When we left the train in Karlsruhe today, our friends who were going up further North were waving and shouting ‘Auf Wiedersehen bis zum nächsten Jahr!’. Pádraig surprised everybody by lifting up his left arm, his left hand, his fingers and waived at the people and the train as it was pulling out of the station.
Below are a few pictures from shops in Lourdes. Like a lot on this journey, the items sold in the shops are very different from what you would encounter in you day-to-day life. Mints made with ‘Lourdes water’ (that way you can keep Lourdes water in your hand luggage in case you were flying), balls filled with water and snow and glow-in-the-dark statues, bottle openers and cork screws with pictures of Mary, little bottles that look like mini-Guinness bottles ready to be filled with Lourdes-water.
And then the journey back, the return to what life outside of Lourdes is like on a train that must have made this journey regularly for the past 60 years.
Traveling with people who could not have been nicer. His personal assistants and helpers over the past week, one who had been with Pádraig for the third year running, the other one looking after Pádraig for the first time. He started to teach Pádraig morse code on the way back. Imagine Pádraig communicating with us with his bleeper using morse code…
About to go to bed and get ready for another really early start tomorrow morning. And then the weekend to recover from what has been a very intense, tiring and moving week.
I’ve been thinking about what this journey means to me. What it might mean for Pádraig. What it means to the many disabled, sick and injured people for whom this week might have been the only week in the year they’re leaving the ‘home’ they’re living in.