Day Sixteen

Well I awoke early, but in silence and in a double bed! I don’t want to get up…
Finally at half past seven I decide to roll out of bed. When I first looked out of the window there had been a mist surrounding the town, now it was clear blue skies.
I’m supposed to be seeing the folks again today, one last time before I drop too far south for them to visit. Unless off course there’s an emergency?!
By reaching Cahors a day early I kind of screwed up all my & their plans. I text then to let them know my new plans. Despite hobbling rather than walking I want to get on my way. It’s half past eight as I cross the Pont Valentré, I look to see the devil’s stone. The phone goes, dad telling me they’d meet me later in the day. I have now decided to take the next 3 days fairly easy, doing an average of 24km per day, to reach Moissac by Saturday.
By setting off so late, the day has already begun to warm up. The one kilometre climb from Cahors has sweat pouring from my head. Today is going to be hard.
My feet ease slightly as I begin a steady rhythm, but there is still a small twinge in my left foot and also my right knee. I suppose I may have to face facts that I’m finally getting old…
An hour later and I have a new companion, it’s like I’m the pied piper of stray dogs. The thing is, this is no stray, a very charming little dog with a very clean coat, again a type of gun dog, a hound, young, no collar and almost certainly going to get run over the way she darts in front of cars as we head to cross a motorway! An hour later and the pup has finally found something better than following (and leading) me, men with machinery building a house.
I continue in a small trail of pilgrims, some fully fledged, some tourists. It’s cynical of me I know, but unfortunately that’s how I see it. Today the way follows trails this way and that, if you don’t keep a sharp eye on the waymarkers you could end up walking the wrong way. (This is where the viewranger app for iPhone comes in very very handy).
I climb one side of a hill, only to come back down just around the corner rather than the other side, and the way down is once again treacherous. I pass a swarm (I don’t know if there is a scientific term for this) of butterflies, Adonis Blue, I believe. Later I get a picture of a bunch of butterflies on poo. That’s right, butterflies on poop, I was as shocked as you are, such pretty little things. The butterflies not the poop.
I cross a brand new road, or motorway, (it’s big and there’s no road markings as yet), I stop to take a picture, both ways.
By 1pm, communication with my folks has cost me the price of a pint, in the UK, and not in Wetherspoon’s. I underestimated the distance and my folks have been in the village I plan to stay in for half an hour already…. I’m about 6km away, I think. But like I said yesterday, you never can tell with French distances. For example, today I pass two signs to Lascabanes (where I plan to stop), approximately 2km apart, both say I’m only 1.2km away…
Finally, at about half past two I see my dad walking down the road towards me. I straighten up a bit, take slightly better strides, and don’t drag my feet. He already worries about me, I don’t want him to see that today has physically destroyed me.
We walk together towards the church. I pop in the gite d’etape only to find there’s no space. French tourists with two support vehicles, a shed load of bags, cool boxes and accessories have filled the place.
Rant time….
So you see I carry my mobile always, it’s the world we now live in, but do I call and reserve a bed for the following night…. NO. Why not? Because
a) I don’t know how far I’ll walk and I believe somewhere will always present itself to me.
b) I don’t believe St. James, or any of the first pilgrims setting off to see his resting place, sent friggin’ messengers to book rooms ahead of them.
c) I’m just a little bit stubborn.
Now I haven’t had a problem in France finding a place to stay, today is no different, I walk half a kilometre and find a chambre d’ote, done. I do however look forward to Spain, where you can’t ring ahead, it’s first come first served. Of course I doubt we’ll get the tourists in Spain.
Ok, so room sorted I dump my bags, and walk back to the village with ma. They have had their picnic but they have some for me, so we sit and I eat.
I tell them I met three youngsters from Paris. I’ve passed them a few times over the last few days and then they always pass me, but today I stop and talk to them. They tell me I’m being talked about between the other pilgrims. The Brit with the massive…..camera (obviously). I believe I’m the only Brit on this stretch of the route and certainly the only one advertising where I’m heading with my ‘The Way To Santiago’ hoody, they find it hard to grasp I’m fundraising for UNICEF, and even harder to grasp I’m walking with a camera that must weigh at least 2kg… I do wonder myself.
My folks decide to take me for a little drive, I want a few bits from a supermarche, and dad wants to see a village not far from here. The drive makes a welcome change, and when we finally find the shop, I buy a few bits that add another couple of kilos to my weight?!! Afterwards, they drop me back and say their goodbyes. I head to my bed, do my washing, shower and crash… Once again exhausted!

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About waytosantiago

The way of St. James is one of the three largest Christian pilgrimages of the world. I intend to walk one of the many routes which begins in le Puy en Velay, France. The route has been trodden by many weary souls, looking for answers, looking for adventure, for the obvious religious reasons, or just walked for the sake of it. I first came across the route about 6 years ago whilst reading Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Pilgrimage’, I decided maybe something could be learnt from spending so much time on the road in solitude. Being the kind of person that lives to work, these ideas were put on hold whilst my life moved steadily forward. Recently I’ve found myself longing for adventure and decided it was time to begin planning. Another thing I decided was if I was going to do this, I may as well try and raise money for charity along the way. So the story begins...
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