Day Eleven - Chavanay to Bourg-Argental
What a difficult day, so what a wonderful day to have company. Today’s march straight up a steep mountainside, long walks through silent forests, and even the sudden sprinklings of rain were enjoyable to me. Perhaps it was because I did not have to stay as alert or on edge, or maybe it was because I had someone to sympathize with over the difficulty.
More likely though, I was calmer because Detlef’s style of walking was not as rushed or determined as mine. He preferred to stop at the rest points, taking time to relax and enjoy the views. He even pulled off his boots when we finally reached the cross on the top of the tallest mountain, and made me sit down and snack on the food that he had suggested we stop and purchase the night before.
We arrived at Bourg-Argental after 28 kilometers and 6.5 hours of walking, to discover there was a four-day annual festival in town, complete with arcade games, carnival rides, and lots of young people drinking. Since the only hotel in town was closed on Sundays (seriously?), and every gite d’etape that Detlef called was full, we were thrilled to hear there were still chambres d’hôtes available.
This turned out to be three bedrooms, each with private bath, off a shared kitchen/dining room, in an apartment attached to a private home. After a full hour’s wait for the proprietor, who kept insisting she was on her way when we called, we discovered that there was just one room remaining.
Fortunately, it had two double beds, with mine tucked away in a loft up the stairs, so for a second night, Detlef and I shared a room.
My day ended in the most disgusting manner however, as I made the mistake of using a port-a-potty by the festival, and stepped into ankle deep liquid on the floor which no amount of soap and water was able to undo. Just thinking about it makes me want to wash my feet and sandals again. Shudder.
July Photo a Day
Day Twenty-Eight: Cool
The original artwork along the Camino is so cool!
#fmsphotoaday #camino #chemindestjacques #france #pilgrimage (at Les Sétoux, Auvergne, France)
Day Ten - Moissieu Sur Dolan to Chavanay
This section of the Chemin de Saint Jacques has been a lonely road, climbing up and down hills, crossing farm after farm, passing through tiny hamlets, barely seeing anyone. Yet it was stunningly beautiful, rich in history, full of churches and stonework, and the people that I have met were incredible.
I marveled at Surieu, with its church and chateau dating back to the eleventh century. I walked right through a family gathering, declining their offers to join them for an aperitif at 10 a.m. I replied, “Bonjour!” over and over to everyone I saw in the tiny towns.
I stopped for lunch in Assieu at a bar-restaurant, with a full bar and and a closed restaurant. But the owner was determined to feed me, and walked me into the back, into his cooler and lifted up bowls of food. Tomato salad, five kinds of cheese, hard boiled eggs, lots of meats, fresh bread. And despite the fact that I had to pass on so much of it, I was full when I finally stopped eating.
I made it only fifteen minutes out of town when an intense storm blew through, lightening crashing down and so much rain that I was soaked within minutes. It blew past as quickly as it arrived though, leaving me with wet boots and socks but strong sunshine to dry me out.
And then a fellow pilgrim caught up to me, marveling at my pace, and relieved that I spoke English. Detlef was from Munich and more than happy to have found a walking companion.
He also was headed for Chavanay, with Le Puy as his destination this time. Like so many from Europe, his Camino will be spread out over his lifetime, with two weeks here and ten days there, grabbed during the holidays and the full distance pieced together over the years.
Crossing the Rhone at the end of the day on a bridge clearly not designed for pedestrians was far less stressful with company. I had been dreading that part as the warnings in the guidebooks were quite dire, but survived to finish my eight hour, 36 kilometer day unharmed.
We had our choice of bunk beds in the one bedroom gite d’etape as the sole occupants, enjoyed dinner together at the only place in town that was open, and exchanged stories of woe and searching for inner peace.
As we were about to head off to our beds, he inquired what time I wanted to start in the morning. I quipped, ”Whenever I wake up,” and smiled to myself to realize that I would finally have some companionship.
Yes, once again, the Camino will provide.
Let it go. Let it go. I tell myself that over and over. I try to break the cycle, stop the excessive rumination, just interrupt the constant distorted thoughts long enough to give my brain a chance to recover.
But I don’t. I just don’t. I return to the same meaningless discussion in my head, again and again. And again.
I have read and reread the psychology. I understand my behavior. I tell myself it’s common for people with depression and anxiety to obsess. It’s all part of the package. And eventually, the medication and the therapy will help break the cycle.
But right now, I am still obsessing.
Why doesn’t he want me? Why can’t I still talk to him? Why does my heart want what is so obviously wrong for me? Why, why, why? Aargh.
And I know I’m not really obsessing about him. He’s a temporary blip. Just yet another man who used me and dumped me. One more insecure person unable to love me back. Not worth the time or effort or energy that I am devoting to him.
It’s a mask, a distraction from the real pain, of a husband and a son who have turned their backs on me. That pain hurts too deeply, tears me apart from the inside out, causes such anguish that the only way I can cope is to block it all out and live in denial.
So instead, I stalk his tumblr. I check his notes, I search through other women looking to see what I missed. How can he just walk away? Who is he attracted to instead? I see crush lists, all women, beautiful women and I get angry.
What do they offer that I couldn’t? How can he chase after the unattainable when he didn’t want me, the one who did care, the one who shared all of herself, who laid her heart on the table and dared him to stab it with a knife?
Why don’t I deserve an explanation? An apology? A kind word that it’s not me, it’s him, and he should have been a better man but he’s just an asshole and I should walk away.
And I want to write to him and yell at him and call him names and cry that he hurt me and I hate him and I wish bad things would happen to him. I read his posts and I want to swear and rant and rave and hurt him too. I want to tell everyone who follows him and likes his posts and comforts him that he is not that person. He is not the great guy they all want him to be.
He will pursue until he gets what he wants and then just drop you and walk away like you are a turd on the ground. Not worth his time. Not worth the hassle.
But maybe not. Maybe it was just me. Maybe he only wanted to hurt me.
So instead of swearing at him, I cry to myself. Instead of being angry and hurt by the men who really are in my life, I obsess over the one who is not.
Let it go. Just let it go.
July Photo a Day
Day Twenty-Seven: Ten
On the Camino, as in life, even if I don’t know where I am going, it helps to know which path I should not take. (This is ten, just in Roman numerals)
#fmsphotoaday #camino #chemindestjacques #france #whichwaydoIgo
Day Nine - La Cote-Saint-Andre to Moissieu-Sur-Dolon
I walked out the door of my hotel in La Cote-Saint-Andre and before I even hit the street, there were two pilgrims walking past me. A huge smile spread across my face. I followed them to the church and was thrilled to see eight more pilgrims mulling around, looking at guidebooks, and clearly preparing to start.
I set off at a brisk pace, knowing they would be right behind me, and of course I was wrong. Once I turned around and got back on the Camino, they were ahead of me. But not to worry. At my pace, I eventually passed all of them.
Even though much of the day was spent walking through enormous farms with barely a soul in sight, I never felt alone. As I approached one farmer by his tractor, I was touched that he chose to walk over to me and chat for a moment.
When I passed through an enormous park outside of Faramans, three elderly French men had a small table set up with food and drinks, free for fellow pilgrims, and were quite pleased to be able to share their memories of their own Caminos with me.
And to top it all, toward the end of my day, when I passed through the gorgeous, ancient town of Revel-Tourdan, imagine my surprise to discover my five German ladies resting at an outdoor cafe.
I marveled at the chance circumstances as much as I did the mud and stone architecture, the tiny stone streets, and the plaques on so many homes proudly displaying the history of the town.
I decided not to stay there though and pushed on to Moissieu Sur Dolon, finishing up with 31 kilometers in my 7 hour day.
To spend the night in a converted mansion complete with a one kilometer long stone wall around the estate, incredibly friendly staff, and a gourmet meal was definitely far more than I had expected. Accepting that their wifi just wasn’t enough to post my blog seemed like the least that I could do.
July Photo a Day
Day Twenty-Six: Fun
Looks like a great way to spend a summer afternoon to me!
#fmsphotoaday #relax #hammock #river #summer (at La Côte St. Andre)
I finally arrived at a town with internet to discover my family had completely panicked over my lack of communication. I guess I need to try a little harder to find wifi from now on!
July Photo a Day
Day Twenty-Five: Home
My home for the night at least. Converted mansions make the best hotels!
#fmsphotoaday #mansion #estate #france #camino #chemindestjacques (at Domaine de La Colombiere)
Day Eight - Charavines to La Cote-Saint-Andre
I took a chance this morning and found a direct route west to the Camino from Charavines rather than having to backtrack, starting my day off right. I detest going backwards and covering the same ground.
Today just got better and better when I was treated to a number of Chateaux, far more than just farmhouses and more like mini-estates with tiny palaces. The Camino walked me right up to their front gates and then along the thick walls surrounding their courtyards, and on through their fields. They are so old and well-established that they are even marked on my maps.
My buffet breakfast and stash of fruit allowed me to skip lunch altogether today and just march on, covering 30 kilometers in 7 hours, and ending up exactly where I had planned.
Well, I’m in the right town at least, but back in yet another hotel. I genuinely tried to stay with other pilgrims, but once I realized I was to be the sole occupant of the Catholic boarding school, I backed out and went for a hotel instead.
Sleeping alone in a huge empty building set on the outskirts of town just wasn’t what I was looking for. Seeing that the last pilgrim who stayed there was on the 17th proved to me once and for all that this section of the Camino is just not well travelled. That same set-up in Spain was always packed to the rafters with pilgrims fighting to get in.
It has become abundantly clear that I will be on my own until I reach Le Puy next week, when I expect the traffic to increase. So rather than getting upset about it, I am trying to relax and enjoy the solitude. I will be surrounded by the hordes soon enough and will miss my privacy and alone time, so I am determined to appreciate it while I can.
I give up. I’ve tried three times and tumblr just eats my post.
I need to go to sleep so I’ll just have to hope for a better day tomorrow.
July Photo a Day
Day Twenty-Four: Water
Finding water on the Camino is really just this easy.
#fmsphotoaday #water #camino #chemindestjacques #walking (at Chateau de Pointiere, France)