Monday, October 4, 2010

Oct.4 Dans le silence et la solitude, on n'entends de plus que l'eternité.

The sentiment above has a common thread for all caminos I think. The quiet moments of thought as you walk along the way may not be profound but they are meditative and healing all the same. Many other commonalities thread through different caminos. A camino makes friends and seals friendships. We met two ladies, Rosa from Venezuela and Denise from France who met ten years ago at the end of their Camino Frances and they have been writing to one another ever since and now are walking together to celebrate their ten year frienship. There are the six ladies of Brittany who have started their Camino Le Puy. They intend to walk 150kms every year for the next ten years until they get to Santiago. They are having a wonderful and fun time together. And we ourselves have made many new friends and from many countries: Angela and Wolfgang from Austria; Julia, a young med student from Bavaria who speaks perfect English, Paul and Kari from Denmark, and our new French pilgrim friends Ann-Marie and Maris.

We have discovered many differences on this camino too. There are more short term walkers, people who come and walk only for a week or two. Yesterday was the end of our second week and most of our new group are finished for now. Many French tend to do this camino in stages - étapes. We are also at the end of the season so it is less busy. Most places accept and advise that you make reservations which is different from the Camino Frances and also changes the way you face the day. It takes away the worry, when other pilgrims pass you, of losing a bed for the night and I feel more comfortable taking time for breaks. Yesterday we stopped in Saint Come d'Olt for lunch at a restaurant with Angela and Wolfgang and a couple of French ladies who were celebrating the end of this étape for them. We knew we had a room booked so we could afford the luxury of a leisurely lunch. The entire shape of our day is different this time. We do not usually bother to get up until 6:30am. and then have breakfast with our demi-pensionne (dinner and breakfast included). It's also darker these days so we also want to wait until daylight to walk. Another thing that is different, especially with the demi-pensionne ( almost always a private room with a bath) is the cost - way way more than last year. The difficulty of this route is also much harder than the Camino Frances. This has been steeply up and down everyday, all day! The extreme climbs and descents were never more evident than today when we were in a torrential rain, thunder and lightening storm. We came into Estaing down a steep path which was a virtual mudslide. Our new ponchos may have kept our packs dry but they didn't prevent the dampness from sweating or any protection from the lightening - that's why we quit after only 12 kms. Maybe tomorrow will be safer.

Some things are still the same though; the joy and relief when you find that first cafe or patisserie/bakery in the morning. That welcomed stop is always appreciated because what else is always the same in any camino is that is hard, really hard. A pilgrimage implies penance and an acceptance of suffering and a pilgrimage delivers as promised. And finally, wet is wet; it's always wet and Gortex is not a perfect product. Would that it were because then I would not have to go back to the gite now to stuff my boots with newspaper and wring out my socks.


  1. Karen and Dayton

    We are vicariously walking with you, and even with the wet are enjoying it! It sounds like you have handled the worst in terms of rugged terrain -- even if the worst is probably the most memorable (although Conques and Moissac are yet to come). And -- we hope you taped the French singers' 'Ultreia' so we can have some guidance for next year.

  2. Oh dear Lord: Don't tell me there's more to come. We are in Cahors and I thought and hoped those climbs were behind us. The heat has been energy zapping and dehydrating so we welcomed the cloud cover and spritz of rain today.