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Day 14 - A real bruise, too
March 16, 2010                                  Montech to Moissac                                         15 miles
Departing Montech
Canal 3 morning Montech
Montech boast lift
Montech DNM
If you had a corker of a bruised big-toe, you'd have a similar expression
A nice bath does not rescue a failing hotel. The Montech establishment was dying from lack of management. With virtually no Internet presence, it was empty. When empty, there is no revenue. With no revenue, there is no maintenance.

Tiles were sliding off the floor. My toilet flushed by pressing their third makeshift mechanism explained by a paper note on the wall. It would have worked better if they had bolted the thing down. The opening scene at breakfast was  "mon dieu, I'd better go out and buy bread".  The breakfast room smelled of cat litter.

Still, breakfast was entertaining. A group of men were clearly regulars, and came in for a coffee and a peek at yesterday's La Dépêche. They were as rundown as the place.

Today, at least, Hobson fitted right in. This morning, I discovered that my right-foot big toe was red and swollen. Moreover, the toe nail was the worst by far of my five black toe nails, and was about to lift off. It looked like a scene out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon - one of those in which Tom has aimed a large sledgehammer at Jerry, and only succeeded in smiting his own toe. The principal difference was that Tom's big toe healed itself in a second or two. Mine will take longer.

And it was painful, too. After another soak in that wonderful bath, I held the toenail down while I trimmed it back. I might as well try to limit further damage from the front. Then I applied some Compeed patches, and wrapped the whole toe in paper tape. It really made for an appropriate repair, but I still arrived at breakfast with a rundown frown.

Leaving Montech at 7.45 am, with a bright sun just rising, I realized it wasn't smart to have walked 25 miles yesterday. There is something I call "recovery deficit". I'm sure it's not a new concept, but here goes. If your day's walk is too arduous for your body to recover overnight, then you have a recovery deficit. That's not a good thing, because it's not sustainable. Enough such days, and your recovery deficit increments, and soon enough converts to an injury. My big toe is evidence of recovery deficit, and it needs nursing so that it recovers now and does not get worse.

So I gingerly headed out of Montech, trying to find the narrow line between covering a decent enough mileage and leaving some quality recovery time at my destination of Moissac.

Montech has perfected the boat lift that you'll remember from Foncarennes.  In both cases, a lifting vehicle runs up and down a chute which bypasses a set of locks, with a boat slung beneath.  The Foncarennes boat lift was defeated by engineering problems, allegedly including the tendency for hydraulic fluid to leak on to the tracks beneath the wheels, so that the vehicle slid when it shouldn't. The Montech boat lift remains in use.

The morning light came from the wrong direction to do this device justice in photographs. As much as the engineering is interesting, one still wonders about practicality. The device saves time and water by bypassing four locks. But it operates once a day, and not on
lundi. Hard to see the time savings. Moreover, there seems to be ample water in this part of the canal. Nearly all of the 25 locks that I've passed since Toulouse have special side-channels to carry the excess water away from the lock gates and often through generating stations.

So what the boat lift is for is to give a dinner crowd on a special barge a unique ride. With that provocative statement in print, I await correction by our French friends.

My walk took me through Castelsarrasin, which Yves Cousteau made his home port. There is an extensive boatyard here, as well as pleasure boat slips. I was sure that the pleasure boats and canal ambiance would make for at least one waterfront café. It was a gorgeous spring day, and warm at that, and I resolved to have a beer. There were no such cafés. I got to sit and watch the ducks instead. They, at least, truly celebrated spring today.

The day's highlight was the Moissac canal bridge. This wonderful structure carries the canal a full quarter-mile across the Tarn river, at a height that requires the berms containing the canal on its approaches to be 50 ft high structures, and really wide. All built by hand. I had seen the pictures, and now I've seen and walked the bridge itself. It's much longer than the picture makes it seem.
Moissac bridge over Tarn
Moissac port
Moissac  Elsie May
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