Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Day 12, June 6: Cajarc to Bach - 31.6 kms

No opportunity to post anything tonight as we were in the boondocks of Bach (not pronounced bark like a dog but barsh that rhymes with harsh). 

We had a lovely breakfast at our gite communal, sharing conversation with a woman who grew up in Kentucky and who now resides in New Mexico and another woman who lives in Strasbourg. 

Reminded of one's vulnerability when doing the Camino. Met a guy who fell and broke his kneecap and is preparing to return to Paris. A woman from the west of France whom we have got to know in recent days rolled her ankle and is only walking 10 kms a day and doing the rest by car. The woman from Strasbourg had a fall a few days ago and has a badly bruised shoulder.  

We walked through Cajarc and down to the river which looked beautiful in the early morning mist. 

It was another steep climb out of the town before traveling through beautiful farmland and bushland. There were few big towns, no shops open and an absence of places to refill our water bottles. 

The mist cleared at mid morning and for the rest of the day the sun blazed down upon us. We carried 2 litres of water each and could have done with another litre each, such was the evaporation from our bodies. The heat and the humidity made the day one of the hardest. Reaching the town of Bach seemed interminable and by the time we had done our 31+ kms we wandered around the town trying to find our gite. The signposting wasn't flash but a thoughtful woman came and helped us. She said it was a long way down a certain road and she offered to drive us there. We declined her offer but her kindness to us in our perplexity and exhaustion was another 'Camino moment'. 

We eventually got to our roadhouse which was a two storey rambling house on a large property in the countryside. It had been built in 1836 and had lots of exposed and rough wood beams. It is owned by a woman named Michelle who has been hosting pilgrims and other travellers for nine years. She is a real character. 

In addition to the two of us, there were seven others (all French) who were walking as a group on a different route from us. Then there was Michelle and her partner. 

After showering and washing our clothes we had '40 winks' before gathering for dinner outside around a big table. The information we'd received led us to believe we would get a 'light meal'. Au contraire! What we had was a big banquet beginning with a bowl of soup, followed by a chicken casserole with lots of herbs and vegetables served on rice, the cheese course (usually this comes as a selection of three- tonight a strong local cheese, a Camembert and a chèvre- goat cheese). This was capped off with a big serving of tiramisu. 

The hosts kept everybody's glasses filled up with red wine, a local Malbec. A Frenchman in the walking group went to his room and returned with a small bottle marked 'Schweppes'. As he passed it around we caught on that it was Cognac. A tray of sugar cubes was also passed around with the invitation to pour a drop of Cognac over the cube and then put it in your mouth. Apparently this is a nightcap ritual, so designed to put you to sleep that the walker found a place in his pack for such a necessity. 

Michelle was the perfect host and when conversation was fast and obscure, she was mindful of our limited French and she'd do some translating or clarification for us.  

She was like the Wife of Bath who regaled us with stories and jokes so the laughter and hilarity got more and more intense. Michelle sang a song and then asked for each of us to sing a number. Most of the French men bowed out saying they weren't gifted musically. We sang Waltzing Matilda with great gusto which they enjoyed. Michelle then got us to sing Frere Jacque as a round in twos which was a scream. 

By 9.30 we were worn out and ready to roll into bed with that warm-roasted feeling. What a lovely experience of table community.            

We slept soundly. Perhaps the French nightcap had done its work. 

C'est la Vie

Geoff & Lyn

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