Friday, January 28, 2011

new web albums

Well look who it is, back already. I've got this lovely new blog, might as well use it, eh?

It's beyond my Neanderthal tech skills to add new albums to my website, so lately I've started uploading (downloading? outsourcing? inbreeding? I'm never going to get this computer lingo straight) photos to Picasa web albums. You just have to click here to see them.

Last night I was editing and captioning (in a sparse sort of way) the pictures I took in the fall of 2009, when I walked for eleven days along the camino/chemin from Le Puy to Figeac. For the most part, it's a country ramble through beautiful long stretches of nothing but you and the clouds and the hills and, yes, often the cows. You live on cheese and bread and wine and swear you've never lived better. Between Le Puy and Figeac, there is nothing that even remotely resembles a city, though in every village and hamlet, there is a magnificent little bakery and a charcuterie and even a cheap, clean place to sleep. Not that there was much demand for beds in October. There were three of us who started on the same day from Le Puy (unbeknownst to each other) and made it to Figeac (by which time we knew each other well), plus another eight or ten who were only walking for a week, or a day or two, or who mysteriously vanished between one sleepy hamlet and the next, never to be heard of again... We were definitely at the end of the season.

The part of the trip I remember best was the barren, stone-strewn highlands of Aubrac, where I felt like I could have been in Scotland. But there were pleasant walks through lush river valleys too, and some outrageously tiring climbs, and some real live forests. If I compared it to the Camino Frances in Spain, I'd say it was more natural, more strenuous, more solitary, and more varied in its landscape. The food? Oh, how to choose? The people? They were helpful, courteous, sometimes downright friendly - a living refutation of all those "snarky French" stereotypes. Surprisingly, one place where the Spanish Camino almost holds the edge is in church art and ornamentation. I'm not talking about the quality of the art, I mean that the roiling history of revolutions and wars of religion in this corner of France has left many a church wall stripped bare. Pleasing if you like austerity. A little sad if you were expecting medieval opulence.

Though if medieval opulence is your thing, there's always Conques, which takes your breath away and doesn't give it back. And the two treasure towns at the beginning and end of my little pilgrimage, Le Puy and Figeac, wonderful lively inhabited museums, unspoiled by tourism.

The photos don't begin to do justice to the beauty of these places. But go ahead and check them out anyway. You're welcome to look at my photos of Uruguay, Argentina and Chile too. Not that they have anything to do with my writing, but it's cold outside, why not let your mind travel to warm places?

1 comment:

Anna-Marie said...

Your photos have made me so nostalgic for the Chemin du Puy. There are a lot more walkers in September, though. When I was at the Ferme du Barry eating aligot, every table was full.

I have to admit I prefer the austerity of French churches to the gold-covered everything in Spain. They feel so peaceful. They also have real candles and a tendency to be open--definite pluses.