I am slowly remembering more French words as I journey deeper into the countryside. Tqoday I recalled the useful phrase « long chemin » from a pop song (Mon Pays by Yelle).
From Wissant, I travelled through Marques, missing Guines all together, and joined back up with the path later to end in Licques. As I realized this, I thought of renaming my blog “Via Francigen-ish” for all the times I’ve gotten lost and made it on a parallel path.
It was a very good day. It began in a fog, quite literally, because of the weather, and figuratively, I did not have coffee when I left the hotel!
Most of the way to Licques is rural farms. Marques is bigger, with at least 3 supermarkets on the outer part of town. At one of them I learned what I wanted was called a « café chaud » but supermarché offerings vary, so I settled for an energy drink.
In the supermarket, I asked for directions towards Wisques. Somewhere in this half French, half English conversation, I recalled a French phrase which was apparently comprehendible « J’ai besoin de courir tout le jour por quoi est un long chemin ».
And, apparently the energy drink worked. As I traveled on, the fog lifted (in my mind at least) and I was perfectly happy to sing to myself the song that taught me the words I needed today.
« La vie est un long chemin, tout droit ne sera pas le mien »
I carried on for hours this way through green fields and gray skies, practicing my French on cows I passed, thinking of new songs and picking wildflowers.
I found myself stopping in the post office of a little village Rinxent, just because I was excited to see people and churches for a change of scenery. I got a stamp from the clerk, and the crisp circle a star and the. name of a new place gave me a boost and made me feel I was really moving forward, however slowly.
By noon, I felt pretty hungry, but the countryside was still sparse, so I knew the whatever the next available option was would be my choice.
I was excited to come upon a cluster of white arrows in Hardinghen , including one with the magical words « boulangerie » and another, bless up, « cafe »!!
I walked through the city center eating my tarte aux pomme out of the paper. Skip this part if you’re hungry- I’ll just describe it as fresh and flakey on the outside, with farm made apple sauce spilling out the inside.
I paused the one other possibly open establishment in town, « Chez Fanny » as I was wiping apple sauce off my face.
A cheery older woman with an adorable Yorkshire terrier was smoking outside. I don’t remember what I managed to ask in my poor French, but it didn’t matter, because I think we both were just happy to have someone to chat with. I spent about a forty minutes having coffee with her as she bought losing lottery tickets and we both adored her little dog.
And my second stamp of the day at Chez Fanny was an important reference point for figuring out which of the three villages; Hardinghen, Herbinhhem and Hermelingham I had passed as I headed towards Licques.
From Chez Fanny on, I felt quite full and confident going forward. There were lots of rolling hills towards Licques, but no matter, it was up and over. When I arrived in town, the very efficient tourist office stamped my pilgrim passport, xeroxed no less than 4 full color pages of maps for me, drove me to the campsite and went inside with me to translare to the office I wanted to rent a cabin.
After getting the keys, i promptly passed out for two hours, woke up, and went to dinner where by chance I joined five other pilgrims.
We traded stories and our blogs à la Canterbury Tales. Curiously, one included the powerful experience of reading Christ’s words, « Je suis le chemin » while traversing over a treacherous part of the Pyrenees.
The word of the day is « chemin »