Wednesday, May 6, 2009


G’day Folks
Yesterday I ran out of time. Liz Otto is 60, German, and married to a retired high executive of a major international company. She has three boys, one of whom is 30 and for the past 2 yrs he has been Associate Concert Master of the St Louis(?) Symphony Orchestra in USA. There were 100+ applicants and the selection process lasted a week. The candidates were not allowed to make any noises which could identify them in any way, even to walking on a thick carpet and being hidden from the adjudicators by a curtain. The orchestra had fallen on hardish times so that they could no longer tour. Then a donor gave them a challenge. Take this 42 million dollars and double it within 5 years! That was why they were able to start
the selection process for young blood. Liz’s son had always aspired to be a soloist but had very little work. With the "challenge", however, he has been playing solos all the time, in small and large groups, in major and minor concerts, as well as for private performances for the wealthy. One old man was given the birthday gift of his own concert. He is wheel-chair bound and was completely overcome by their playing for him. In just 2 years the orchestra has raised another 42 million so is well on the way to meeting the challenge. Good story!
(forget what I covered yesterday)
Had a kebab and Turkish sweets for tea. Went back to lodgement, read the welcome guest info (rare event) to find there is a sitting room. Very good! Beats squatting on a stool. Found my German fellow pilgrims there and we had a good chat. They have retired and are spending their time in athletic feats. This trip they are walking to Toulouse. On returning to Koln they are going to kayak down the Oder - the border between Germany and Poland.
This morning had breakfast with the other guests then took the bus to La Caylar, a village 20 km away and higher. It was raining lightly all the time and visibility was poor. Still, the reason for my coming to Lodéve was to travel on to the village of La Couvertoirade (Coo-vairr-twah-rah-de) built by the Templars to guard pilgrims. It still has its wall and is grey granite and all. Rang for a taxi and he turned me down! It was only 7 km away but it was cold and wet, and my wonderful wet weather Goretex-style top leaks on the arms and just above the waist. 180 Euros! Don’t know what I can do about it as I bought it in Nice. In Bayonne I’ll have to buy a poncho, I guess. Otherwise, not walk when rain is expected, that is, about half the time!
I’ve spent the day sleeping and reviewing about 200 of the photos (half so far). Also went for a walk. Then spent time chatting to another pilgrim. He’s Dutch, speaks excellent English, is a diabetic and feels lousy half the time, and only manages to average 35km a day on flatish terrain. Gee, well I AM a year older - perhaps that’s the trouble.
This evening all the guests are eating out with the owners and some English and American locals. Should be good.
Tomorrow I leave at 10am by bus for Montpellier again. There I will take train to Toulouse, to Bayonne and possibly to St Jean Pied de Port, the stepping off place for the French Way through Spain. So Monday or Tuesday I will be setting off, God willing, on the pilgrimage proper. Don’t really feel prepared, or well enough. I’ve got a low-level virus, maybe. Fortunately the throat spray seems to be working again.
Most popular cars are French: Peugeot, Renault, Citroen in that order. Then come the foreign cars and they are few. (Can't think straight. I'm in a computer facility which is part of a phone call place. The guy "in charge" is using internet phone and talking and yelling all the &é"'"&é"'&èçà time. I've ticked him off a couple of times in my inimitable style but he just goes on, albeit with a slight diminution of volume for a time.)
That’s it for the day.

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