Via Tolosana Day 17: Reflections

Anglès to Boissezon 20.8kms

This is getting boring reporting that once again I didn’t sleep too well.  Morning pages done, I’m on a roll. Packed and breakfasted – is that a word?   Manfred said he’d take the key back when he left.  He reminded me a little of my grandpa, and my friend Robert in Adelaide.  I have found it quite often in my travels, that there may be new people, but they always seem to have something familiar about them, so I seem to replicate the same group of friends wherever I go.  We are all connected, aren’t we.

Just outside, in the doorway to the gite d’etape communal, there was an opportunity to take a stick.  It was really heavy – Manfred said it would be a good opportunity to build my arm muscles.  It just felt like hard work to me, so I left it.  I said goodbye. Manfred would be leapfrogging my path that day, by walking all the way to Castres (36.5kms).  I think I’d be grovelling along on my stomach by 35 kms; that distance doesn’t bear thinking about.

I left. There were no signs, but I found my way to the edge of the town, and the markers re-appeared.  An Anglès beagle wanted to follow me but obediently stopped when I tried my ‘arret, chez maison‘ (back, your house) trick.  Most of the way today was dirt – thankfully. After the initial dip off the main road, the track went upwards, past a gite where you can go fishing. I assume it is trout fishing in the little lake.

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Angles beagle

I walked on a little path which was separated from the fields by a barbed-wire fence.  Not far from town, a deer bounded away from the fence, and then I noticed peacocks.  I pondered the meaning of scratchy tickets on the way, and debated whether to pick them up and check them. I figured if they’d been discarded, they’re not likely winners.

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Peacocks

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Scratchies

I also pondered why, when you can see the map shows your path traversing around 3 sides of a rectangular-ish field, you choose to take this long route, rather than just go straight ahead to meet your destination in a 1/3 of the time, but this is the way. If I wanted to go quickly, I’d be walking on asphalt the whole way, and taking trains and buses (and we know I’m not into that).  I’ve found rewards in these long ways. This time it was seeing the deer again.  Continuing through forest, I could hear I was approaching a stream. It is a beautiful sound, of fresh movement of water.   There are motorbike tracks again, and the cold and hot patches of air make this morning feel a little freaky.

A black fluffy possum-like creature crossed my path up ahead. Day of big fauna.  The track turned more into creek bed in parts and took me through more forests. A beautiful house met me at the junction I would have got to quicker if I’d not followed the markers, and went the quickest way indicated on my map.

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Deer

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Poison ivy, or overactive imagination?

There are these ground cover plants that creep out towards the track and they’ve collected a little frost overnight. I’d love to touch them, but for some reason I suspect they might be in the poison-ivy family, so I resist. I pass more hay bales.

For a step which is meant to descend several hundred metres, there are sure a lot of uphill sections. I stop for a wee while at an interesting plaque about a parachutist landing in Saussonieres and an information board about the liberation of Castres in 1944 on the 20th August.  It is very close to the anniversary.

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American parachutist

Walking on I come across a pond reflection which is spectacular.  The water comes right up to the fence next to the vehicle-sized track, and is thick with blackberries. It looks like the pond just descends to great depths, just under the blackberries.  I’m transfixed by the reflection which because it is a light day, is absolutely clear and vivid and comes nearly all the way towards up to my feet.  I almost feel like I have vertigo and am going to fall into the sky. Great photo opportunities.

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Falling into the sky

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Track next to reflection

Just up ahead, I walk through the outskirts of a town, Bouisset, and I glimpsed La Poste. Then two cyclists, then another and it was starting to feel like Groundhog Day.  A composted menhir?  A La Poste box.  The most beautiful wedge of wildflowers.  I tried to help one of the many little black beetles I found upturned on the path, with a gorgeous blue/black colour on it’s underside, but as soon as I flipped it, it flipped itself back.  Perhaps there’s really is no helping some beings. Maybe they know when their time is up.  Maybe it is time for all the pretty beetles to die.  I left the bitumen road to again follow a dirt track, this time bordered with pine trees. I put my pack down on a high mound next to a large pine tree and got my water and a peach out for morning tea.

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Small meadow of flowers

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These are the vistas

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Stoby pole installation

After a brief rest and listen to my iTunes, I walked on through more forest. This one made me sing the Grizzly Adams song, “we are staying here forever in the beauty of this place … living free in harmony and majesty”. Yet the woods were a little spooky again today . Pine forest is a little uncomfortable for some reason.

I saw more horses in the distance, then what could have been a dog, or a wolf or a fox.  Just after this, my gaze was met by a black 4WD making its way towards me along the track I was on. I wave bonjour to the middle aged guy hoping he won’t stop. There is something about pine forests, or maybe the people in them, that really freaks me out.  I walked on adrenaline for a while – it helped me go quicker!  I saw 11:11 on my phone today. The track emerged on the other side – big, wide, cleared lands – once were forests again, though this time, even more cleared lands and new plantings. I came to a T-junction and there was a pilgrim letterbox – weird!  Crosses woven into the cyclone fence nearby made this a strange little site. I continued following the markers, and traversed the top of a hill for a while, until I descended sharply along a deeply rutted dirt track. It took a big bend, almost doubling back the way I’d come, and then the markers led me into a wooded area again.

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Pilgrim post box

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Crosses

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More vistas

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A day of reflection

Not far through this wood, I decided it was lunch time. I sat on a little wooden seat and ate my leftover rice/celery salad just after I saw my second lot of smaller puddle reflections in the track for the day.  I was in full sun, but it wasn’t too hot yet, and a nice place to stop.  As I was getting ready to go, Manfred walked along. He’d stop in half an hour for lunch he said. I said for him to go on, as he was obviously much faster than I was.  He’d had a terrible morning as he has poor vision, and could not see the markers. He wasted a lot of time when he thought he could see them, only to get closer to find they weren’t markers at all.  I told him that I thought many were missing as there had been so much logging, and probably many of the trees had been cut down.  I said I imagine seeing markers all day when I’m lost!

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Pleasant day for a walk

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Dreaming a sky

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Feet fall on the road

Before it got tiring for my knees, the way was a gorgeous, if steep descent into Boissezons. The path was really rocky then normal, then purple.  I received yet another text from Jacques: “We leave Castres for Dourgne (monastery). Then Revel and Les Casses”.  They are two days ahead.

More piles of wood. My ears even popped it was such an altitude drop. I found an apple on the road which I decided to eat, then threw away because it wasn’t very nice.  I passed Manfred who was sitting enjoying the view.  I walked around a corner and saw a man and woman enjoying lunch in their picnic chairs, half on the road, half off it.

It was here that I met Salome and Lolita with their French Canadian companions.  I didn’t quite understand the route they were doing, but I think it was Le puy, Lectoure,  Toulouse and back to Le puy via St Guilhem le Desert. So their plans had me reflecting on how far I’d come. I was also trying to envisage climbing all those hills with two donkeys. It would certainly be ‘a thing’!  They were walking ‘backwards’ so had just been in Castres. Their next stop was the trout fishing farm I passed in the morning.  I could imagine two donkeys there.

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Salome

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Lolita

After asking their permission to immortalise the two girls, I snapped my pictures. Apparently donkeys with their ears up, are not particularly comfortable, and a happy donkey has it’s ears down – I think that’s what they said.

The approach to Boissezon is from above, so the first thing you see are terracotta roofs. I pass a pretty-smelling bush I’m not familiar with.  Coming into the town, I realise this place is a little obsessed with mosaics – all over walls, as street markings, in shop windows, and eventually in my very kitchen. It seems like an arty little place.  There is a fabulous representation of the Via Tolosana in mosaic – Arles to Santiago.  A beautiful strong flowing river provides the ever-present background music. Actually the town is on the junction of two rivers, La Durencuse and La Durenque.

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Boissezon skyline

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Mosaic Via Tolosana: Arles – Santiago de Compostella avec pizza box

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Le St Jacques

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St Jacques Coquille

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Annie Amirault Peinture

I walk down the steep laneway, half-way down to find Annie’s place.  By chance, she is in her small patio garden.  I introduce myself and say I have a reservation for the evening. She does not speak much English, but I try to explain that I booked at the Office of Tourisme in Salvetat.  She said she didn’t receive any booking. I’m a little flabbergasted as I think that English speaking young man didn’t actually book me in at all. Either that or she has forgotten.  In any case, there was no-one booked, so I could stay.

The guesthouse is tiny, and it inspired me with how little one actually needs in a dwelling. It was built into the cliff, so at many places where there would be walls, there is just cliff face.  But in around the cliff is a kitchen/dining/bathroom area downstairs, and a suspended floor up a steep wooden ladder.  The beds (sleeping up to 5) are low to the ground and there are skylights and a window.  On the ground floor is the most organic and free-flowing mosaic I have ever seen.  Tiles just dribbling out across the cement floor vaguely, but very artistically.  It reminds me a little of a Hobbit house in it’s earthiness and sweetness.

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Guesthouse kitchen

I shower, do my washing, hoping that it will dry in the warm air, although it looks to be getting overcast and I fear it will rain.  I lay down for a rest. When I get up, I am still treading gingerly, but decide to go out to look for food and around the town.  My thongs are really not suitable as the roads are really steep, but I have no choice. I go slowly.  I find the epicerie which will open later.  There is a nice restaurant – Deux Mousquetaires in whose window I see my reflection and that of the houses across the road. Jamais deux sans trois!  (Things always happen in threes). I pass another gorgeous mosaic of another maker and their atelier (workshop).

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L’Auberge les deux Moustiqueires

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Another mosaic artist

After dinner I decide to go up to the top of the hill to the church. It is 8pm and the church is closed. But just below the church is a little street of artisans, and there sounds to be an art-opening party going on. They sound the same the world over it seems.

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Open Garden Scheme?

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Town cats

There are cats everywhere, this is a cat town.  After I passed an old man, also slowly going for his evening walk, I called in at the Mairie where I found a lovely terracotta plaque of the town. More town cats, that looked really mangy.  I also found a holly tree and the cross symbol of the area. A fruitful little wander.

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Boissezon Mairie

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Town square sculpture

On returning to my little abode, I sat and worked out a rough plan for my remaining days, to see if I have enough days left to actually get to Col du Somport. I am pleased when I see that I can fit in a couple of days in Carcassonne and Lourdes also.  I could even stay for two nights in Castres if I want to, although I’m getting the idea that I must keep moving.

I love it when a plan comes together!  Have I quoted the A-Team already?

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