Watch for more from Paris and the Summit’s kickoff!
The day was supposed to be rather short. There was talk of seeing the sites around Versailles. The truth is I walked from one end of the Versailles grounds to the other and then turned and walked half way around the front… Miles. I felt I had seen enough for one day. Better to save Louis’s Palace for another time. I followed the grand boulevard in front of the Palace and headed for Paris. Sidewalks were there all the rest of the way. My footsteps cut thru 11 miles of urban area before reaching the edge of Paris. There was one last ridge to climb and then a view of the city finally was given. When landmarks become visible, there’s no holding back. By 4pm I was resting in a Hotel near the Arc de Triomphe, and the Avenue des Champs Elysees. The next morning the sun visited. Ed & I made our way back to the Arch for a final shot of the journey.
More on the city and summit to come.
I’ve walked across a big chunk of France this month without speaking their language. It has been difficult of course. In France, it seems English isn’t a commonly used 2nd language. Just as French isn’t easily found in say, Kentucky. I hope I didn’t just offend all y’all back home with 2 years of high school French! Without question, the greater number of folks here have made a huge effort to help me with my deficit. It was much more than I expected.
What This really brings to mind is a broader aspect of “language”. Without understanding, interactions between people can be rather unsettling. The mind can create fear and misunderstanding. We have some timely examples of people whose culture isn’t understood, or whose faith isn’t heard. As I head into Paris I am aware of language … how important it is. With the climate issue we have the active language of our past, A language easily communicated. A language tied to 200 years of fossil fuel prosperity and the values it created. There is another language. It may not be your native language but try to learn it, and teach another.
It was supposed to be an early day. A day when we could catch up on laundry & such. What happened? There’s a late breakfast, some photo breaks, a few tweaks of my route to avoid the traffic… No more early day.
We made Houdan at about 4pm. The well worn Morrocon restaurant with rooms upstairs to rent was the choice spot in town… Because it was the only spot in town. A young manager finishing kitchen clean up checked me in and made me aware of a code for the front door. After lengthy instruction I was ready to come and go from the building. Then he left. There was nobody in the building but me till Ed showed up. I had texted the code so he made it thru our security system. We had no towels in the room. With nobody to call , we improvised. I made a trip downstairs to the front desk and chose a key from all the empty rooms, then went back upstairs, entered another room and took their sets of towels… The place was mine. It was hours before the hot water furnace started to creak, gurgle, and knock. This went on all night. I would have taken another key and moved rooms 10 times over if it would have helped but the whole building was howling all night long. Every trip should have a sleepless night in a Morrocon hotel.
As most know, a smartphone and GPS can get you anywhere these days. We moved off route to deal with some heavy traffic and route ourselves daily using the little Google walking man. When we look for small roads and short cuts the walking man is there and often full of surprises. Today was a reprieve from the rain of recent days. Ed & I started out at different times and did the same route in the beginning, but as we got into our walks we both started tweaking short cuts and discovered some beautiful back roads most cars couldn’t drive these days. Their existence is due to an earlier day when the populace was spread thinner across the land … And more of them were walking! Here’s a few views and wonderful surprises from my google maps journey today.
A cold rain challenges even the best of walkers. There is a sense of vulnerability as the weather chills the body. There is a likelihood that your thoughts will turn inward and the journey will become a bit introspective.
By now most of you must know that the demonstration I was walking to attend has been canceled by the Paris authorities for fear of terrorist attack. Ed & I walk on. It isn’t that I lack fear, nor is it plain stupidity that sees me make these steps. It is a faith that my answer will come when I finish the task.
We all must walk in a cold rain from time to time.
- On the way out of Bernay we passed a sign drawing our attention to a medieval gate that had served as the entry for the road from Paris. Much has changed since then. The road to Paris bypasses the little town entirely. All that is left on this side of the stream we follow out of town is a narrow little road that follows a gentle valley. On the other side of the stream is a railway with trains flying past every 20 minutes. They are fast and the engine’s electric, so the disturbance is slight and you return to a natural ambiance in short order. The newest road (there are others) is on the other side of the ridge and we can’t hear or see it. A day earlier we battled its high speed traffic for 12 miles. While it is legal to walk that size road it isn’t safe. I battled many such roads across America and still find it disheartening to see such a loss of humanity when drivers are behind a wheel. But today that isn’t a problem. I share the road with vehicles but the speed is not great and their are farm tractors and machinery moving along this lane. The road rolls over the land without disturbing its natural contour. I couldn’t help but wonder about the numbers of people who moved by foot on this lane over the centuries. Then I noticed a Camino marker. Pilgrims from the 11th century used this very rode to make their way to Santiago… Amazing, isn’t it? The world is so small and so connected. You are meant to travel some roads whether you know it or not… A pilgrims walk is not done with me yet. It was a day to soak up natures gifts. Ed and his foraging for food along our way is beginning to rub off. I found my share of late blackberries and chewed on a chestnut or two.