Sunday, May 02, 2010

Woods outside Bergouey-Bergouey

Bergouey turned out to be about 45 minutes walk from my campsite. No shop, no bar. I eat my last food for breakfast at some sort of racketballcourt. It's my backupfood, the last of it except for Sojins Korean noodlesoup. It's dry and stale, but atleast I'm fed and good to go - and Saint Palais is not that far; only 20-30K.

I meet some lady sitting in her car and studying a map on a roadside-stop where the camino misses a small village by a short kilometer. I ask her if there are any shops or bars up in that village; she says no and I go on my way. 

As I walk past this farm I find water in a hose hanging on the side of a shed. As I fill my waterbottle the farmdog comes up to me; aggressive barking but he keeps 2-3 meters distance. I quickly pack the bottle in my backpack, throw the backpack on my back and start walking. The farmer is driving slowly down the road towards me on a tractor. The dog is following me, still barking, I make a point of greeting the farmer and the farmer grins and greets back. The dog chills a little, but he keeps following.

Behind me the farmer disappears into the barn. The dog is joined by an other dog, and they start barking again, but they still keep their distance. I'm about a hundred meters past the farm and I'm like whatthefuck I should be out of their "zone" by now.

They're joined by a third dog, apparently belonging to the neighbour. This one is very fucking aggressive and not only does he charge me, but he riles up the two other dogs. While a little phobic about dogs (I was bitten as a small child) I'm not really afraid of them. I feel confident I can kick most dogs ass; if there's only one of them, if they aint the big type of attackdogs; like rottweilers, bigass sheperds or... God forbid... huskies. 

Even if none of these are larger than bigsized mediums, three dogs could probably take me. I been fearing this moment since I decided to start walking. On my last camino I was scared (almost) shitless by three other farmdogs. First a small one came running up to me barking and looking like he was actually going to bite me and I was overconfident, I didn't assess the situation properly and I just raised my cane and made an aggressive fuck-you-you-little-shit stance that scared that little lapdog into submission and awoke the two unseen, unchained fucking HUGE dogs that had been lying in wait 20 meters away outside the farmhouse. They charged and I did the full submission-thing and walked away and luckily they decided not to kill me.

There's been a lot of dogs on the camino, and I've experimented a bit with different moves and stances as I've passed the most aggressive fenced-in ones. I've learned that outright aggression, lifting my stick, that sort of thing just make them go click - so when that first dog charges me I just point my cane at him like a spear or a sword and he does the sensible thing and keeps a halfmeter away. They charge in turns, circle me, but I manage to keep them away, and when I'm about a 150 meters away from the second farmhouse they seem to give up.

I walk pretty fast down the asphalted hillside road. Not to fast though; I don't want to show fear. Then I hear the *clicking* sound of paws on road. I turn as fast as I can and the silent attacker almost runs into my cane and a good whack. He trails me for another 5 minutes or so - but at a distance.

I find a good spot to break; get my nerves in check. Start walking again. I find a "Gite". I've convinced myself that these are really some sort of pensions or somesuch. It's only a bit past noon, but I only had a few hours sleep last night thanks to that raveparty, sleeping in tents never is that restfull to me - soft cityboy that I am - and the day has been stressfull. So I ask for a bed. No bed. Does she know where I can buy some food? No food. Ok. Thank you. I'll be on my way then.

Now, what exactly is a "Gite"? I have no idea.

An hour or two later I meet the aforementioned lady with the map. She's dropping of two pilgrims - they seem so fresh I'm guessing they're just starting out - but you never know with these "pilgrims" with support-vehicles. It is amazing how fresh they manage to look.

She smiles, half-laughs, says ahh!! Taking the grand tour!? I just smile and go on. Really, I'm in no mood to talk. My feet are starting to hurt aswell, and I'm wet. Soon the two fresh pilgrims overtake me, we walk together and chat a bit for a few minutes. It turns out it's their first day (or so they claim). 

Then I see that strange (in French only) warningsign I saw last night by my campsite. I ask them what it means, and they explain me that it means it's a huntingground and that you might just get accidentally shot if you hang around. It's Sunday. I don't ask them whether French hunters usually are professionals working from Monday to Friday - or more if they're more like the Norwegian hobby-hunters who prefer hunting on the weekends, preferably drunk. I'm quite sure I won't like the answer.

I have a nagging suspicion, I say goodbye and go to investigate that little huntingground. That really looks remarkably like that sign last night. Really, the whole little hill looks remarkably like my very campsite. 

It is. I've walked in a circle. I've not been lost once. I've been following yellow arrows all day and Im back at my startingpoint. I do not collect 200€. It's only 2 or 3 o'clock when I arrive in Bergouey again. But really, really, I don't feel motivated to walk on. Not to be overly repetitive, but my feet hurt. I am hungry. And while winning over three dogs is really empowering I reeeeaaally did not want to see those damn dogs again. Not today. 

So I let myself in to the unmanned (?) refugio. It's such a nice refugio I'm even half-doubtful it even is a refugio. But you know, if you have a public-looking building with pilgrimsymbols on the outer walls, an unlocked door and beds, kitchen, toilets and showers, and just leave it unmanned on the pilgrim-trail you are bound to have some pilgrims taking advantage. 

I raid their kitchen and loot a chocolate, some beers, and the next morning I even steal a kilo of Magdalena-cake from the freezer. Really, how many days was it now since I saw a shop? And tomorrow is monday. France don't work on mondays half the time. I wash my clothes, I eat well, I get a slight buzz and I sleep perfectly and the next day I just fuck that pilgrimroute and take the road for the first 10K or so.

No dogs :)

I even write a warning for other pilgrims in the guestbook.

Yep, nothing like a shave and a shower. Maybe now I'll get rooms in the Gites?

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