Trying to read something that you can’t really understand is an exercise of intuition. Pictograms help. A lot of times, I would like to think that the international language really are illustrations (to refute my grade five music teacher).
From Rossy Charles de Gaulle, I took Air France Bus #4 because I read it somewhere that this bus will bring me to Gare de Lyon. It did. I was in the train station trying to figure out what to do with my Eurail Pass and when I finally had the courage to approach the ticket guy, I was told that I should go to other windows because he can’t validate my ticket. I went to the other side of the hall and went to a window. I had no clue that ‘firme’ means close yet I tried my luck anyway. The kind french woman in her 40’s (or 30’s?) validated my pass and gave me my ticket.
Apol picked me up from Gare de Montpellier at about midnight. There were students loitering around the station. I was already outside and she came from inside the station . We reached their place about thirty minutes later. Somehow, a hundred kilometres in this part of the world is not far at all.
I was given my trailer. It’s my first time to actually enter one. Apol and her husband live at the other trailer a few steps from mine. And I got excited to sleep in such.
The following morning was very relaxed. Just as I expected. As compared to the other country across the English Channel, France down south is relaxed and child like. Amidst the preserved architecture are windows and doors in high color. They spell fun in caps. By some pleasant coincidence, I arrived in Aigues Mortes just in time for their fete. “Pumunta akong France para mamista!” Now, spell fun in bold.
I am in my seat right now in a train en route to paris to get to my overnight train to Venice. From where I’m seated, chateaus and villages cling to hillsides amidst the vast fields.
Provence has this reputation back home of one of the most inspiring places to visit in Europe. Maybe because Van Gogh had his Sunflowers grow from this place. The region boasts of dry flat lands with communes older than the Philippine Republic. One particular area is the walled Aigues Mortes. Let’s talk about Intramuros. Make the walls lime (or was it sandstone?) and triple the height. Now, remove the moss, make the gates gothic, and add towers every one hundred meters. And yes, make the walls seamless and poke spear holes on the lower part and add teethlike finish on the upper part. I was told Intramuros is a fortress. I want to bring that person to Aigues Mortes and show him a fortress. Around the area is a landscape thats dry and raw. Pretty much like the people. Very simple and pure.
I was introduced to Jeanette, Apol’s mother-in-law, a very pleasant lady who brought us to this brunch with the entire town. She has this very pronounced sense of pride about her town and about Provence in general. She invited me to her house and almost every single piece has a story. Of course, to say that the house has some character is an understatement. I can’t really say that designers would automatically love her place but sure it can charm anybody’s innocent fantasy. But that's beside the point, the house wreaks of symbols and objects endemic to Provence and that alone is admirable. Such characteristic is almost extinct back home.
Jeannette is not alone. Apol brought me to this market in Camargue the products are screaming of culture- raw and pure. There is warmth in this community and even if you can’t understand what they are saying, you would know you are in good company.
Pierre brought me to the station this afternoon. Made sure I get my ticket before actually leaving me for their climb today that I was supposed to join. I am glad, I was in good company.