Tuesday, March 29, 2005

March 27, 2005

Well, first of all, I think that Sophie had her baby. I called Mom and she said that when a pregnant woman starts to clean, that means that baby will arrive soon. Then, when I called Sophie the next morning, I only got her voice mail. So yeah, I think Yanis is here (that is the name of her son). I can’t wait to see him. It has been really neat to watch the whole process. I have seen Sophie since her third month and it has been super interesting to see the changes. I have gotten to actually see Yanis move inside her belly (that was weird!) and I helped set up his room. So, yeah, it has all been very cool. This does not mean that I want to have a baby. It just means that I think my future roll of “Aunt D” will be super cool.

Anyway, back to the saga of Nimes. You all may remember that I have been planning on going there since January and have been thwarted by everything under the sun (or under the wind, as is the case here in Valence). Yesterday only added another chapter to my struggles. I woke up, ate breakfast, made a sandwich, packed my bag, and set off to the train station. I bought a ticket for Nimes, with a train change in Avignon. I had an hour and a half before the train left, so I decided to wander around Valence. In the old part of town I discovered something very interesting: the Lycee students (our equivalent of high school) from all the different schools were together in different colored t-shirts. At first I thought it was another protest, but then I saw the giant floats. Hm, it was to be a parade then. It was only 10am, but already the kids were walking around drinking. It looked to be like our Homecoming, only with all the schools and without the king and queen and court. I snapped a couple of pictures and went back the the train station…

…where I discovered that my train was running late. So late, in fact, that after waiting 45 minutes (and thus missing my connection in Avignon), I hopped on another train bound for Avignon, figuring that I would find another train to Nimes when I got there…

…which was not actually the case. In fact, although I had arrived slightly after noon, the next train to Nimes was at about 5:30pm. Yeck. When I went to speak to the guy at the information counter, he recommended I take the train to Arles and then, from there, catch a train to Nimes. (Arles is actually further south than Nimes and I would be effectively backtracking, but okay, whatever. I had every intention to getting there.) So, I went to the platform to catch the train to Arles and discovered…

…that it was running an hour and fifteen minutes late. Bloody hell. So I waited, made a phone call, drank some tea, and read. When the train finally arrived, I hopped on and made the trip to Arles. Once I got to Arles I realized…

..that because the previous train had been so late, I had missed all connections to Nimes until late that night. So I decided screw it, I’m going to Arles. I walked out of the train station and into a giant party. Turns out that Arles has bullfights in its Roman Amphitheatre every Easter weekend. So there were people everywhere (mostly drunk or getting there), piles of Bull poop in the street (I suppose that they had run the Bulls through town earlier), and carnival rides and games for the kiddies. Oh, and about 20 or 30 bullfight protesters (but I was interested to see that there were some, as I usually think of cruelty to animal protests as being a mostly US American thing). So I wandered around town (it had, naturally, started to rain at some point during this whole adventure) and snapped some pictures of the Roman ruins and Romanesque Cathedral. I did briefly consider buying a ticket to see a bull fight in the ancient Roman amphitheatre, but then I decided against it. As neat as it would have been to see an event in the amphitheatre, I didn’t really want to watch a bullfight. (Plus, I figured that if I did, my Auntie M would probably start planting pipe bombs in my car).

Anyway, there were several brass bands wandering the streets, playing bullfight music. There was one in particular that I encountered several times. The bandmaster was dressed in red and black and had a silver cape and a black top hat. He (very slightly) resembled Alice Cooper and he looked like a tool. I took several pictures.

At the end of the day I drug my exhausted carcass back to the train station and bought a return ticket for Valence. At that was that.

Later. Happy Easter. The dodgy kabob shop is open for business. Not that it is 11pm or anything. I swear, in the USA if there were a kabob shop that was never actually open during the day but that had groups of young to middle-aged Arab men meeting there at all hours of the night… well, I leave it up to your patriotic imagination. My complaint is that they are noisy and they leer. (But that describes most French men, so…)

Speaking of leering, I saw the creepy night watchman again. He remains convinced that I am a German. There were other people about so he didn’t do his sig heil bit but he did insist on answering my question with ja. As I seem to know more German than him (at least I know German vocabulary outside that of Nazi politics) I could probably convincingly pretend to be the German assistant… but why bother? I’m more curious to see if he ever actually learns that I am not German (I suppose that realizing I’m from an English speaking country is probably too much to ask, so I’m going to settle for him to realize that 1) I am not German and 2) I am not a Nazi—not necessarily in that order). Crazy old bastard.

Those guys are really loud. They are about a block away and yet if I could speak Arabic I would be able to understand them clearly. If the US government decided to set up a sniper when they took then it, he would definitely be posted in my room. (Can you imagine me as a sniper? Hell, I couldn’t hit anything at pointblank range. But I can dismantle and clean a weapon like Forest Gump… sir…) And it’s not like I can throw anything at them, because we all know about my (lack of) throwing skills. (Reference to Grenade story. If you haven’t heard it, ask for it next time you see me. That and the firing range story. Or maybe one day I will put them up. Who knows…)


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