7 Sep 11: Les Mathieux to Lascabanes

Route: Les Mathieux to Lascabanes  16.3 km

Crushed limestone on gently rolling terrain. Gained 80m up to Labastide, early sections steeper and more eroded than later. Underway at 08:25, the last to leave by 15 minutes (I’ll plead first day repacking). Some ridgetop sections with views. A few large old homes. A few fields with sunflowers, ripe with heavy drooping heads and drying on the stalk for harvest.

Lodging: Le Nid des Anges. This gite is in a wing of a Romanesque church. Many gite operators have day jobs, so one has some “installez-vous” arrivals. My roomates tonight include an Italian woman who has been to Seattle and two Frenchwomen who are walking Le Puy to Santiago. They are from near Dijon. At the church there is a Blessing of pilgrims mass at 6pm. He began with washing our feet – how tres apropos! I have the sense of a whole spiritual community traveling together – on the Chemin as analogy to the Road of Life. How nice to finally feel accepted.

Grace: Le Quiet Profound is one of the true deep joys of this part of France.

Cuisine: I have reverted to my “fiber and fish” strategy for lunches: banana, apple or raw carrot; tinned sardines or tuna salad. Mid-day a gite offered picnic tables, self service cold drinks and a young yellow Lab for company. Panache is excellent for washing down fish! For dinner Madame prepared a splendid salad of romaine vinagrette, a starter of baked crouton topped with local chevre, chicken quarters sauted and finished with a pan gravy and steamed quinoa on the side. A baked strawberry crumble was dessert. Altogether quite a delightful meal. Madame seated the English speakers together (me, Italian, two Dutch, bordered by the Québécois).

Nights Rest. After reading for some years on the CSJ forum about the horrors of nights in pilgrim lodgings in Spain, I finally got a real taste. The two women from Dijon both snored, loudly, in shifts. Then fidgeted with ziplock bags and flashlights, intermittently before rising at 5:45 (sunrise is not until 7:30) to perform their morning ablutions and pack. Silly me, I left the earplugs and eyeshade in Paris. A good night’s sleep is priceless; I am not feeling so bad about planning so many private rooms this trip.

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