Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
160Trip End Oct 25, 2010
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So on to the next village, fingers crossed there would be food readily available there. Aubas, some 10 km further on. I love this place. It is situated on the banks of the Vézère and it's a bit of a shambles. No visible order or uniformity. One or two beautiful mansions, in need of a lick of paint, the gardens a little wild, sitting amongst a jumble of houses, cottages, outbuildings - most in some stage of (dis)repair. Big, red blocks of brick built on top of the beautiful, ancient, honey-coloured stone walls, cement spilling out from the joints. Somehow it didn't matter.
The mairie (town hall) was being renovated too. Covered in a veil of white net as if waiting to be led up the aisle. Crooked little streets and allies, leading nowhere or ending abruptly at the last doorstep.
A stark, barren church, something you might see in a spaghetti western, but inside it was surprisingly warm and cosy. Decorated with all kinds of bits and pieces and I couldn't help wondering what these little treasures would fetch at some brocante. There for the taking, the chandeliers, crucifix, statues and some ancient benches and chairs.
Many of these churches have been looted already and now you will often find the doors locked or anything valuable nailed down or removed from sight. Shame. But this church had kept it's faith in mankind and rightly so, I hope. It is one of the few churches I felt at ease in.
Anyway, we arrived just in time to see the end of a children's play. A tiny, improvised stage, on each side a teacher holding an end of a drab piece of material - the curtain. Le rideau.
No guessing what it was all about. A handful of 6 to 8 year-olds kept appearing, to earnestly whisper or mumble their lines, in their everyday clothes but miraculously transformed by a simple hat, black cape, false nose or mum's costume jewelry.
A final rideau and they all came back, bowing, giggling - applause. I wished we'd got there sooner.
I turned my attention to the village square; there was a modest fair of sorts. A tame merry-go-round; its fire engine, horses and what have you were rusty, out of date, the colours faded - a Dutch toddler wouldn't have been seen dead on one of those rides, and I couldn't see any French kids jumping for joy. Only one little girl, runny-nosed and crying - I knew just how she felt.
Next a gambling attraction, one of those things you can try and pull out a watch or bracelet. Cheap, shiny stuff, who would want it anyway? Well, crowding around the machine was a bunch of ladies, totally absorbed, slotting in their euros like there was no tomorrow. And think again if you think all French women are petite, these had bums as big as houses, accentuated by stretch pants, t-shirts riding up. I was tempted to stand amongst them and have my picture taken, just to point out the relativity of slimness.
For reasons that escaped me there were two bumper car attractions. A bunch of bored looking teenagers, embarrassed faces when they crashed in to each other, hung around one, the other deserted, unfavoured.
And finally a nasty looking stand with a kind of circular gutter filled with the dirtiest water, probably enough germs there to wipe out the entire village,some mechanism creating a pathetic flow meant to keep some filthy plastic ducks moving round. They had a metal loop on their backs so the children could fish them out with bamboo rods. Grubby stuffed animals were to be won but by the looks of them they had been hanging there for ages, not won or not wanted.
No one was attending the stall anyway.
The traditional long table was waiting under the trees but there was very little sign of interest, as a matter of fact there weren't that many around at all. Realistically we knew something was not right but sought out the lady selling the meal-tickets anyway. She was happy to pencil us in....... for the lunch tomorrow. Swallowing our disappointment we turned away, not before noticing three men hastily pouring wine from a large plastic container into Bergerac wine bottles.
These were to be sold at tomorrow's lunch. Hmm.........
Dominating the square was a large truck, its side now opened to reveal a black stage. The rest of the vehicle was being adorned with branches of evergreen, in an attempt to camouflage it, but in the end it was still a lorry, albeit with foliage.
A man, bit like Julien Clerc, was carrying sound equipment back and forth, fiddling about, connecting things. An old woman sat heavily on a chair amidst it all, belly on her lap, watching, sighing, gesturing she was too old to help. Was she his mum, hoping maybe we'd take pity and lend a hand?
Time to move on, time to eat, time for La Table de Jean, a recommended restaurant at Coly, not far from here.........
to be continued