Moonset on the Meseta

Moonset on the Meseta

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Montcuq April 11

Internet for two days in a row, but I am writing quickly as it is getting late and Steven wants to get on in a bit: It was a bit cooler today and rain may be coming. I just realized that my laundry is still on the line. Washing one's clothes by hand is the nightly lot of the pilgrim, as we have only 1 change of clothes and days are often hot and sweaty. The first thing one does upon arriving for the night is to take a shower and wash clothes in a sink and then hang them out. A couple of nights ago everything dried quickly in the warm afternoon sun, but today is stickier.

Last night there was a beautiful full moon very orange at its rising over Trigodina, where we slept in a converted barn.  The two Swiss women, Cornelia and Branka, and Pierre from Luxembourg and Michel from Paris were also there.  We may meet them again tomorrow night, but for sure in Sat. night in Moissac.

Internet tonight again in Montcuq.  One more night before Moissac. Walking all these miles with a backpack is hard on the feet, which start to ache after 4-5 hours. Tonight I said to Steven and Lisa that my kids should be here. We made soup tonight with tons of vegetables, but in very small cramped kitchen with sink backing up. We were using Lisa's Swiss army knife to cut the veggies, but finally were able to borrow two sharp knives from the main kitchen. Today was a short day of only about18-19 km. Tomorrow will be longer.

We stopped in a bar/cafe for drinks, ate our picnic lunch there, and afterwards I pulled out my blanket and lay down on the grass. All these old folks were playing cards and other games on picnic tables nearby.  Some were bowling.  It was peaceful and idyllic in this medieval town.  A thirteenth century tower is closed except for July and August.  Today I was sure I was lost and climbed a hill to look for the trail, but there was onlyione possible way to go.  Several times I have gone a km or so in a wrong direction.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On the road above Cahors April 28

We devoured delicious fresh strawberries in the market in Cahors.

I am still walking with Steven and Lisa:  We stayed in a very nice place last night; tonight we still have a few km to go.  My legs and feet hurt at the end of a long day, but I am doing better than I thought I would.  Mornings start out good, but by afternoon I am feeling the pounding.  We spent about 4 hours in Cahors, a fascinating city with ancient Roman remains and medieval cathedral, ransacked by future Henry IV of England, so much destroyed.  Also a wondeful fortified bridge.  We bought food in the market, so our packs are very heavy this hot afternoon -- so hot the tar is melting on the road and salty sweat is running into my eyes.

Famous fortified bridge at Cahors (Pont Valentre)

Very little internet, but all is well.  Time to move on.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Figeac: 24 April 2010

Internet is far between here. I am doing great. I connected with two 26 year olds, Lisa from Germany and Steven from Belgium and have been traveling with them and sharing rooms for past 3 nights. It is nice to have the company of other foreigners who can speak both English and French.  We have been walking about 20-26 km per day.  Finding food can be difficult.  We had a lovely meal at a chambre d'hote atwo nights ago with a delightful couple, and we were the only guests.

In Noailhac with Simone and Michel Falip, Chambres d'Hotes de Montbigoux

We have also had some wonderful meals cooked together with others staying in the gites.  Every day is different and interesting.  Villages are very small, usually old, and very scenic.  Monique and René who befriended me, we said good-bye to in Golinhac as Monique had to slow down for blisters.  I also was sorry to say good bye to Tristan and Corrine a week ago.

Rene and Monique

Corinne and Tristan

Rain yesterday for the first time for several hours in the morning.

I am holding up well. I am in Figeac tonight staying in a monastery, so we have been exploring the town this Saturday afternoon.  Weather has turned warm.

Exploring Figeac: Steven, Lisa, and Sam

I think of friends and family often along the way, especially when I am not worrying that I am lost or when I am not trying to think of words for things in French.  Figeac is about one third of the way to the Pyrenees I think, and the trail flattens out a bit after this.  Today's walking was beautiful over green fields and flowers, on a few muddy trails and one long hot stretch along a road.  Cars have become like noxious noisy dangerous beasts.

Keep writing and thanks for your comments.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lot Valley April 20

Thanks to all who have written and also to those who have not.

Twisted Steeple in Sainte Come d'Olt from Gite room over drying laundry and shoes

Walking is going very well. Strenuous sometimes. Yesterday was 24 km. I am on River Lot at Espalion this Morning and internet is 2 Euro per 15 min. No contact with anyone since Saturday.  So I will not write much here. Beautiful places; but quite remote. This is by far the biggest town since Le Puy one week ago. Down lower now after days in snow.  Blossoming trees and wildflowers. Incredibly beautiful scenery.  I spent last night in old village of Sainte Come d'Olt.  I accidentally left my sleeping sack behind a few days ago, but with help of René and Monique a taxi service returned it to me in Aubrac.  Communication continues to be a problem, but I have also met Lisa from, Berlin who speaks English as well as French and German.

Linnea and Lisa, women in pink.

I tried to access my UNM mail, but it is taking too long, so please write only gmail to me.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17 Saturday Aumont d'Aubrac

All goes well.  Not much mail from anyone.  There was 4 inches of snow yesterday morning at Domaine du Sauvage  --  a beautiful wild place in big old stone farm buildings that reminded me of Wuthering Heights.  I have met friendly helpful people; but no one who speaks more than a few words of English, so c'est difficile.  Sometimes I get lost en route and there is no one to ask for help.  I am at internet in toursit office this morning and have another 10 or 12 km to go.  I have been walking with Corinne and Tristan and Monique et René, but since I have stopped here to check internet? I will have lost them until tonight when we will all be at the same place.

Snowy morning at La Domaine du Sauvage

Tristan and Corinne and another French couple at St. Roch Chapel

I need to buy pain and fruit because there will be no stores open -- where there are stores -- for perhaps 2 days -- closed Sunday and Monday.

Thanks to all of you for prayers and energy you are sending my way.  I have many thoughts as I walk of friends and family.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mardi 14 Avril Saint Privat d'Allier

Morning here now and I survived my first day quite well. I am staying with a family and will continue on soon.  I am a bit stiff ce matin.  I was ready to stop after 24 km.  Big problem yesterday was getting my poles to lock in place.  I got one to work, but carried l'autre, mais avec secours de Josette et REI website got the other one fixed now aussi.  



Beautiful scenery and some remote forest on mountain where I saw no one for a couple of hours.  J'etais perdue un fois and walked peut-etre un km in wrong direction.  No sign of Michel yesterday.  I probably missed him while I was trying to get my poles to work.  Très interessant to spend night ici avec Josette et Serge avec my own room et dinner et conversation with help of dictionary!  Josette is off to take les malades from Le Puy where she volunteers on un voyage à Lourdes ce matin.  Only 16 km à marcher aujourdhui, but looks very winding so probably means hills.  Il fait froid.  Computer says -3 in Saugues where I go today.  Merci à Serge qui corrected my spelling et made eggs et café pour le petit dèjeuner.  Au revoir!

Monday, April 12, 2010

From Le Puy en Velay

Le Puy enVelay
St. Michael Archangel Church

Flowering plums in Le Puy en Velay (still quite cold here)

 I will see if I can post on the blog:  I can! Very busy day today, walking everywhere; meeting helpful people although almost no one speaks English. Cette keyboard Francais is mauvais for a touch typist: Tomorrrow will be the real test -- first day of walking 24 km or more; I am writing une messsage to all of you have written (and even those who have not).  Merci. Tomorrow at 7 a.m there is a mass and blessing of pilgrims in the eglise; then I take off. I met a helpful homme named Michel who speaks not much more English than I do French so communication is difficile, but we will look for each other in the a.m. at 8:30, mais I suspect he will be able to walk plus vite que moi.

View from Cathedral Door from which pilgrims depart

Cold, maybe 50 F un peu de pluie; but petit soleil ce soir.  Many shops and almost all restaurants are fermé ce soir; so I have some pain et fromage et banana and pudding -- not very balanced diet,I know, mais pour dejeuner I hqd rice; porc; et broccoli in a salon de the Le Bergerac (restaurant).

Ah je trouve l'accent é -- something useful about cette kyboard:

Must go now as last nuit I arrive so late I had to find everything in the dark.  It was lucky I had my little flashlight in my pouch. Many photos of course, pas non temps to figure out any way to post them.  Another time peut-etre.  Tomorrow I will almost certainly be too tired to post even if there is internet;  Thank you for all the good wishes.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The time has come...

I'm leaving for the airport in less than an hour.  One last check of the bag, writing down phone numbers since I won't have my cell phone or computer.  The bag weighed in at about 16 pounds last night without water, and not counting the camera.  I took some things out -- I did have jacket and fleece inside the pack.  I'd like it to be lighter.  But I added some clothes pins, foot powder, and granola bars this morning.

It is a perfect spring morning with all the trees blossoming.  It is hard to believe that France will be any more beautiful than this.   Two roadrunners in the driveway this morning to say good-bye.  I wish myself Buen Camino.

All ready to go, with absolutely all I took with me (hiking poles collapsed and wrapped in plastic).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One More Day to Get Ready

It is Thursday night and I leave early Saturday afternoon.  I've taken care of most of the stuff that needs to be taken care of at home while I'm gone.  But, I'm still going over the route in the books, still haven't decided on the final packing list, and still have things to do -- return library books, copy passport and other documents.  Do laundry, clean out the fridge...

Delta airlines rep says I can probably carry my collapsed trekking poles onto the plane as long as they are in the backpack.  But, I'll have to allow extra time in case I'm not allowed through security and have to return to the check-in counter to check them.

I'm worried about a lot of things, like connecting with the Lyon airport bus that will take me to the train to St. Etienne that will take me to the train to Le Puy en Velay.  And can I survive without a phone or a computer?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote..."

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour; 
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem Nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende Of Engelond
to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

Beginning of the "Prologue" to Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales."
Was it the esteemed Miss Dwyer who had us memorize this in senior English class?
For those who have forgotten their Middle English, see notes here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Camino Bleu Introduction

I will be walking the Chemin de Saint Jacques from Le Puy en Velay in France to Roncesvalles in Spain between April 13 and May 20, 2010. When my husband Ed was dying of cancer in 2007, I made a vow that I would walk the pilgrimage, which I first became fascinated by when I read Frances Temple's novel The Ramsay Scallop. I will be walking for God, for Ed, and for the betterment of my soul.