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