No wifi for 3 days, one of which cost me euros and the loss of my cell phone. You can still contact me via the firstname.lastname@example.org or enter a comment on this blog. Indeed I would welcome comments here as long as they are relevant to this trip or short and sweet.
I am tired of jeets or pilgrim hostels advertising wifi only to discover they don,t have it. I had to top up my cell plan 13 Aug via the internet so I purposely picked accommodation that said they had it. When we arrived tired a nd hungry, registered and payed only to find out they did,n have it. As a result I lost my top up and automatically lost all my services, which will end up costing me 50 euros. When I complained to the madam at the jeet all she would do or say was “Pardon monsieur, cest la vie, cest voici, cest voila. “ Cest it aint so said I”
By the way. If I am not up on this it means that I have no access to wifi. I will catch, unless of course I trash this IPad tablet.
Day 12: Chateaumaillant to Le Chatre
Got out of the campsite early. Gate was locked but this time I cut through a hedge that turned out to be nettles with thorns. In the early morning darkeness I got caught up in the brambles. It was dawn,s early light so I let out a muffled scream, drew blood and almost woke up the entire campsite. That would not have been pretty.
DISASTER! I left my “doby” kit in the salle de bain in Chatelet. Damn. For the unitiated doby is military jargon for bathroom stuff. This was definitely the bane of my existence. A real disaster. Pouquoi? Well over here you just cannot go down to the local store and get new stuff. Why? Because there is no local store. And if there was it would be closed. Indeed, last night I decided to go into town being Saturday night and all. It was about 1930 (0730 pm). The area was known for its wine. Well, imagine that. It was a ghost town. Nothing open except some pizza burger joint. Finally I did find a cafe open.I walked over. Great I thought. They have a menu board up. Looking I could make out lasagna provincale. Oh I knew that. When the garcon came over I said in my best French: I,ll have some of that provincial lasagna, and a beer. “Sorry Monsieur” he said. “La cuisine est ferme!!!!!. “ I lost it. Have you noticed a recurring theme throughhout these posts, as in “FERME.” So here I am in the midst of some of the finest wine country ever only to find out I have to settle for cheeseburger, fries and a Cabernet “ fanta” to wash it all down with. And to make matters worse I spilled some ketchup down my newly washed white t-ee shit. I could just hear my wife Marijke yelling in my ear: “ you really are a slob John”
Back to camp. I was mad at myself. How could you be soo stupid. You are always forgetting stuff. You know, I could write a book on this as in:
How Not To Camp in France…by John Morrison or
Camping in France – The Hard Way…by John Morrison or
Lost in France…by John Morrison
Anyway, I got on my way. A beautiful day. It was going to be a hot one. Skies were clear, air was crisp and pungently fresh and the winds were still. Landscape was flattening out from previous hikes. I walked up and over hill and dale, past deserted farmhouses and barns that were architecturally works of art unto themselves. Through small quaint villages, frozen in time it would seem, all asleep until awakened by a roosters call. Sometimes I would walk past some old dilapidated farm being used as a dog kennel. Of course they could smell me coming from a mile a way. And who couldn,t. Even I couldn,t stand myself. I loved this for all of a sudden, all hell would break loose. A cacaphony of hoots, barks and yelps that covered across the entire sound spectrum. I laughed because I felt karma. If you are going to raise or keep dogs in filth then I am going to make you pay the price by awakening every one of those dogs at 0600am. The owners were pissed. Too frigin bad…oops, pilgrims are not supposed to swear. Hell fire and damnation!
The other thing I noticed was how patiotic the French were. Every town, village and hamlet had a mounment for fallen soldiers.
Beautiful churches and Abbeys
And the countryside. Magnificent.
Met up with the Von Trappe family again. Great people. We walked all the way into Chatre, an old medieval city situated at the top of a large hill. Of course it was. We ended up in a old pelerin hostel, code for dump. Run by some obscure religious order, one paid by donation as long as it was what they expected. Another thing I hate about this pilgrimage. I do not like being told what I have to donate. No wifi, no services whatsoever. Turns out the house we were in used to be owned by the founder of the French newspaper Le Figuro. This guy died in 1853 and I don,t think they have changed the decor since. Le Chatre was also the playing ground for the famous French female author, George Sands.
We ended the day on a terrace with a nice dinner in a great setting in a square that dates back to the 1400s. Life of a pilgrim is grand.
Day 13: Le Chatre to Neuvy Saint Sepulchre
Left early, 6 am. It was a dark and stormy looking day. Cool with a slight drizzle brewing. Headed out with the family. Walked hard. Not much to tell today because it was gloomy weather. Passed an impressive looking castle.
I told these two women that I would give them this castle as a Queen and Princess.. I lied! Oh and I found out what that bird call was from…a pigeon. Nothing at all exotic. Just a lowly pigeon. As it turned out this day was a physical slog. Only 18km but it was hill after hill. We were climbing almost the entire way. We were all exhausted as we entered Neuvy Saint Sepluchre. And again, nothing open. What really ticked me off was that our place advertised wifi and they didn,t have it, as I mentioned above. I lost all my coverage. I said that didn,t I? Pissed? You bet but pilgrims are not supposed to swear. Sorry.
We had a great evening dining out in the garden. And it was here that we were introduced to Olion, a young French dude with not a dime to his name. Slovenly and dirty but he was a nice young fellow nevertheless.
Now Olion had a stoned expression about him. Dazed and confused. I introduced myself and went to sake his hand but he just waved me off and speard out his arms as if he could capture the moment with his arms.
”I am not of here “ he said. “ I am of the universe. One to grace the earth with all its blessings” he continued. I know this tune. This is code for begging and as he said that he pulled out his pack of smokes. Oh but you can afford to smoke I thought to myself.
“ Mother earth is in my bosum,my heart, my mind and in my soul dude. Capture the spirit of Gaia and you will be free.”
“Whoa” is all I could say Dude. I think I will hold on to my stuff a little bit closer I reminded myself.
I opened a beer and offered him a glass. He looked at me in one of those hippy days daze and smiled and said: “no, I don,t want to poison my body, “ as he took a long drag and toke on his cigarette.
”Whoa” is all I could think of. And with we all sat down for dinner, including Olion, dazed and confused.
We all had a great time. Even Olion.
Day 14: Neuvy St Sepulchre to Gargilese.
Anyone who would name their town after a mouthwash is alright in my books.
Again an overcast day, cool, about 20 degrees Great for walking, or hiking, or slogging it out or whatever. After awhile one becomes comfortably numb doing this as if off in another world, in a never, never, never again land. One dreams many dreams, has thoughts of many thoughts, tales of many tales.But not too dreamlike as the terrain can be brutally unforgiving at times. A sprain would end it for me so I háve to be careful.
After a 90 minute walk we arrived at Cluis. Cluis is a famous place as it was the site of a major Roman/Gaul battle, of which Julius Ceasar kicked butt. It was also the hub of a string of fortresses during the 100 years war (who fights for 100 years – that is a major grudge). The 100 years war culminated was under the leadership of Joan of Arc who finally kicked the brits out of France for good. For that she was burned at the stake. I wonder what they would have done to her if she lost!
After Cluis we walked straight to Gargilese, a beautiful village set in the hills and valley. Unbelievable, gorgeous
Milestone today: completed the Nevers southern variant. 300 km done. It,s all downhill from here. Limoges is my next milestone. All roads lead to St Jean Pied de Port. Can,t wait. Barry and I celebrated with a great dinner and a fine bottle of grape.