The Duck, Duck Goose, Goose Tour
with The Wild Irishman
So we came to Avignon. The trip here was heinous. More than ever, in international travel, you gotta want it. You don't want it, really, really want it, you will not make it. Because getting to where you want to go these days is damned, damned hard. Two red eyes, 4-hour delay out of JFK, 6 strikes in Paris and one high-speed train ride later, we arrived in Avignon. At a point, I sat on the floor of Gare de Lyon in Paris, surrounded by backpacks and bags, and cried. Just plain cried, in front of all those people. Gave it to aching muscles, fuzzy eyes, scratchy throat, dim gaze and sore outlook. Had a cry and a nap. Woke up, limped down the platform of train #6135, hoisted 110 pounds of duffel and camera gear aboard and crawled on.
And so finally I made it here. Avignon is the gateway to Provence and is gorgeous. A southern Oregon climate of sorts with blooming flowers, deep blue skies, no light pollution and absolutely zero American tourists. Oddly, we have been pegged as Americans. Never happens to me, but it has happened this time. At lunch yesterday, waitress gave us the classic French youareDIRTundermyfingernails routine. Took the orders of three tables who arrived later than us first; brought our food when absolutely nothing else needed to be done, including reset those three tables whom now had left. Didn't bring the coffee. Made us wait for our check for over 15 minutes. The usual. I paid the bill, left no gratuity, blew her a kiss and went on my way. It's all good. It's one of a variety of amusements in the day that make everything so interesting. Fortunately, most of the other amusements are quite delightful in a sensual way. Like the freshly baked croissants and cold, hard kiwis at breakfast. The pastis and tapenade before dinner. The olives. oh my! the olives. Noon mass at St. Pierre. The tablecloths in bright hues of blue, yellow and periwinkle. Even the cab driver who said "George Bush" when I said to him, "Know who my best friend is?"
So the Irish bounced the EU back into a rework of their treaty, President Bush would like to reopen oil wells off the California coast, and the economies of Britain, France, Germany and Italy may actually be deeper in the tank than the US economy. I don't know how much any of that matters here, certainly doesn't matter to me this morning as the sun streams through the French doors of the patio and the richly perfumed air lures me into the seduction of a new day. For all the pain in getting here, on this day at this moment, Avignon is everything a vacation should be. And for that I'm grateful. Call it all joy.