Andorran Memories

The Fiesta of San Fermin starts today – the running of the bulls in Pamplona.  It brings to mind 2 old friends from Andorra; one recently deceased and the other, I'm certain, running with the bulls this morning.  I met them both at Ramon's, the little 'yellow with lavender trim' bar/cafe you see above where, every Saturday since the beginning of time, the local expat community of St. Julia de Loria meets for drinks and lunch.  Ernst was a dapper Dutch gentleman in the truest sense of the word.  He spoke 6 languages (although he didn't like to speak German, brought back bad memories of the 'occupation' during WWII), always wore a 'jacket' and usually a tie or ascot. He was in his early 70's when me met and used to walk with us on Monday mornings.  No one wanted to be behind Ernst going up because he was an incredibly slow walker.  The Pyrenees are an old mountain range with steep valleys and sharp peaks.  There are no green pastures with gentle streams and grazing cows like you see in the alps.  The paths we followed (when we could find them) were usually shepherd or goatherd paths, quite steep and narrow.  In other words, 'No Passing'.  Once behind Ernst you stayed behind Ernst, watching the people ahead race off into the distance.  Going down he was faster and fun to walk with – he always had funny stories to tell and one was not so out of breath going down.  On one of our first walks, we (mon mari et moi) were almost at the summit (app. 2400 metres), just starting to negotiate the steepest, rockiest part and having a wee rest and water break on a rock.  Ernst plods on by, glances at us and says "You young people must learn to pace yourselves".  He was at the top and halfway through his lunch by the time we got there.  He died last month.
The first time we met Frosty she was being escorted down the street by Ernst. Frosty likes to 'imbibe' on occasion – specifically 3 times a year, Christmas, her birthday and the running of the bulls, although she has since given up the first two occasions.  She started smoking when she turned 60.  Frosty is just under 5' tall, 90 lbs dripping wet, with snow-white hair, age undetermined (but over 60).  She runs with the bulls, has for 25 years (must be 30 by now).  Ernst, or someone else, usually drives her from Andorra to Pamplona – she doesn't like driving on the motorway….too dangerous.  She then spends 10 days in Pamplona, drinking, partying, running with the bulls and generally having an outrageous time.  She comes back to Andorra and goes to bed for days, recovering.  I haven't seen her in a few years and don't know if she still runs …. but I'd bet she's there and, if not running herself, certainly telling all of the young and foolish men how to do it properly.  Go Frosty….

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