Today has been challenging. We walked for 26 kms but it might as well have been 36 because of the terrain and the hot sun. Most of the Camino was either uphill for long stretches or downhill via very narrow, steep, stony tracks. That said, we have had a fabulous day.
We are experiencing a notable difference with this Camino. We're not sure whether it's because of a little experience (this being our 3rd) or for some other, as yet unknown, reason but we are finding that we can reach that silent still place within, that lends itself to spiritual contemplation, more readily. We're not as focussed on physical matters, such as sore feet or shoulders, though they are still very much present, but more welcoming of all the serendipitous experiences and surprising gifts that come our way.
We've had some significant encounters with strangers who seem like friends by the time we part. One such encounter was with a young Israeli Jewish woman I (Lyn) had a long conversation with over breakfast in our Lyon hostel. The wide-ranging conversation ended with her asking if we would please pray for her friend's critically ill baby on our Camino. Today, we have stopped at each of the numerous stone crosses en route to pause for little while, to place a small stone from our pocket onto the pile from pilgrims from all over the world and to pray for strangers, family, friends and our ABC community.
We walked for an hour with Daniel, a Frenchman, today and have just had a drink with him here, as we happen to be staying in the same gite tonight. He was wonderfully encouraging with my ga-ga baby French and we had loads of laughs. Then, later up in the mountains, as we were soaking our heads under a cold tap, a young mum, two tiny daughters and later her husband, came up to the tap to do some washing. She had a little English and we chatted for quite a while. They were taking a month to walk part of the Camino with their pet donkey carrying some of their gear (& the kids). We also greatly enjoyed meeting three other strangers over what turned out to be a lengthy roadside lunch of delicious mushroom omelette (containing about 8 local varieties of mushroom, one only millimetres long). They were enjoying a very slow-paced Camino of just a few kms each day. It's surprising how well you can get by with very broken French and even more broken English.
Dinner tonight was a convivial affair with four Frenchmen, Geoff et moi around the big farmhouse table. There was lots of laughter and they were trying very hard to include us but it wasn't easy for them or us. We were reminded, as we have been on so many occasions, of how isolating it is not to have the language. We were served traditional regional fare again which was pork sausage (yes . . . again) and a special type of potato/cheese gratin.
We have experienced the wonderful simplicity of two wayside chapels today - both 12th century and one a cave. On several occasions today, we've turned to each other and thought how like NZ the scenery was.
It's supposed to rain tomorrow afternoon - time to christen the ponchos for 2016.
C'est la vie
Lyn & Geoff
P.S. Photos from this day are in a Day 2 photo album on Geoff 's Facebook Page.