Fra(i)ncia XXII – Cirque de St. Jacques

Manon and me took the early bus to Le Puy and we said our goodbye’s at the station. I warmed up a little and waited for the sun to show itself.. Today was promising to be a lovely day.

Walking out of the city was easy enough, with the path being clearly marked. Fucking warning signs that you shouldnt listen to strangers telling you ‘go here or there’ because you will get fucking lost pilgrim!!1

The road took me up and down several hills in complete disregard for my energy level. Cherry on top being this ancient tower, now a ruin. Where pilgrims would used to pay their toll fees for crossing the area.. I admire their sense of tradition here but that tower has long since been abandoned and aint no fee to cross this area anymore nowadays, not in the monetary sense at least. Still, it forces you all the way up a mountain and then all the way down just so you can take in the scenery/tradition, which was pretty nice I must admit.

Continued to climb and I saw a lot of signs along the way advertising bars/ gites/restaurants/little places to refill your water, and the best thing was that IT ALL WASNT TRUE. Water, ho(s)tels, restaurants..Everything was closed, entire towns that are open half the year but closed the other half existed on this route and I dont know whats harder. Walking through northern France, where there just isnt anything OR the sense of false hope you get and it turns out that theres absolutely nothing when youre expecting to be a lot. I prefer the scarce north to be honest. 
In addition to that – people were pretty pilgrim tired in this area. Some towns just being outright unfriendly. Also people locked their doors more and yea, a lot of things that arent working in my vagrant favor.
I would just have to find a new rhythm I guess. Relying on the bigger towns seemed the best bet and if Im just focused on that, its actually just like in the North of France.

I walked into a town where I found a hotel that was open, the weather differed over each mountain and it was pretty windy in this valley. There seemed to be noone there but when I unpacked and settled in the restaurant anyway and went out for a cigaret, I could see a sign blown over on the ground to call the owner.

The owner was a friendly British boomer. I call him a boomer because the good man started spilling out his entire life story, mixed in with a lot of advice that only a boomer could give. The guy bought a 200 € sleeping bag and of course that gave him the right to give me solid advice like, dont get stuck somewhere – just hitchhike, dont walk up all the way on the mountain – sleep in the forest (fucking stupid idea), dont let yourself go too hard and maybe you’ll find a job somewhere. I tried to explain to this sensei that I had been on the road for over a 100 days already and that if he thought I’d look decent now, I would probably look decent throughout. Alas, like any good baby boomer, he cared only for himself and his… The guy had absolutely no idea what he was talking about but still I listened to him ramble on about everything, turns out he left home in England when he was 19 and had been living with his ex wife ever since, a fine sage on walking long distances right here..

I finished my way too expensive tea and continued up the mountain, it sure was a bitch and it was windy as hell, all the way up. Lucy dragged me over it and on the other side it was actually kind of calm and tranquil. There was a town with minor things open and I had a little bit of a look see. There was a shed with hay in it and I hid my backpack there while I did some exploring, maybe also sleep there but that turned out to be wayyyy too cold. A little shop was open with way too many expensive things, regular supermarket stuff, left on the shelf for soo long the quality began to degrade, all the while being sold at exorbitant prices, yea Im back in the fucking pilgrim circus alright..

I only bought the necessities and parked my tent next to the church. Sour aftertaste but sweet dreams.

The next day took me up the hill and down again many, many times and not that many eventful things happened, I didnt really like the area in particular since they were mostly planes and pine forests but Im sure thats more the taste of some people. I really cant be bothered though, and all these steep ass hills and closed shops can really suck my peen.

I reached Sauges which again turned out to be a slightly bigger town. I didnt find any place to sleep and by the time I reached it, everything was already closed. The people seemed friendly enough and I decided to park my tent in the most obnoxious place I could find (as it turned out). In the evening it was a pretty quiet crossing, little grass field but at around 0600h in the morning, when the cars started driving – it turned into a high traffic intersection with even a fucking traffic jam at one point. Not quite the stealthy Dragon I sometimes am. 

I woke up from people making homeless people sounds next to my tent. I hoped they would go away but they werent, so I just zipped open my tent and dangled my balls in my camouflage boxershort in the wind. I was greeted by 2 friendly guys from the village. We talked a bit and they invited me over for lunch at a friend of theirs. The big guy who was with us towered over me but eventually he didnt want to come inside. The other small fellow made a very nice pasta and their friend – Gerard, was troubled, but nice to me nonetheless. Heavy, heavy Christian and at some point, when he started to put money into my hands, I had to stop em in his tracks. I had such an extremely slow start that it felt like a wasted day. Lunch was done around 1500h and it was going to be dark in another hour or 2. 

Still pretty nice for complete strangers to invite and feed me like that.. It may not be completely sane, it may not be completely clean, but it sure as hell was meant well and that, my dear readers, is just good for the soul. St. Philippe (the little guy) left at some point leaving me with St. Gerard the Troubled, it was strange but I just rolled with it. I told him I would burn a candle for his troubled ass and his eyes lit up like he was a little boy on Christmas. Oof, right in the karma..

I left town and after clearing a forest, mountainside and a short meadow I walked into a little town that had a very rustic, sort of chapel looking thing there. I just asked some people standing around if it was open and it turned out it was a place for pilgrims to stay (refuge). The guy walked with me and showed me around and was very happy to accommodate me. The place didnt have any running water/electricity/light at night but it did have a big ol’ wood stove..Argghh my kryptonite when it comes to choosing between continuing or sleeping there. I already saw some closed auberges in the little town that had enough wood to make me a good fire. The neighbors were kind enough to refill my water bottles and the dinner from this afternoon + the 2 oranges I had left were enough to hold me over to the next town. 
The stove didnt turn out as good as it looked as they had made a weird construction error with the chimney forcing all the warm air to enter up the chimney instead of into the room, very annoying I know, but I curbed that little perdicament by just building a bigger fire..arrgghh

The next day I woke up early and my bag felt lighter for some reason, made sure I had everything in it and it was good – I had. I noticed that when youre fasting a little here and there, your body actually adepts to work needed faster. With fire in my legs and in my soul I left and I soon found myself in another village where everything looked very nice in summer, now in winter – it was all closed..

The road was uneventful except for the fact that different villages tried to lure you by changing the roadsigns, in the distance I could faintly see clowns on unicycles juggling. Leading up to the village, its all markings and signs and whatnot and how the fuck youre going to get out of it was no care to anyone. I walked into a village and this nice farmgirl told me I was going the wrong way. I told her I was following the red and white markings and they led me here. She said theres nothing in the way where youre going. I smiled and kept on going anyway, man did I wish I listened to her but I thought she was clowning me.. As I walked all the way out of town, up the mountain, looking at maps, I could see Im going further and further away from the place Im actually going.. Ok, I should have listened, I walked back to the village, just in time for her to drive by me in her car, put it in reverse and thank God I had already looked up how to say; you were right and I wasnt in French, at least Im a prepared clown.. She was nice enough and explained the road to me again, since it was dark I didnt listen to her (again) and decided to just continue on the normal road instead. That way I would be sure to find the place where Im going (Saint-Alban-sur-Limognole). 

I arrived in that town and there were 2 bars open, I chose the one that had people in front of it and they were playing the most obnoxious music inside, with young people chilling and playing darts and a whole rugby/soccer team yelling and drinking beer. The circus is actually complete now. The people were still very friendly to me and I ate a small, disgusting overpriced microwave sandwich there. I thanked them and went to the other bar and took the menu of the day. I’d only eaten 2 oranges today and the food was a nice. The other bar was a lot more quiet which was more my style but the other place had nicer tea. Its whatever. 

After dinner I did some diary writing and went to go sleep on the cemetery in my tent. A little shed at the edges peaked my interest and when looking inside, it was perfect for a night. I hate to put up my tent when its unnecessary, especially when its dry. If its already wet, I have less problems with it.

I had a very good nights sleep and the next day I went to the mass to get a nice stamp. I decided to keep a little pause in this village since the wool socks (that a friend gave me) absolutely rekt my feet..

Yea this was turning slowly into a little bit of a shitshow, too touristic for my taste and with that – more unfriendliness. In equal measures though, it just seemed the ends of the bellcurve were a lot more apart. I didnt find any dogs the entire route that were as dangerous as when I left Le Puy, literally almost fighting a couple of em in at least 3 villages since they were after Lucy. Also the fact that everything is closed and gives you false hope is a real son of a bitch. Continuing seems the only logical way to go and this little shed/town may prove to be a blessing, nothing is ever permanent.

hardships and blessings, in equal amounts silvousplait