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  • Writer's pictureWill

bed in the corner

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Following on from (6th April 2013)

“To know what would have happened, child? said Aslan. No. Nobody is ever told that.”

C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

Dammit, I was lost, again.

My Camino guide was about to become toilet paper. I started out in great spirits, a relatively easy five hour stroll to St Jean de la Blaquière was my goal. Three hours later I was kicking fresh air in a nuclear level murderous rage. There were no signs, just tracks going off in random directions.

Two hours later, one indistinguishable track led to a village, yay, Made it. I wandered into this small french village, it wasn’t where I thought it was. I found the bar and ate breakfast and lunch and chose to dump five kilos of extra gear by a rubbish bin, see carry as little as possible. I asked for directions and was warned, it’s five hours.

Five hours later I emerged from a forest onto a small tarmac road and followed it to another small nameless French Village, it wasn’t where I thought it was. The reason it’s nameless is I was so pissed off, I stopped writing in my journal. My pilgrimage had become a miserable pointless drudge. My body was complaining and my head was becoming unglued. It was as far from the spiritually uplifting experience I had imagined as the east is from the west. I was in "a dark time of the soul".

The sun was obscured behind clouds, the wind was picking up and it looked like rain. I was grateful when I found the bar. I had a coffee and asked about a hotel? A hostel? A cowshed, a ditch? anything? The young lady behind the bar gave a sorrowful shrug. She served another customer and left me to ponder my ditch options.

A few minutes later she returned with an older lady. In strangled English and much signing I understood they were offering a bed for €5. At least I hoped it was a bed. The older lady smiled and motioned me to stay, and returned with what I believe is the oldest working car in the world. After five minutes of choking fumes and literally crashing through every single gear change, we arrived at a building site.

Still smiling and chatting away in French pointed at the front door of a partially built house. She pulled a key from her cardigan pocket, handed it to me and gestured opening the door. Surprise surprise, it was better than I imagined. There was a floor, this was good. walls, windows and roof, even better, and water, no electricity.

Before she departed in the ozone destroyer she pantomimed putting the key in a box outside the door and the international fingers-to-mouth, eat sign. It turned out the shop was an easy five minutes away, bonus. I purchased some bread, cheese, fruit and a bottle of cheap red wine.

That night, I arranged some old cardboard boxes and hessian sacks. I made up my bed in the corner of the “front room” and methodically consumed the wine while listening to the rain batter off the roof and windows.

I often wonder, if I had been told what the next few days had in store for me would I have continued? Or would I have listened to my voices, taken a bus to Barcelona, sat in the sun on the beach and got drunk? I suspect the latter.

Thankfully, no one is told what might have been.


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