Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
Trip End Oct 25, 2010

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Flag of France  , Aquitaine,
Monday, June 22, 2009

La fête des feux de St-Jean is approaching - the 24th of June.
Probably the biggest celebration of the region, save le 14 Julliet of course. I'm not sure but I think it is a blend of John the Baptist's birthday and midsummer night. A big bonfire is lit at dark, each village having tried to haul in the most logs in a spirit of rivalry. Preceded, of course, by a communal meal, the well known long tables covered in sheets of paper, set with a variety of tableware, depending on the prosperity of the parish. The quality of the food differs from place to place; we have yet to find out where it is most edible. However, a certain amount of loyalty is expected, and as new-comer you would be wise to stick to your own community.

Leading up to the big day are all sorts of festivities. I'd seen them advertised at the Intermarché; posters, flyers, handwritten notices and thought it all looked very promising.
So Saturday around five, feeling peckish and fed up with being confined, I suggested we'd look in to one or two of these events and find something to eat while we were at it.
We drove off to Beauregard de Terrasson, a sweet village, and the beau regard is certainly not exaggerated. Long rows of parked cars starting far from the venue, meant a steep walk up the hill, but I wasn't going to let that stop me.
It was a sporting event and we had definitely arrived a the wrong time, meaning: it was over. A few teen-aged youths hung around, showing off their cross-bike stunts. The council had clearly made an effort to build a real track, but heaps of soil dumped at regular intervals like giant mole-hills, gave the meadow an extraordinary, somewhat endearing appearance.
Apparently there had been some kind of footrace too. I noticed a group of contestants, all men.
Now they put a smile on my face. Not so young but not so old as to be less than interesting.
I have never paid much attention to athletes, or what they wear, but these runners were all clad in very brief shorts made of shiny, floppy material, cut round to a slit at the sides. Come to think of it, they reminded me of french knickers. Except one leg appeared shorter than the other - this must have to do with the male anatomy, and while I was studying this phenomenon I couldn't help noticing their legs. I swear they all had nice legs. Tanned, smooth (shaved?) and well shaped. Now I am wondering, is this typical for French men or for runners in general?
Well, I am sure someone will enlighten me.

Meanwhile, everybody seemed to be having such a good time. Children running around, playing, mothers chatting, neighbours, the elderly - all smiling, enjoying the sun. The table was set, 2 large barbecues, the charcoal glowing just right. Some had taken place, drinking wine and beer, smoking.
Time to check the menu. It said regional on the poster, that usually means duck in all its shapes and forms. But, no, it's hors d'oeuvre, roast pig, steak, salad and chips, followed by cheese and dessert. That's traditional in quite a few countries but I'm not complaining, I've had enough duck to last me a lifetime. So just before I hand over the money for the meal tickets, I ask what time it starts. 'Ah, about 9 pm, maybe 9.30 pm,'  the friendly dinner lady shrugs, and I know what that means. Nothing on your plate before 10.30 pm. I check my watch. It's not yet 7 pm and my stomach is starting to rumble. What to do?

to be continued
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