Sunday, April 25, 2010

Labouheyre-somewhere in the woods

Jaques and Jaquelines refugio was a disappointment. It really was. But I do want to give them the honour due to them - even though there probably would have been a municipal Refugio in the Mairie (like in almost every other French village along the road) had they not taken it upon themselves to open their home to pilgrims.

I spoke to a couple of other people who had tried to open their home to pilgrims and such; and given up. People are really rude and ungrateful. They, we, don't really appreciate the fact that we are in somebodies home - and many apparently act as if they are in some sort of hotel. And everybody I talked to who'd done this sort of thing had given up within the space of 1-3 years. And while I do love French people; I can easily imagine them to be the worst kind of people to give hospitality to.

The picture below features my first genuine meeting with the South-European custom of serving coffee in a bowl. It's very cool and all that, but, I don't know, it seems sort of poor, inhospitable even, to a northwesterner. A coffeemug is like 1€ in the cheap shops - but I guess that's just the way they serve it. Never in restaurants or café's though.

Another interior - basically shot 180 degrees from the breakfast Jaques served me at 7:30 on a Sunday morning - his family day, the most important day in the week for him and his family. 

My feet was really hurting; and as I mentioned my spectacles and extra contactlenses was stolen by the Icelandic volcano, and the intense sun and polluted "national park" air had taken it's toll on my contacts. Looking through the window of the Labouheyre-optician I'd noted that they indeed did sell contacts and I was seriously considering staying another day in Labouheyre, to just take in to a hotel and relax, heal a bit and get up to date on my notes. 

I discussed it with Jaques; he really wanted me to go on - cause that's what a pilgrim does. (Not Jaques words though). The winning argument was, which I sort of knew already had I only thought about it, that the optician was closed on Monday as well and Dax was only 2-3 days away. 

The Labouheyre church was open; and I stopped by. I meditated a bit on the depiction of the Passion of the Christ in 13 stations around the church; and as I was praying to the Virgin Mother Jaques walked into the church with my toothbrush, toothpaste and a terrible (but expensive) French sausage I'd left in the refugio fridge. 

I thanked him for the toothbrush and toothpaste and for his effort on his family day; explained that I'd left the sausage for some other pilgrim and walked on my way into the beautiful smell of pines. Dead pines.

I remember getting pretty drunk pretty early on. There'd been a sale on "minibottles" (like 35cl I guess..) of some really nice white wine in the local supermarket and I bought a sixpack of them on impulse. Then, after a short while of walking I realized that not only were they heavy, but they would soon get hot and undrinkable and it was a bad bad fucking day and I was suffering from motivational problems and I thought getting drunk just might be motivational. 

Soon I was raving drunk and I was singing some version of the Beatles song Let it Be. ('In my times of trouble, Mother Mary spoke to me' et cetera.) 

I seem to remember I was crying a lot; even feeling slightly suicidal.

These are the only pictures of my feet I managed to take. While it's not the best of days blisterwise; sad to say it is definitely not the worst either. The picture is taken with my mobile phone; inside my tent a bit after noon. The sun was incredibly hot; the traffic from the closeby highway intense; it was siestatime.

I cannot imagine the reasoning behind taking the pictures with the mobile phone. Not that it matters.

Note the sunburns on my hands.

Not long after the sun went down a car with a couple in their forties passed me. First car since I'd entered the offroads around soon after my siesta. They offered to drive me to town. When I thanked them for their compassion but explained that sadly that would make me an oathbreaker they got that weird look, that mix of deep respect and dude yer fucking crazy-look.

I asked how far to town - they said about 6 clicks. When they drove on their way I checked the time, and realizing it was less than an hour to dark I started to pitch my tent.  

Being completely n00b I pitched it right next to this watertower. Why would I pitch my tent next to a watertower with an open door and a perfect little room? I don't know. I learned from the experience and later I would always look for structures like this where I could squat for the night. But this was the only such building the road provided for me.

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