They sat around the fire and talked all night
Of how the world was in a pretty plight
I met Patrick three years ago on the Chemin d'Arles, just after Toulouse, where he was setting out for Santiago from his home town of Saint-Lys. We walked together as far as Puente la Reina in Spain.
He was the leader of our group, and he made life easy for us by organizing our accommodation. He has done the same for me today.
Patrick has written a book about his experiences on the Camino, which has sold quite well. I am mentioned in this book, primarily in an incident when, everyone else having given up hope, I managed to persuade a publican to open his bar and serve us all a beer.
Last night we all had a beer together in Pamiers, and then Patrick cooked a fine meal on a grill over an open fire in his stone house. It was duck, of course, a long standing joke between us since a discussion we once had over whether the French practice of force-feeding ducks to make pate was worse than the Canadian practice of battering seals to death. We reminisced over those good times on the Chemin d'Arles.
This afternoon we toured the area and marvelled at a huge elm which must be one of the few of its kind surviving in Europe. Then we admired the ruins of the chateaux of Montsegur and Roquefixade. In the picture above, you may be able to make out the Occitan flag which Patrick has planted on the latter. Patrick is passionate about all things Occitan.
In the evening we had a long political discussion. Patrick is slightly to the left of centre; Lucette, to the right; and as the evening rolled on, the discussion became quite heated.. They agreed that France is facing a economic and political crisis and that the most serious problem is political apathy on the part of its citizens.
It was a delightful jour de repos for which I thank them very much. Tomorrow, I will be back on the road.