We woke up and finished packing…..we didn’t buy that much so why won’t the suitcases close? Are our clothes made from some strange, sponge-like material that expanded in this watery country? After some clever rearranging, we were packed and on our way to the airport.
We checked in and, now two suitcases and one tote lighter, walked through the airport in search of breakfast. The restaurants in the Arrivals area didn’t appeal to us, so we lined up in front of passport control hoping there’d be more choices in the Departures area.
The line moved slowly but we finally handed our passports over to a young man sitting in a barred booth. “France,” I answered when he asked where we were going. He didn’t seem pleased with this response so I added, “We have a houseboat there…..on the Canal du Midi.” Not a good answer. He looked up and said, “But we have canals here….why don’t you bring your boat here?” Uh-oh….better think fast. “We’d like to, but it will take a long time…..we’d better get started.” He smiled, stamped our passports and waved us on.
We found our restaurant…..pannekoeken with bacon and cheese, sweet profitjes and hot coffee…..delicious and only 15 euros for both of us.
Security was handled at the gate…..we arrived early enough find a seat in the gate area and watched more and more people arrive…..it would be a full flight. We boarded on time, left on time, taxied for about 20 minutes and then had an uneventful flight to London.
Heathrow is becoming more familiar…..we exited the plane, walked to the terminal, went through security and then, knowing that the stores in France are closed on Sundays, we found a restaurant serving English food and sat down to “enjoy” greasy fried fish, mushy peas and Welsh Rarebit (what were we thinking???)
We walked over to our gate as soon as it was listed and saw that the boarding bridge was down a long flight of stairs. I’m still gimpy and, right now, Craig’s not much better, so I asked the gate agent if we could take the elevator down. He took one look at us and nodded (Good Lord, do we look that bad?). But it let us board early so we got the overhead space we needed for our two totes, one shopping bag and computer case.
The flight, normally two hours, arrived early. We could see the sun shining and couldn’t wait to get to Castelnaudary to pick up our sorely missed Felix. We exited the plane, walked though an empty terminal, rounded a corner to Passport control and were surprised by the sight of three soldiers in fatigues carrying automatic rifles! We’ve seen soldiers carrying rifles in Paris and Rome, but never in Toulouse! Were they warned about the American couple who wanted to leave France behind for the Dutch dikes? Surely not. Ah-ha….a woman had just been arrested in France for wearing a burqa….was that it? Or is it because of the Tunisians on an Italian train that was stopped at the border? Whatever the reason, it’s disquieting to be greeted by armed men.
Our passports were stamped once again (we’re swiftly running out of room…..Egads! We may need to stop touring!). We picked up our luggage and waited outside in the warm sunshine for our leased Peugeot 207 to arrive.
As we drove through the city and into the countryside, we both felt a sense of relief that was hard to define. It was more than just returning to a familiar place…..it felt more like a freedom. But freedom from what?
Holland was exquisite…..with its orderly rows of flowers and tamed waters…..everything was so pristine, so perfect. As we looked around the French countryside, we saw chaos…..fields with weeds, stone cottages in disrepair, vineyards planted any which way…..it was restorative.
To survive, the Dutch had to master and control nature…..but I think this domination had suffocated us. The country is almost too perfect. Disneyland’s a nice place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there.
We left the freeway and headed toward Chateau Miaou…..only to be confronted by a roadblock. We could have kissed it…..ahh, it’s good to be back where sometimes, things just don’t work. We followed the “Deviation” signs until we realized they’d never get us back to Chateau Miaou so we called, and Sharon met us at McDonald’s. We followed her on small pathways overgrown with Spring greenery and found Felix waiting for us.
He didn’t play hard-to-get this time. He seemed glad to see us and he willingly went into his carrier for the ride home. He didn’t have much to say, but his soft mews told us he was happy.
We weren’t sure what to expect when we opened the door to the cottage. What we saw was a graveyard…..dead flies littered the floor and blackened the sticky fly-paper ribbons we had hung before leaving. Guess that answers our question…..our visitors were no mere larva…..they were, indeed, maggots. EWWWW!
No unpacking for us tonight…..we spent the evening vacuuming up the carcasses of our unwelcome visitors. Then we opened the windows to a still warm night and relaxed with a glass of chilled rosé……French rosé…..from grapes grown where the land dictated.
Hold me close and hold me fast The magic spell you cast This is la vie en rose…..from La Vie en Rose