Monday, September 28th – Day 21
Today is my 21st day of walking. I had been concerned before I even left that my trip would be over before I knew it. I don’t think I’m worried about that anymore. It’s not going too fast, or too slow.
I didn’t set my alarm for the the eclipse, but I figured I would wake up in time for it anyway. I probably woke up 3 or 4 times before it was 4 AM. It was supposed to be full at 4:47, but I got up anyway. I ended up staying up the whole time, and I probably didn’t need to. It didn’t change a whole lot.
It is pretty cool, though, that I got to see it, and I got to see it in France! I think the pics are fairly unique.
I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, and I think for a while I even dreamed that I wasn’t going back to sleep. But I did dream something about seeing President Obama eating a cheeseburger, and I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen.
I’d wanted to get an early start today because I had 30k to go! I honestly don’t know why I’m doing this to myself. 25k a day is much more reasonable. The towns this week were just placed so badly, and I want to take another rest day next Sunday, so in order to do that in a big town, I would either have to walk very short days, or very long days. I kept saying I wasn’t going to do this on purpose again, but today is 30k and tomorrow is 33k. I definitely don’t want to hurt myself, and I have buffer days. I will just have to accept that I’m probably going to use them all, and that’s ok.
I was ready to leave at 8:30, and started to go down the steps, when Ann said, “where are you going? You can go that way.” Turns out I didn’t have to go down that horribly steep hill and through town, but I did want to stop at an ATM because my cash is getting low, but Ann said there was an ATM in Auvillar. So I headed off the way she told me. The problem with going a way other than the marked path is that when you reach the marked path, you might start following it in the wrong direction. I’ve thought about this multiple times and wondered if it would happen. Especially in bigger cities, it’s easy to lose the path. If you come across it from another angle, and you’ve never been on it in that part before, you might not know which is the right way to go!
It totally happened. Taking Ann’s shortcut did not save me any time or distance. It was 9 AM before I was on my way out of the city. But I got to see another bridge!
There were two routes to choose between taking, and we had talked about it at dinner the night before. One route followed the canal and was very flat, but was road walking. The other path was the regular GR 65, and went up and down some very steep hills, but went through a special town that had lovely overlooks, and on a good day you could see all the way to the Pyrenees. Even though I had 30k to go, I choose the harder path.
Once again, the entire morning was shrouded in a thick fog and there was absolutely nothing to be seen. I did see a very pretty church, and I saved myself from walking an extra 10k along a canal.
I stopped in Malause and bought some bananas and yogurt. Then I walked for 3.5 km along the canal to Pommevic, and I ate my yogurt.
From the top of the hill where I stayed in Moissac, I could see some power plants off in the distance. Turns out I was walking right toward them.
For most of the morning the walk had been shaded, but from this point it was walking across farmland with no shade, on the road. 14k of road walking. I really don’t like road walking, and it hurts. Spain might be flatter, but I think it’s mostly road walking.
I got to Auvillar, which is on the Garonne, and stopped at the houses that are owned by the group of people from last night. Of course, I don’t remember the name of the organization or the college they’re associated with. The buildings were closed, but there was a sign they were at the Chapelle. They’re having an art exhibition. So I walked in, took a few pictures, and was completely ignored by the 3 people who were there. As I walked in, the guy said, “someone is coming!” and then I had to wait a very long time before anyone looked at me. They were gushing about the particular frame that had been chosen for a piece on display. It was a black frame. So I wandered around for a bit, signed the book, and then stood by the desk for a while. I was finally able to say that I’d had dinner with the board members last night and they told me I should stop by. The whole encounter was, unfortunately, very American. I wonder if any visitors get an introduction to what is actually happening, or if everyone is ignored equally.
Auvillar would have made a nice stopping point at 21k. But no, I had to go another 9k. I got most of the way through the town before I remembered that I needed an ATM. I found one by the post office, but I’m pretty sure it was out of order. It had a flashing screen that alternated between a picture of the card slot with a slash through it, and another screen for calling a phone number for if your card gets eaten, and an apology for the inconvenience. At least, that’s what it appeared to be to me. I decided not to try my card in it. I should be ok for the next two nights, but I will need an ATM very soon.
It was a very hot, painful 9k to Saint Antoine. At least I had two poles to carry a bit of the load. It really is amazing how much they help, especially on those uphills, and then at the end of the day when your feet hurt so much you really push down on the poles to try to relieve as much weight off your feet as you can. I don’t even want to think about what this day would have been like without poles. Yay for having two poles again! And yay for knowing they’re worth it!
I’m in a room with 5 beds, but just one other person. It’s 6:30, so it will probably stay that way. Her name is Laurence, and she is French, but she speaks English. She is trying to get to Santiago, but doesn’t know if she has enough time. She only has till Nov 13th, but she also left Le Puy on September 12th, 8 days after me! She said she’s starting to get tired and might need to take a rest day.
Dinner was a fairly basic pilgrim meal, but with some salt it was pretty good. The starter was a bean and pork soup (i think it was pork) that was very, very tasty with some salt and pepper. The mail course was some dijon chicken and rice, and then dessert was a huge yogurt parfait. It’s nice to get some extra yogurt!
There was some English dinner conversation around me. There is a couple walking from the Netherlands, but they don’t speak any French, so they speak English. I think Laurence has met them before. The Dutchman’s English (and I don’t know his name) is very funny because he speaks with very American idioms and inflection. It’s kind of odd, but very amusing. It’s hard to explain. Plus maybe it was also just funny because he’s a funny guy.
Here was one exchange. There was an older man who came in who had quite broad shoulders, and Laurence commented on it, and the Dutchman said, “Yes, he’s a carpenter. He carries 23 kilos.” Laurence didn’t know what the word carpenter was, so he said, “He builds houses. He carries 23 kilos.” So then Laurence said, “He carries supplies in his pack to build a house?” And the Dutchman said, “Yes, very likely. It would be easy for him.” Anyway, it was funny.