Moonset on the Meseta

Moonset on the Meseta

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Moissac May 1, 2010

Finally a bit of sun late this afternoon afternoon after 2 days of walking in mud and rain.  Yesterday it was something like 27-28 km slogging up and down hills on many wet and muddy paths.  I really could barely move by the time I found our gite.  Legs and feet ached much of the night, although I slept like a rock. No problem sleeping.  It was cold and I was wrapped in sleeping sack and blankets when our Swiss, Luxembourg and French friends came over from their elegant chambre d'hote next door to see how we were faring in our considerably less luxurious habitation of 8 bunks in a space with a makeshift kitchen and a big table. The minute they left I was out like a light -- I think we all were, and didn't wake up until late, nearly 8 in the morning, only to find more rain coming down, and boots and clothes left outside.

  My socks covered my boots, so they were not too terribly wet.  We found a portable heater which dried them quite well, but Steven's boots had water standing in them, which we poured out.  It was a short walk of only about 12.5 km today, but Lisa took a wrong turn, Steven forgot his poles and had to go back, and when I got to Moissac it was noon and although the Saturday market was winding down, everything else was closed and I spent nearly an hour trying to find the gite, which turned out to be lovely, but I was sent in different directions by different people then once on the right track encountered the Swiss group and then Lisa and Steven came down a stairs in the distance together and we found our way here at last.

There is a wonderful old abbey here and a cloister supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the world.  Lisa; Steven and I spent considerable time looking at the carvings and the beautiful 14th and 15th century statues in the church.  Later I walked to the Napoleon bridge over the Tarn, which is really full of water right now.  We had a lovely dinner here at the Ultreia  Gite with people from many countries and had good-bye champagne with Michel who takes the train to Paris tomorrow.

An amazing moment yesterday was arriving at the end of a very steep descent and looking across a field of yellow flowers to see the medieval city of Lauzerte on a cliff.  I felt it was emblematic of the human condition, with boots thick with mud and eyes on a beautiful city in the sky.  When I crossed the modern traffic circle on the outskirts below the city, I felt like an alien from another century, and when I finally entered the walled city after jousting with an enormous beer truck to get access to the gate, I felt like I belonged there, but the truck and the cars parked outside the walls did not.



  1. Somehow, I have a different view of Lauzerte as I broke my toe there! Ultreia Gite was wonderful in Moissac and Rom took me to the hospital. It was one of the best meals we had and the company was also very interesting.

    Michèle (Ottawa) Canada

  2. I remember sliding in the mud for what seemed like unending kilometres towards Montcuq.... the joys of spring rain! Did you get to listen to the singing in the Abbey in Moissac?

  3. They were singing in the Abbey when I arrived, but I was feeling so lost, it was noon so everything was closing, and I could not find the way to Ultreia. In retrospect I should have just gone in to listen to the music, and worried about finding my way later, but I was totally separated from the other 6 people I knew were going to be there that night, and just wanted to find a place to leave my pack so I could explore without it! Usually when I walked into a town there was someone I knew sitting at a cafe in the town center. But Moissac was also a bit bigger than most places. The market was just closing up, too.

    I probably spent an hour looking for Ultreia, and even a phone call from a stranger's phone didn't get me headed in the right direction. Everyone I asked sent me a different way. Then all the others appeared at once from different directions, and the Ultreia folks were also out looking for me... so all ended happily after a rather frightening and frustrating hour. It turned out Lisa had gotten lost before reaching Moissac (following another pilgrim who had gone the wrong way), and Steven had had to go back to St. Martin for forgotten poles. We all ended up arriving by different routes. That was also the day I was sure for awhile that I had circled back to where we'd spent the night as I saw a chapel next to a large house ... I was so relieved to find it was not the same place after I'd walked for about 2 hours. I always said a little prayer of thanks when I saw a red and white mark after times like that.