Rejoice, we conquer
I may not have been as fast as Pheidippides, but it was a marathon nonetheless. I was forced to go right into Bordeaux, because an earlier gite was full.
Saint-Martin-Lacaussade is three kilometres from the port at Blaye, where the first boat was scheduled to leave at 7:30. I had to get up at crackers, to make sure I didn't miss it. But when I arrived at 7:15, I wondered if perhaps the first crossing was not until later. The boat was coughing and spluttering, but there was no way of getting on board, and there was no one to take tickets. Then at 7:25, a ramp was lowered at the side of the boat and I was beckoned on. A few cars arrived as well, driving onto the boat from the side, and then parking rather haphazardly towards the stern. It was all very casual. Not like BC Ferries at all. Then we were off, taking 20 minutes for the crossing.
I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get any breakfast, but as I got off the boat on the other side, there was a bar du port catering to the boat passengers and others. Alain, a Basque, served me coffee and croissants. He was an eccentric fellow, talking to himself in different languages and bursting into song every so often. Then he came over to me. He had done the Camino and started talking about his experiences. He wouldn't accept any money for the breakfast.
I had picked up a little booklet put out by the local association outlining a shorter and calmer route into Bordeaux. This was the route I was following. In fact it was so well marked, that I didn't use the description at all; I just followed the signs. At first it took me across the mud flats on limestone tracks and muddy trails. I was reminded of mangrove swamps in Queensland. There were even mosquitos, not quite up to the quality of our Manitoba variety, but a nuisance not the less. Far more worrying to me was the possibility of midges, tiny little insects which bite but don't bother you right away, and then the next day you itch like buggery. Didn't seem to be any. Later I walked along forest trails. It was all very pleasant until it started to rain.
It was light at first, and then it pelted down. I was drenched. Two people stopped me and asked if I'd like something hot to drink, but I had to decline, for I had so far to go.
Tonight, and tomorrow night, for I'm spending an extra night in Bordeaux, I'm staying in a gite which is actually on the site of the cemetery and used to be the quarters of the gatekeeper. It is quiet! The outdoor patio has a special ambience.