Wednesday, 4 September 2013


I arrived at Condom just after 12 . I managed to walk straight past the Casa del Pelerin! In the town I visited the lovely Cathedral which was refreshingly cool after the intense heat . I waited for the tourist office to open and then was directed to the Gite. Elena was most welcoming and showed me to the men's dormitory which had four beds with sheets. After a shower I made use of the wifi, had a rest, borrowed a shopping bag and headed off to buy food for tomorrow. I bumped into Elena in the street and told her that I had borrowed the bag.I managed to miss the fruit shop and found it on my return to the centre of town. I drew out some cash, bought the fruit and was heading to buy bread when a familiar voice hailed me. It was Pierre and Isabel. They asked me to join them for a drink. I said that I would return as soon as I had the bread. We sat and chatted. When I returned to the Gite Elena was busy preparing supper. Sadly, when the four German ladies had arrived they spoke to her in English.  (Earlier she had spoken with me in French which helps me improve. ) For the rest of the evening we spoke in English.
Elena has a Scottish mother from Kirkcaldy and an Italian father. Her parents met at university. She is from Eauze ( my destination tomorrow) She completed the French section last year and opened her Gite in April. It is wonderful but a huge undertaking. She said that it is important that some of the gites are run by young people. I mentioned Gisele and Jean Pierre. She had stayed at the Ferme de Bouysse and agreed that they are special. When she arrived there they were away. They had gone to Santiago on the bus so that they could understand their guests better!
Later I said that Elena would be disappointed with the Spanish Camino. She wanted to know why. I said that I have been overwhelmed both by the beauty of France and the generosity of the people that I have met. She said that the Spanish think that the Camino only starts at the Pyrenees and the focus is on getting to Santiago. I said that was terribly mistaken. I will reflect on this later. At the end of dinner she carefully signed our credentials and put a personal message in each.
She then gave some practical advice for tomorrow. Firstly she told us not to miss the village of Larresingle even though it is 500m off the route. It is a completely walled medieval village. Beyond the village she pointed out that the Bridge of Artigues, as well as being an ancient pilgrim bridge, also marks 1000 km from Santiago.
The next bit of information amused me. A short way after the bridge you will come to the Eglise de Routges. The only problem she said is that there is a madman there who is often completely naked and chases women. Looking at the four Germans she said that they would be fine because they were together.
When I got up around 6 I discovered that all was ready for breakfast and all that had to be done was to put on the coffee. Even though it was before the agreed time I could hear the Germans getting ready and put the coffee on. I had settled down to coffee when Elena appeared. She was not too pleased that I had started!
When I was ready to leave she opened the front door and asked me to pose for a photo. She then apologised for being abrupt and then embraced me warmly and wished me a Bonne Chemin. It was a glorious dawn with vapour trails coming up from Toulouse. It was then that I began to reflect on the field of stars, the journey of the Magi, and the Camino.
(Sadly the tourist office in Eauze where I am writing is just about to close, so wait to see where this is going! )

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