Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 36. Weather In Perspective

I forgot to say yesterday that I walked 25.5 kms. Today it was 26. Total so far is 1058.5. I have been walking through an area called Alpes-Mancelles, which, as you may expect, means that the hills have been creeping in again after a few days of flatness. Today’s climbs totalled 965 metres which is nothing to my legs battle-hardened by bigger hills in the middle of France.

It’s been another wet one. Very wet. We had a late start because the campsite would not open its gates to let us out until 8 a.m. So by the time we got back to Sougé-le-Ganelon it was about 8.30, and well raining. It was also cold, below 10 degrees I think, so I set a cracking pace just to keep warm.

First stop was a very scenic little town called St-Cénéri-le-Gérei. It was raining quite badly at the time so I didn’t get any pictures, although there were people snapping away in the wet. This was also the first place on the GR36, which I have been told is the M1 of walkers, where I have actually seen any walkers. They weren’t walking, you understand, just milling about waiting, I think, for a restaurant/bar to open. It was about 2 minutes to 10 so some rule was obviously being adhered to in true bureaucratic fashion (Gay yesterday asked the man at the campsite why he couldn’t let us out before 8 and he said “because it is in the rules”. And the rule exists because … ?)

I managed to get a coffee in St-Cénéri-le-Gérei, at the bar tabac which was open, but which did not deal in croissants. I noticed in this town that the car number plates had changed, that I was now in departement 61, which is Orne, and that I was in Normandy. As I pressed on, I was in departement 53, which is Mayenne, and which is back in Pays de la Loire region. By the time I finished the walk in la Roche-Mabile, I was back in Normandy. Because the nearby campsite is not yet open for the summer (it is the second half of June!), we are camped in Alençon. I don’t know which departement or region Alençon is in but it is a big town and not very much to our liking.

While I have been moaning about the cold and wet summer (although I think I have also made it clear that this has played into my hands by not being too hot), I have also been aware that there has been a catastrophe, weather-wise, in the Var departement in Provence. Many people have been killed and thousands are affected badly by floods resulting from horrendous rainfalls. Apparently these have been the worst rains since the early 1800s. To put that in perspective – since before New Zealand was colonised. France gets much more than its share of natural disasters. This is the second one this year, after the storm and floods near the Atlantic coast earlier in the year, which also resulted in many deaths and many more losing homes to which they will never be able to return.

In our time in France there have been two catastrophic flooding incidents in the Aude, where we live. Days before the turn of the century two hurricanes slammed into France on consecutive days, causing damage, an example of which is that 29,000,000 trees were felled. In the winter of 2008/9 another hurricane caused colossal havoc in Northern Spain and Southern France. And so on, and so on.

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