2012 Walking the Way

The Way of Saint James, Day Eighteen

June 14, 18th Day of Will on the Way: Beginnings and Endings Day
Another big bed and another good night’s sleep. Awoke at 6:30 my latest yet. Barb up shortly after as she wanted to get an early start and arrival in Le Puy. Besides getting her return train ticket to Geneve we also had plans to meet our fellow pilgrims at the Cathedral at 5:00 PM. We were on the road by 8:15 after a simple breakfast. The weather was lovely and warm. Summer had arrived. 

After a bit of time in the county our walk soon began to take us through suburbs of Le Puy, the first time we had seen such since leaving Geneve. Before lunch we were walking parallel to the freeway and when we stopped to eat we could see the Cathedral of Le Puy in the distance. The next hour and a half took us through the trappings of unpleasant civilisation. I had thought about staying for a rest day but was reconsidering after seeing this part of the city. One consolation was that the chamin took us along the river until it was time to begin the ascent into the old part of the city. Everything then began to change for the better. Just before leaving the river route we passed one of the maps that showed the route from Geneve to Le Puy. We had passed these periodically seeing the first one in Naydene near Beaumont and here we were in Le Puy at the last one. It was a good feeling! 

Our route took us the back way into the old town ending up near the Cathedral. A beautiful structure built originally over a Roman temple it commanded a great height over the city. It has had a long connection with Santiago de Compostella. In 810 the bishop of Le Puy made the first pilgrimage to visit the holy relics of St. James there and the church and city have been an important part of the Way of St Jacques since. 

We went inside where it was cool and dark, welcomed after the hot walk up the hill. Barb called the place we were to stay but the directons were too complex to follow. I went back into the church seeking help in the sacristy. It was here that pilgrims obtained their Creanciale or credential, the passport of the pilgrim on the Way, showing by his stamps which he received at each stop on the chamin, that he/she had indeed made the journey to Santiago. Up until now I had been improvising with a makeshift credential and was happy to now be “official.” Once again there were angels looking out for us and the woman there knew how to direct me by use of a hand-drawn map on how to reach our chambre d’hotes. With a further map from the office of tourism, we figured out the puzzle of the complex streets and found our way to the very cute and sweet home of our B&B. 

Here we were greeted with enthusiasm and wamth. Our hosts had been pilgrims at one time and I always experience a different reception from those who have walked the Way themselves. After a cool drink and the requisite chatting went taken to our quarters. Our hostess offered to wash our clothes in a machine, always welcome on the Camino and once situated we headed out again to the train station to get Barb’s ticket. Fortunately it was close and we accomplished this easily and efficiently. Her train left at 12:41 the next day and was a direct connection to Lyon and then to Geneve. Easy as pie! 

By now it was 4:45 and we had only 15 minutes to make it to the Cathedral to meet our friends. We rushed, took a few wrong turns, easy to do in this delightful medieval town, and were rewarded with a view of Mikaela, Barbara, and Anna sitting on the steps of the Cathedral awaiting us with a bottle of red wine and two glasses to share a toast to our reunion. I felt happy, excited and playful, sharing this achievement with others was so much more joyful than doing it alone. We hugged and talked and took pictures, askng other pilgrims coming up the steps to take a group photo for us. 

After awhile we talked of being hungry, something common to all pilgrims, and went in search of food. Finding a pleasant eatery down the hill we each had big salads of different varieties. Conversation was smooth and happy though we were aware this was also a goodbye meal. After seeing the true charm of Le Puy I decided to stay another day and rest before beginning the second part of my pilgrim’s journey. As it turned out Mikaela was also staying another day and we would leave together on Saturday heading south. She had already been on the road 6 weeks and was going on for another two before returning to Switzerland. Anna was heading on to St. jean Pierre de Port tomorrow and the Barbaras we going home. 

After dinner we returned to the Cathedral steps and bid each other goodnight and Anna goodbye. She was taking off early to get plenty of kilometers behind her. It turned out that the two Barbaras were on the same train tomorrow and Mikaela and I would be there to see them off. After we parted Barb and I went to an outdoor cafe that specialized in ice cream treats and she had a last splurge of a hot fudge sundae and I a scoop of caramel with cream. A wonderful way to celebrate our ending. 

Full and content we returned to our nook on the Rue Sous St.Claire and slept our last night together on the chamin. 

Day Eighteen Photos 

“We see Le Puy in distance. More beauty in flowers. The marker of the Way of St Jacques. The road to Le Puy, like life, is not a straight one.” 

“Two of the many four legged friend we met. We made it! Geneve to le Puy! The road to Le Puy like life its not a straight one” 

“Barb holding Will’s extra stuff no longer to be carried and sent back to Holland. Cathedral.” 

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