I am sleeping in a convent tonight. I think its called the angel of mercy. It’s an incredibly beautiful old building with amazing gardens and a little sanctuary from the heat of the sun which has increased a huge amount today. I walked downhill for about 15 Km’s to get here so it must just be the altitude shift. Gave myself an easier day of it. Took a short cut cos my body needs a day to slow down and be in moon time. Met a lovely solo hiker (man) but we can’t speak the same language so we just communicated in smiles as we passed each other continually on the road. There is a little band of us who are walking at roughly the same pace on a similar schedule and though I can’t speak to any of them properly (they know me as ‘australii’) they are like my little roadside family and when we come across each other on the road or at a cafe or restaurant we say ‘bonjour’ as if we are old friends. Stopped at a beautiful river for a splash on the way through. There are very few young people on this walk. They are all much older. Though I know I am not exactly young, I feel it here. I’m glad I came though. It would be a great warm up for the Spanish walk which I still might do and the countryside has been breathtaking. This little town is exquisite. Very medieval and according to one woman I met it is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France.
After walking for 10 Km’s this morning through the wind and fog of the moors where I couldn’t see more that 5 ft in front of me I was feeling positively medieval or at least like Elizabeth Bennett on her way to visit her sister Jane who has been taken ill at Mr Darcy’s estate. Unsure if I would ever reach civilisation or another human out of the mist the goddess finally emerged to let me know their was light and safety ahead. Never have I been so glad to see her. Another 8 kilometres and I reached the very cute town of Saint Chely d’Aubrac which is just a really cute stop for pilgrims on the route to Santiago. My lovely hotel room opens onto a giant statue of Mary and child in the garden opposite so tonight I have made a little shrine to the goddess where I intend to offer up my prayers and intentions tonight. I am bleeding today so very grateful for this lovely white bed and this feminine view to hold me as I sleep. The divine mother was everywhere today. And I am glad for it as I have been reflecting deeply on the mother wound as I walk. Of being wrapped so tightly as a babe that I felt suffocated and that same suffocation that I sometimes feel around connection and love. Yes, some deep stuff surfaces when you spend about 6 or 7 hours a day walking solo through the forest! Better than therapy really! At least it’s moving through my body and not just swirling around in my head.
It’s amazing what a bathtub can do. Better, but still sore and very slow on my feet. I am bleeding so at least that explains the darkness of my mood. It is still very strange to me that I am doing this. It’s similar really to a silent meditation retreat. The language barrier is ridiculous and I come to these restaurants for dinner to be the only person sitting alone while all others are in large groups. They are all wondering ‘why is she not staying in hostels meeting people?’ I am wondering the same myself though the language issue would still be the same. I am pondering my contradiction tonight that I both love and fear people and I want to connect but don’t too. Is it just being in moon time that makes me crave company, someone to lean on? My body is sore. I think I’ve done over 100 Km now and I can feel it. My legs are ok but there are aches in the strangest places. There is a very cute waiter here in this restaurant who speaks English. Young but cute. Also saw a cute single guy walking too who I fantasised about all afternoon. Bet he’s staying in a gite, this is French for hostel and if I did it again this would be the way to go if solo. Anyway I can see that I am here to accept all parts of myself including the contradictions. These are most definitely pre-menstral ravings! I am definitely a morning walker. I feel lush and alive then. The afternoons are treacherous. Tomorrow is 26 km! Must sleep now.
Day 4 and I’ve hit a wall. In a shitty space and and need rest. I’m due to bleed any day now so I’m sure that’s got a lot to do with it but I’m tired. And not just physically. It’s not just my legs that are killing me. I’m struggling with my aloneness tonight. And the fact that I both love and fear company. I met some people today. A cool couple from Paris who could speak English and an older French lady who also spoke English and was interested in me coming from Australia. But the conversation is stilted and I miss being able to really commune with someone. I definitely should have continued those French lessons! And then I see couples and I wish I had a partner to walk with even though I know it would drive me crazy. Full of contradictions today. I am sad. And lonely. And I can’t speak this language and I have to keep going. Today was really long. 26 kilometres of walking and the hotel is shit and off the track. I hope tomorrow is a better day. The view however remains a stunning backdrop to my inner ramblings and the truth is I’m glad some darkness is beginning to stir. Into the void we go…
Today was definitely the hardest walking so far. ‘Over hill over dale, through bush through briar.’ Continual ascent for 15km sometimes very steep, to cross the mountains into Sauges. Very few pilgrims cross my path. And like true pilgrim magic the ones that do appear at moments when their is some question as to which road to take, they show me and then vanish into the wilderness. Drunk from my indulgence in conversation with Peter ( the only Englishman I have met) last night, I was grateful for the silence and the misty morning. So much conversation with the trees and birds and animals I meet. It is more than enough. Passed a beautiful chapel dedicated to the Magdelene carved into the rock face high above Monistrol D’Allier. I think
I am hooked on walking. Peter thought I might get hooked on this and reminds me it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Very tempted to keep walking to Santiago de Compostela, but we shall see. Daily practice to breathe in Mother Nature and let her be my guide.
Having an an awareness too around the sensation of ‘ newness’. Everything I see is so totally new to me that I am filled with childlike wonder at seeing it. Yet today I was marvelling at the view of a river and when I came back to this view after only a minute of turning elsewhere it has lost some of its lustre, it’s magic. A small awareness no doubt but I am curious as to the way things are never as magical as the first time we see them.