Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Day 12: Livinhac Le Haut to Figeac (24.5 kms)

Leaving Livinhac this morning

Today began with utter stillness except for the birdsong seemingly amplified under the cloudy skies. Robin was waiting for me in a Figeac so it was my intention to get there without delay. As I walked up the narrow streets and onto the Chemin I could see layers of mists clinging to the hillsides. The temperature was 55 F, and all I was wearing was a t shirt. Rain showers were forecasted for this morning, but so far so good. Most days the departing pilgrim contingent starts out with a bit of chatter to sort out the plan of the day, and then once the climbing starts (as it always does) the oxygen is needed elsewhere and silence settles upon the Chemin. I was proud of my choice of walking in just a t shirt as the early climbing was quite pleasant. No overheating. Another plus was my trusty trekking umbrella. Today was perfect for it. The rain showers, when they came, were light and intermittent. Changing into rain gear and continuing uphill was not going to be pleasant. So out came the umbrella, and off I went dry and cool as a cucumber. I passed people heavily clad in all sorts of clothing and rain gear, and to a person they looked with envy at that umbrella. Best investment I ever made.

The morning continued and the showers lightened and eventually called it quits. By this time the queue of pilgrims trodding the path had sorted itself into various groups of friends, walkers of similar gait, and people making new friends. I have met several pilgrims over the last week who seem to just turn up. It has been great fun walking with them. Everyone struggles with communications, but all are willing to give it a try. For example today I walked with Pierre from Bretagne, Remy from north of Paris, Phillipe just back from a job in La Reunion, and Tony from Marseilles. In addition there was Caroline from Paris (working for Amazon), Andreas from Muenster in Germany, another Phillipe from Switzerland, plus two friends from Iceland. All these people had a desire to communicate, and so it happened. A few common languages were found, inhibitions concerning accents were overcome, verb conjugations were hilariously misused (me being the prime offender), yet no one took offense, and surprisingly it all worked. We laughed, enjoyed each other's company, and even though some things got lost in translation we understood enough for it to be memorable. What I discovered is that we all fear flubbing a foreign language so we tend to just use our own. The French are no different. It is not that they feel that somehow French is superior. They are just timid and lack confidence, particularly in English. I never would have believed that I would sit down to lunch with a bunch of Frenchmen (with my limited French) and have a meaniful experience, but it happened. I lost my inhibitions and they lost theirs. That was when we started "understanding" one another, and I loved it, and they dis as well.

The French seem to have a better sense of pace when it comes to walking. They set a steady but not overly ambitious pace and enjoy a conversation as the kilometers pass by. When it is time for lunch they take the time to relax, enjoy their meal, talk a bit more, perhaps have a coffee, and then start thinking about the kilometers yet to go. When it is all said and done they have enjoyed time with their friends, had a pleasant walk through beautiful countryside, shared a nice lunch, and arrived at their destination without stress (some strain may be required depending on terrain). So, in that tradition, Pierre and I ambled into Figeac shortly after 4:00. He is bound for Santiago so I know I will se him again. But, for now we parted ways he to his lodging, and me to mine. Ten minutes later I called Robin from the hotel front desk and announced I was home, and indeed I was. Off to Rocamadour tomorrow for a rest day. Back on the Chemin on 5/9, as we head down the Célé valley. Robin's leg is improving so our hopes are high she will be able to continue walking.

Tony (on the left) from Marseilles
Free drinks from the jug in the photo above
Pilgrim's progress
Our hotel in Figeac
That's my girl



  1. Hope your leg is feeling much better Robin after some rest. Take it easy.... I think the French do have a better sense of 'pace'- and when I first hit Spain when I had walked from Le Puy, I found the 'whooosh' feeling in the first few days on the Camino Frances came as an awful shock! Figeac is one place I never quite explored enough. The bits I did see of the historic central area were very interesting. Bon Chemin!

  2. Be sure you post a picture of you ensconced under an umbrella. i feel you are having the time of your life.