Monday, July 15th

La Plaquette
Left at about 7 this morning, leaving early, glad to leave the group of Rollers behind, particularly the guy who whispered in his sleep. I think he was reciting the Lord's Prayer, in French, naturally, over and over.

Then met up with a woman who'd stayed at Conques Monastery and remembered me as 'The Australian', the one travelling with the Belgian. First I'd heard of it. Oh well. A teacher, and a touch neurotic. The path become slightly bewildering, and after I told her she could blame me if my hunch was wrong, said "yes, I will." Left her behind. She's travelling light. Probably a pilgrim with a back-up waiting somewhere.

The walk. Open roads, footpaths, stony tracks, grassy fields, the occasional town with not much happening, the farms, the rock fences, almost maze-like, the red and white balises that have been greyed out. Don't know why, maybe just local vandals. Found the way, anyway. And all my worries about finding the path out of La Plaquette dissipated, as all my guesses about which way to go were right, luckily.

Also, wanted to avoid the rain, the sky looking ominous, made it to Cajarc, just, when it actually began pouring.

Already where I intend to be, have already dumped my stuff in the Gite, although this is a bit of a worry, as there's only 12 beds, and 11 have been reserved, so if anybody rings through with a reservation in the next few hours, I'm stuffed.

Been to the supermarche, l'Petit Casino, and for some reason bought cheese and a small bottle of red wine. I must be turning French. Sacre Bleu, Jacque! And oranges, developing a fetish for them. And now, at a bar, my premiere cafe pour l'jour.

By the banks of the Lot, there's a pleasure cruise thing that doesn't look it's doing great business, and I've just discovered that yesterday, some ultra-right-wing dickhead took a shot at Chirac in the Bastille Day Parade in Paris. Maybe the older guys at the bar where I had coffee earlier were discussing it, but I wouldn't have known. Can't understand, can't read.

Have to back at the Gite at three, to pay the woman who looks after it. The Office d'Tourisme lady said it wasn't necessary to phone, so I hope she's right.

Wandering around the town, visited l'eglise; up streets, overheard conversation in English, some woman explaining how to drybrush a table.

Gite. Sat by the Lot for what seemed like ages. But now waiting for the money-woman, a Mme Mignot. Hoping I still have a place. Should do.

It's cold, but I'll have to whip out the sandals anyway, just to give the boots a chance to dry. At least take the toxic walking socks off.

Three other walkers that I recognize walk in, quietly annoyed that the Gite is complet. Bejaysus, I have no feckin' idea what's going on. Whatever, they'll be able to make a better case than me. Maybe they've reserved places. Just don't know. Wish Mme Mignot would arrive, free me from this minor anxiety attack. There's no other Gite until Limoges, which I'd planned for tomorrow. I suppose there's hotels, I've seen at least one around somewhere.
But, I've claimed a bed, and with possession being nine-tenths, but that's English law.

I have a bad feeling about this.

Nope, not yet. If she doesn't arrive, I'll just sleep in the bed I've claimed, paid or not. Been reading the guidebook. After Cahors, there's no Gite for over 30kms. So I'm anticipating possibly spending a night in a chapel that's apparently "always open", and is suggested as a good place to rest. I wonder if this is a carefully worded way of saying "just unpack yer bedroll, everybody else does."

Yep, the claimed bed is mine. Just pay at 5:30. Woo-Hoo!

A new biro from the newsagent, whatever they're called here, and biro's, in French, are 'stylo a bic's', except you have to pronounce it steelo-a-bee. And just had the horrible thought that all these people who found this Gite cômplet will be moving in parallel with me for some way, and they're all probably reserving the Limoges Gite en masse.

And if I'd been here in Aôut, I could have been in the front row of something called Africajarc, featuring Youssou N'Dour. Oh well. Maybe the Cajarcanites really get off on Senegalese rythms, I know I do.

Two other backpackers strolled into town, one with a bandaged knee, headed straight for the Pharmacie, walked out again, and headed on their way.

Gite. A just paid. 6 euros. Slightly cheaper that yesterday's cowshed.

and Holy Bejaysus, some of these pilgrims are bringing out food by the truckload. Plastic bag after plastic bag of stuff. Amazing.

Been down to the newsagency again. A range of books, but nowt in Anglais. A few music magazines, and Robert Plant's newie only gets a 3 out of 5, while, somehow, the soundtrack for The Shipping News, Terra Neuva, gets a 10 from 10.

Another backpacker just walked in. And no, I'm not the one in charge, although if I was I'd tell you just to feck off, but no, I don't think there's a place but you might try calling Mme Mignot. I think yer out of luck.

About to make tea, as soon as these two gourmands can leave the 2-plate stove alone. Wonder what they're having, it seems to include everything. Onions, yellow capsicums, everything a pilgrim deems essential for survival.

And these two feckers are still dominating the stove, despite the steadily lengthening queue waiting for the hotplates. She's tested her cooking so damn often I'm surprised there's anything left.

And somehow the late pilgrim does have a room, and seems to know everybody else here.

After finishing the 375ml bottle of Bordeaux solo, I'm definitely pissed. Still, the noodles with tuna were a sensation, and had a Franco-Anglais discussion with Pierre-Claude, who also translated questions for his mother. Both of them are walking the Camino, at least as far as Moissac. Many of the Frenchies I've met so far are doing it like this, in stages.

Out the front, with Pierre-Claude, having what is, for him, an illicit cigarette. Chatting about music, and apparently my taste for Malicorne, Alan Stivell and Pierre Bensusan is considered '70's stuff', old and in the way, and chatted about other stuff while the old men played boules. Wished me good night and beautiful dreams. I'll try, but my dreams don't tend to be that way at all.