Ori finished the previous day with a big, black, blue, and bloody blister that caused us all to freak out a bit. Steven was very helpful in explaining the problem to a pharmacist in Nasbinals, who hooked us up with tiny plastic vials of a chemical called éosine, which dyes the skin red and also helps to dry it out, plus some gauze and adhesive for making our own bandages.

I noted in my journal that “my fingers are dyed red from the éosine now. Looks like blood.” Generally, we were discovering that our bodies did not immediately adapt to the pace and strain of walking 25-30km per day.

Below: Still on the Aubrac plateau. Here, a tractor works a field near some ruined farm buildings.

Below: We were quite high at this point. At several points, there was evidence of how rough the going can be: this large arrow at ground level, tall poles to guide pilgrims through the mist, and even an isolated hilltop refuge that would have been a cold, though welcome, place to weather a bad storm. Even with help from this kind of waymarking, we managed to make a few wrong turns.

Below: Meeting some friendly donkeys. Picture by Jacky. On the subject of local wildlife, I also heard my first cuckoo. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a pocket full of money – apparently it guarantees prosperity if you’re carrying a wad of cash when you first hear the cuckoo’s call.

Below: A very large wayside cross. We saw these all along the path, from start to finish. Some were many centuries old and made of stone, some were cast iron, one was carved from a hedge, and many, like this, were simple and wooden.

Below: We quickly fell into a daily routine, one of the highlights of which was the late afternoon beer(s) at the local brasserie, where we’d joke about the day’s events and characters and enjoy each other’s company. Those of us who started together on April 7 were very much a group of friends at this point. I remarked on the “chicken” atop a monument in the middle of the square in Saint-Chély; turns out it was actually a cock, the national animal of France. As Steven said, “it’s the only animal that sings when its feet are in the shit.”

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