I cheekily asked Kat if I could stay another night, and she immediately and generously said yes.
It's beautiful up here in the hills, silent but for the birdsong and the wind in my ears. In the evening, after a very satisfying seventeen miles with no backpack, I sat on the terrace as the last rays of the sun set the mountaintops aglow and had one of my interminable daily phone conversations with Pam.
We were deep in debate about which item of furniture should go where in the new apartment (which she's now moved into) when I looked up and saw a bizarre creature staring at me straight in the eye from about twenty feet away. It looked a bit like a wild boar that someone had disassembled and put the bits back in the wrong order.
I interrupted Pam and described what I was looking at. 'Oh yes, that's a javelina
,' she said promptly. All those hours spent watching Animal Planet on cable when she should be dealing with the mountain of washing up in the sink had paid off at last.
Then the rest of the family appeared: five adults and a baby. I went indoors to get my camera, but by the time I returned they'd vanished as silently as they'd arrived. And to think I'd never heard of javelinas before.
Talking of Pam, I'm off for another long weekend in New Orleans on Friday. The city enthusiastically seizes on any pretext to throw a huge fancy-dress party, and this Saturday thousands of New Orleanians will be taking to the streets to celebrate their non-existent Irish roots on St Patrick's day.