Hey there! I hope you had a fantastic week so far and powered through the last couple of days with a happy and healthy mind. October is coming to an end and Halloween is just around the corner. Have you decided on a costume already? When I go home to my parents next time, I will surely pick up some autumn decorations to let the autumn vibes stream through my apartment.
But for now, I will take you back to the French summer and long hikes through the fields under the sun.
On our second day on the Way of St. James, Mark and I crawled out of our tent to watch the sun rise and the sky change color for our first morning in Pibrac, France. As soon as the first ray touched down, we heard a rooster “doodle doo” in the distance. It is such a small thing and might even seem insignificant of mentioning, but to me it was the promise of a perfect day ahead. As we brushed our teeth out at the street, the first joggers came by and gave us a confused look.
You have probably heard of the saying “The beginning is always the hardest” before. Well, it could not have been truer than it was the first two days. After a day of camping, I got the worst cold and therefore was completely exhausted. I was so slow that Mark was surprised I didn’t start walking backwards. Also, the weight on our backs put a lot of pressure on our feet… giving us blisters. But the biggest problem we had was actually finding the Way of St. James. Without a map, we were completely lost and asked locals at every single intersection we could. Unfortunately, sometimes they didn’t even know about the Way leading through the area, making us as lost as we were before. I have to admit that every single time we found the mark, which is a white and red stripe, we felt a little bit happier. Eventually, our vision started to sharpen and these marks became hard to miss.
In the beginning, the Way was leading us through small villages, wide fields and shady woods. We walked into an older lady, who led us to her garden and offered us a drink. Her husband was already up in the trees picking a bag of figs for us to take along. They were such a lovely couple. We stayed for a while and I was certain I would look back to this moment and remember the kindness they showed us.
Our way led us to L’Isle Jourdain, and I promise you from there on everything got way easier.
At our breakfast hunt, we discovered a food store, a family market with a lot of character, where we picked up some fruit and vegetables for an amazing price and great quality.
Walking over the hills and through the fields, we got lost, but a sporty woman was eager to get us back on track. Whenever we were out of water, we stopped and asked at different houses. Everyone we met seemed highly interested in the journey we had ahead and wished us the best of luck. And with all the best wishes on our way, we kept walking.
Eventually we passed another town, where we picked up the most gentile and playful dog. The owner was nowhere to be seen. As we continued walking, the dog kept following us. Well, to be completely honest, we followed the dog. With more energy than Mark and I had combined, the bundle of excitement jumped around our feet and always sprinted a few meters ahead. Then, he would stop, and give us a look as if he was asking “Are you coming, guys?” which later turned into “How can you possibly be this slow?”. Mark fell in love with the dog immediately. His company made us completely forget about the weight on our backs and the many kilometers we had ahead of us in the burning sun.
Reaching our first hostel that day is, still to this point, indescribable. In the middle of nowhere on the hill there was this beautiful wooden land house. In the garden were big trees decorated with lanterns. And just around the corner was a big community table. The owner was sitting there and having a smoke while another pilgrim (The first one we saw!) looked up from his book. I would describe the moment we sat down on the big chairs as the happiest moment of the day. The owner hurried inside and came back with a tablet with the biggest selection of syrups and cold water. After a tranquil evening, we fell asleep with the promise of flying after four days of hiking and of finding something incredibly powerful on the Way.