A Bit of Solitude is Always Good for the Soul.
I returned from the French doctor to our camp to find the boys packing and could already feel boredom descending. Even though I had spent most of the morning doing my own thing, now that they were getting ready to walk on I felt restless and wanted to go too. But my feet needed time to heal and a bit of solitude is always good for the soul. I chatted to the Germans camping next to us for a bit and then went to the shops for supplies and got an early night. Pretty dull, nothing much to report.
St Jean is pretty, but also pretty boring, especially when it’s raining and you’re camping by yourself. So I hatched a cunning plan to move on to the slightly more populated Pau and try my hand at couch-surfing. Four buses, a train, and a ton of confused French later I arrived at my couch-surfing host, Guillaume’s, house. Turns out I made the right decision. Guillaume was very hospitable and his house was lovely. I had my own double bed and access to a proper shower, washing machine, TV, kitchen etc., all of this an absolute godsend in comparison to camping on lumpy ground. He also had a fig tree in the garden from which his mum made pots and pots of fig jam and he gave me a couple of pots to take with me. Heavenly as it was, I did feel a little guilty thinking of the other two wild camping and huddled round a camping stove in the rain. After all, I hadn’t exactly signed up to spend my summer like this – I was supposed to be roughing it.
After what Guillaume called a ‘light’ dinner, (which actually consisted of 5 courses) we watched a movie and chatted for a bit. Then bed for an uninterrupted beautiful sleep.
I woke up to the soft hum of Jack Johnson blaring out through the speakers and breakfast, fresh coffee and juice awaiting me. Southern French hospitality is second to none.
I was getting restless though and wanted to get back on my feet. The point of taking these few days out was for my feet to heal so I couldn’t walk round the city as I didn’t want to aggravate them or hold up recovery time. Luckily Guillaume had a spare bike which he said I could use as I pleased so I got to explore the city without having to walk and rode along the famous Boulevard des Pyrenees from which you can see a clear view of the mountains.
I perched myself in a cafe along the Boulevard and as though just to remind me how lovely people are round these parts found myself in conversation with a couple of locals who preceded to recommend things to do in Pau. Turns out there’s actually not that much, and so I ended up visiting the castle twice and returning to the same cafe the following day. The waiter also didn’t let me pay for any of my drinks, let me store my backpack behind the bar and has added me on Facebook. I told him if he ever comes to Scotland he’s more than welcome to visit.
Back on a bus to meet the boys I found myself chatting to the only other passenger, a Dutch man of questionable sanity who, it turns out, had bumped into Craig and Doug earlier that day. He told me he walks 12 hours a day and that I shouldn’t let my feet hold me up which made me feel pretty guilty about taking time off from walking. Truth be told though, it was the best decision for me and for us all as a team and now that I am quite literally back on my feet, we can crack on with the rest of this journey.