Lectoure - Marsolan - Castelnau-sur-l'Auvignon - Condom
Bon jour mes amies. So let's just get straight to the elephant in the living room. Yes I'm staying tonight in a town called Condom. Mais, ce n'est rien. When you've stayed at the Hotel Colon (as Jill and Martin and I did in Barcelona last year) a town called Condom seems perfectly reasonable to me.
The town is also known as Condom-en-Armagnac so I am in brandy country. I wonder if we will be offered a glass after dinner tonight at the gite. And, for the record, I should say that the Hotel Colon is a very comfortable hotel in a perfect location in Barcelona. According to Wikipedia, the hotel would most likely be named after Christoper Colombus who was thought to have changed his last name to Colon when he became a Spanish citizen.
But back to the start of the day. When I set out this morning I almost immediately bumped into a German lady, Cecelia, whom I'd met briefly the afternoon before as we both navigated the last of the thick mud on the way in to Lectoure. I wouldn't have bothered trying to clean up my shoes if I'd known what today had in store. Anyhoo, back to Cecelia.
We fell into stride together but, from the outset, Cecelia seemed anxious that we were not going the right way. I wondered if she somehow knew my history. It's true that the markers on the Chemin du Puy are few and far between in places - compared to Spain - and this can be disconcerting. But I had learned a hard lesson just a few days ago and was uncharacteristically confident that we were exactly where we should be. I tried to reassure Cecelia that I had been watching for markers very carefully and was sure we were on The Way. It wasn't easy as Cecelia has only a few words of English and no French and I had long ago blocked out any German I may have learned from Frau Wagner in the eighth grade.
After about 15 minutes through thick mud and not having seen a marker, Cecelia seemed resolute that we must turn around and go back the way we came. I felt conflicted. I didn't like to let her go back on her own as she seemed distressed. But I was also sure we were on the right track and the thought of retracing our steps through that thick mud was most unappealing. I tried to suggest that now we were out of the mud we could walk just a little further and perhaps we would see a marker. I don't think she understood. In any case, I barely had the words out and she had tuned around and was gone. Of course you know the rest. Less than a few minutes later, a marker to confirm we were indeed on The Way. I didn't see Cecelia again today but I'm sure she will be fine. Perhaps just a little more weary than she might otherwise have been. I know that feeling.
The rest of the day can be summed up as follows - stunning scenery, mud, beautiful village of Marsolan (but no shops or cafes open), mud, magnificent private homes, mud, vineyards, mud, still nowhere to buy food or a coffee, mud, eating my bread and honey (from breakfast) in the tranquil gardens of Chapel St Germaine, mud, more stunning scenery, more mud, coming over the hill to see the town of Condom ahead sooner than expected, and a final 30 metres of thick mud to end the day the way it began.
My poles got quite a workout today. And I was grateful for the yoga and body balance classes. Trying to stay upright while navigating those long stretches of deep mud is exhausting. It was squelchy, slippery and just plain icky. Yuk! But then before I knew it, I was in the lovely Gite de Casa du Pelerin, welcomed by the young French owner, Elena. Out of my dirty shoes and clothes and into a hot shower - and the mud fell away.
So best sign off now. Thanks for being in touch and for your kind words and good wishes - Dad and Elaine, Mary Patricia, Helen C., Jan C., Julie-Anne, Ray and Cathryn, Rosanne and Judy. It is always lovely to receive your comments and emails. And special hi to Jean and Sylvie (who I last saw in Moissac) - thank you for your email and photo. And to Kris and Rod from Wyoming (who Jill and I met last year) - what a lovely surprise to hear from you again today.
And great to have a chat Helen (Mum) even if it did mean that I didn't watch where I was going and took the wrong road out of Marsolan. I realised pretty quickly (I'm starting to trust my intuition again) and turned back. Had it not been for that wrong turn I wouldn't have the photo of the 'enfants' coming back from the Easter egg hunt! So, no regrets.
A bientot. Love and best wishes
PS. I've spared you more mud photos. I wasn't game to get my camera out.