A busy day. The way to Arras was pretty short, with some beautiful sections along forest trails, and some not so beautiful sections along the sides of highways without proper shoulders. The area is filled with very small cemeteries devoted mainly to Canadians who died during the first world war. I stopped in many of the cemeteries and walked down the aisles, reading names of young soldiers who died almost 100 years ago.
It only rained for about an hour, and I arrived in Lens around 2 pm. I called up my couchsurfing host Aline, and I dropped off my things at her apartment and had an awesome lunch of savory crepes. We went do the central square of the town, where I went on a tour of les boves, a medieval chalk mine that lies directly under the town center. During the tour my leg was really bothering me, and I was walking with some serious pain.
After much deliberation and calling of mothers, I decided to go to the hospital to get my leg checked out. Aline walked me over to the hospital in the rain, and I spent a long time asking questions in regards to how payment would work. What I eventually learned was that I didn't have to pay anything (maybe because of my EU passport, I am not sure), but they took the address on my insurance card just in case.
The doctor who saw me was about as young as I am, which is always a comforting sign. When he asked me what the problem was, I explained (in poor french) that I am a "cross country" runner, and that I was running about 200 kilometers per ---. Before I could finish the sentence, he said "per day?" "Per week" I responded. His knowledge of running was also a very comforting sign. Anyways, after some poking, he decided to take an x-ray. Then, after some more poking, he called in his superior doctor. That doctor poked for a while and asked me many questions in French, which I tried my best to answer in French as well. We mutually decided that it is a bad case of tendinitis, and he prescribed me some stuff to "eat" (the best word I know for oral medication) and some stuff to "put on." He suggested that I take some time off. "One day, two days?" I asked. He responded "Three Weeks." I responded "Hahaha."
We dealed back and forth for a while, and (I) settled upon my walking for a few days, and resting for a couple days when I get to Paris if it is still bad. After many awkwardly worded questions in French about when and how long I should take the medication, the doctor said, in fine English, "We can speak English if you like." Thanks doctor man.
I left the hospital around 8 pm, and went back to have dinner with Aline and her boyfriend, and then we went to a friends apartment, where some people played some music and we drank some quality beer of the region. I even heard some songs that were played for me in my high school French class (thanks Sousbois).
Today I head towards Amiens, which is 60 km from here. Judging by the pain in my shin area and the current time of day, I will stop half way. If you look at a map of the area between Arras and Amiens, you will find that there is pretty much nothing in between. Don't quite know where I'll be sleeping tonight, but hopefully it doesn't rain too much.
11 June 2009