Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Hounds of Troy

According to Homer, Achilles was the mightiest, most wrathful, and handsomest warrior in the Trojan wars.  Born to a goddess and dipped in the River Styx itself, Achilles ached with rage until his death from an arrow wound to his heel.  Steel on tendon, steel burning until consumed by the flame of Death itself.

In such an epic fashion, I find myself in Marseille, nursing the wrath of Achilles, known in modern medicine as Achilles Tendonitis, which is when the Achilles tendon, the mightiest tendon in the ever so imperfect human body, becomes engulfed in flames, or inflamed.  These flames that lick like hounds cause discomfort, which is WACK.

So I nurse my tendonitis, while Jaco rides like a man possessed through the South of France from Toulouse to Marseille.  I'm doing the old hot cold hot cold treatment, hitting my damn tendon with a healing regime for which it could not have possibly prepared. It already feels a lot better, and on Sunday I should be ready to soar again on eagles' wings.  If not, I'll take that old iron way to Nice.  Poor poor me, stuck in Provence in the Spring.

Jaco has the camera, so there will be no pictures for the moment.

We crossed into France from San Sebastian, riding on roads made for no bicycle.  Our first French night was spent under a werewolf's howling moon on a beach touched by the Atlantic Ocean itself.  There was a concrete structure there on which someone had tagged WALKER TEXAS RANGER and done a complete painting of this man's face.  Lit by the moon's wafery monstrousness, this face never looked umm, better.

And in the morning we rode like cormorants streaking northward for the summer, riding from the warmths of tropical islands to arctic shores, cutting through plain and coastal swamp, where shore drizzle threatened and did not deliver until we cut through Dax to the tiny hamlet of Candresse.

As gray receded and the evening's abalone pinks and blues and violets took over we found ourselves ramping up a driveway to ask a farming family permission to pitch our tent somewhere notbothersome on their land.  And they
    no: come in for coffee and cookies and here are three eggs from our hens stay a while and chat and here's a pound of pâté from our geese better stop chatting because it's getting late you see that roof down there that's my brother's farm go there and tell him to give you three eggs and i told him to do it and put your tent right under his oak tree in back there next to the stone table and i'll see you at ten in the morning for more coffee and cookies. And we
    thank you so much we don't really know how to thank you here's the address to our blog we'll see you in the morning.

Proceeding to brother's house we found the table already set with vegetable soup from the farm, fruit salad, 2004 Haut-Médoc, and directions to use the kitchen as our own and take showers.  And we did shower.  Then sat to a fancy feast of all this, and they gave us 6 eggs because his sister had told him to give us 3.  We slept well under the moon still full from the night before, and woke refreshed and had hot coffee and rejoiced in the promise of Poseidon's turquoise ceiling overhead.  We thanked our host and their national champion pyreneean donkeys and rejoined his sister up the road for coffee.  After coffee came the morning eau de vie, or water of life, or 60% fermented then distilled grape juice that tasted like the first grape that ever sprouted from the vine.  After all this we left, following the Voie Verte de Chalosse all the way to St Sever.  The former being an old train track turned to path just big enough for two bipedal beasts to ride steel side by side.  We rode a whopping 35 miles that day, stopping for wine and cheese and fruit and the pâté, in the shade of a stone bridge.  And we camped on a jetty, you can see it on the 'Map!' link, it's called Ste Eulalie, and even google maps got it in there.

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