Out of Africa, into France
Trip Start Mar 14, 2013
20Trip End Apr 05, 2013
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I made my way through the crowds of locals and tourists to the restaurant and had a pleasant lunch as I mulled the various thoughts about life we often have when in the presence of recent and catastrophic death.
The flight out of Mauritius left on time, and was fairly full. It was a 12-hour flight, so I was able to get about 6 hours of sound sleep and then dozed a few more which is pretty good.
On arrival in Paris, I went through arrival formalities and changed terminals. When I got to Terminal F I went to the Air France lounge and asked for the shower key. I was able to shower and change clothes, which is a wonderful advantage when there is not time to spend a night in a hotel.
Fresh and clean, I had some coffee and a pain au chocolat, as I waited for my next flight a few hours later. I boarded the flight for Bordeaux, just a quick shuttle flight of an hour and landed in the South-West city known for producing some of the best and certainly most expensive wines in the world. I picked up a rental car and started out to the east, driving past the village of Saint Emilion on its hilltop, famous for its red wines, and later through the village of Castillon la Bataille, near where the last decisive battle of the 100-years’ war marked the end of English possessions in France in July of 1453. It’s just bucolic farmland now.
I arrived at the Muirs’ home about 1:30, in time for a late lunch. We enjoyed catching up on all the news, family, friends and church over a 6-course French lunch. After lunch we got to work on items necessary for the functioning of our French church association. This work took most of the afternoon. By the time we were done, I had to hurry to get back to the Bordeaux Airport, where I arrived just in time to take the shuttle flight back to Paris. I collected my bags and walked to the airport shuttle train that would take me to the business pole where I had reserved a hotel room. As I approached the escalator leading down to the train platform, I noticed some security guards ushering a vagrant toward the same station. He was a young thin African, barefoot and in tattered clothing. It was near freezing outside, so being barefoot wouldn’t have been comfortable. They weren’t arresting him for vagrancy, just escorting him off the premises. “We don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here” seemed to be the idea. He got on the same train I and other passengers did, someone offered him some money, and he declined. He stayed on it when I got off at my stop. What was his story? I wondered. How did he get here, from where, and why?
It was wonderful to enter a clean hotel room with clean tap water I could drink (for the first time in three weeks) and hot running water to boot. I’m sure I will sleep well tonight.