I”m well into my third week of walking Le Chemin de St. Jacques. The scenery and people continue to fascinate me.
I am well out of Cahors, a medieval city and the chief town in the department of Lot – like the state capital. I spent an afternoon there touring the city (all of 12,000 people) and resupplying both money and food. Coming out of Cahors, I walked up steps as steep as any mountain in WNC.
The countryside is like a needlepoint tapestry. On this canvas, fields are laid out every which way. Lots of sunflowers, sorghum and even tobacco. Other fields have been plowed, awaiting new crops. Fruit orchards and gardens fill in the canvas.
I haven’t bought fruit in days, having picked them off the ground or trees. If I can reach them on the public path, they’re mine. Blackberries and prune plums are no longer a challenge. Wine grapes are delicious. So why, oh why do people insist on stomping on them and letting the juice just rot? But figs are still my favorite.
The Chemin goes through lots of tiny villages, most with narrow cobbled streets. At this point, you see few pilgrims on the trail. Everyone has seemed to have started the day at a different point and end – who knows. But we all meet up at a gite, trading stories at dinner. It’s like a backpacking site where someone else does the cooking.
France is the queen of small businesses. Each gite, restaurant and even store does things their way. It’s their business and their way. If you don’t like it, you can just move on.
One gite owner called me a “tourist” because I dared not to finish my glass of wine. I was wasting good wine. If he thought I was going to drink more wine than I wanted, he was wrong. And yes, my French is good enough to have told him that.