Every trip is different, and this one especially so. You expect the unexpected, but this goes beyond that. As a matter of fact, if you are a participant on our second trip next week, you may not want to submit yourself to this narrative. Two of the participants set to arrive this week (who shall remain nameless, although those of you from our Ireland trip may recognize them) were traveling together, spending a few days in Paris before taking the train to Gourdon to join us at the workshop. Let’s just call them participant GRAY and the other Z. This is where our story actually starts, because this is where things begin to go awry. Picture this: one participant a bit older than the other (Gray). The older one had a carry on bag, a purse and another bag the size of the state of Rhode Island. Inside the state of Rhode Island was packed the state of Texas. The younger of the two ladies (Z), also had her own quota of baggage – one large bag, a carry on and her purse. So, they board the train and settle in for the ride to Gourdon. They are waiting for the town of Brive to pass by because that is their signal that the Gourdon stop is next. Zzzzzip! It’s here in a flash…their stop at Gourdon! Quick! Off the train! OMG, the door won’t open! Down to the next door…through the car, hauling baggage and the state of Rhode Island past seats that are too close to squeeze by. Thank god none of the other passengers understand the English phrases that are spewing from the mouths of these two prim ladies. Finally, they are at the door and unloading luggage. Well, at least Z has unloaded her luggage, while GRAY stands there, tugging on her monstrosity with all her might, but it does not move. Hence, Z goes back up the stairs, throws off the other carry on bag then hefts monstrosity down the steps. She has now officially broken a sweat. Thinking their trials are over, they pull luggage inside the station and head towards the customer service attendant. (I am to inform you at this point that you should take the term “customer service” lightly). Strolling up, they ask her for a taxi. “No taxi.” “What?” “No taxi.” “Well, how are we supposed to get to the hotel?” “Walk.” she says, walking her fingers across the counter in front of them, just so they would be sure to understand. They understood alright. Only too well. “But where is our hotel?” they ask. “Just follow zee road shrtraight aheed and you will zee eet.” Seeing that they had no choice, they go out onto the road and begin to walk. Soon it was clear that their hotel was approximately a mile away. And the road? It was straight, alright, but straight UP! Pulling luggage, Z takes off leaving GRAY and the state of Rhode Island behind. Eventually, though, she feels guilty (what would her mother say), plus she’s tired of the grunts and sighs she hears behind her. So, she goes back and relieves GRAY of the poundage and totes it uphill for her. This sad process is repeated again and again, and again. Eventually, neither could continue. GRAY because she knows her heart will explode any moment, and Z because…well, because she was about to strangle GRAY. So, Z plants Gray in a small park right beside the huge 10 ft. Cement pig (don’t ask).
Gray and all the luggage, along with everything that weighs over 3 oz. stays at the pig. This includes all of Zs money and ID. Z continues walking up the road. She walks, and she walks and she begins to understand that she doesn’t know where in the world she’s going. Suddenly, on the roadside, she spies two teenagers with spiked hair. The spiked hair has nothing to do with anything, other than the fact that, at this moment, she would’ve stopped a man with three legs and his pants down. She ventures over to them with a desperate look on her face and gesturing wildly. I give those youngsters a lot of credit for not running like mad. They, instead, decide to take her personally to a spot where she could see the hotel. Obviously, their mothers did not warn them sufficiently about talking to strangers. At last! She is home free. She gives them a huge hug goodbye (after all she could not tip them, she left all money back with the pig), and goes into her hotel, confirmation in hand. Unfortunately, Z has no ID to prove she is the person who belongs to the room. Damn if she’s giving up now. What can she do at this point? “You must go pick up my friend.” “No taxi.” Z repeats 3 octaves higher and louder, “You MUST go pick up my friend!” The clerk reconsiders and makes a phone call. Meanwhile, Z pencils a note to give to the driver…”Gray, get into the car with this man.” This is where we cut away, back to Gray sitting at the pig with all of the luggage. As you can imagine, by this time her mind is swirling with thoughts of exactly what she will do if she does not see her friend again. Well, at least they used to be friends. Perhaps Z’s left her behind? No, she has all the luggage so maybe not. Gray is hot and sweaty. She is hungry and tired. Suddenly, there appeared out of nowhere, a car. A blessed car, carrying a young woman who jumps out wearing stiletto heels and a rather interesting mini skirt. “I’m here!” She announces, in evidently the only English she knows. Gray is relieved…or at least she thinks she’s relieved. Yet, before she gets into the car, she asks, “Where is my friend?” The woman replies, “She dead.” WHAT!? WHERE IS MY FRIEND!? “She dead.” This is a true story. Gray and Z did join us at the workshop the very next day and that is when we deciphered the whole mess. You see, evidently the phrase for “I help you” in French is Je t’aide. Yep, you guessed it, pronounced “shi dead”. Sigh. I think there is most likely a moral to this story. For now, Gray and Z are just happy to be with us at Le Vieux, both of them alive and rested…no pig in site. The state of Rhode Island has been unzipped and the contents are spilling forth onto the floor. There have been two shopping days since and the spillage is growing. Wonder and awe are experienced by all of us who gaze into that room and try to mentally picture how it will all fit together for the return trip. That’s it for now. Very late here and have a big day tomorrow. More eating, painting and experiencing France! I’m so glad you can join us. I have such good memories of those of you who have been here with me in the past and I’m telling stories about you…are your ears burning? So far, we are having a blast. I hope to post more, soon as I can. Au Revoir mon Amis, Kathie
Kathy I’ve never met you, but you sound like a very interesting person. Thanks or sharing your experiences with us, they are thoroughly enjoyed. Maybe someday I’ll be able to take one of these trips with you.
Your descriptive powers don’t stop with your painting – ‘a three-legged man with his pants down’ – omg, that’s hilarious! You were born to be a great raconteur!
Kathie, please take a week off and write a book!! Ha!
Wow , just woke up and your story has me laughing aloud. I was so sure one of them was left on the train and the other waving for the train to stop. Such suspense!
Kathie, I loved the descriptions of the baggage and the story is great! The group won’t forget their trip: food scenery, painting and experiences! Enjoy!
Hahaha, what a good laugh to begin my morning! I hope I am traveling with you next time. Have a wonderful trip.
Laughed so hard,I was crying. I have been there traveling alone with my huge suitcase with a bunch of backpackers. They hated me and wouldn’t help at all. thank god I was only in my 40’s then.
Your stories are such fun to read. Sounds like a great group…enjoy. I look forward to reading more adventures of your travels in France!
Well, I declare. These must surely be Suthun Laidees, considering they need many changes of clothes with matching shoes and purses (assumed due to volume). You must paint a picture of “The Lady and the Pig” for posterity.
I hope all spelling is correct, as I can’t see through the tears of laughter. Sleep well, paint joyfully and keep laughing.
Oh my, what a story. Glad they finally made it ok.
A hilarious laugh is the best way to start a day, I will think and giggle all day now. Thanks Kathie, have a glorious day.
Is this another warning for me, Kathie???? I’m taking it as such, while laughing like a fool.
Hysterical! You mademy day. Hoping to take one of your trips in the future!
So funny…that’s why I learned to travel light when my luggage did not arrive for a trip down the Rhine! People gave me T shirts, a scarf, and even a pair of sneakers to wear on the boat. And try to tell a taxi driver in France to go airport for luggage and return to boat. after 6days, with only a German handbook! Ah, I hope for mire adventure on my 2trips with you next year in Spain and Italy!
OMG this is such a great story! Love your blog and love you!
For some reason, this story sounds sorta familiar????
I love to read your blogs – thanks for the fabulous laugh this morning. Know you will all have a wonderful time painting. Can’t wait for pictures and more stories. Enjoy each other Big hugs
So enjoyed reading your account of Gray & Z. I had a similar experience 12 yrs ago when I first visited LeVieux Couvent!! But that time the group of us artists were trying to get to Gourdon from the Toulouse airport (by train). Back then, Bill and Co. did provide transportation from the airport to LVC Fortunately, I did speak some French, but even so, it was a “memorable” experience for all of us. Someday, when we’re in a workshop together again, I’ll share the whole story with you. 🙂 Thanks for bringing a little piece of Nirvana back to us through your blogs. Tell Corrinne and Bill and Joel I love them!!
LOL! When is your next book coming out about all your adventures? I’d buy one, just to get a peek into your travels. I’ve learned to back everything I need into a backpack and small bag due to just such a problem on our last train trip from Seattle, WA to Chicago, IL in June, and fully understand the leaving stuff behind. Have fun and still wondering how you will get that chair back to Ohio. xoxo
I really meant “pack” everything. Haven’t had breakfast yet and it shows.
This is hilarious. Oh how I would love to be along! What a wonderful trip you must be having. If you meet up with the three-legged man, pants down or not, we want pictures. Enjoy. Lessons to all. Pack it all in a back pack and wear the same pair of jeans day after day after day after day.
You are such a terrific story teller! Miss you, may have to come on one of your trips!
I’m reading this with my morning coffee in bed, as it is “snowing” here, and can hardly stop laughing at the picture you are painting of Gray and Z. I can hardly wait to go on my first trip with you in Spain next Spring. Love your blogs and totally agree with the others that you could easily pen a best seller.
What a wonderful narrative of a hilarious adventure! You have a gift, beyond your paintnig skills. I am glad to know that Gray and Z have recovered enough to go shopping. Obviously, they are enjoying their time in France with you!
So if and when you write a book, you can incorporate your wonderful art into it and illustrate it. I can just picture the cement pig in watercolor batik!
Hilarious packing lite is an artform too
There is a story in everything… Sorry to hear about Z and Gray’s struggle….. Kathryn
Great story, that would have been me, if I was there. Bravo for Gray and Z and for you Kathie.
Wow, you have just described my friend (Gray). Lol! You should have seen what she brought on one of our local plein air outings.. Your narrative is hilarious — we are still laughing here in SC.
Opps. My name is Sonia, not sonis.
Book PLEASE! This is too funny but I’m sure it wasn’t funny to Gray and Z at the time. Such memories! Say hi to Carolyn Troy and can’t wait to talk with her about the adventures or are they sworn to secrecy? We need the pig story. Have a wonderfully hilarious time. Pat
Great read about your great trip! Thank you!
Hysterical!! I was picturing Sylvia sitting by the pig….. But then I couldn’t picture her furious at a friend! But I knew she was going to Paris first… But reread , and laughed again!! And realized she did not go to Ireland. Looking forward to more stories!!
LOL! You are a great story teller Kathie!! I will remember to pack light and with a sense of humor should I be lucky enought to join you on an adventure. Enjoy your stay in France!
Still laughing !
What a great story! Thanks for the day brightener! Hilarious…and no one got lost! Say hi to Bill, Corinne and Joel for me. Wish I were there with you all. Kathy xoxoxo
Sylvia referred me to this Blog…. So funny, but I can identify!!! I have a big tendency to pack too much, so this really hit home as I envision all those Spain steps. The last time I packed a heavy suitcase was for an 11 day cruise with Dana. Just trying to pick the darn thing up to put in in high pickup bed (we were picking up another couple with their luggage so used the truck for extra room) was a frustrating struggle. I hurt my right wrist and couldn’t even use a knife at dinner for days as it was so painful. As soon as we returned…I gave that blasted suitcase away! I will be good & pack light…Sylvia’s coming to spend a night and Tudor my packing. LOL. Sending healing thoughts & prayers your way daily!!