I woke up around 7:30 and had breakfast with Jerome. Afterwards, I draped my still damp laundry over my bag and Jerome drove me back to the supermarket where he picked me up. On the way, we went by an old church, which (if I have my numbers right) was built in the early 11th century. I started towards Amiens with my ankle wrapped up, incredibly excited to see the cathedral. Wanting my ankle to recover as soon as possible, the excitement had to wait. When you walk about 6 km per hour and you are 30 km away from the place you are headed, excitement is an entirely different game.
The route was once again beautiful, through farms under a blue sky and a warm sun. It is pretty strange to be by yourself in the middle of nowhere for long periods of time every day. It isn't much of a problem when I'm running, but walking makes you feel much more idle. I haven't listened to my music the entire trip, except for once, for the purpose of hearing cars and for my general desire to be aware of what is around me and the things they might inspire. Without something to distract me, I find myself reverting to actions which I took when I was a kid working out in the fields alone on the ranch or when I was at home alone. Crazy actions. I sing out loud. Sometimes real songs, sometimes songs that I make up, sometimes real songs that I translate poorly into French as I sing them. Today, for example, I found myself whistling a techno remix of the ABC's which soon faded into a medley of Frank Sinatra songs, which then became a nonsensical country song in French. I do these things loudly, because there is nobody around to hear me. I also find myself frequently picking and dissecting the many varieties of plants that are growing around me. The insides of some plants are very interesting. Others only serve the purpose of making your fingers green or white. After 20 km of this sort of rambling (both pedestrian and verbal), I gave in and decided to start running towards Amiens. There was a nice grassy shoulder on the road, and I got to Amiens around one.
Running down a hill through a fairly boring suburb I caught my first glimpse of the cathedral between some trees and a building that was under construction. It was then that I started a smile which lasted me until a good two hours after I arrived. I spent the afternoon with my head tilted back, staring up at this building which I have seen time and time again in Art Hum and architecture classes. This time though, the dates weren't important, and all the architectural nomenclature slipped on by. It was just me and a masterpiece. On the inside, I read a leaflet which mentioned pilgrims stopping by Amiens on their way to Rome. I really felt like a pilgrim. It is amazing to think that that others, 700 years ago, stopped here on the way to a place which we will both go on foot--a place that is over a thousand miles away. Soon afterwards I climbed the few hundred steps to the top of the north tower, passing by the rose window on the way. I love being on top of cathedrals--it reminds me of New York.
In the evening, I met up with my couchsurfing host Anna, who was gone for the evening, but left me a key and showed me around. Her place is full of interesting people, and I had some great conversations with people as they came and went, each travelers of some sort. I slept for 10 hours. I guess I needed it.
13 June 2009