July 17, 2008

Day 11: 24 April - Estaing, Rest day

I had decided I needed a rest day.... I had arranged it with the gite... they didn't always allow it, but for me this day it was possible.... I knew that my feet needed a 'day off', but as everyone else in the dorm rose for their new day of walking, it didn't stop me shedding some tears.... I felt like a 'failure'. This particular gite was run by a small Christian community, and you were welcome to join them for the Office prayers. I went along this morning, but couldn't stop the tears falling from my eyes, though I tried to hide them...
It turned out to be a gorgeous day in Estaing, and the first really sunny day they had enjoyed this new spring.
After breakfast I stepped out gingerly on my sore feet into the town. I wandered down by the church: this is the path that ran by near it, and you can see the arches that have been 'closed in'. You climb stairs from here to get into the church. Like so many older towns, there are 'layers' of history.

I bought some compeed from the pharmacy, then wandered slowly down towards the bridge and the River Lot, sat on one of the seats there, and applied compeed to my blisters. (Ahhh what a difference it made to my walking comfort immediately!)

Not long afterwards, the two lovely women from the families I had seen walking over the previous few days came and joined me. They were going to be the 'drivers' for their family group this morning, so had some time to explore the town. As I talked to them, I couldn't help but shed a few more tears as I told them I had taken a rest day... They took me to the nearby cafe with them and they had coffees while I had a delicious hot chocolate. Already I felt so much better....kindness has its own healing effects.
I spent quite a bit of this sunny day sitting on a seat near the river. I met quite a few locals as I sat there, people who guessed I was a "pilgrim" and who were keen to speak of their experiences of the Chemin, past, or planned, or longed for... I managed conversation in French not too badly... immersion they call it!
And I wandered, slowly, just a little, looking at the building styles around me. The chateau is being restored for the 'patrimonie' of France by former President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing.
Now that I had crossed the Aubrac Plateau, there were a few extra layers of clothing I felt I no longer needed: I found the Post Office and sent a parcel to my French friend Monique- lightening my pack even a little also made me feel better!

When I returned to the gite, they showed me the lovely garden area up the back, where my washing- that had been done for me by machine- had already dried in the sunshine. Amongst the spring leaves and the hens, I sat and looked around at the stone buildings and backyards, just relaxing. The bells rang with vigour at 5.30pm for the nearby Mass at 6pm, but I stayed sitting in the sunshine...
In hindsight, taking a rest day, to allow my tender blistered soles a chance to 'settle down', was absolutely the right decision and the best thing I could have done.


  1. I shed a few tears reading Day 11 - well done for allowing common sense to prevail!

  2. Thanks Anon. In hindsight, this day was a turning point of sorts. When I got up the next day I knew a new determination. I knew somehow that, barring injury, I would 'make it' to the end.

  3. Kiwi

    I am praying for a miracle to heal my lower back. Before I meet the Lord or Satan I want to walk the Camino as a life goal. I am envious of you. However as a married father with a daughter it is somewhat selfish to go on such a long walk alone. It is a noble thing to have walked so far to see the tombstone of St James!

    1. I hope your back recovers soon. Maybe you can walk the Camino when your daughter is older- many people in their 50s or older walk it.