The dog ate my post . . .

Or why it’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote. Reason #1. Marilla and I have spent the better part of two days on busses and trams and a navette (shuttle) or two. Put another way, we’ve learned a great deal about public transportation in and around Montpellier in order to gain access to private transportation. More about that in a bit.

Reason #2. Some things are more fun than writing. No! While I really haven’t felt lonely or — except briefly– homesick since I arrived in France, almost six months ago now, it’s been wonderful having company. The joys of yakking over coffee in the morning, exploring the area during the day, then more yakking over wine at night have provided stiff competition to time spent working at the computer. Actually, most things provide stiff competition to working at the computer. Since I’m still essentially a tourist myself, I don’t need much persuasion to leave my desk.

We’ve taken walks through the vineyards, last week still full of purple blue bunches of grapes. I picked bouquets of thyme, rosemary and lavender for my own herbes de provence mixture. We found fig trees dropping their juicy little gifts at our feet– some we helped along by shaking the branches. Ripe figs are delicious fresh, incredible broiled with blue cheese. One day, we walked through the vineyards to Arboras, a village just up the hill, and ate salads of chevre drizzled with honey. A glass or two or rosé is, of course, obligatory.

We’ve also done the sort of thing that has now become part of my life in France–the Saturday market in Gignac for cheese, olives and, from a nearby boulangerie, an olive studded baguette that is only available on market days. At the Sunday puce–flea market–in Paulhan I bartered, in French, for a couple of wicker chairs. We both admired a little egg basket that folds flat. Although I bought it for myself, I should really give it to Marilla to take back to the States as a souvenir. Jury is still out on that.

I’ve also succeeded in infecting Marilla with my obsession for witnessing the vendange. Or she’s just being polite. Anyway, we’ve been zealously watching the vineyards; as of yesterday, still lots of grapes unharvested. I’ve set the alarm and we’ve wandered out in the pre-dawn light hoping to see grape pickers. Instead we caught a dramatic early morning sunrise, a lot of activity around the Montpeyroux cooperative involving tractors of every size, shape and color and bins full of picked grapes. We’ve also watched mechanical pickers in the fields, but we’re holding out for bent backs and human toiling. If all else fails, I’ll have Marilla do some toiling, I’m sure she’d be happy to oblige.

A few days ago, we decided to rent a car so that we could explore further afield. The cheapest rentals were at the airport — maybe an hour from Montpeyroux by car, considerably longer when things don’t go quite as planned. If, as the saying goes, getting there is half the fun, the last couple of days had to rank high on the list of ways to entertain visitors — future and prospective visitors should confirm that with Marilla though . . .

Day 1 of the rent-a-car adventure, we walked around to the cooperative to catch the 12:35 bus to Montpellier. It rolled into view about 12:48, we boarded and paid our 1.60 euro fare. Although the destination on the front of the bus said Montpellier, I was pretty sure we changed busses in Gignac and confirmed this by mumbling something to the driver which he didn’t understand. Then he mumbled back something that I didn’t understand. Employing the sheep theory, which I do a lot in France, when everyone else got off the bus in Gignac, we did too.

Good decision. The bus to Montpellier was waiting. At the Mosson tram station in Montpellier we bought tickets and got on the tram to Place de l’Europe. According to the schedule I’d found on line (much easier to do it this way, I’m discovering, than battle with the language later) this was where we’d catch the airport shuttle. Somehow though we failed to notice the bus stop across the road and wandered around Place de l’Europe looking for anything resembling a shuttle stop. Eventually, I asked a bus driver. At first– usually the case when I go into my fractured French explanations– I got the blank, uncomprehending stare. Then I fractured a bit more French and, voila, he understood. I get such a charge when that happens.

By the time we got to the shuttle stop it was nearly three p.m., almost an hour after the time we were supposed to pick up the car. I call the rental company and explain that we’re running late. No problem, I’m told. At four, we walk into the rental office and I hand them my reservation information. The clerk behind the counter shrugs. There is no record of a car reserved in my name. Nothing. Rien. The reservation has disappeared. Perhaps a dog ate it. My card had not been charged though and she could offer us a car for approximately three times the cost of what we’d originally been quoted.

Marilla and I stared at one another. Our options–to pay an exorbitant sum, or to head back to Montpeyroux. By this time it was nearly five p.m. and the last bus back to the village was . . . leaving very shortly and we still had to catch a navette, another tram and a connecting bus.

We chose to race the clock. At one point, when the tram back to Mosson stalled, it felt a bit like an episode of the Amazing Race. It was after seven by the time we were back in the apartment toasting our adventure, albeit unsuccessful, with a glass of wine. The next day, we took the bus back into Montpellier and picked up a car from the Gare St Roch station–decent price and easier than going out to the airport again.
“But we learned a lot,” I said to Marilla.
“Yes, we did,” she agreed.
“But it was fun though, wasn’t it?” I asked.
She smiled.
I think she had fun.
Tomorrow, we’re off on a new adventure.


5 comments on “The dog ate my post . . .

  1. We will be going to Kettering on Monday morning. Alex says he would like to have us there while he’s in surgery. This kid still has a pretty positive attitude about survival. I certainly hope he’s right. Gerry will continue with the hemp oil treatment as there basically has been no “new” cancer growth since he’s been on it. This tumor was minute his last scan and was not large enough to diagnose. They all had a melt-down yesterday yesterday–Gerry included. I have no idea how that family is staying sane. . We leave Tuesday for a couple days up in the 1,000 Lakes region of New York–staying on the St. Lawrence River in a town called Alexandria Bay, We are meeting friends from Buffalo there–should be fun. We are taking a river cruise one day, and touring a castle on one of the islands another day. This town is north of Toronto–I shall bring some warm clothing with me–it’s been pretty chilly here nights so I’m sure nights up there will be frosty. Vince is working more hours since Alex’s diagnosis–and I’m sure it will continue to be that way for some time. Gerry understandably will be at the hospital every day for the week that Alex in recovering from surgery–Gaby usually stays in his room and sleeps in either a very uncomfortable recliner or a very uncomfortable loveseat. She wants to be there in case he needs something during the night. On a brighter note, it sounds like you and Mirella are having a grand old time. Sorry about the car at the airport, but I guess that doesn’t really surprise me. It was a good attempt to get a big price for the car. Kudos to you two for not accepting their “deal”. Unrest here with congress is growing–people are really, really upset. I just hope they remember this feeling and not vote for incumbents in the next election. That, unfortunately, never seems to happen. Child poverty has risen 17.5 percent in CT since 2008, all budgets have been cut, but pay raises for the senators and reps have been approved. One of our newly elected senators had not paid his mortgage for nine months, has a horrible credit rating–defaulted on a car loan, and was in debt all over the state. Why do people elect a person like that? He certainly has no idea how to budget–guess that’s why the state is in such an poor economic state. Just the sort of person we need in Washington, huh? No wonder I drink!! Enough of that–need to get busy around here. We have a soccer game to go to this afternoon–Craig’s older son, Cameron, is playing. He’s six now–if this is like his T-ball games I think I’ll take a book to read. Brittany has a game in Providence tomorrow but it appears it will be rained out. She’s a senior this year–will have a degree in forensic psychology–wants to go into a doctorate program if she can’t find a job after graduation. Continue to have fun over there–will keep you posted on Alex and how things are going with Vince at work. Will send updates from the hospital as we get them on Monday. Deanna


  2. Janice, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU ON 10/6/13 I will be in Las Vegas for a dragon boat regatta that week end. SOOO this is early. You &MM can sing worms and germs from ME to you 2. Sounds like a great time. Kirsh

  3. Hi Carol, thanks! Hope the dragon boat regatta goes well. We somehow forgot to sing worms and germs while Marilla was here, can’t imagine why, but I will sing it for you anyway. Marilla is flying home, or has arrived home, as I write this. Had a great visit, lots of fun. Say hello to your mom from me.

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