When I first started researching walking the Camino Santiago, I steered clear of flying into Paris. Although I have traveled a lot throughout Southeast Asia, I thought it sounded too busy for me. Too big, too busy, too fancy, I really don’t speak any French.
As you can see, I’m in France! I even did a great job of negotiating for myself on the flight over… Did I really want to spend 50 euros on the taxi, or did I want to put my big girl pants on and take the Subway for €10?
So, After standing in the long long passport control line at Charles de Gaulle International airport, I sat down and reviewed my instructions for getting on the subway that my hotel had sent, and started walking. After all, I had come to walk, right?
After one little mishap getting on one connection wrong, I found my way to a helpful train employee who got me pointed in the right direction and I got back on the subway and got things fixed up. I was pretty exhausted when I got to my hotel, Eiffel Kennedy, But I did arrive so success!
Just outside my hotel is really nice outside restaurant, and I was enjoying a Caesar salad and a glass of nice red wine and I met an older gentleman – – between 78 and 85 I would guess – – who used to live in Southeast Asia. He also spoke very good English.
I told him all about my business over there with my ex, and how my ex had recently died in a freak accident. He listened very quietly and then asked me why my marriage had not worked. Here is the interesting part— When I explained to him that my ex had gone Asian and taken on a second wife, he quietly looked at me and said,”I went there with my wife. When I came home, I came home with her. That is normal behavior.” I realize again and again how horrible a lot of my time was living in Cambodia, and I’m so glad that I’m out of there and the USA – – with a great second husband, might I add.
My new friend and I then moved on from our journey comparisons, but it was so nice that we were able to talk about Bangkok, Cambodia, Vietnam. The days of the 60s. The UNDP, Vietnam War…We even talked a bit about the new Ken Burns series about that one. I can’t wait to sit and watch it from beginning to end over a five day period.
My new friend caught up and slowly made his way down the street, putting his cane to good effect. I noticed that he had difficulties walking, and I remind myself that the time is now. We never know what the future will bring, but when it’s time to walk and go and see— use time well.
The very kind waitor told me later that I had just made my first friend in France!
And then it became time to walk. As I walked to the Eiffel tower, I realized that I am not with the shoes that I chose to walk this time. They are Salmonson trail runners, but they don’t support my feet and legs as well as my big heavyVasque boots. I am going to get about eight hours of sleep and reduce the swelling and pain on my legs from a long flight and a long, long walk. After about 12 hours of sleep, I think I will feel more kindly disposed to them. Tomorrow I will enjoy the museums in Paris, delicious coffee, some pastrie tomorrow I will enjoy the museums Paris, delicious coffee, some pastries, and have a good walk around the city.
I will also get my trains sorted out, as I will be taking a train toward Lyon to spend some time with a family member before then flying into Pamplona!