|... le pèlerine|
My toughtest challenge so far during this year has been walking ‘Le chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle’ for the last 10 days.
I’ve been thinking I am in a good physical condition but the camino showed me differently.
I tried to blame my shoes and backpack for all the pain I’ve been going through but probably I should have been better prepared: physically and mentally and not underestimated this journey.
The 1st day started excellent. I got up at 5 am in the morning, the sun was shining and I prepared myself and my backpack and went off to the beautiful cathedral in the heart of Le Puy en Valey. At 7 am we had a mess and then all the pilgrims went off and started their pilgrimage.
|the cathedral at Le Puy|
|me and Saint-Jacques|
I chose to walk 22, 5 km the 1st day from Le Puy to Saint-Privat-d’Aller. As mentioned before, it was a beautiful, sunny day; I walked through amazing landscape, met nice people on the way. But when I arrived in Saint-Privat-d’Aller, after 6 hours walking, I thought my feet are on fire. My calves, shoulders and hips were killing me – I was completely exhausted and just wanted a hot shower and go to bed…I wasn’t sure if I could survive the next 8 days.
The 2nd day got worst – more pain all over my body…I made a decision and sent 5 kg of my luggage via courier to Conques, the end station of my journey. It was anyways recommended to carry only a max. of 8 kg but I had 11-12 kg on my back, so the books I carried and other stuff I didn’t need for these 10 days were sent off. I also bought some bandages for my feet and with new courage I started day # 3.
|...walking along fields...|
|poppy flowers everywhere...|
|...after a break, on the road again...|
|beautiful Aubrac cow|
|...always smiling in the morning but...|
|... in the evening, I had to put my feet up :)|
Everyone who knows me, also knows that I am not giving up on a project I started, so every day since then I have been walking between 16.5 km (10, 2 miles) and 27 km (16, 8 miles). I have met many wonderful people on my trip, most of them shared my experience, they suffered as much as I did or even worst. Others gave me tipps on how to stretch my legs/calves – in my case it was a veterinarian (!!!) and his friend. Then you meet people who recite poems to you and make you laugh (thanks Jean-Claude, the most romantic pilgrim on the camino).
Some days are physical or emotional difficult, other days are challenging due to the different weather conditions. I experienced sunshine, rain, wind, fog and a mix of everything during the last 10 days.
|a rainy day|
|through the forest|
BUT, in the end I am very happy that I kept going. To walk from Le-Puy-en-Valey to Conques was the most beautiful start of my France experience. I am so happy to have met so many beautiful people (who accepted me with a big smile, even though I barely spoke a word of French). The nature, specially the flowers in June, and the animals I’ve seen, everything was worth going through the pain.
I highly recommend to everyone to walk this part of the camino – I heard from many pilgrims, that it is the most beautiful part (thank you, Corinne, for recommending it to me :)). But I also recommend anyone who does it, to wear good hiking boots, have a good backpack, not more than 8 kg to carry and if possible some hiking poles – and if you know a little bit of French, it will make your life a little easier. As for the best time to go during the year, I recommend the months of May and June – since the temperature is most likely pleasant and many flowers are blooming.
|... a stony way ahead...|
|Conques Saint Faith abbey|
|dorm room for € 10,-/night|
... and in the end:
|bonheur or happiness - finally arrived in Conques: after 9 days and 200 km/124 miles of walking|
|my pilgrim passport|