Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
147Trip End Oct 25, 2010
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Well, as long as he doesn't complain about my music.
Direction Brive - music full blast - I'm a happy bunny.
Once there the traffic hits me. It's a biggish city and I don't know my way around.
Where am I supposed to park? Not a spot in sight. I drive round and round, then fortunately someone pulls out right in front of me so I take his space, though not sure it actually is one. For the life of me can't remember the meaning of the blue and yellow lines, I'll take my chances.
I find a café, order an espresso and make a dash for the loo. While the bar looked modern enough, the W.C. was from a different era. Dark and dingy, but most of all very, very narrow. An old-fashioned, typical French thing - two elevated ribbed foot places and a hole. No bowl. Here you go down on your haunches.
I am wedged between the walls and wonder about ladies bigger than myself - not exactly a pose you want to be be found stuck in.
Having had some experience with these toilets I pull up my trouser legs so they wont get peed on. I see they are covered in yesterday's walk mud, but my feet, there's something seriously wrong with them.
Oh my god, it looks like gangrene!
On closer inspection it turns out to be the dye of the dark blue sandals I wore yesterday.
Sipping the delicious coffee, I notice the waitress giving me an odd look.
What now, I wondered, checking buttons and zips. Oh, I remember. I'd rubbed the eyeshadow off one eye in the car - I'm no good at make-up - and I intended to do the other eye at the next set of traffic lights, but forgot all about it. I could fix that if only I knew which eye to wipe. I tried both, but got purple smears from each, so I gave up.
I noticed a lady check her appearance in a shop window, and made a mental note to do the same when I left. And I did - I looked like a battered wife.
I should have had the espresso for free looking like that.
I admire the town and find the marketplace, my Moroccan beau said it was on today but the square was now in use as a fair ground. Wandering through the empty attractions, brash and deadly still, every now and then a forlorn market stall, I feel like Alice in Wonderland. It's weird.
I wasn't going to hang around this place - suddenly I've had it and want out of the big city.
But where's the car? Not where I left it - they must have towed it away.
Hold on, it's squashed between two others and there's no way I can get it out. Well, I'll just have to, so I inch it out, back and forth. I long for the cheeky Amsterdam men; laughing, they'll come to your rescue, all macho and jokey, they'll just nip it out for you.
Finally back on the motorway I was overwhelmed by a sense of freedom and as I read the signs: Toulouse, Cahors, Barcelona I felt the urge to just keep going.
I could go anywhere. Got the car and my credit card - nothing to stop me.
I'd said I didn't know when I'd be back, so - didn't necessarily have to be today - tomorrow, next year?
I imagined myself in the middle of the Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, having lunch in a Greek taverna, drinking coffee in Ankara - I could almost smell it........
Off the highway, on a small road winding through the hills I catch a glimpse of a horse, dark dark brown, almost black, standing perfectly still in the rain. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I pass and look back, fascinated, but he's gone.
Yet I know I shall never forget it, that the image will come back to me, unexpectedly, over the years to come - I just know.
At the same time I hear my mother's voice, clear as if she were sitting next to me, say:
'Go home, Katie, go home.'
(but I don't, and that is a whole new story)