Wednesday, 6 October 2010

New Day New Place

Saturday 11th September 2010: Annecy FR. Another morning waking up cold, but the heater soon banished any chilly feelings that woke me up. The ‘Aire’ we stayed in overnight was covered in dew and there was a donkey and a horse to wake us up. After the events of last night and our quick get-away, this place seemed the best option. We were still unsure though whether we would have to pay for it, as the man who approached us out of a campervan kept telling us it was free. Not so much this morning, when he pointed to the ‘honesty box’. I’m not sure if this guy and his wife lived in the campervan on a permanent basis, but they had two dogs outside, together with an awning and grass growing around the wheels. He even went off somewhere on his moped after we had breakfast, so if he isn’t living there, they are certainly there on a long term thing I would reckon!

We drove back to the landing field in Doussard and the Pilot tried to catch a lift up the hill with a paragliding school. Being in the competitions had meant the luxury of mini-buses being laid on and retrieval available. This morning I was suddenly plunged into a new zone again. Getting back to the snail would mean by hitch-hiking and walking as this snail is sometimes too big to be manoeuvred through narrow mountainous hills. It's not impossible for the snail, The Pilot has done this many times over the past 6 weeks, it’s just that I’m not confident at all. Because it’s a left hand drive and the roads are driven on the right, it’s a bit like doing things in a mirror. I have no idea really what I am doing when Im driving and flinching and squeezing my body in doesn’t really happen to the snail in real life, and although I need the practise, its too scary! As well as that, for the last 20 years apparently I have picked up a bad habit of keeping my foot on the clutch and now the pilot keeps saying in my ear every few minutes! ARRRRGGGGHHH obviously not conducive to increasing my confidence!

As he was trying to get a lift, I was attempting the HUGE Mountain of washing what we had accumulated as well as bedding. The last time the washing machine on was in Slovenia, which was over two weeks ago. Surely and steadily, the t-shirts etc have built up. Im so glad I bought the washing machine. It means that we don't have to book into a campsite every now and then and do a Monster wash. I actually enjoy doing the washing, I find a great satisfaction in cleaning, something I have never had a problem with. I am my mother’s daughter.

I remember when I moved into my first flat 8 years ago and my mum and I was arguing who was going to clean the bathroom and then the kitchen. My dad just sat on the sofa and sighed. It’s funny, but I moved into my flat on Friday 13th September 2002, and almost 8 years ago to the day, some guy is moving into my flat as I am travelling to help me pay the mortgage. It's funny how things work out! I hope he look after it and remembers that the carpet is a certain colour because you don't walk in shoes on it. Sigh......

The Pilot finally managed to catch a minibus with other pilots in a similar situation, so alone, I drove the Snail to the bottom of the road where it was to stay for the rest of the afternoon. After using every possible crevasse to hang the washing, and even erect a new washing line for the socks, I decided to explore the surrounding area. I always like this day, its seeing things for the first time. I have gotten used to the pattern. Unlock the bike, cycle to the nearest town, look out for the bakery, the cash point and supermarket. Look for a church, especially if its nearly a Sunday and find where you can park the bike. The two places in Slovenia and then St Andre gave me this wonderful opportunity. It was nice to get back to this pattern, after the sightseeing week we had last week.

Going around Lake Geneva (aka Lac Leman) was great though. Seeing things with someone was wonderful. The happiness that you can share with someone who sees what you see is much better than seeing things on your own. My only wish is that my parents could share this with me; they love sightseeing, especially my mum, and especially if it is free. Since playing 50zl in Poland to see the Salt mines and 30zl for parking, we haven’t been anywhere where you need to pay. We have a budget to stick to and if we’re going to last till December, we have to be sensible where we can.

After arriving in Doussard, the first place I found was a church. There were a few people congregating outside and after sitting inside on one of the pews, I found out why. A gentleman had passed away a few days ago and at 2pm, he was to have his funeral mass. It made me feel incredibly sad. I left the church and waited outside and watched the rest of the mourners arrive. The people were mainly between the ages of 65 and 80 years old. The men wore thick moustaches and some wore berets. Everyone greeted each other, women with two kisses, men with firm handshakes. These were people who lived here and knew the man I supposed. I stood behind my dark glasses with tears in my eyes. I may not have been able to speak to these people, or say words of condolences, but I felt their pain. It also reawakened the pain inside of me that you have tried to keep buried. Being at a funeral makes you relive past funerals, and also the possible scenario of funerals to come. It is never easy to say goodbye. A funeral is a final ceremony that you take part in before your loved ones try and get on with living and being without you. I stood contemplating all of these things at the back of everyone, when I saw the funeral car pulling in. It wasn’t like the funeral hearses in the UK, it was like a transit van, but very dignified. I watched two people dressed in black, who I presumed was his wife and daughter, get out of the car and thank the people outside. I could do nothing but watch them and offer my deepest condolences silently. It was an unplanned moment, I played no part in their afternoon, but that moment touched me deeply.

I waited for the bakery to open and cycled back to the Snail, to find out that my Pilot had landed safe and well, and was ready for lunch.

We spent the rest of the afternoon, driving around a few places in search of WIFI. It's one of the things that I really miss, being in contact with the ‘outside world’. But then again, if I was, then I wouldn’t be doing all the other things. By not being chained to the internet, it leaves me free to explore my reading, writing and the creative things that stir my soul, like modelling clay, painting and drawing.

We stayed by the WIFI spot for a few hours and took it in turns to use the computer. After a while, I thought I would venture into the unknown and check out the ‘public conveniences’. I know we have our own, but if you have to empty it, then you use what you have when you can! Now, I’m not really a public WC kind-of-girl. Even when I went to Peru in 1997, and I was on a bus for 12 hours over the Andes, I didn’t want to use the toilets when we stopped off at 3am. Seeing huge marching ants from the toilets to the wall and everyone washing, or rather dipping, their hands in a huge vat of water put me off. Since then, I will wait till I get home. When I visit a restaurant, I have to see the conditions of the toilets before I will eat in a place. The one time I didn’t, I was ill for days, enough said I hope. Public toilets and me don't get on. We were very lucky in Switzerland though, always very clean and always with toilet paper in them. Anyway, after arriving back from the ‘no toilet’ toilets (only two footsteps to show where you have to stand), I was traumatised enough to want to go to the comfort of my Snail, even if I had to empty it!

As I was walking back, I recognised someone we had met two weeks ago who was flying in St Andre. He looked as shocked to see me as I was, and I invited him back to the Snail to chat ‘paragliding things’ with the Pilot. They checked weather things on the computer and flights done in Annecy by previous pilots. It's really amazing that all of this information is available. We found out that this Canadian guy is also going to a place where we’re heading to at the end of this week, so we exchanged numbers, before he went off in search for his tent.

We arrived at our new ‘Aire’, and slotted into a space surrounded by other snails. It's very comforting to be around similar people. When we drive, the drivers all wave to each other, its like a mutual understanding they all have. It's really nice! After a bottle of red wine was opened, and Fajitas were consumed, we watched a film called ‘Spirited Away’, before I were spirited away to sleep.

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