Another pleasant valley Sunday here in Cahors (pop 20,000), watching the River Lot cascading towards its meeting with the mighty Gironde. The old fortified Valentre bridge dates from the 14th century and I will be crossing it tomorrow morning on my way out of Cahors along the Chemin de St Jacques.
Friday evening degenerated soon after posting my blog. Monsieur had promised dinner at 7pm “here”. Only 3 other pilgrims had the misfortune to be staying “here” (the 2 ladies did not turn up). One was J whom I have been seeing since Le Puy and a couple. J took delight in telling the couple about all the places we had shared and explained in great detail how I’d slept in a wardrobe at La Roche. Everyone laughed.
Eventually Monsieur (there was no sign of any Madame) appeared with a tray containing a saucepan of “vegetable soup” including alphabetty spaghetti pieces. I saw my name floating in the debris. In a plastic bowl was some over grilled chicken and stale white rice. A couple of nearly empty jars of curry sauce offered a dash of the exotic. The dessert was a little bowl of instant chocolate whip mix. He also brought a bag of breakfast which prompted us all to turn in and set the alarm for an early start and a late breakfast in Cahors. The irony was that I had previously booked a nearby gite but cancelled when the Madame could only offer a box of raw ingredients and a saucepan. In the event, the Swiss team stayed there and sent me photos of their lovely meal.
I have had a couple of minor blisters so far but nothing like the disastrous afflictions of last year. The cause was my own stupidity. I had replaced last year’s gel insoles with a new pair of extra cushioned insoles which I have worn happily in casual shoes at home. It was only after some days of rubbing that I realised that these insoles were too thick for my boots and although I replaced them immediately, the damage had been done. I had a Compeed plaster on my little toe for several days and when I removed it yesterday, my toenail came off with it and a pungent smell filled the room.
After applying some soap and warm water I popped next door to the city hospital brandishing my European Union health insurance card and passport. Young nurse Caroline noted the missing ongle du petit orteil, carefully counted my toes and seemed satisfied. She then typed a few words into her Windows XP system and out popped a prescription. It looked like a lot of encrypted nonsense to me but the pharmacist knew what was required and filled a carrier bag with various boxes and bottles which cost 76 Euros. I told her all this would be free in the UK and she laughed the Brexit laugh and wished me a Bon Chemin.
I met R for dinner as planned. R is the Canadian who was walking with A whom I had hoped to join for the duration. A is now steaming ahead. R had researched a fine restaurant by the River Lot in the old town and I enjoyed a smoked salmon salad and quail. As is often the way of the Camino, I saw the 2 Belgian men from Madame Mirande’s house in the restaurant. We caught up with gossip and I felt like a local. It was the same this morning when I bumped into familiar pilgrims on the streets either finishing in Cahors or setting off on their day’s walk. Although words were few we had shared the experience and the bonding was deep.