I have almost no time at the moment, but I wanted to update you folks.
I left Rennes and got to Plouharnel/Carnac a few hours later and pretty much lost myself immediately. I almost didn’t wait to set up my tent–I practically found myself running out onto the chemins, visiting as many holy sites as I could in a very short time before the sun set. I almost missed the closing of the only grocery store in Plouharnel on account of this fanaticism.
It’s really damn hard to explain how insane this place is.
I arrived near 4pm, set up my tent, bavarded a bit with the the owners of the camping site (who haven’t changed much since I saw them 9 years ago, though they’ve got two young children now). On my way to the site I got a bit lost, on account of getting off at the wrong stop, and ran into a group of old breton women who preceded to flirt with me uncomfortably. One asked if I’d hitchhiked, and when I told her no but mentioned I’d considered it, she answered “someone as nice and attractive as you? People will stop.”
As I said, after setting up the tent, I went for a long walk, visiting the chapel of Ste. Barbe (one of the oldest here) and several fountains which I’d remembered before. Walked until it was dark, headed back, made dinner and passed out to strange, scattered dreams.
I woke awfully early, took a shower, made breakfast (coffee, gallettes, jam) and decided to go for a short walk.
If, by short, one means 12 hours and 18 or so miles. The path I chose was a series of linked chemins which go along the bay towards Carnac in the south. It meanders through gorse, heather, blackberries, and wind-contorted pines and firs, past and through old villages, oyster farms, fountains, lavoirs (baths, though they’re a bit mucky and I have not used them) and insanely breath-taking views of the sea.
When I started out, the bay was near dry, gulls and herons feasting off of the crustaceons exposed to the air. There were huge piles of shells here and there, where the birds gathered their spoils and then left their refuse.
I forgot to bring food, or hadn’t cared to, so I ate as many blackberries and unripe blueberries as I could handle–this is a lot, you should know, and my hands were stained purple by the time I reached Carnac-ville.
What can I say about this walk? I would show you things, photos, but–fuck.
I lost my camera.
When I arrived in Carnac, I headed first to the chapel of St. Cornaille (I think that’s his name), one of the 6 founding saints of Bretagne (that is, on of the 6 christian founders). I need to maybe stop going to greet saints, for as I fumbled for my camera which I’d been using extensively during the walk, I found it gone.
This was utterly frustrating. After walking around a bit, buying a pain-au-chocolat (of course) and a baguette, I started the walk home, retracing my steps to find where I must have lost the camera.
Thing is, it was getting quite dark. I could already feel the day fading, and I had not brought my flashlight. But I found myself obsessing over this camera and where I could possibly have lost it. I needed it, you see.
Well, sort of. This made me think about several things (walking for miles is great for thinking), including why I’d been taking so many photos in the first place. It was, mostly, for you, dear reader, dear friends. I don’t resonate heavily with photos myself, unless they are extremely good, but I thought for certain this would be the best way to explain to you how fucking beautiful this place is, how strange and wondrous it is to come out from a copse of pine or oak to a small medieval village and then see the sea.
I walked extra, retracing my steps several times in order to find where I’d lost the fucking thing. It was getting quite close to sunset, I knew this was a lost hope, but I took another detour to check one last time.
I wonder, though. Did some higher part of myself leave it on the rocks on purpose? Or did I leave it at the chapel? It’s loss has actually been a very good thing for me. Here’s why: I’d see something profound, beautiful, breathtaking, Otherworldly, and immediately fumble for my camera, snap a couple of photos, check to see if I’d caught the image right, and then put it away and walk on.
That is, I stopped seeing things, except to see them for others. I realised this just as the sun was setting, just as I knew I had no hope of getting back before dark. I sat on a rock, frustrated, tired (my feet are mangled, by the way), and found myself seeing something unimaginable in its beauty.
The sun set over the bay, brilliant and dark hues of purples, violets, blues mixing with crimson reflecting off the water of the bay (the tide had come in fully now). Greens of seaweed floated like islands upon the water, and silver danced in the waves where the last whites of the sun hit. The stones of the shore are black, but also dun, as was the sand though giving off a yellow-gold that seemed like trapped sunlight from the warm day.
I cried, but not from sadness.
Nothing happened today.
This is not true, of course. But most of it was in my head. I wrote a letter, I read Tarot and Ogham and a book (a fucking great one, by the way, called The Art of Pilgrimage). And I ate.
Mostly, I hobbled. I rather messed up my feet with that walk. They’re better today, and I’m in the middle of another 10 mile walk.
Oh. One thing happened, I guess. After dark, I went for a walk and sat at a crossroads for several hours (probably 3 or 4, I’m guessing). I suggest it. I’ll have more to say on this later.
And I woke the next morning (but I’m not talking about this yet) to a dream of a giant sorting through my head.