A Euphoric Epiphany in Dordogne

Through the fields  at sunrise

As lovely as it is having company, contemplation happens best in solitude, and after spending several days with my new friends, I was happy to have the road back to myself these past couple days. Less than a week ago, I found out some slightly disturbing news from back home, and it had occupied my thoughts more than I wanted it to. The positive side to this is that I also had the sort of epiphany that is usually crowded out by the constant to-and-fro of the 9-5 routine, and it has helped me wash out the bitter taste in my mouth.

Darkside of the Moon @ Dawn

To take my mind off the bad news, I found myself fantasizing about my time after the Camino de Santiago. I want to head South for the winter, somewhere that feels a little like home, and images of the Mediterranean and the hot sun shining on the dusty roads of Andalucia hung tantalizingly close. But the more I fantasized about this, the more I realized that I was forgetting about the wonderful situation I find myself in now. As I rested for a few hours to escape the afternoon heat, I lay on my back on soft grass and munched on a piece of dark chocolate.

Pear Tree in the Sun

Maybe it was the endorphins from the chocolate, but I experienced a moment of clear, sublime happiness that had been missing for the past few days; indeed, it was a stronger feeling than happiness. Euphoria might be a better word, and as I looked through the branches of the oak tree above me and into the sun I realized how happy—and lucky—I was to be on this magnificent journey. Damn the bad news, I wouldn’t trade what I had in that moment for anything.

Late afternoon in Sorges

If I had to compress that feeling onto a fortune cookie, my epiphany would read something like this: Focus on what you have in the present and realize how wonderful things are. And if you fail at this, maybe it’s time to rethink what you’re currently doing. I’m glad I did.

And before I get too carried away with my thoughts, here are some pictures from the past few days to enjoy. This first one is from Flavignac, the first stage after Limoges. I took it at dawn.

Dawn at Flavignac

This is my new walking stick, which I carved by hand. In case your Hebrew is bad, those block shapes you see spell the word for “life.” It’s a good-luck thing for us Jews.

18

This is the first palm tree I’ve seen since San Diego. I found it kind of odd, but also a bit whimsical.

1st Palm Tree since San Diego

The legendary Richard Lionheart, who died in a bizarre bow and arrow accident in 1199, built this castle (or I should say, what’s left of it).

Chateau of Richard Lionheart

I snuck into the bell tower of the church in La Coquille. It seems like a cool idea, but these places are gross. Probably not going to do it again.

Bell Tower, La Coquille

This was my little Camino group. Shouldn’t be too hard to guess who the Dutch people are. The guy next to me is Jimmy, a really nice French Canadian who drank a little too much Anise liquor (you’ll see what I’m talking about in the next photo).

Imke, Gerwin, Jimmy, Me

In La Coquille, Jimmy and I were invited by a local named Cyril to spend the night camping in his backyard. Cyril and his lovely wife Alexandria were extremely kind, and made us feel quite at home. And in Jimmy’s case, hungover the next day.

Strong stuff

Dinner that night featured grilled pork belly with tomato salad AND potato salad. All from Cyril’s garden. The French know how to do dinner.

Dinner in La Coquille

Yesterday I walked through Thiviers, about 18 km after La Coquille. When I got there it was steaming hot, so I took a break by a bar. I bought myself a beer (not the wisest choice, since I had another 13 km to walk afterwards) but accompanied with this avocado, tomato, and chevre sandwich it was Heaven.

Lunch in Thiviers

I wish I had more time to spend in the church in Sorges. There are remnants of the old Romanesque fresco on the walls, but the modern stained glass windows themselves are the best interpretations that I have seen so far.

Marvelous Modern windows at Sorges

That’s all for now–I have a special destination in mind that’s a bit off route, and I will give you two hints to where I’m headed next:

1) It’s in the Dordogne.
2) It’s art, but much, much, much older than anything I’ve blogged about so far.

First person to guess correctly in the comments section gets an invisible high five!

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15 thoughts on “A Euphoric Epiphany in Dordogne

      1. Hey Dennis, I’m sure my writing on its own merited being featured on Freshly Pressed, but I think the exposure you’ve given me on Via Lucis deserves credit as well for getting the attention of the editors at WordPress. A massive thank you for putting me out there. It’s pouring here in Perigueux, hopefully tomorrow will be better for heading south to Saint Astier. My next few stages, in case you’re wondering, are Perigueux-St Astier, St Astier-Mussidan, Mussidan-Port Ste Foy. Is there anything in particular I should be keeping my eyes open for?

  1. Yes, do Rouffignac if you can. When I went there was a sort of tourist train…but very low key.
    And pastis isn’t anis liqueur…just wait until you get to Spain and find the real stuff -especially anis del mono.

    1. I didn’t get a chance to do Rouffignac, but La Roche St. Christophe was quite impressive. Unlike Dennis Aubrey, I wasn’t born before 1963 so I guess I won’t ever get to see the real Lascaux. But hopefully in Spain I can see Altamira (unless they’ve closed it off as well).

      When I try anis del mono I’ll be sure to brush off the hangover long enough to let you know I’ll probably never try it again!

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