I woke up several times very early in the morning in Amiens feeling very awake...but looking around and realizing that it was still dark outside, I decided to go back to sleep. At one point, I saw some movement in the room and realized that my host (Anna) was awake. Thinking that I should also wake up, I checked my watch. It was noon. In France, everyone has blackout shades on the outside of their windows: it wasn't really dark when I woke up, I just thought it was.
I had a breakfast of French pastries and spent some time washing my clothes and taking a shower, things I had been too tired to do the night before. I set out around 2 pm with my damp clothes hanging on the straps of my backpack. On the way out of town, I picked up a small baguette for 25 cents and stashed it in my bag in case nothing was open when I arrived in the town I was heading towards. I walked about 17 kilometers as a human clothes line, along the side of a fairly boring two lane road. I told myself that I would start running when my things were dry and I arrived at a certain fork in the road that was on my map. I have been making my best effort to walk as long as I can tolerate until I get to Paris, hoping that I can tame this tendinitis.
When I got to the aforementioned fork in the road, my jaw dropped. The road in front of me was one of the most beautiful sights a runner has ever seen. A dirt road winding over rolling hills, sandwiched between beautiful patchwork farms. The kind of road that runners kill for. I was grinning to myself, and started running like I was a kid dashing towards Disneyland...except I was already on my object of desire. The early evening weather was beautiful, and I took of my shirt to work on changing my terrible t-shirt tan into an even better backback tan. I didn't see a car or another person for miles.
Nothing can be perfect though, and apart from the lingering pain in my lower shin, there was one major imperfection with this run: little black insects. Running shirtless, I soon noticed that I was picking up tens of (mostly dead) tiny black insects on my chest. I would sweep them off, only to collect more a few minutes later. When I arrived in Breteuil, I was covered in a sweaty black pulp which I had to scrape off of my chest, arms and face before I could put my shirt.
I had found a place to stay with Nathalie, the mother of a friend of Anna, my host in Amiens...but she wasn't going to be home until 10 pm. So I just meandered for a few hours. There wasn't much to do in the town. It felt just like a small country town in the States: a lot of people walking around wearing worn out 80's rock band t-shirts or Starter jerseys, listening to portable radios and driving muddy 4x4s.
A bit after 10, I called Nathalie, and we met at her house. I took a shower and washed my things, and stayed up for a few more hours talking to Nathalie about travel, and about a man who walked all over France with a cow. The conversation was in French, and we were both frequently making the face which means "I have absolutely no idea what you are saying!" I guess that's just how conversations go here.
14 June 2009