When I say auto-stopping, thankfully it doesn’t have anything to do with that pile of junk you see above. As it turns out, “auto-stop” is the term the French have for hitch-hiking, a term I discovered yesterday when I auto-stopped with a really cool guy named Pierre, who graciously invited me into his home in the small village of Mosnay (pronounced like the painter Monet).
As pleasant as it is to walk through the forests and fields of central France, it does get tiring, and after stopping in Chateaumeillant to write this pensive piece, I decided to hitch a ride the remaining 15 km to La Chatre.
It turned out that Pierre, who was born in Algeria to French parents but has lived everywhere from New Caledonia to Morocco and a lot of places in between, is fluent in Spanish, so we quickly struck up a conversation and instead of being dropped off in La Chatre I was invited to spend the night at Pierre’s home in Mosnay. That’s his bathroom, in case you’re wondering–he and his wife have been restoring an old farmhouse for about 8 months now, and they laid the stones in the shower by hand. Very impressive stuff!
Luckily, dinner at Pierre’s house was a lot more satisfying than a couple candy bars and a beer (although naturally, there was beer). Backtrack 24 hours before I arrived in Mosnay and you would have found me in La Chatelet, a town with literally nothing going for me. I had walked there from Saint Amand-Montrond, a distance that took the whole day to cover, and found the only hotel–and its accompanying restaurant–closed until September. So I had to make due with two Mars bars and a beer. Delightful as it may seem to have candy for dinner, trust me: when you’ve walked for miles on end, the only thing that can satiate hunger is a real meal. Thanks to Pierre and his son Helio for making sure I didn’t have to resort to such desperate measures last night!
This morning I walked out of Mosnay and headed to Gargilesse, a relatively short jaunt compared to the distances I have covered so far. The Camino passes through several villages on the way to Gargilesse, and finally ascends to the top of what is known as the Boucle Le Pin. From here, you have a beautiful panorama of the Val de Creuse, and below is the river winding through the ancient granite gorge.
When I made it to Gargilesse a couple hours ago, I was told that the only place to stay was back on the road I had just come from, so after hiking back uphill I arrived in this gorgeous lodge, got a room for myself, and am now about to watch Manchester United vs Chelsea. The Camino de Santiago is a nice way to break off from the rest of the world, but at the end of the day I need my fix, just like everyone else. For those who follow football, you don’t suppose Rooney will just up and leave the United dugout and sit on the Chelsea bench until he finally gets his transfer, do you? I guess we shall find out soon enough!
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