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J86 - Sunday, Jaunary 10: Merens-les-Vals – La Bastide de Serou +4km

73.83km  8H36’
Altitude 371m

It was not an early morning departure in order to leave in daylight.  Serge is off at 8:30 under a clear sky and a temperature of -12°C.  The sun rises and Ax-les-Thermes wakes up with a few skiers on the slopes.  It’s strange to hear French spoken after all this time.  And even if there is a customs post between Andorra and France, we go through without hindrance.  Yesterday, Serge went through alone, on foot, without backpack but it didn’t keep the zealous customs officer from asking him if he had cartons of cigarettes to declare.  Since a carton of Marlboro costs only 22€ there must be a lot of illicit traffic.  Diesel fuel is also very cheap: between 0.86 and 0.89€ per liter.
To return to this beautiful and fabulous day, Serge was able to enjoy the magnificent scenery (yes, the going was downhill !!!) and feel excitement.  We feel alive again.  After Tarascon-sur-Ariège, Patrick, who lives in Foix, the main city of the Ariège Department, joins our runner and is with him until the Bouich Pass (599m), the pace is good and there is lots of conversation.  Serge reaches the medieval city of La Bastide de Serou.  There is snow everywhere, in spite of the low altitude, and there is no question of taking short cuts because the secondary roads are only partially cleared.
Listening to the news, it seems that France is paralyzed.  Snow and cold have taken over the everyday life of the French, yet we continue to jog along.  In a world where everything has to go quickly, where we can’t stand to change our habits and where adapting is difficult, life goes on just the same.  The time when our grandparents went to school on foot in all kinds of weather and wore clogs or heavy boots has past, yet it is not so far away.  Always faster, always further: what a paradox it is for Serge who moves like a “tortoise” doing his 73km every day.
This morning there is no route indicated because it’s 9:30 and Serge can’t stand on his feet, following a sleepless night caused by vomiting and diarrhea.

Tomorrow: Saint Girons – D117 – Gourdan Polignan

Town : La Bastide de Serou (Ariège)

GPS : N43.01716° W001.38523°