• Will

the alibi

Updated: Sep 23

Following on from panorama

Lunas to Saint-Gervais-sur-Mare, Wednesday 16th April 2013 (day 9) - 30km / 8h

Photo: my intended route, I actually stopped at Bousquet-d’Orb

I left Lunas quite early because it looked like a long day. The weather was colder, the sky more grey, and for the first time, I suspected rain. Ten minutes later, it rained. A huge instant downpour. I sheltered under a huge tree and waited, and waited. I gave up. Cold and stiff I made my way out into the rain and added wet to my list of complaints.

About 40 minutes later, the rain stopped as suddenly as it had arrived. The sun was out and I was beginning to steam. I was staying on the road for this first part and was making my way through the little town of Le Bousquet-d’Orb. I saw the electric wires above the train tracks and that was it. Like Oscar Wilde, "I can resist anything except temptation,”

Photo: the "train station" at Le Bousquet-d’Orb

I took the train to Toulouse.

Photo: the train route to Toulouse

Toulouse is by all accounts an awesome city, the regional capital of Occitania. It has everything that I find incredibly interesting, ancient buildings, history, bridges. I walked from the station to a hotel and out of the hotel to the first shop, purchased two bottles of wine, chocolate, biscuits, crisps and returned to my room. I was determined to celebrate my quitting experience.

Photo: the awesome Toulouse train station

I lay in bed, my head scanning my body for a pilgrimage stopping injury. Nothing serious mind, just a muscle or ligament thing. Something people could sympathise with. I needed a suitable alibi, I fantasised about the the future conversations ...

Them “awe, shame you had to stop, torn cruciate knee ligament injury” was it?

Pinocchio “yeah, gutted, I really wanted to go on”

The hotel was rubbish, and I had a rubbish night to match. I woke with a banging headache and no matter how hard I tried, a hangover didn’t meet the sympathy threshold I was aiming for.

For no better reason other than habit, I got up, showered, changed and started walking.

On the way to the station, I was convinced I would take the first train, the six hours south, to Barcelona. Invent a temporary injury as an alibi to tell folks back home and then see what happens. And yet …

On the walk down to the station, I was hearing a quieter, more gentle voice. Unheard due to the persistent background chatter of the other two, this voice was calling to me. Deeper in tone, I could sense the voice asking me, “is this what you want?” I closed my eyes and concentrated on this “new” voice.

Except it wasn’t new, I had heard him before. He was in every respect the extreme opposite of the other two. They were demanding, bullying, whining, whereas this voice was more like an interested old friend making quiet conversation.

No, no this isn’t what I wanted. I wanted my pilgrimage. I checked my chocolate teapot guidebook against the timetables and found a train to Pau, west of Toulouse but still on the Camino route.

I wanted the Camino not the alibi.


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