Sloop John B

Tuesday September 15 – Day 12

I know some of you have been waiting for me to have a bad day! It can’t be all sunshine, flowers, and puppies all the time, even in France.

I’m so glad I had a good night. Megan really saved me. We got up about 7 to go eat breakfast. It was the standard breakfast. I don’t like the bread in this region, though. It’s brown, but it’s very dry and tasteless. Not my favorite.

I got all packed up and was walking out of the city before 9. I stopped at the boulangerie to get two croissants and a little quiche for my lunch.


There was a cloud of fog hanging over the city and around the mountains. It was quite lovely.

The walk up the mountain was quite steep, but I think it’s the longest, steepest climb I’ll have for a while. I think.


There was a cute little chappelle on the side of the mountain. There was a note on the door that said something to the effect of, “you can ring the bell, but please do so quetly.” It seemed like everyone behind me rung the bell.

Looking back over the valley, the city was almost completely shrouded in the cloud. I didn’t know I slept in Brigadoon last night. It’s a good thing I left early enough.

I wasn’t able to get an iconic shot of Conques, but it was still quite picturesque.

It took about an hour to climb the mountain. For part of the time I was walking with Suzanne, who had been with me at the mobile home park/crazy food guy place.  She is walking the camino in stages every Spring.  She started in 2009 from Lucerne, Switzerland, and walks 200-250k every year.  This next year she starts from Sarria and finishes.  Currently she is walking a section of the Le Puy route, but she’s already walked it before.

I came across some pilgrims who were pillaging a peach tree.  The little peaches were absolutely delicious!!  Megan caught up with me at the tree, while I had juice running down my fingers, and we spent a lovely little time walking and talking. I had originally been planning on skipping the route that went through Decazaville, because I wasn’t staying there, but we totally missed the turnoff and I didn’t notice until it was too late. I had to walk down the long mountain into Decazaville, and up the other side.

My feet started killing me. I don’t know if it’s all the swelling, but I just haven’t been able to stand the walking for very long. It seems like 5 hours is my limit, and today I walked for a little over 7.

Everyone has said I’m not drinking enough water, so I’m trying to drink more. We caught up with Monique and Fon-Fon, and they found my moaning and groaning slightly amusing and slightly theatrical. Monique said she would be my mother and I should listen to her. “Betsey, change your shoes! Listen to your muzhair” I love the way the French say my name, “Bet-C.” Then she tried using reverse psychology. “Bet-C, you do not need to change your shoes, it’s ok. It is good for you to keep walking.”


We found Anick sitting outside her gîte, so we stopped for a few minutes. I sat down on the bench, and apparently the face I made was photo-worthy, because Anick made me hand her my phone and try to repeat the face. I’m sure the original face was much better.

My feet are very sore. Luckily, no blisters, but the constant pounding is taking a toll. I have decided that rest days will be a necessary part of my trip. I will be taking at least one rest day in Figeac.

We got into Decazaville and Megan headed off to find her gîte, and I went to see the church and an ATM machine. I don’t really care for the city. It’s a big, modern city. Well, bigger and more modern, and I felt quite out of place. The church was big, and felt more modern. I didn’t stay long because I wanted to get back. I did pass an ATM, so that was nice.

It was another very steep climb out of the city, but it’s somehow different on asphault.

I’m staying at my first Accueil Chrétien, which translates as a Christian Home. They are run on a donativo or donation basis, so you pay whatever you want to.


There was a group of pilgrims outside on the front patio and she was giving them drinks. A homemade lemonade type stuff, and there were wasps everywhere. She took my pack, and had me sit down in a chair and she removed my shoes and socks for me. I thought that was very touching. Then she took me upstairs and showed me where the bedroom and shower and bathroom was. I went back down stairs to get my stuff, and the stairwell was dark, so I put my hand out to grab the railing, and apparently I grabbed a wasp instead. Stung me right in the crease of my thumb. So I started yelling and crying and it hurt like the dickens! The singer had come out with the poison sac attached, and I wasn’t able to get it out right away, so who knows how much more poison got pumped in. The host pulled it out for me, and everyone was quite concerned. I went down to get my stuff, and all of the pilgrims from outside were standing in the doorway looking in and saying “Elisabet, Elisabet.” One of them pulled out something to put on it and they were all quite sympathetic. It’s almost two hours later, and the thing still stings like heck.

I went to take a shower, and there was no lock on the door. I closed the door and pulled the curtain, but sure enough, halfway through my shower a man opened the door and tried to open the curtain, so I started hollering, and he was quite apologetic, but of course with the day I’d been having so far, with my feet hurting and my hand hurting like heck, I just started crying. So yes, I had my first moment of wanting to go home! Then I had the Sloop John B lyrics running through my head. It’s really not all that bad, but it’s certainly not fun. Anick had mentioned yesterday that she feels like there should be a little more pain and suffering on the pilgrim trail, or you don’t get the full experience.

I’m looking forward to my single hotel room tomorrow night.

Dinner was ok, but I was so tired, and in so much pain, it wasn’t a pleasant experience for me.  There was no meat, but we did get an egg.  And the dessert was a lovely Armenian thing that was smiliar to backlava (Idk how you spell that). Flaky pastry, nuts, but not quite so smothered in honey.



Add yours →

  1. Bad wasp, bad bad! Bad door lock, bad bad! Naughty feet, start being nice to your human!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Poor feet…and poor thumb!
    Your feet should develop the necessary toughness, but your thumb will never become wasp-tolerant.
    Rest days sound like a good idea as you build up the tolerance to life on the road.


  3. Oh no! Kate once got stung by a yellow jacket near the end of a not-good day. I sense a conspiracy.

    The fog is really lovely. Some of those photos need to be watercolors or something.


  4. Betsey, I love love love those photos of the foggy village. They are so beautiful. thanks for sharing. I’ve always wanted to do something like this so it’s nice to experience it somewhat vicariously. I hope your next days go better.
    (this is Lesli)


  5. I am sorry your feet are bothering you. Hopefully, they learn soon that walking 25K a day is your new normal and they will adapt. 🙂 Sorry about your sting and the man who doesn’t knock first. I am glad Anick made you remake that face – it is perfect!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: