding the table linens.

But then, as though to change the subject, I was offered flan. Always say, “Oui,” to flan. This one was made with a hint of Riccard.

 See what I mean? Handmade food in an unexpected place. Stupid. Beautiful.

Now our faith in the delicious, honesty of food restored, we opened a map. Yes, a paper map…