Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Day 11. June 16, 2014. Montreal to Fanjeux. 13 kms.

One potato, two potato, three potato, four,
Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more

I was rudely awakened in the middle of the night by the Dutch lady saying, "Please don't snore!" Fortunately, I managed to get back to sleep. A bit much, I thought, later. What do you expect in a gite? She said she had nudged me and I'd stopped, but then started again, so she'd had to wake me, but  still I'd continuedCatharine, the French woman, said I wasn't snoring, but talking in my sleep. She didn't understand what I was saying. Probably just as well. It must have been the wine I drank at dinner.

We dined last night at an Auberge on the highway. It was a fine meal, beginning with a wonderful salade Roquefort, and followed by a steak, worth mentioning because of the most amazing frites I have ever tasted. It was explained to me that they were simply potato peelings, formed after the skin had been removed. A litre of rouge sat importantly in the centre of the table, its level sinking slowly as the evening progressed.

So I confess to feeling a little crook this morning. I hope it is the wine and not something I am coming down with. But it was the shortest day in a long time, only 13 kilometres, and glorious walking in cool weather in high open spaces. It was almost cold at times, and I felt a few drops of rain. In the distance I could see snow on the peaks of the mountains.

Since Carcassonne, I have seem lots of wheat and barley. I have seen legumes as well. This morning I saw some potatoes with their tops already dying. They must be ready. Mine won't be.

This year, at the suggestion of Ron, my neighbour on the island, I have planted potatoes in a barrel. The idea is to plant four or five potatoes in a 44 gallon drum or similar container, and as they grow, to keep covering them with soil, all but the crown. The potatoes are supposed to keep forming in layers. One fellow claims to have grow 100 lbs of potatoes this way. Another got only a single spud. We shall see.

I walked through a couple of little villages sans bar, following minor roads, broad country lanes, and tracks through the fields, just what a GR should be. Soon I could see Fanjeux, not far away on the top of a hill.

Then followed a sequence a little reminiscent of the great crop-dusting scene in North by North-West. As I walked up a minor road towards Fanjeux, I noticed on a neighbouring field a tractor pulling a sprayer with its long arms outstretched, but raised above the ground. What was it doing? It must have finished its spraying. But suddenly it was thundering along behind me. As I stood aside to let it pass, it squirted an evil-looking liquid on the road beside me. It rumbled on by, jettisoning the foul pestilence, leaving a wet stream on the limestone for me to follow, all the way to the main road, where it continued to spew out the poison, but fortunately not in the direction I was taking.

I turned in the other direction, and climbed the hill into the old town. Again the church is heavily decorated, and kept locked, but with barred glass doors so you can see the interior. There must have been some valuable paintings and statues inside.

I am staying tonight at a Dominican convent, demi-pension 25 €. A delightful retreat. Two young sisters looked after us. Their order must be experiencing a renaissance, I thought, but no, they were the only two in this grand old building with its large garden. How can they survive?

I leave you to ponder on a puzzling notice I saw at the church last night. It seems the Church is in the discount business. The suggested offering at a mass is 16€. But you can get a package. If you attend 30 consecutive masses you get a slight saving. Not much, but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. But look what happens if you select the nine-mass package. You end up paying more. Somebody, like Tim Hudak, couldn't do his sums. Or am I missing something here? 

I wonder whether the Church offered the discount packages on its sale of indulgences in the Middle Ages.

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