May 262011

It seems incredible, but we are finally in Le Puy! We have left the cool of the mountains and passed a very warm day in the car. I became very drowsy and fell asleep several times. There we several spots where traffic was absolutely at a stand still, but as we got closer to Le Puy the scenery became more interesting. The hills became more wooded, the older houses are now made completely of stone. Our gite turned out to be right on the camino, which is here marked by a white and red stripe. After we got our room, and took very quick showers we headed off to the cathedral built in the high point of the city. It struck me as we climbed the steps in the street and the the foot and a half steps to the entrance of the cathredal that one has to be in excellant health to worship here. The cathedral was lovely, with it’s famous black madonna. It was somewhat after 6:00 and the sun steaming through the stained glass threw colored patterns on the opposing walls of the rotunda, very nice. After a dinner in town we returned to our gite, and hung out on the warm weather until it was time for bed. It was still very warm and I was worried about the walk in the heat between Le Puy and Saint Privat d’Allier. Breakfast was at 7:00, I was there as soon as the doors opened, and left, after arranging to meet at Saint Privat. I no soon arrived on the street than I met Martin (more commonly known as Dinu) who had walked from his front door in Bern, Switzerland. At age 46 he has quit his job of 21 years to decide what to do next… it was like a continuation of the Peter/Alex discussions! He also lived in the US for 8 months, including a stint in Portland selling RVs! We walked and talked for about 45 minutes, until the first coffee stop, where he stopped and I went on. A couple of other people passed me by at the begining, but most of the day I walked alone through beautiful follwin hills, fields full of wildflowers – red poppies, blue and pink batchelor buttons, daisies and queen anne’s lace – several other pink, purple, white and yellow flowers that enmasse tint each fiels a different color. I think it is wheat we are walking through, there a two dominat wheat colors, a bright yellow green and a taller straighter bluish green, that I quite like. Walked through several small towns and villages, and stopped in several small, simple stone churches, including one with a saint for lace-making. Hand made lace is a tradition in the area. After several hours of slow gentle rise, Dinu passed me by. I was approaching the lacs des oeufs (so called because they are in the cones of former volcanos – I remember people talking about the old volcanos, the gorge, and the hang-gliders in this area when I was in Auvergne in the 80s). This seemed like a good place to stop for lunch, but in fact when I arrived the lake was no where to be seen, so I took off my pack and sat on a stump to eat an apple and take my water bottle out of the pack pocket as I had completely drunk all the water in my hydration system. Since I had not needed them I also put the walking sticks on my pack. I met up with two men from Annecy just as I was leaving, and we walked together the last 4k to Saint Privat. This was the hardest part of the whole day. If I wasn’t so stubborn I would have stopped and used my sticks. It was very steep and I could feel the bottom of my feet getting hot. Saint Privat is a beautiful medival stone village perched on the edge of a dramatic gorge, inspitte of the 200 meter decent. Patrick and Jean-Pierre went off to find a place to stay. I headed to find our gite for the night. It didn’t open til 4 pm, so I returned to THE corner in town, found Dinu installed in the cafe having a beer and joined him. We talked some more, then Patrick and Jean-Pierre passed by. Ofcourse they all knew each other, so they joined us and we chatted, wrote , etc until 4 when l went to check in. After my shower I wandered through town to the tiny church, where I sat and wrote until Guylène and Beate arrived.

 Posted by at 12:25 pm

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