This post may just end up longer than today’s walk. The walk itself was fine but not anything like we planned. L’Isle-Jourdain was not really on today’s GR path, much less an expected stopping point. Then again, neither was our starting point in Léguevin. Are we really walking the Chemin d’Arles?
First off, when we called the gîte owner near Giscaro yesterday, to make reservations for today, he was surprised that we were walking from Léguevin as it was at least 30km away. We don’t like doing 30km days but we have done many out of necessity and La Grange gîte was the best option for today. Besides, young German Pete was likely walking with us although German Betty was getting halfway there by train.
When the hospitalero at yesterday’s gîte arrived to check us in and get paid last night in Léguevin, he informed us that with all the recent rain they have received in the area that we needed to take a shorter, more direct road route to L’Isle-Joirdain before rejoining the GR route. The current marking was supposed to take us through a forest and he said the trails would be impassable due to mud. That actually helped ease our conscience because we planned to do that anyway. Melanie was not feeling particularly well so we looked at places to shortcut a bit and it looked like we could do a 28km day to La Grange / Giscaro today instead. At least that was the plan.
Melanie and I had both started feeling unwell as we walked into Toulouse. We had scratchy throats, sniffles and coughs. The soaking wet run through the cold rain in Toulouse could not have helped too much. That said, I still felt about 90% but Melanie was suffering. Yesterday’s walk from Toulouse to Léguevin was hard on her but her last few kilometers had me jogging to keep up. When she got to the gîte, she quickly showered and got into bed. She only got up to eat dinner and then it was straight back to bed. She took a big dosage of vitamins, Flumacil, her gastric medicine and ibuprofen. We hoped she would be up to a long stage today.
Keeping the story in chronological order… Pete, Betty and I decided while watching the Champions League semi-final that we would wake up at 6:30am today because of the long stage today. I didn’t set the alarm because that really isn’t necessary or cool in a communal dorm room. I could hear that Melanie, in the bunk below me, was having a bad night. Her coughing woke her often and a blocked nose made her breathing labored. The rest of us had earplugs but we still woke up with her at times.
Here is where the divine intervention came into play. I think that I was mostly awake from about 4:00am to 6:00am. At one point, I had a dream about Mother Mary. No, not that one. In the dream, we were eating a meal with some friends back in Singapore, including our good friends, Dirty Dick and Mother Mary. I won’t explain where their names came from but I would never call Mary anything except Mother or Mother Mary. Anyway, in the dream, someone said something mean to Mother Mary and then tried to attribute it to me. Mary looked over to me and winked, showing that she knew I wouldn’t say such a thing, but she played along. She said “Shouldn’t you be out walking a Camino someplace?” I laughed and then suddenly bolted up in bed. Yes! I should be! What time is it? After finding my phone, I freaked out as it was almost 8:00am! We all overslept and Mother Mary had to make an appearance to help us. God works in mysterious ways.
Now that we were awake though, we knew Melanie was in bad shape. She felt awful. We decided to hurry up and get walking but see how things went. Obviously they didn’t go well as she was weak and tired as well as having a very sore throat, an irritating cough and runny nose. We considered many options but left the decision up to Melanie to make once we got about to the halfway point, near L’Isle-Jourdain. We sat and had a sandwich and drink but Melanie said she could go no further today. We called the gîte La Grange and moved our reservation until tomorrow. They graciously agreed and offered to help in any way possible. We found a hotel just past L’Isle-Jourdain so that Melanie could get a good rest. Tomorrow will be a simple 13km day so if she is still not feeling well, that is still doable.
All this leaves us a second day behind schedule, including the extra day walking into St.-Jean-de-la-Blaquiére. With those and a rolling train strike in France on two out of every five days, I have already given up hopes to finish our walk with another climb over the Pyrénées from St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles. Also, we are cutting into our “spare” days that we planned to spend in Lourdes. We will see how it goes. Maybe Lourdes and Roncesvalles will wait to another Camino.
Back to the walk (no more of that chronological crap). It was a single road that we took today all the way from from the front door of our gîte in Léguevin to L’Isle-Jourdain, with lots of name changes along the way. I normally hate walking on roads but it wasn’t too bad today and we missed the mud – which I hate twice as much as roads, having donated several walking stick rubber tips to the mud gods and nearly loosing a shoe or two as well. It was a very quiet road with hills, farms, houses, forests, towns, schools, places to get things to eat or drink, etc. It may not have been the official GR trail but it was marked and signposted almost all the way as the historic Camino trail. That counts.
Finally, I have to mention the Logis Hostellerie du Lac, our home for the evening. The pluses include the ability to get a last minute room. They have only 25 rooms and we were lucky enough to snag one at 1:30pm. I think there may even be another guest here tonight. I believe that they are much better known for their restaurant than their hotel. Another plus is that wi-fi seems to work well. A drawback is that they seem to be using a lot of drills and hammers to make something else in the hotel work better too. The room is a decent size but, if you know me, you know where this is going… the bathroom.
The bathroom is small but small sometimes works. Remember the shower in La Barraque? The old organic farm where the Italian hostess cooked us pasta? They had the best bathroom and shower in France so far and the room was tiny. The “door” was actually a curtain and the doorway itself measured 60cm wide and 170cms tall. I barely fit through the doorway under the threshold with the 1806 inscription, telling us just how old the place was although the shower plumbing has since been updated. The shower was small there but I fit and it had everything you would want a shower to have. That brings us back to today’s accommodation and how not to design a bathroom.
The shower here is basically a 10cm tall tub that is square on the floor, about 60cm on each side. It’s in a corner so only two sides are “waterproofed” by using a cheap plastic curtain that sticks to wet skin but not wet walls. The curtain was carefully hung so that it almost reaches the walls of the 10cm tub. This may explain the swimming pool on the floor beside the shower after Melanie had showered. Who knows, maybe yesterday’s guests also contributed. Now I want to give credit where credit is due so I have to say that the €20 shower head was likely an excellent value for what was spent because water did actually flow out all of the holes that were not already clogged. I just wish that the shower head could somehow have been attached to the wall because I am one of those strange people that needs two hands to shower. I can’t soap up a washcloth with one hand unless I hold the soap in my mouth and my mother forever swore me off of doing that the first time she heard me telling my brother to get his “shit” over on his side of the room. Also, the tap had both hot and cold knobs. Whenever I see those, I know I am in trouble. The single tap can usually be set just at the right spot that gives me a hot but not scalding hot shower. The double tap often requires frequent adjustments of one side or the other. Sure enough, this one did, indeed, require more adjustments that a 1950’s television. Once in the shower, after an initial rinse, do I turn off the water and set the shower head down, risking the extreme water temperature when I turn back on one side at a time? Do I leave it on and try to juggle with the washcloth and soap? Do I stick it under my arm and spray it everywhere every time I move? I actually chose the option of leaving the water running but balancing the shower head on the tap so that the water shoots out at my, umm, errr, sub-waist area, so that it doesn’t go straight over to the curtain and onto the floor. Let’s just say that I made the wrong choice. Having scalding hot, then ice cold water alternating an attack on such a sensitive area of my body has severe consequences.
Please pray for both Melanie and my tender area tonight. At least pray for Melanie’s quick recovery.