Vive la France

I’d been in Paris for less than half an hour before a woman flicked me the bird. I noticed her in my rear vision mirror, she was waving her hands around and it wasn’t to say hi. She wasn’t happy with my driving, neither was I, it had been a shaky start. It had been awhile since I’d driven a manual, and reverse and I were having a few problems, nearly as many as first gear and I. My new relationship with our Volkswagen could only be described as highly dysfunctional. Add the fact that G and I were surviving on a few hours sleep in a small car loaded with a large family, and we were already in National Lampoon territory.

I had wipers going instead of indicators as I bunny hopped out of the terminal and onto the freeway. As my bird flicking friend made her way past me her general gesticulation became more focussed – in the form of one solid middle finger.

“Wooohooooo!” I said to the children in celebratory fashion “Now we really know we’re in Paris. There’s the official welcome.”

The children were confused.

“How come she’s allowed to do that?” the second little traveller asked. She knew that in Qatar giving someone the bird could land you in jail.

“She’s obviously very passionate. And yes, she’s allowed to give me the finger, she wont get arrested but she might have some bad karma coming her way. Best we just blow her a kiss.”

G is always the navigator when we travel, partly because he’s much better at reading a map and mostly because there’s no way he could take direction from me. I’d say turn left and he’d need to know exactly how I’d reached my decision. And then I’d have to admit I had no idea, left just, you now, felt good.

It’s better if I drive.

I know I shouldn’t still find this amazing, but the fact that we hop on a plane in one location and arrive somewhere six hours later that is so completely different – it gets me every time. Those first five minutes of a different language, a different tempo, a different colour and smell.

I am somewhere so completely different right now.

Yesterday it was all about walking down the street, it was all about being somewhere different. It was all about looking in wonder at shop windows with a range of produce we haven’t seen for a long time. We hit the local boulangerie and grabbed two of the best baguettes I’ve ever had. Tarts, tortes, eclairs and cake all made their way to the table. Along with cheese, pate and French wine. We all stood in the supermarket and stared at the pork products for just a little too long. I marveled at the beauty of an entire aisle of the supermarket dedicated to booze.

Vive la France.

As the day wore on I watched the little travellers suffer the effects of a night flight with little sleep. We had reached the deliriously tired but overly excited stage; someone made a crack about swapping the name for tsunami to salami and how you would be at the beach and someone would yell “watch out, here comes a huge Salami”. This had the little travellers giggling for about twenty minutes, more than once.

We’re on holiday. We’re in Paris. It’s Spring. And even when someone’s giving us the bird – the world’s a good place.

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