Thursday, May 28, 2015

Early for an early flight

Eerie is the only way to describe it. It felt like a neutron apocalypse – the buildings were all in place but there were no people in them.

Walking through the airport terminal at Toulouse-Bergnac, my boots squeaked on the marble floor. I had never heard these boots squeak before. Maybe they did and I just didn’t hear it because other noises drowned them out. Or maybe the combination of floor surface and worn-through soles was unique.

As I strode the moving sidewalk toward the gate, a metallic ting-ting-tin as my boot hit the grate. I could hear the low thrum of the sidewalk’s motor.

From the security check-in to Gate 40, I had not seen a soul. Shops shuttered. Café not yet open. A floor cleaning cart idle, not yet put away.

I still had more than 40 minutes before boarding would begin, so I walked back toward the security area. As if on Hollywood cue, about a dozen movie extra passengers were coming toward me on the ting-ting walk, which didn’t seem to make any noise for them, and on the  tile alongside, which did not seem to squeak.

Through the glass barriers to the check-in counters, I noticed a man, sound asleep, head slumped on his pillow-like double belly. The pushcart in front of him had a backpack and a smaller bag. I wondered if he’d wake up in time to catch his flight.

The only sustenance available was in a pair of vending machines. A range of unhealthy sugary or salty snacks and some beverages. I settled for a bottle of water. (Okay, I succumbed to a package of Oreos as well. It’s going to be three hours before I land in Amsterdam and can get something decent.

I was only about 90 minutes early for my 6:10 am flight. I wasn’t sure if I’d encounter any traffic from the hotel. (I didn’t.) I wasn’t sure how long the check-in and security lines would be (just me). Better, I guess, to have time to wait, read, re-charge the iPad than be rushing and stressed. Even so, that extra 30 or 40 minutes of sleep would have been nice.

I’ll probably sleep on the flight up to Schipol,  then the flight back to Toulouse this evening. It’s a 3-hour drive home once I land tonight, and I’d kinda like to be awake because I’m the driver.

Well, better check the departure signboard. Want to make sure I’m in the right gate area. And the right airport.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Who knew ice cream could be so entertaining?

Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAJVCG3tRQA&feature=youtu.be

The young man in the video is with Chaobenji, which is apparently an Asian approach to making ice cream: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chaobenji/950790434939643

He also told us he is quite a good golfer. (He recognized the Masters logo on my sweater, and he was familiar with the Saint-Cyprien golf course where I sometimes practice.)

Here's D-L's blog on the topic: http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/2015/05/ice-cream-while-you-wait.html 

To break up the 6-7 hour drive from Geneva to Argeles-sur-mer, we decided to stop somewhere, both to stretch our legs but also to see something interesting. We decided on Avignon, where the Popes once had their headquarters, but I missed the exit on the autoroute so we continued on to Nimes.
Nimes is often referred to as the French Rome. Their centerpiece attraction is an incredible coliseum, built around the time of Christ, so more than 20 centuries old. It looks to be in better shape than the one in Rome, and they are carefully restoring it centimeter by centimeter. Meantime, it continues to be used for bullfights, concerts, and other entertainment.

After purchasing a souvenir magnet for our frigo, perusing some of the marche stalls in the large public square fronting the arena, and being denied a ride on the kids-only carousel, we started circling the coliseum. I suggested we consider some tea and dessert; Donna-Lane recommended ice cream - she had spotted a glacier stand.

As you can see in the video, the young man - whose original early-age language was English - blended fresh strawberries and mangos with vanilla cream for D-L, which he prepared on a freezing disc. For me, strawberries with bananas and Oreo cookie.

We sat on the retaining wall facing the coliseum, warmed by the sun but braced against the strong winds, enjoying a very healthy cold treat.

I hope the young ice cream maker pursues his dream of competitive golf.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Potty Training

Petite Ange: Scooby, did you do-do that?

Scooby Two: Not me, not my brand. Did you do-do it?

Petite Ange: Are you serious! That pile's bigger than I am. Where do you think I'd put it?

Scooby Two: Must be one of the neighbor mutts.

Petite Ange: They don't have mutts in this neighborhood. Only purebreeds. I'm surprised they even let us walk around the streets here.

Scooby Two: Well, I can tell you one thing ... it does stink!
Scooby Two: Their human's supposed to scoop the poop, put it in one of the sacks up there, and deposit it in this can. Guess that shows who's the master and who's the pooper-scooper!

Petite Ange: I heard that some towns are starting to identify dog droppings by their DNA.

Scooby Two: What's DNA?

Petite Ange: Dunno. Maybe it stands for Dog's Nasty Arse.
Scooby Two: If you were a boy like me, and you had to pee, all you have to do is lift your leg and whizz on the fire hydrant. Or anywhere.

Petite Ange: If I were like you, I'd probably hang myself with that chain.

Scooby Two: Moooooooooommmmmmmmmmm!
 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday Morning Serendipity

After a warm Saturday, driving with the windows down and the breeze blowing our hair around our faces, then a cooling evening apero with several friends and two labradoodles on the square, it was pleasant to sleep with the doors open to the patio for the first time this year. Slept so soundly I don't remember ever hearing the church bells, half a street away, faithfully chiming the hours.

It's good to be home in Argeles-sur-mer, if only for a few days.

Sunday mornings are my favorite, I think. Often the streets of centreville are nearly deserted; perhaps the odd neighbor is returning from the boulangerie with a clutch of baguettes. Or a couple of early-morning cyclists are heading for their personal Tour de France.

Today there was more bustle, in part because we had a leisurely breakfast, in part from the May Day weekend visitors who descended for the village's annual vide grenier flea market on Friday. I like the bustle, too, even when it's shuffle-step crowded, because visitors generate income for the local merchants, and that means they'll be there when we want to walk only a block or two for a cooked chicken for lunch or fresh fruits and veggies or even an ice cream and cookie from the new chocolatier on the corner.

Sometimes we give the impression through our blogs (D-L's is http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/) and Facebook posts that we live an idyllic life. Indeed we do. There's some pressure, here and there, mostly writing deadlines, but those are a choice not a chore. There's some frustration, mostly with obtuse bureaucrats and politicians. There's also lots of laughter, and plenty of "ahhhhhhhh" moments from the beauty around us, both the natural surroundings and the people in our lives.

There's a melancholy Johnny Cash song, written by Kris Kristofferson, that includes the line: " ... there's something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone." And I understand for some how that might be true.

But for me - sharing the hours with my partner and best friend in our little piece of paradise - Sunday mornings make a body feel alive, content, complete, at peace.