Thursday, July 11th

Intending to walk to Decazeville today. At the moment, though, just waiting for le petit dejeuner, at the monastery. Looks like bread avec miel, et cafe. Difficult getting to sleep last night, must've been all those chick violinists.

Chapelle Saint Foy.
And bejaysus the walk up here was hard. There's three other walkers I've picked up along the way, and we're all puffing, sweating, collapsing.

Chapelle Saint Roch.
Stopped. Baguette with jam. It hasn't exactly been great so far, lots of uphill on stony paths, then huge amounts of road walking, and where Raju says to turn right is a 'not this way' sign.


There's a statue of Saint Roche himself over there, looking cranky, looking heavenward, showing his left thigh. Looks like his been bitten by something. His trusty dog maybe.

Saw it coming from a long way off. Looked kind of pretty from up high, but uglier close-up, then very, very ugly. No gite there, just expensive hotels, although why anybody would actually want to stay there is beyond me.

Bought sandals there, 17 euros, even though the credit card machine didn't work. The assistant who explained everything to me, in French, and who went to no end of trouble.
Needing water. The first bar I tried was totally useless, the guy in there not understanding what water, or eau, or 'l'eau' was, and making no effort. All I wanted was to buy water. No use.
Then further, an old guy on a bench "Compostelle ?"
Something in reply. Second bar.
"Pouvez vous m'aider, ou est ?", pointing to the map the Office d'Tourisme had given me, something a gauche, but he did refill the water bottle, free, nice and cold.
Eventually found the way out. Hard climbing up steep streets, thinking I was surely about to die, and I've found that small dogs respond well to "yer want this down yer feckin' throat ?"

Passing the second Chappelle Saint Roche for the day, drinking water on the cemetery steps opposite. The guide book says "Pass cemetery (L)". Bejaysus, they could have just dug me a hole.

Maybe it's the Kronenberg I've just had, or maybe the relief of actually getting a bed at the Gite, or maybe just the shower, or maybe the relief that the tingles I thought were blisters for sure turned out to be nothing. But I'm feeling a lot calmer that since leaving this morning.

On to Livinhac-le-Haut, finally descending through some utterly charming fôret. Found the Gite, and Linda, with whom I'd previously walked earlier into Decazeville. I have to go and pay over at the Mairie, the town hall.

Unload the pack, and it was like my back was suddenly unsprung. Paid. Found l'epicerie, noodles and oranges and the legendary Kronenberg. Huge can, and could easily go another.

Other pilgrims are arriving, including some that I had breakfast with this morning. Wondering what happened to Ana, she was very slow this morning, climbing the monster hill.

Made tea. Felt proud at being so independent again, just being able to keep myself alive. Outside, in the back area of the Gite, under a tree. Linda's here, the woman from Montreal. Chatted about stuff, the walk, feeling free, all the usual pilgrim stuff. Then Anthony turns up. This is getting better by the minute.

Went for a sit near the church. Parts of this town are being demolished, but now, the bulldozers have stopped. It's calm, cool, pleasant. Figeac tomorrow. Who knows, maybe the Musee Champollion will offer me that fabulously well paid job that the National Museum of Ireland never did.

The whispering French family. The French, I believe, have a conviction that if they're in a group, and one of them is not talking, they will die.
Whisper, whisper. Some guy, two women, whisper, whisper.