Friday, May 31, 2013

Days 6-10, Chemin de Saint Jacques

Day 6. Almost a blizzard! We walked with snow blowing against us all day. Here I am demonstrating our multipurpose gear in action (sheet scarf and sock gloves). Something about walking with my head down against the wind, just putting one foot in front of the other all day made me go into kind of a meditative state. Though at one point I realized my mantra with each step had become, hot cocoa, hot bath. Hot cocoa, hot bath. It's amazing what focus one can have with only basic necessities in mind (I realize I'm including hot cocoa in that category). And what joy one has when they are finally reached. 

Day 7. Transhumance Festival in Aubrac. We arrived in time to see this lively  annual tradition on the Aubrac Plateau - the moving of the herds to higher pastures for summer grazing. Traditional village dancing, music, and food accompanied the successive groups of cows and herders that walked through town. Rachel and I tried some aligot, basically mashed potatoes with enough cheese mixed in to make them stringy, and almost bought donkey sausage because we thought the man who said, "it's like a horse with small ears" was describing venison. 

Day 8. Dropped elevation below the snow level for a gorgeous walk today on a path spongy with wet fallen leaves and the sun coming through ash trees like shades of green stained glass. 

Day 9. We have been passing through some of the most bucolic little villages these past few days. It strikes me that each one is constructed from and so resembles its landscape. Some towns are pinkish red from the sandstone below, used to build the houses and churches, others are built with granite stones, mossy and softened with age. Even the roof tiles change depending on the local resources; in this region all the houses have slate shingles. And in every rural town, the majority of the houses have a huge garden that takes up the whole space of what would have been their back or front yard. Here's a picture of a particularly large one below, replete with lettuces, sweet peas, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and strawberries. 

Day 10. Today we met someone from the U.S. for the first time on the trail. Strangely enough, I probably met him once before! Brad was part of a monastic community at Good Earth farm in Ohio last summer, and I visited there during a food and faith conference. Rachel and I were at the point of talking to cows the day before, so we were relieved to have someone else to talk to in English! He has hiked the Camino twice before, and this time started at Taize with the goal of arriving in Santiago in 2.5 months. Wow! We start the Camino in Spain in just 2 days. I'm excited to finally be able to understand most of what local people are saying, and learn more about Spanish culture along the way. 

PS. My mom said some of these pictures are getting cropped off (maybe because I'm using an iPhone?), so if you can't see them then sorry. 


kari said...

Don't donkeys have larger ears than horses? Have I been mistaken about them all these years?

Sara (née Herman, I guess) and Joey hiked the Camino a year or two ago and really enjoyed the experience, though I think they started somewhere in Spain.

Strange weather we're having--where I am in the Norwegian arctic it's been in the 70s and sunny for a couple weeks.

Katerina said...

Haha, you are not mistaken Kari! Either I meant to write donkeys have larger ears, or our French was poor enough that we didn't understand him

Katerina said...

Also, do you listen to This American Life? One of the most recent episodes was really interesting on climate change.