I remember well how I was guided in 2009 by Jean Iglesias from Coustouges to the remote and hard to access bm542 (see this page). I visited since then the area many times. And ten years later, it’s me who performed as a guide. Yesterday, I took Carlos and Conchita Roca (see their website) into the forest and down steep hillsides to the range bm536-542. Especially bm536 and 542 are not easy to reach and in their approach and return demanding. The last one was bm542 along the Rio Major. And that’s where Carlos learnt me how to tackle the last meters to the bordercross by skillfully climbing a rock in between while Conchita gave directions.
All went well and my ‘clients’ were delighted to have covered this gap in their collection from Andorra to the Mediterranean. And I was content with their cheerful company and their perseverance. At the foot of bm542 a portrait of us three.
I was honoured to be invited on 12 april 2014 by Serge and Martine Poncet for an informal meeting of ‘bordermen’ or – mockingly in French – ‘bornés’ (freely translated as: stubborn on bordermarkers) who share a passion for the Pyrenean bordermarkers. Even a news-reporter was invited who wrote this article for the L’Indépendant-newspaper:
I felt happy to meet (again) Serge and Martine Poncet, Charles & Josette Darrieu, Alain Laridon, Cayetano and Jean & Carmen Iglesias while enjoying a delicious catalan-style meal. In the après-diner, I was lucky to sit in between the laptops of Serge and Charles, watching their pictures and listen to their stories, both testimonies of our shared passion.
One of my most remarkable finds was bm531 in the Eastern Pyrenees, found on april 19th 2007. We had just met near Hostal de la Muga a local (Jean Iglesias) who happened to know the bordermarkers surprisingly well in this area. He told something about an ‘escalier’ (stairway) to reach one of the bordermarkers. I didn’t understand it until I reached the spot where bm531 was supposed to be. I saw a ladder lying at the foot of large boulder and then made the connection. I used the ladder to climb to the top of the boulder where bm531 is engraved, being invisible from the ground.
Cayetano from Girona sent me this recent picture of the ladder. When comparing it to my pictures, it’s the same ladder. According to Cayetano, it’s still in sufficient shape to climb it. And on Alain Laridon’s website we can read how this ladder was constructed on the spot itself by Jean Iglesias.
But do you really need the ladder? It seems so if you look at the pictures but the answer is: NO.
On the right side of the boulder you can also climb easily and safely to the top, that’s what I’ve been told by Charles Darrieu and Jacques Koleck.
And about Cayetano: he’s the ‘new kid on the block’, living in Girona he wants to find each and every bordermarkers on the Girona-border with France (= bm427-602). More about his project and website later on.
Serge Poncet sent me some pictures in november 2013 of the maintenance work on bm545 and 546. The vandalized bm545 was neatly painted over in white. Bm546 – hanging dangerously at the steep roadside – got a sturdy fundament. Bravo for honoring these historic monuments. I’m curious who are the ‘actors’ and which are the rules in this proces of surveying and deciding and implementation.
What we know is that each year a bordermarker-survey is done near Coustouges, involving the communicipalities at both side of the border. I found this picture in the newspaper “l’Independant” of 19 june 2013. Jean Iglesias is still ‘alive and kicking’ as the guide of the party.
Found on the internet: a newspaper article on the yearly survey in 2012 of the bordermarkers near Coustouges in the eastern Pyrenees. I have fond memories of the rough and mediterranean landscape south of Coustouges. Dense forests, steep hills and deep canyons. Two of the most difficult bordermarkers to find are located in this area: bm536 and bm542.
I was grafeful to meet the friendly and hospitable Jean Iglesias of Coustouges, a local expert on the bordermarkers. Without his help, I wouldn’t have found those bordermarkers.
And he’s still ‘live & kicking’ as the bordermarker-guide for these surveys. I immediately recognized him in the party of surveyors.