Back at Last

A rainy morning in the south of France, just 7° Celsius (44° F). A good day to sit by the fire and start catching up on my blog. Many drafts sit, waiting for polish, and literally thousands of photos need to be sorted – hiking this fall in the Cevennes, a week in Tuscany, a month long adventure in northern India and Nepal, and of course new recipes to share.

But first I begin with our arrival yesterday at the Marseilles airport. Reminiscent of last spring’s arrival in Toulouse our duffel bags did not show up on the carousel. Along with a few other unlucky souls we stood watching the same half dozen bags circle by, unclaimed. Over the years I’ve grown to expect this after a short connection at Heathrow, but seriously, an hour and a half isn’t enough to transfer bags between terminals?

After filing our claim the clerk informs us that we live too far from the airport for the bags to be delivered that evening and we drive home to wait their arrival the following morning. On the way I silently rehearse how I’m going to explain to the delivery person where we live, in French.  Being in a tiny village we have no proper street address. The name of our street doesn’t even show up on most GPS systems.

We arrive home; the house is in good order but the internet is not working and the phone line crackles above the dial tone. The internet does come back on later in the afternoon but the interference on the phone line remains, making phone conversations all the more difficult. When the delivery person calls to tell us to expect our bags later that evening I fail to understand the time frame he gives me. Repetition is no help and I let the issue drop, happy just knowing that the bags will arrive that evening instead of the following day.

We wait, eat dinner and wait some more. What time did he tell me? I run through the conversation in my mind. I have no idea. Surely he didn’t say after 10pm? Maybe it was between 10 and 11. No, that is much too late for a delivery. Exhausted from the long flight home we take the phone upstairs and go to bed. At 10:30 the cell phone rings. It’s the driver, the cell phone line is much clearer than the land line but between his heavy local accent and my lack of local geography I can only guess if he is already in town or on his way. We take the 3 minute drive around town, find no one and return home to await his arrival.

Now past 11pm and he still hasn’t called back. Where did he call me from? He did say he would call me when he arrived in town, or did he? I walk around the yard and listen. Silence. Moonlit, the night is brisk and still with no delivery vehicle in sight. I call the last number received on my cell phone and the line cuts off before I can finish my sentence. The delivery man calls back and we have one of those swirling conversations where I try repeat and confirm what he is telling me but am never quite sure that I’ve got it exactly right. Finally I understand that he is indeed in the village at “chateau d’eau”, a name I learned from a previous similar conversation with a local repairman. Don and I quickly drive to the named intersection just around a double bend from the house. To our delight we spot a delivery van with the parking lights on and two men chatting in the cold night air.

A friendly type he apologizes for the late hour and we chat a bit about what two foreigners are doing in this small French village. Where better to experience French culture first hand?

For links to all the posts in this series see the South of France page.