Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Monday, 18 April 2011

Day 18. Leguevin to L'Isle-Jourdain (15 kms)

18 April, 2011

The French are a proud people. If they know English, they know English, and they wouldn't dream of asking a native English speaker to look over the English translation of their French text before they print it. This accounts for the idiomatic and even grammatical errors one sees in the English versions of texts all over France, even at important historic monuments.

At the gite, the hospitalier, or someone on the committee, had had a go at translating their notices. Here are a couple of examples:

Please do not throw in the toilet.

The house will be closed no later than 22 pm and will released every morning before 9 pm.

My French companions set out very early, before dawn in fact, using a liitle wind-up torch to see the way. So I too was up early and left the gite about 7:20.

In the woods at a fork where I was wondering which way to go, I asked directions of a woman who was walking her dog. She started to explain, and then said, "Excuse my French." She didn't have to apologise to me, I thought.

She was English, the second Brit I had met in the town. When I asked if she knew the first, she said, No, she kept away from them.

Funny bunch, the Poms, they either live in enclaves or avoid each other like the plague.

I reached L'Isle Jourdain well before noon and was intending to move on, but two things happened.

I stopped for a coffee and asked about Wifi. There was none there, but someone overheard and told me to drop by her office and use hers. Very kind. This took some time to set up.

Then I stopped for a sandwich and the patron told me about the things to see in his town. He was not an educated man, but spoke with such enthusiasm about the history, the museum of clocks, and the fresco in the church, that I decided to stay.

I have settled in at the gite and I'm now drinking a beer in the town square, one of those magnificent squares that are at the centre of so many French and Spanish, and I suppose, other European, towns.

The town hall stretches across one side; on another is an ancient red-brick grain exchange, now housing a museum of clocks, which I'm about to see. On the other two sides are shops and houses in red brick and plaster, complementing the two dominant buildings. It is something intangible, but the beauty of these architectural surroundings must lift the spirit of the denizens of this town, even if they don't realise it. It is something we have often forgotten in the new world.

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