I’m told a “pimbo” is a pretentious bimbo. When you don’t do Facebook, you have to find these thing out.
The name Pimbo, applied to the elevated town we came to shortly after Sensacq, is Occitan, meaning “thyme”. It actually has a rugged, martial look: not hard to see it was a bastion as well as an abbey. Like the last town, it was built by an English monarch, not Edward, but his father, the long reigning Henry III, who exercised rights over Gascony. It’s a Plantagenet thing.
But the original abbey is much older than the bastide: it’s said to date back to Charlemagne, who founded it on returning from Spain in 778. Nice thought.
The castle was wrecked by Huguenots, and there was serious damage in the revolution. Happily, the abbey church of Saint-Barthélemy is still here, behind platted plane trees. (The same Cartesian fussiness which irritates me in Paris appeals here in France profonde.)
The crest shape of Pimbo meant that a road could run from here to the castle, connecting the two power-sharing institutions at the same high level. Handy.
The interior is full of interest, with its ancient glamour enhanced by superb wood panelling of later date, as well as paintings.
Some rear landscaping by a proud mairie caught the eye of one of my friends.
Yet this was as far as this hard-headed senior policeman and chef de sécurité wanted to go. For a geobiologist, the rear of a church is a no-go area. Also, when one walks out of a church through the main portal, if no side door is available, one must not linger there. Geobiologists put a lot of effort into avoiding undesirable energies. Curiously, there is no concern about nearby cemeteries or the deceased. The arbitrary placement of dead human bodies has no relation to the geology and celestial focus points (created by the building?) which concerned the builders of medieval churches. I think.
I’m hardly an expert!
Without wishing to alarm or offend, I’ll simply relate something as it was told to me. We’re grown-ups. The great church which is devoid of geobiological energies once had plenty, but lost them because of some change in its “Jordan”, its subterranean water-flow. Or something like that.
The name of the church is Santiago De Compostela.
Over lunch near the church, my new friends tested me for spiritual force. I always seem to test ordinary in things…exams, IQ, my palm, the pinch-test etc. Imagine my joy when the pendulums indicated that, spiritually, I was off the charts! I told you these were fine people.
Before we left, the policeman with an interest in symbols examined the tympan. It was surprising how much he garnered from the faded carving, finding little stories or sermons in these details:
In an era when life was short and faith strong, decoration was never “mere”. Sending the punters to God was the prime motive for every chisel-cut.
After lunch, as we headed off, one of the group casually said the word pyrénées. Looking to the right, I saw them – and was immediately unmanned. I squealed and babbled. To my French companions the mountains were imposing but familiar. To me it was an occasion of awe.
Now, as one must explain over and over to Europeans, most Australians live in fertile, humid country and never see a desert. Nor are mountains or snow a strange sight: we have a much larger area of snowfields than Switzerland.
But we don’t have anything like the Pyrenees!
I took a snap, but my little Fuji just couldn’t find the depth. This does no justice to the moment, but, so great was the moment, I’m breaking a rule and offering an inferior photo.
Looking south across the valley of the Gabas, it seemed like I was at some kind of threshhold. After the descent from Pimbo, striding across a little plain, I began to think excitedly that the coming days would keep bringing me closer and closer to these awesome peaks…till I sat in Saint-Jean and saw them towering over me. Scary and wonderful.
In moments of emotion like this, you forget what weather and geography can do. That grand and ultimate view of the Pyrenees would never be granted me, even while crossing them. Just lots of nice glimpses. Do we ever grow up?
Framed by valley slopes, these flatlands were pretty. The green Béarn, one of the loveliest and least mentioned stretches of the Camino, was only a day away.
And suddenly, people were eating cornbread! That’s France. That’s the Camino.