Thursday, October 30, 2008

Living on the edge: Sost, Hautes-Pyrénées

When people think about the Pyrenées mountains, they usually get carried away with simplistic prints of nature and harmony: they see singing rivers, majestic woods, mountain tracks and heavenly views. This is part of the picture, all right, but what if you let your feet bring you to the remote village of Sost?

When entering the village, the first thing that will welcome you is a strong smell of hand-made cheese. All along your scouting process, you'll be followed by a floating aromatic cloud whose toxic attributes, as we'll see, are to not to be looked down upon. The cheese of Sost owns a copyright and cannot be made outside the village limits. It works like a licensed product. Every resident of Sost develops his own cheese, adding to the original receipt a touch of personal witchcraft. The only guideline is: the cheese has to stink in sufficient proportion to provoke death within 2 minutes of close exposure, but it still must be mangeable.

Cheese-making being a very old tradition in Sost, we certainly understand that the population of this village had to take its share of genetical side-effects. One of these side-effects is that the local fellows are incredibly small. Dwarfs and midgets will regularly cross your path and you may start wondering whether Snow-White runs a school there, were it not for the wrinkles on their faces and the smell of piss and rot peculiar to old age.

Dogs and children go free across the narrow streets. Dogs urinate on children and children urinate on dogs. Not out of retaliation, but of community hygiene. It prevents them to spoil the ageless stone walls and doorsteps and that keeps the village clean. Both dogs and children carry urine back home, as old men do with their dropping. The rest lays in womens' hand.

Once every year, people from Sost celebrate being people from Sost. To do so, they stay in Sost and party with fellow-people from Sost. The green valley echoes sounds of joy and dancing, slapping women and beating dogs. When midnight comes and everyone is pissed to death, a big fighting session takes place in front of the townhall, sometimes involving the mayor himself.
Axes are dug up from backyards, cheeses are thrown at faces, and under the glorious light of a full star summer night, brotherhood and keenness play a concert to the moon...

Stumble Upon Toolbar


Unknown said...

Thank you for your comment about my photos.
I have just readed your "Living on the edge: Sost, Hautes Pyrenees"
My understanding of english is very limited, but I have felt the atmosphere of the Spanish PIRINEOS VILLAGES that I have visited.

Anonymous said...

all right !
But i have to add something : I worked four hours in a ''cheese farm'' in this village and it made me seek during one week. yes really !
I think that officials can create a chalenge between villages and Sost can win the race and put corsian cheese out of it.
Secondly I saw dwarves along the streets and a legend said that some of them never get out of the village and have eaten cheese every day. So an advice : DON'T TALK WITH THEM !
GONZODOCTOR from ferrere

Pierre Alexander said...

I think I will include "Pirineos villages" in my living on the edge series then