The French Way by Lorraine Thomson
The French Way is Lorraine Thomson’s story of her epic 800 km solo trek from St Pied de Port in France over the relentless Pyrenees, across Spain and to the ancient burial place of St James on the Atlantic coast at Santiago de Compostela. The journey was physical, mental, historic, geographical, religious, and social – all uniquely combined.
Lorraine’s challenges began as soon as she got off the plane in Paris and found that her luggage was missing (and never recovered). Her suitcase contained all her trekking clothing and supplies, including her boots and quality tramping socks. Paris is a wonderful city to shop for clothes but trying to buying good hiking gear was not so easy.
However, Lorraine quickly got together replacement clothes and footwear and headed south to start the trek on the pre-booked schedule. She soon developed very serious infected blisters and couldn’t continue walking so she came back to New Zealand, waited for her infection to fully heal and returned the following year to complete the Camino trek. Each day she hoped that it would be one step closer to her younger son recovering from his life-threatening metatastic osteosarcoma.
I really liked the way that Lorraine didn’t dwell on her foot injury, although she was close to losing at least one toe. Other books I’ve read about walking the Camino have been dominated by the authors’ accounts of their blisters but Lorraine has recounted the history of the places she walked through and photographed some of them, described how they are now, the people she met and some of the thinking she did along the way. One of the great benefits of the trek for Lorraine was the rare time away from her busy life that gave her thinking space. She was able to consider what she really wanted to do next in her life and when she returned to New Zealand she enrolled in an MBA and is now part way through this masters’ degree.
Reviewer: Iain McKenzie