2012 Walking the Way

The Way of Saint James, Day Eleven

June 7th, 11th day of Will on the Way. 
Up at my usual 5:30 hour. Woke up grumpy and thought that today was going to be a lesson day. Had the sense that I should just start asking for help from within, praying, being a begger of Grace, but when you’re grumpy it’s not easy to do. I usually have to wait until I’m in deeper pain before I can surrender and be helped. Ah, when will I ever learn? 

Blogged til 7:00 and awoke dear Barb from her own troubled dreams. Though she never once complained in our time together I could tell that her mood was also off this morning. We packed up and went down to breakfast. A beautiful spread of toast, croissants, jams, yogurt, fruits, and coffee. 

We watched the weather on TV while eating and saw there was a front just to the west and north of our journey today and we were on the cusp of rain and bad weather. It also showed warm temperatures in the 80’s were to be expected. 

After breakfast our host drove us to the grocery store where we re-supplied with staples of dried fruit and nuts as well as dark Chocolate for the trail. We also bought minutes for the phone as it had run out from our initial purchase in Frangy, so many kilometers ago. Our last stop was a boulangerie for lunch sandwiches and an almond tart. Ready for the Way, our host drove us to what would have been our destination that night, Ravel-Tourdan. We said goodbye, thanking him for his kindness and looked for our first marker of the day. 

This we found with ease and just then a tall man with a pack and walking stick appeared out of the blue. He looked like a pilgrim and we greeted him in French. He looked at us quizzically and then said good morning in German. We said we were Americans and he then said the same in English. He started walking and we followed thinking this was the direction of the chamin. I stopped to adjust something on Barb’s pack and he went on walking, at one point stopping to look back at us. We noticed that he had an arm that hung oddly and walked with a limp, as if he might have had a stroke at one time. Anyway, on we went down this long hill without seeing any markers. Finally we decided to go back to the top where we began and so we did. Once there we saw that we had not paid attention or we would have seen the marker pointing in the other direction. We wondered what the story was with the Pelerin we had seen going into nowhere. 

Our route took us through the village and out to the countryside again. We got lost briefly once again before finding our stride. The wind was blowing hard and was too all day. I kept thinking a storm was coming but it stayed blue skies and sunny all day. The wind kept us cool and.comfortable on what would have been a hit and.muggy day without it. We crossed paths with Alexander, a German pilgrim we had briefly met with Mikeala, outside Le Pin. 

Mid morning we stopped for a snack. I pulled out the map and looked at the route we were on and where we were heading. As I looked at the time and kilometers outlined I couldn’t see how we were going to get to our next destination before 10:00 PM as it was over 30K away! I asked Barb what she thought and she laughed and said that I must be looking at the alternate route because she had mapped out the route with our hosts of the evening before and they had made the reservations for hotel in Chavanay for that evening. However, as she looked again we saw that it would be impossible for us to make Chavanay that night. How it happened we didn’t know for it seemed like the world had shifted since the night before and now we were in an alternate reality. Well alternate reality or not, we now needed to deal with the present situation and find a place to sleep that we could reach by evening. Looking on the map, that place was St.Romain-de-Surieu. There were several options listed for lodging and we called them but were unable to reach anyone. This being the case, we thought we ought to continue walking and try later. 

The early afternoon was pleasant and the wind continued blowing hard. We stopped for lunch and Alex walked by again surprising us as he had been well ahead when he last passed us. Funny how people show up again and again when least expected on the Way. 

When we were just shy of the town of Belgrade I thought it would be wise to call for accomdations again. This time we did get through but to our surprise they were both full for the night! No room at the inn for these pilgrims! 

Well we didn’t panic or even stress. We joked we might have to walk through the night to get to Chavanay but we both had head lamps and we would be fine. Just then a hiker approached and we could see by his scallop shell that he was a pilgrim. He stopped and asked us if we had seen another hiker pass by, one with white hair? No we hadn’t. He then asked us where we were heading and we told him of our situation. He was French, but spoke very good English and he immediately said he had a reservation at a private home that took in pilgrims and thought he could find us a bed there too. Well long story short, Patrick, our new friend found us a place to stay. It was a miracle, and the way it all unfolded was magic. 

From Belgrade we walled together to St.Domain-de-Serieu and met Jean, an elderly gentleman, who came to pick us up at a beautiful Carmelite Chapel. From there we went to Assieu a nearby town to pick up Claude, Patrick’s white-haired friend who had taken an alternative route and thus separated from Patrick. The four of us were driven to Jean’s home nearby where we met his lovely wife Luciene and were given a cool drink, a hot shower, a delicious hot meal and a clean bed. Thank you St Jacques! 

It turned out that there is a society of friends of the Pilgrims of St. Jacques of Compostella who will offer up their homes to pilgrims in need of a place to stay. This provides an alternative to the Gites, B&B’s and hotels for the pilgrims. They then offer a donation of 25-30 Euroes in exchange for the lodging. These hosts often have been pilgrims themselves as was the case of Jean and Luciene who had walked from Le Puy to St. Jean Pier de Port in 2003 and the following year had finished the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compestella in 2004. They were very proud of thier accomplishment and showed us an album with pictures of their journey. They were lovely sweet people and it was a treat to meet and stay with them. 

Patrick and Claude were friends who had met the previous year when doing the pilgrimage from Le Puy to Santiago de Compestella. This year they were doing the Geneve to Le Puy route. They were both competitive walkers and put in an average of 30-35 K. per day, much more than Barb or I wanted to do. Patrick had injured his heel in the walking and I did some healing work on his foot prior to going to bed as I was happy to offer some service for all his help to us. However, while he accepted, he insisted that this was part of the experience of the Way, where pilgrims were ready to assist one another in times of need. 

Barb and I were given the double bed as they thought we were a couple. We didn’t say anything for we were only too happy to have a bed at all. By now we were comfortable in all ways with each other so it was no big deal to share a bed. As I fell asleep I thought again of the stranger we had met at the begining of this strange and miraculous day in Revel-Tourdan and I knew him to be St. Jacques who had appeared out of nowhere and returned to nowhere and had come to bless us with the magic of the Way. 

Day Eleven Photos 

“We see the first sign for Le Puy and then some houses. How far we have come! The view as we are leaving St Julian Molin Molette.” 

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