I woke up late in the morning and--knowing I would probably be homeless for the night--went around town looking for drugs. Ahh...the life of a Columbia University graduate.
I finally found a pharmacy that was open around the lunch hour, and picked up the anti-inflammatories that the doctor prescribed, in the form of a pill, a cream and a patch. I also picked up some tape to wrap up my ankle with to prevent movement as much as I could.
It was after one pm when I hobbled out of town towards Acheux, the tiny town halfway between Arras and Amiens that I had settled upon stopping in for the night. The route was amazing. I followed a two lane road the entire way, and passed through some of the prettiest farm country I have ever seen. Small rolling hills covered with bright patchwork fields as far as the eye could see. You know when you see country like that that you are in the middle of nowhere by pedestrian standards. After walking for 10 kilometers, I decided against the doctor's orders that I would run for 10 km, which I did despite some pain and that strange squeegy feeling that comes along with tendinitis. I am a firm believer in getting in easy running during times of injury, despite how stupid that sounds. For me, not running at all is like leaving a Band-Aid on all the time if you want a cut to heal. Also, I am not incredibly patient, and walking takes about three times as long as running.
I got into Acheux in the early evening, when I posed for the above picture. I am positive that the town is not pronounced "Achoo," but when I arrived I told myself that it was. I also told myself that it was named that because if you sneezed while driving through it you might miss it. Anyways. Everything was closed in Acheux. The restaurant, the church...well, there wasn't really much. I did find a little bar that was open, and went in to ask the bartender if he had anything to eat. "No" he said, pointing vaguely and speaking in French "but you can go to the Ecomarché, which might still be open." I ran around crazily looking for the supermarket, demanding "Où est le Ecomarché?!" of everyone I saw. Luckily, after much hobbling/running, I arrived at the place 10 minutes before closing. I frantically circulated the aisles picking up anything I could find that looked cheap/edible. I ended up with an incredible bargain: baguette, apple, banana, bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit, 1.5 liter bottle of water, spreadable meat of some sort, and spreadable cheese of some sort for around 5 euros. As I was running around, a man who was working at the store asked (seeing me in my running clothes) where I ran from. "Amsterdam," I answered. We were soon in a conversation which resulted in my suggesting that I didn't have a place to sleep tonight, and that I would appreciate any help I could get. The man, whose name I later learned is Jerome, was the operator of the store, and suggested that I could take a shower in the store, but because of alarms, could not sleep there. I figured the shower wasn't so necessary, and so I said "thank you" and continued shopping around. When I arrived at the counter though, Jerome was there, and he insisted on giving me my food without any charge. A better bargain than I had been looking for. Then, as I left, he suggested that he might have a garage I could sleep in if I wanted. I said "bien sûr."
I waited around for him to close up shop, eating some bread and cheese, and afterwards drove with him and his daughter to his house. Along the way, I learned that he was a military runner and weight-lifter, who started running the market after retirement. He had somewhere to be that night, so I had to stay in the garage, which was kind of a small gym.
When we got to his place, he showed me the garage and then drove away. Not really sure what to do, I ate a major part of the rest of my food, tended to my tendons and fell asleep around maybe 8. Around 10, I awoke to a car pulling into the driveway, and Jerome soon after invited me into the house for some tea. After we spoke for a bit I think he and his wife realized that I wasn't a completely crazy person, and made up a bed for me to sleep on in the living room. I took a shower, took some medicine, ate some strawberries and went to sleep, very happy to be in a bed for the night.
12 June 2009