Nasbinals - Aubrac - forest - Aubrac - Saunt-Chely-d'Aubrac
If there is one thing I've learned from my previous two Caminos it's that whatever your plans or expectations, sometimes The Camino has other ideas.
Today Sive and I set out before 7.30 as planned. Our idea was to walk the 31 kms to Saint-Come-d'Olt. The distance involves an 8 km uphill hike to Aubrac followed by a 23 km steep descent firstly to Saint-Chely and then on to Saint-Come. We had an early breakfast with Sheryl, Glenn and Carlo. I said a sad farewell to Carlo and bid Sheryl and Glenn a bientot but not au revoir as we all felt it likely we may meet again on The Way before St Jean Pied de Port. Turns out it was much sooner than we imagined.
The hike to Aubrac was spectacular and we made great progress. We arrived at Aubrac around 10, enjoyed a great coffee, managed to resist some spectacular pies (see photos), caught up with Mary Rose, Brian and Dayton and headed off at 10.30 feeling supremely confident that we would make a short day of our 31 km and arrive in Saint-Come by mid afternoon.
As we made our way down the hill we were chatting up a storm, perhaps not taking quite as much notice of markers as we should have. Long story short, we took a wrong turn and were soon lost in a dense forest. The problem was that once in the forest we found ourselves in a sort of Camino Bermuda Triangle. Apparently there are a number of other routes (not shown on our maps) so there were Camino markers all around and in all directions. To our credit we remained calm and in good humour. Thankfully it was a clear and sunny day and, due to our early start, we had plenty of daylight hours. So we didn't panic.
At around 2.45, more than four hours after we had left Aubrac, the small village was in sight again, albeit from another direction. The last hour or so was on a road and we had not seen one car travelling in the right direction in all they time. Finally one came into view and we waved it down. It was our lucky day (if you don't count being lost for four hours in the forest).
The couple in the car were heading in the direction of Aubrac - we had about 3 km to go by then - and said they would drive us there. On the way we told them our story. By the time we arrived at the turn off to Aubrac, this lovely and friendly French couple had offered to drive us the additional 8 km to Saint-Chely. We accepted enthusiastically! Merci beaucoup Jean Louis and Nadine. Vows etes tres, tres gentil. Having walked around 30 kms to reach a town which was 16 kms from our starting point this morning we didn't feel the slightest pang of guilt in accepting Jean Louis and Nadine's offer. The way I see it I've now walked an extra 14 kms!
So, as it turned out Sive and I had another delightful evening tonight with Sheryl, Glenn and Carlo! And they were delighted to see us. We have some ground to make up to get to Conques in the next two days, so we will start out early again tomorrow and hope that we make it to our destination this time. I'll let you know.
Before I sign off, in case you're wondering who the people are in the photos below
First photo - Brian and Mary Rose from Melbourne at same restaurant as us last night.
Next photo - Carlo, Sive, Sheryl and Glenn at dinner last night.
Further down- Mary Rose, Brian and Dayton (French pilgrim) in front of the fire at the wonderful restaurant in Aubrac.
Further down again - Sive and I shimmying under electrified fence as we cut across private property on our way to Aubruc, for the second time.
And finally the last two photos. These are paintings by Carlo who I've been travelling with since Le Puy and who gave me permission to include in my blog. Carlo is a nurse in Antwerp and an artist (self taught) and art teacher in his spare time. He has an exhibition coming up soon after he returns from The Camino (he will leave Figeac early next week). Carlo's paintings are extraordinary, I think. The story behind these two paintings is that Carlo donated them to an organisation that tries to combat bullying and to care for people who have suffered at the hands of bullies. This painting is of a young man in his early thirties who had suffered so much from bullying throughout his teens that he was on the verge of suicide. He asked Carlo to paint this picture which he describes as his older wiser self caring for and protecting him. Perhaps you can tell from these paintings that Carlo is a caring and sensitive soul. He is also an absolute hoot with a great sense of humour. I will miss him on The Camino.
Finalky, thank you to Ian Cairns, Helen C and Sara for your comments. Great to hear from you this morning. I appreciate your good wishes.
Off to bed now. Another big day tomorrow - over 30 - and hopefully we will not lose our way!