October 19, 2010

6| Camping, I hope

Soon I saw a sign for a 2-star campground (many French campgrounds are rated, with a system similar to that for hotels) and turned right again. For a while, the turns were clearly marked, but then the road, which had already turned to dirt, became smaller and went past a totally disgustingly smelly, open, water treatment plant. Past it, I turned right and then left, and right again, and finally, no longer having signs to follow but facing a myriad of small dirt roads going through cultivated fields, I gave up and turned around. Back past the stinking wastewater plant. 
At a crossroads I met a very kind local couple, who were walking back from town with groceries, she with the most astonishingly brilliant lime-green eyeshadow I have ever seen. And I like green, on vegetables, plants, bikes, clothes, and now, eyes.  They asked if I was lost, and after I explained, they told me that I had been close to the campground, and since they were going almost there, they would show me. So I pushed my bike along next to them, and we were talking all the time. Unhappily, I could not understand almost anything he said, though I could follow her. Mostly. I was warned at Langue Onze that I would probably have a hard time with regional accents, and that was true. Eventually, after we’d gone past the stinking treatment plant again, all three of us holding our noses, and past the place I turned around, we saw some camping cars (as camping vehicles are called in France,) they turned left, and directed me straight on, down the shady road. Finally, I arrived at the gate for the campground, now closed ..  since it was late, I thought. But because I was on a  bike,  quite beat, and looking seriously forward to calling it a day, I proceeded around the gate.  
I was just about at the reception area for this 2-star campground, tired, hungry and certainly  looking forward to setting up my little tent and stopping for the night. From maybe 50 feet away I saw a group of people in front of the reception building, I think at a pool, and one of the men greets me with a wave and a big bonsoir – and, though tired as I was, I quickly noticed  that no one had a stitch of clothing on, not a bit. I did a quick double take, but, nothing, rien.  Hmm, that must have been the part I didn’t understand in those conversations … and indeed, my dictionary later explained how naturiste is different than naturaliste. Immediately I think of George who told me “Susan if you’re not comfortable at a campground just go stay in a hotel.” I am … too American? too old? …  too shy? too …  too something and certainly too tired to figure it out now. So, disappointed as I was,  I returned the wave and big bonsoir they greeted me with, added an au revoir and retraced my steps … hoping that the campers got as big a laugh out of it as I did! And so it was the fourth time, that tired night, past the ….. (Touring Ideas # 4) 

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