2012 Walking the Way

The Way of Saint James, Day Sixteen

June 12th, 16th Day of Will on the Way: Growing Up Day 
I woke up at 6:00 having slept deeper and better than any night so far. I think it was the combination of getting comfortable with my new nomadic life and the big bed I slept in. Being able to stretch out freely was a sweet luxury. After yoga stretches and packing we had our usual breakfast in the restaurant below. We had the same friendly waiter of the evening before and he took our picture together as we left the hotel. 

We were headed for St. Jueres, a 21K walk that day. It was a cold day, 10 C, maybe in the 30’s F, the coldest day we had yet had. We were happy we had brought our cold weather clothes. I remembered cursing their extra weight during our first week when the temperature was sweltering in the 90’s and thinking I was needlessly carrying them. Barb had warned me of the variable weather and now I saw she was right. 

After stopping for our groceries and lunch supplies we headed out of town. With our experience of the day before we were weary of taking an alternate by mistake. Our map showed there was one a bit out of town so I was trying to pay careful attention to not take it in error. 

The walking was pleasant and though there were some rain showers, they were spotty and we seemed to be able to find shelter under trees when it did pour with any strength. About 3K out of town we began to watch out for the alternate. We had stopped to consult the map when a brown boxer dog showed up and greeted us with a wag and nuzzle. He had a chain collar but no tags. He began to follow us and I worried that he might be lost and pictured him accompanying us all the way to Le Puy. Barb, more sensibly, thought he knew what he was about and suggested I not be concerned. 

Well he followed us or rather we followed him for some time, at one point losing sight of him when we stopped to wait out a rain shower. After a kilometer or so our canine friend reappeared trotting past us heading back in the direction we had come from, stopping briefly to look back at us before moving on. As we looked ahead we saw we were on the correct route of the chamin and the crisis of getting lost again had passed. We marveled at our guide and wondered if it was indeed St. Jacques, in a shape shifted form, helping us stay on the Way! 

The rest of the morning was hit and miss showers and we were hoping not to need our rain gear. The walking was pleasant and easy. Fewer and fewer hills all the time. We walked together for a while and conversed about addiction, co-dependency, and recovery. I asked Barb what she thought was the opposite of co-dependency and we mulled on that for a while. In the course of sharing Barb stated that for her co-dependence could be understood as: “I’m ok if you’re ok.” Which I thought brilliantly captured the essence of the issue. Having been co-dependent much of my life, this definition really rang true and will be a benchmark for me in my future interpersonal relationships. I feel so grateful for the hours of reflection and thoughtful conversations I have with enjoyed with Barb while the walking the Way together. She is a gifted coach as well as a fun and spirited adventurer and what I have learned from and with her will benefit me for a long time to come. 

Shortly before Tence, a larger town or Ville, the weather grew cold and rainy. We had to get on our ponchos and rain pants as well as our warm jackets and hats. By the time we reached Tence it had abated a bit and as we were hungry we stopped for lunch. We found shelter under an overhanging tree on the side of the road. We tucked under it and made a repast of bread and cheese, dried fruit and nuts with dark chocolate for dessert. 

It continued to rain and by the time we were done I was cold. This was a first for me on the chamin and I worried I might have jeopardized my health by not being more mindful. The best thing was to get warm as quickly as possible so we took off walking at a fast pace. We still had three hours ahead of us to St Jueres and I was eager to put the kilometres behind us quickly. The brisk pace did the trick and I soon was warm again. 

I kept up the faster pace for the remainder of the afternoon and by 4:30 we saw the church tower of St. Jueres in the not so far distance. By the time the church bells rang five times we had reached our chambre d’hote. St. Jueres is in an ancient volcanic region and we could see long ago vestiges of fire mountains. It was a beautiful place to spend the night. 

Our accommodations were great. We had our own private quarters away from the main house. Again I had a big double bed and there was plenty of room for us to do yoga before dinner. Dinner was served at the main house and I joked that I hoped we were the only guests. No such luck, there was a cute elderly couple, retired, and our host and hostess. We made small talk before eating, which though challenging, was great for improving our French. Barb being charming and extroverted took the lead in asking questions of the guests and hosts. When it came our turn to talk about our work we found it hard to find the words to describe the profession of a life/business coach much less that of a shaman! However, by the end of a fun evening with a great meal and an amazing desert with lots of whipped cream behind us, the company had gotten an idea of what we did. 

Barb and I retired to our quarters and with the plan of sleeping in a little longer on our next to our last day, we were soon asleep in our comfortable beds. 

Day Sixteen Photos 

“At the hotel in Monfaucon and we see bad weather coming. There is beauty on the trail, both the flowers and my dear friend, Barb.” 

“Getting nearer to the destination, we see St Jeures. Will in repose.” 

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