Yesterday, not the day before, we took the ferry into Calais. We decided to stay the night in Dover and go into France in the morning. The hostel we stayed at had a bar just down stairs and through two doors that clumsily swung open in either direction. Nic went down before me and I joined him shortly after. We spent the entire evening talking to this older gent who is an engineer and owns four rabbits. He told us about the history of the town and the history of his life– which both amount to about the same thing. Besides the man and the woman behind the bar who were getting us drinks, we were the only three there. Eventually we all parted ways and that was that. The man who is an engineer with four rabbits has now slipped away into the dream that is Dover.
Once we made it into Calais, into France, there was an eerie quiet that settled all around us. We only saw a few people in the streets and everything was shut. The closer we got to the center of the town we found more people wandering about, but even still the energy was very different compared to being in England. It still has been quite a time though! In Calais we passed by a cheese shop and it was just as Zola has described. It smelt like a symphony and I felt myself overwhelmed with happiness because I am in France! I am in a place where Zola and many other writers and artists I adore have lived out their lives. I have found it interesting, however, seeing the difference between the northern French countryside and the southern English countryside. In France you cannot see the land stretch out so far all around you and the trees are not as close together– the trees do not form a bond above you as in England. It may just be the specific areas that we have been walking through, I cannot say just yet.
We walked from Calais to a campsite just a short distance from Guînes. The campsite specifically has a refuge for pilgrims and we were given a spot to pitch our tent. Finally, after too many days, I was also able to do laundry last night. I had hung them up to dry, but as I write they are still somewhat damp. I will most likely have to hang my clothes from the outside of my bag whilst we continue our walk after breakfast.
Besides all of the pain in my feet and now the possible rash that may be developing on my lower back, I have had a very easy time with everything. I have had a fresh shower almost everyday (unusual!) and I have had somewhat restful sleep (although I discovered a hole in my sleeping pad last night, a gift from the last time I went camping at the beginning of May). During the day I feel as if I must continue on forever and I forget what it is like to have a moments rest, but during these times– the times that I am able to sit without a massive pack and in a relaxed posture– I am grateful for just being and enjoying the cool breeze and the softness of everything. I have begun to feel strange not carrying my backpack all of the time now and when I am walking again I know that I will not want to stop (I want to push myself through the pain).
I am trying to walk myself out of feeling because I cannot talk myself out of feeling. Maybe next time I can tell you why I feel like I am actually on this pilgrimage (but please, bare in mind, I am most likely wrong– we never really know).
Until next time,