bonjour mes amis!!
greetings to you from the city of Figeac, perhaps safe to say the half way mark through France now? I would have to look at a map to be completely sure, regardless, here I am, tan lines and all, 600 km behind me, 1272ish more to go. WOW, though somedays I feel I am walking forever, 600 certainly feels like a great distance, and hard to wrap my head around.
Where to even begin this section of letter out to you....hmmm last time I left off was in St. Andre. As it turned out the days temperature that day soared well above 42 degrees and I was happy to have cut my day as short as I did, no one should be out walking in thqt sort of heqt...it could make one mad or melt, as the tar on the roads were. But needless to say, the weather made a turn for the better, and the follozing moring remained cool, as I left the hot area and entered into a more mountinous region, in higher elevation, and thankfully lots of wind and cooler temperatures. What area you may wonder: Rhone country. First mountqins qnd then right back into vinyards! Its been uite the treat to taste in the wines right from where they originate from and say aha yes! while sharing a glass with the locals who insist thqt you MUST TRY THE WINE, CHEESE and MEAT!!!! I've got two covered, but sadly the meat will remain a mystery behind the magic of meat our here. I had my first strong cheese experience in St. Miguel, where I was fairly warned about the cheeses intensity, of course one can only help but to cut off a modest slice and bite right into it;, before the explosion of pepper happens and ones mouth (mine° goes from a happy dinner to thqt of pepper intensity!! The owner of the gite I stayed at laughed and then poured me large glass of wine, assuring me that I should stick to the lighter cheeses to begin with. Clearly I needed to build my palette up first.
The trail is always interesting; varying from paved road to dirt road, to rubble rocks and trqils as we are familiar to back home. The last few days threw an extra spin to the mix, of actually entering into cow pastures; waling amongst the cows. Somestimes peaceful, othertimes slighly nerve racking from getting the death stare from the bull...as if he was saying 'hey! don't touch my women you hear? I have horns and can you hear my grunt of disapproval? just you keep walking human' and so I do, happy to walk over cow patties and be on my merry way.
Le Puy was an interesting city to visit, and where I had my first day off to collect my senses qand plan for the next section to Figeac. There is an abbey atop an old volcano, that overlooks the city. you can climb up the volcano via endless stairs; to which an incredible view awaits, however, I chose to stay grounded and look up instead....after a long days walk, thousands of stairs was not really looking like an enticing option. Ho hum, perhaps another visit down the road... Also Le Puy is hopme to handmade lace making, and many a-folk still practice, using the tradtional bobbin method, mind blowing rally, their hands move so fast following a pattern, but I couldnt follow along, I kept getting mesmerized by hands or bobbins. Phew!
Leaving Le Puy felt very different from my departure in Geneva. Here pilgrims left en mass, at least 60 of us left around the same time, feeling like so,ething of a marathon as well all set out and tried to define our pace. Many french walkers, but I am happy to report, that there was a family of 5 setting out from Quebec! Pretty cool to have some home grown canadians sharing the trail, though their time is shorter with only three weeks. This section has proven to be good with many more pilgrims to meet and talk with, most are only on short holidays; but I am happy to share the eveingins in conversation and good company. My french improves, though still things continued to be missed, as my vocabulary is limited to simple words but the folks have been kind and many will sit and talk with me, asking questions and sharing their stories. Last night I shared a gite with my first English pilgrims, and sat about drinking cups of tea, in fact, after stepping through the door, hot and winded from an incredibly long day, the woman looked at me and asked 'would you care for a cup of tea?' I looked qt her neqrly in teqrs from contentedness at this simple lovely question and responded, 'yes!'
I walked through my first rainshower yesterday, which was a refreshing change to the heat, birds still merrily chirping about in the trees, happy too I think for a little cool relief. but the afternoon turned to heat, and the slow going began; with steep hills to climb. I have decided that the french like to attack hills the way one pull soff a bandaid. no nonesense of zig zagging, just go straight up, so up up up up up I went, the straight down down down down I go, only to be met around the bend by another up hill, my heart I feel, if looked under a microscope will have little abs, for it is certainly getting a workout, but each hill brings an incredible view and a smile to know that, though intimidating; its possible to get up even if it takes a very long time! But for now, I think I have said goodbye to the mountains and will be met with more gentle rollng hill suntil I reach the pyrenees, in a week or so....from here it is all low elevqtion; which means the heat is here, time to aclimatize before spain!
For now, I will wrap this up, ther ei s still much to say and share, however, my time is limited with the computer, and really, you're getting a book as is. Thinking of you all out here, lots of reminders of peple places and things from home, more stores to come, and many pictures have been put up on facebook for your enjoyment, my hope is to get more people pictures now that I am sharing the trail with other folks...woot! Trying to keep it creative out here :)
hugs to you all,
If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything. -Win Borden
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