Day 35 – Walking the Via Francigena – Rigny to Choye, France – Our Running With The Bulls, And Reflections On Pain Versus Suffering

Day 35 – Walking the Via Francigena – Rigny to Choye, France – Our Running With The Bulls, And Reflections On Pain Versus Suffering

We ate breakfast in the sunroom of Chateau Rigny, overlooking the lake.
The ducks and geese did not care that the weather was chilly and wet.
They dove into the water with grace.

We, on the other hand, dressed for a day of walking in the rain with rain pants, rain coats and hiking umbrellas.
For those of you who are not familiar with hiking umbrellas, they are a great find.
They are foldable and so light that you hardly know you are carrying them.
Some even have extended backs, to cover your backpacks.

Initially, we planned to stay tonight in a hotel in a village called Gy.
But the hotel emailed us and told us that they will be closing for renovations, so we had to change our booking and stay in a nearby village called Choye.

On the map, it looked like we could make a big shortcut on our walk from Rigny to Choye, if we were able to walk straight south through farmland and across creeks and rivers.
It all looked doable, well, all except one section where we could not tell if the path would cross a river or not.
We decided to give it a try and walk it, knowing that we might have to retrace our steps and walk back, if there were no bridge over the river.

We said goodbye to the hotel manager who was so friendly to us.
He told us about the history of the Chateau and lots of interesting details.
We were happy to hear that most of the people working in the Chateau love working here.
Everyone from the chef to the Chambermaid to the groundskeeper, have been working here for twenty years.

He wished us a good and wonderful journey and we crossed the Saõne River and started walking south.
Everything went well, and the narrow local road was paved and without traffic.
Then we took a turn and the path became gravel stones and finally deteriorated to wet tall grass.
But we kept on going, hoping we would find the bridge across the river and continue on our shortcut.

In ten minutes our shoes and socks were completely wet.
Both of us did not bring waterproof shoes, and the wet grass just poured water through our mesh light trekking shoes.

We got to the end of the field by a huge paddock and saw no bridge across the river for as far as the eye could see.
The paddock held a herd of big bulls, who started running towards us.
A barbed wire fence, attached to wooden poles, kept the running bulls from getting to us.

We surveilled the lay of the land and considered our options.
We could walk back through the wet grass to the road, or we could try to walk in the very narrow edge between the fenced paddock and the river, and make another shortcut that would connect us to the main road, but only farther down.

We decided to give it a try.
There was no path between the paddock full of huge bulls and the river.
Thee was barely room to walk, and only if we held on to the wooden posts between the barbed wire.

We slowly made our way, one foot before the other, hoping the bulls would not get aggressive.
They all came to the edge of the fence, and with only a light push of their horns, we would be falling into the river.

I have to say that I felt fear, but I noticed that when I spoke to Jules who was following behind me, the bulls seemed curious and calmed by the sound of my voice.
I kept talking to Jules, warning him of barbed wire on the ground or telling him to pay attention to a part of the bank that was slipping away.

There was a moment when the bulls came so close to me, that I got away from the fence by a tree and backed away to assess our situation.
The bulls did not snort at us nor stomp their feet, as they do when they are angry.
I got some small plums out of my bag and threw them into the paddock to show my good will.

We found out that bulls do not like plums.
They did not even sniff the plums on the ground.
We continued on with the bulls behind us.
Finally we got to a place where a thick tree grew on the bank, and we could not walk behind or around it.
The only way to continue was to enter the paddock, face the bulls and get out as soon as we could.

It seemed like a crazy idea and besides, there was no way to climb the three strands of barbed wire without risking injury, so we finally admitted defeat and decided to turn around and walk all the way back.

It was a very slow return, until we arrived back at the open field away from the bulls.
They still looked at us with curiosity.
Then we joined the road again and walked the long route into the town of Gray.

Because we had spent so much time with the bulls next to the uncrossable river, we arrived in Arc Les Gray by noontime.
Out feet were wet and when we saw a restaurant on the river bank full of customers, we decided to stop for lunch.

We were shown to a nice table and took off all our rain gear, had a lovely lunch and great ice cream and rested for more than an hour.
We talked about our “running with the bulls experience.”

“What have we learned from this experience?,” we asked ourselves.
The first thing we learned is that bulls are not naturally aggressive.
They are curious but will not attack unless they are afraid or stabbed or provoked, as they often are in bullfights or rodeos.

The second thing we learnt is that if google maps does not show a bridge over the river, there is probably no bridge over the river.

Then we also learned that bulls do not love plums as horses do.
The rest of the day was very overcast but no rain.
Little by little I stripped off all my rain gear and walked in my hiking clothes.

It was a long and hilly path, on small and big roads, private farmland and through small villages.
As we made our way though the hills, I felt pain in my feet.
I remembered the saying:
“Pain is pain, but suffering is optional.”

This saying, which refers to both emotional and physical pain, is a reminder to us that you can feel the pain, but that you choose to attach suffering to it.

If you do NOT attach suffering to the pain, then pain is just an unpleasant sensation that will go away soon.
Suffering, on the other hand, is an addition of regrets, remorse, anger, frustrations, self pity, blame and all sorts of negative emotions that tend to linger even after the pain is gone.

If you ever walk a pilgrimage, remember this saying:
“Pain is just pain, and suffering is optional.”

We arrived at our bed and breakfast at five thirty in the evening, our
feet throbbing and ready to be done for the day.

The lovely owners of the B&B offered to drive us to the village of Gy to have dinner, and to pick us up again after we finish eating.
Or, they suggested, if you want a simple meal we can order a pizza for you and make a salad and you can eat with us.

We opted for the pizza with them, mostly because we were too tired to go anywhere.
We showered and joined them in their house for vegetarian pizza and a green salad.

Both of them speak only French, and Jules did an excellent job of communicating for us, answering many questions and even laughing at jokes.
The pizza, which was made by their son in law, had a crispy
thin crust and was simple and good.

We thanked them for the dinner and retired to our spacious and clean room.
Last night we had enjoyed a royal dinner in an ancient Chateau, and tonight we enjoyed a simple pizza and water in the home of a warm couple.

This is the life of wandering vagabond pilgrims, and it is ALL GOOD….

Blessings and love,

Today’s Stats:
Daily Steps – 37,348 Steps
8 hours of walking
Active walking time – 7 hours
Daily Kilometers – 27 Km
Total Kilometers walked from Canterbury UK – 786 km

La Tourelle Bed and Breakfast in Choye
Lovely and spacious room with a good hot shower and wonderful owners.

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