Day 51. Another good day
I smoked a cigarette in the small frosty field in the middle of the forest before I left. My fingers in the fingerless gloves were too cold to tipp of the ashes. I changed to proper gloves when I finished it. My bed was packed. I took a last look at my shelter under a big pine tree that had kept me warm at night. I tried to post from there earlier when I woke up in the dark, but my internet was too weak. I'll attach it under this report.
I proceed slower than I want, Paris is calling but I also want to spend time in the world I am walking through, with the people I meet. The Fontainebleau forest was beautiful and asked for some proper attention. Old trees, massive rocks. I spend some time with a big group of hikers who shared their tea and cookies with me. Hot tea!
Yesterday I walked around in the gardens around the enormous chateau in Fontainebleau. It took me a while to find an entrance that wasn't locked. Extra security measures, I guess because of the Paris attacks. A guard came after me to ask if he could check my bag. I smiled and said yes. It contains food, plastic garbage bags to pack my things in at night and lots of dirty paper McDonalds bags and empty cigarette packs I will use to fold into paper boats.
Today I walked through Barbizon, where many painters lived and worked, Millet among others. Apparently Robert Louis Stevenson was there as well. A fancy hotel in the entrance of the village had his name painted on its wall, saying he had stayed there to make his forest notes. Two years ago I walked in Stevenson´s footsteps on the road he walked and wrote about at the end of the 19th century in his "Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes". I walked in to ask if I could drink a coffee there and I could but the waiter, who had taken a careful look at me, warned me that it was €5,-. I laughed and told him it was a pity that somebody who travels on foot like Stevenson had couldn´t afford drinking a coffee in the place where he had stayed. I asked for traces of Stevenson or books, but they didn´t have anything, just a small photo of him on the wall. They apparently didn´t really care for Stevenson, just for his name to attract the attention of tourists.
The coffee was expensive everywhere in Barbizon so I drank a small one. To be able to sit down in a warm place and write this. Before I get back on the road on this beautiful autumn day. Cold but beautiful.
(same day, 7 a.m.)
I am writing this under the morning moon in the Fontainebleau forest. I slept under a big pine tree on a soft needle bed. It is too cold for my hands to type in the morning air so I use my sleepingbag as a cave, pulling it over my head, typing inside. Paris is getting closer, only 4 or 5 walking days left. Just in time, my body is getting tired of the walking, my back doesn't like all the paper boats and dozens of stones I added to my already heavy bagpack. My arms don't function well and my knees are protesting but I will rest them once I arrived. People write me they worry about me but they shouldn't, worrying is a waist of energy. I am safe and warm and tired and happy.
I will wait for the light to pack and thank the forest for keeping me safe. I will eat the fruits a kind host gave me yesterday after she made me lunch, a couchsurfing host who invited me the night before to sleep at her place, but since I had already found a bed - I slept well and ate a wonderful pasta and talked until late with my other host - I had to decline her offer. She was still on my route though so she invited me for lunch. She told me I could come back any time, also at night if I wouldn't find a place to sleep in Paris.
My wonderful Paris accomodation in a bookshop in the centre fell through, but I will join the activists in the tent village not too far from the centre. A straw bed in a cold tent, warm showers, a heated communal space, warm meals in the evening. That is luxury already. And there will be many people to talk with, walk with, act with, fight for awareness and change with.