75.8km â€“ 9H36â€™
Since we passed Saint-Antoine-sur-lâ€™Isle on Wednesday afternoon, we have been in the Aquitaine region. The Gironde department is behind us now, as is the last beautiful view point in the department: The Dune du Pilat. Itâ€™s there that Philippe, our photographer, plans to have Serge run back and forth in order to get the best shot. Serge runs accompanied until Km32. We are now in the Landes department, at Biscarrousse-Plage, following which he attacks a winding and hilly road all the way to Biscarrousse. At this point and after 18 Km of running alone he feels a bit limp but his form comes back as soon as he has someone running with him.
In Biscarrouse, as well as in Parentis-en-Born, road signs are subtitled in the language of Gascony. Gascony is not an administrative entity; it is neither a region nor a department. These geographic boundaries seem to be set by the area in which the Gascony dialect is spoken, that is to say, a triangle which goes in the west from Soulac to Bayonne on the Atlantic Ocean and Soulac to the south of Toulouse in the east, and finally to the Spanish border in the south, excluding the Basque country.
We enter the Regional Natural Park of the Landes of Gascony; there are pine trees everywhere and as we near Pissos we see a sign informing us that after the terrible storm of January 2009 this is considered a disaster area. There is a word on the sign that intrigues us: sylviculture, which, according to Wikipedia is forestry and involves the growing and tending of trees and forests.
Forest is omnipresent and it will continue this way until we reach Mont de Marsan.
Serge is tired when he arrives at the finish, his face shows it but he is happy about this day spent on the road, even though the roads usually donâ€™t have shoulders and the cars drive terribly fast along the straight stretches which are so typical of this place. He tells us that he saw many floral wreaths, no doubt in memory of people who have died in road accidents.
In Pissos we spent the night in a locale behind the town hall which belongs to the local football club.
Eliane prepares dinner which is eaten in the good mood so characteristic of our small group.
The team forms a close unit, thanks to mutual understanding and good communications. Eliane and RenÃ© are always enthusiastic and their vigilance never slackens during these long days
They are both up 1H30 minutes before departure, for example, around 4:45 (tomorrow) and 6:00 for a departure at 7:30. Itâ€™s the time it takes for them to put away their gear and fold the metal camp beds so they are ready to go into the camper. Then comes breakfast which is either ready or which they both prepare. They heat 3 liters of water every day to fill the thermos bottles which will be used to make soups, Sergeâ€™s meals and coffee for everybody.
15 minutes before departure, after a quick wash, they are ready, having stowed gear in the camper: their sleeping bags, the beds and mattresses, all the breakfast dishes (bowls, sugar, coffee, jam, juice squeezer, cutlery, honey, etc., etc). RenÃ© gets both vehicles defrosted where necessary. Then the day on the road begins, in all kinds of weather, and lasts about 10 hours. There are 15 feedings, about every 5 km. Normally, Eliane prepares all the soups and hot food. Sometimes we have to juggle with feedings and change of direction, which we have to tell Serge, who has only the support team to count on. RenÃ© keeps a log in which he writes about one page per day as the hours go by. Sometimes he has to fill the fuel tank and buy bread.
Serge arrives at the finish and takes a shower. During that time the van has to be cleaned up, thermos bottles and Sergeâ€™s jackets removed, waste bins emptied, new running shoes put in for the next day. If necessary the camp beds have to be set up. The GPRS beacon has to be collected and plugged in to recharge, the same for the cellular phone. If we arrive in a city which is an important stage, we have to take down the arch, and put it in the camper and take out postcards to distribute.
If we are making the evening meal, itâ€™s Eliane who is responsible, helped by RenÃ© who sets the table. After Sergeâ€™s shower we eat quickly so he can get to bed early. RenÃ© takes the shoes Serge has worn during the day and puts them, with the inner soles, in a numbered bag so they can dry. After the meal everyone gives a hand except me and I go find my best friends, the computer. Eliane is the steward. She manages stocks and with RenÃ© makes a shopping list for me; she keeps track of expenses and collects all the sales slips by category: cash, credit card and checks, so all I have to do is enter the figures in the computer every two weeks. When the shopping comes back everything has to be stowed away. In the evening, depending on the time we have, Eliane does a small laundry of Sergeâ€™s things; RenÃ© does his laundry and takes a shower. Sometimes clothes drying takes place the next morning on the vans ventilation.
RenÃ© manages the levels of the vehicles: oil, and windscreen washer and he keeps the van brushed out so that they have a clean living space: the inside of the van.
Often itâ€™s a shock team of two that ends the evening on its knees or, in the best case, seated around the map and road book which they draw together with a felt pen for tomorrowâ€™s itinerary, because we always have to know where we are and where we are going. Lastly they read this log to correct all my mistakes. Together, we make a final selection of the photos. In the best case it is 8:30 PM and sometimes 10:00. The day ends without a lull. There is no time for daydreaming or resting on oneâ€™s laurels, no respite and in the evening there is only one wish: to go to bed, even if you know that the town where you are sleeping would be fun to see. I have to add that both of them are lucky to sleep well anywhere!
To follow Serge on his journey is not a sinecure but when you see Eliane and RenÃ©, who are always content to share this life with us, this is happiness.
Town : Pissos (40)
GPS : N 44.30695Â° - W 000.77913Â°