Les vacances, j’adooooore

13 Feb

Saturday, 6 février.

Carpooled from Saintes to Nîmes,  nursing  a February stomachache and halfway succeeding in communicating with the driver, a man whom I never had met nor ever will meet again.   He got me across France for 30 euros, and I couldn’t have asked for more. The perfect relationship — cheap and finite. You find a lot of these while traveling.  We talked about vineyards, plumbing (his profession) and the giant windmills, éoliennes, strewn across the rugged hills between Toulouse and Narbonne.  We also passed a gorgeous nuclear power plant that fuels a good part of southwest France.

Arrived in Nîmes, bought a train ticket for the last 20 minutes to Arles — which I needn’t have done, as the conductor didn’t even come through the cars to check — and finally arrived at the apartment of my French friend, la Corse (she is from Corsica).  I hauled my backpack up a narrow winding stone staircase, feeling like a less delicate version of Alice in a French wonderland.  I knocked on two doors, including a closet, before realizing there was an additional terrace where the last two apartments were located.

After a deep evening catnap, la Corse, her boyfriend and I walked along the wind-scoured stone embankment of the Rhône, a muscular river that runs from Lyon down to the Bouche de Rhône region, translated “mouth of the Rhône,” where it surrenders to the Mediterranean.  On the steps of a cathederal turned concert hall were two dozen or more musicians in winter coats and scarves, brandishing trombones, oboes, and a fiddle with a trumpet flute welded to its neck — through some ingenious feat of engineering, the bow, when pulled across the fiddle strings, actually produced a sound resembling that of a brass instrument being strangled to death. “C’est la fanfare,” la Corse explained to me, referring to the spectacle as a whole.

Saw French people eating sushi stuffed with red meat and cheese.  Could not stomach the thought of touching it.  I think the winter may be getting to me.


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