10. Thistle stop

With the sun getting distinctly low in the sky, I had a scout around the petrol station on the road where they dropped me. There was a trimmed hedge on the edge of the forecourt which might have been able to conceal my tent, or the thistle infested slope behind that. Luckily a woman picked me up as I was deciding which of the two seemed better, and – she was going all the way to Le Puy en Velay.

Just to make it even better, she wanted to talk about the project. She herself seemed really content in her relationship. She told me about a friend of her’s, who ‘was in love with two men’. She was (still is, I presume) married to one man, and had just recently told her husband of the affair she had been having for a year, and how she loved the two. I felt awful for the husband, and the other man too actually, and almost hoped she would lose them both, but maybe they are Hollywood morals. My driver and story teller agreed: she didn’t hope, but it seemed likely that neither relationship would work out.

I also asked her more directly, as it was now a pressing issue for me that I hadn’t previously thought too much about: when I get there, how should I surprise her? I mean, ring her (mum’s) doorbell? She herself had had two experiences of this when she was younger, both of which had ended badly: when she rocked up, the boy she had come to see was, well, accompanied. She must have been gutted. One was when she was a teenager, and he lived in another town. The second was when she was a student, and she took a night train all the way up to Paris, and fell asleep in the doorway of his flat, for him to stumble across a sleepy her… with his Paris girlfriend in tow.

Apart from the disastrous results of her stories, it was a great ending to my journey, she was again charmed by my story, gave me lots of stories in return, and drove me not only into Le Puy, but across the town to the camp site. Couldn’t believe I made it. Not only that, but a school friend I hadn’t heard from for six months called from the States the moment I walked up to the camp site, waving goodbye to my last hitch. ‘Sounds biblical,’ he said, after hearing where I was. Funny though, everyone just seemed to be going about their business. It was around 9pm. More tomorrow.

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