The night before we’d met an incredibly inspiring French man walking the Camino alone. He was camping for the route through till St Jean in one of the smallest tents I’ve ever seen. The reason he struck me, was because he didn’t have hands with 5 fingers. He had the base of his hand and a thumb at the end of each arm. When we met him at this time the thing that really hit home with me, was that he was completely and totally independent. And he wasn’t uncomfortable, he was completely natural. It was me who was, bumbling round, unsure to offer to help. Not wanting to stare, but amazed at the speed he did anything from buttering his toast, to packing up his bag. This made me pretty ashamed of myself to be honest. My mum had a climbing accident when I was 11 years old and has permanently been in a wheelchair since. I’ve see what people’s stares can be like for her, and also the disgusting habit people can make of patronising her through forced help (under the guise of assuming she can’t take care of herself). Yet here I was, gawking like an idiot, and half trying to help, then pausing and staring again. The Magician chatted naturally to him in the morning, the way he can with everyone. Whilst I bumbled round in the morning trying to shove everything into their natural homes in my pack. We waved him good bye, in his baseball hat. And hoped to see him later. Me praying, this time I wouldn’t come across like a gaping tourist who’d just seen Big Ben for the first time.
The walk today had a short cut on it, but we decided not to take it. Having one of those rare moments of being purists about the Camino. This gave us landscapes of golden fields, where barley and sunflowers cut down. Although the days were beginning to get more and more repetitive of these views, I never tired of staring into the distance with the Magician. Feeling the golden sunshine on my face, and feeling blessed with every step we took together.
We arrived late into Sur l’ Adour, which is a very ugly industrial town. The saving grace was the pretty church and little winding streets with Bistros everywhere. But I’m impressed to say, even the bridge over a river wasn’t actually that pretty.
Walking through the winding streets, you’re filled with a sense of sadness, as the town is obviously starting to lose income with a number of empty shops and for sale signs. What you are effectively being called to witness is the death of what used to be a successful French town.
Arriving at the Gite was a magical haven here. The Gite here is always booked as the couple that run this are a bit of a legend on the Camino. They met here on the Camino and decided to stay together. The Magician and I had a wonderful surprise as they put us into a room called Conques (which is where we first met). What I didn’t know is that ‘Les Amores’ the Magicians and my trail nick names was starting to become known. The Gite owners grilled us about how we met (as other people had told them about us). At the end of our grilling over dinner she said, when she first heard about us, she didn’t really believe that we might be one of those couples that lasted. She said she changed her mind after she met us, and her parting words of wisdom? Ignore everyone when you get back from the Camino. Everyone will tell you this won’t work out. But we are proof that it can. I went to bed with a warmth in my heart (and stomach) from the night of singing with my French Camino mummy, amazing food and wonderful company.