Wednesday, November 09, 2005

not all was lost...aside from myself

After my annoyance at the Prefecteur, I called Pauline -- she had asked me to update her about my paperwork and I really wanted to complain to someone. She asked if I would like to come to lunch. Since the only thing waiting for me at home was oversalted wild rice and prune yogurt (which smells like fish) I said yes.

I took the train to the stop between Lons and Poligny, called Domblans-Voiter. Bernard told me that it was only a half hour walk to their house. If you knew the shortcut. And if you knew where you were when you got off the train. For me, not having met either of those conditions, it was oner an hour and a half. Plus 15 minutes of circling in Menetru-le-Vignoble (where the Houvilles live) because it never occured to me to turn right. Mind you, this is a town of about 300 people. It's a wonder people didn't come out to openly watch on my third time around the perimiter of the town...

I began in Darbonnay, which I found out only when I was leaving the the wrong direction. I knew that Voiter was closer, as I've biked through it, but I wasn't exactly sure how to get there. Thus enters the glory of big hills. You just go towards the big hills! Easy. In fact, this is how I knew where to go -- I kept walking in the direction of this:

See that little town on the top of the hill? That's Chateau-Chalon. It's just south of Menetru, and you access it by the same road. Onward.

Most towns make it really easy for you to figure out where you're going, by posting directions for all of the surrounding towns. You'll see above that Voiter does not do that. Thanks, guys. One of the most refreshing things about living here is how safe*, and therefore free, I feel.
I can just hear my parents and Jim squirming, thinking that I've been lulled into a false sense of security. Don't worry - I still carry my pepper spray in my purse, even though I'm sure most french people would be appaled, and possibly even a bit insulted, to know that. In fact, I feel like I'm just starting to lose some of my paranoia about walking alone in areas that I haven't been to before. Luckily, this region has a lot of visitors that travel on foot. The fact is, also, that it's just a very safe place to be. Another town is always within a half hour walk, there's plenty of pay phones, and most likely a nearby train station. It feels so glorious to be able to walk about and not worry that I'll stumble into a 'bad' part of town.

Now that I've said this, I feel obliged to address the rioting that's been happening in france. It's shocking and scary. The Jura, luckily, is a very rural and remote part of the country. There's a small immigrant population in Poligny, and most of them are older middle aged couples who stand around and chat. France does have a big problem with racism and ghettos - "suburbs," they're called - where a huge immigrant population lives crammed in together, with little employment available. It's especially scary knowing that some of the places where there has been riots, like Sete, I have been to very recently. Overall, the reaction in this region is minimal -- I didn't even know this was going on until my brother emailed me. So, that's that.

I also passed by the small village cemetary in each town. I believe I made some snide comment on All Saint's Day, which is actually a rather solemn holiday. On this day, everybody goes to visit the graves of their relatives and brings a large pot of chrysantheums.

Of course, it's also rather beautiful. I imagine that in these small rural areas, where people are born, raised, and buried in the same place, generation after generation, visiting the town cemetary has even more significance.

Below you see some pretty yellow flowers, right? Well, these are actually cultivated, to be used for spices, dye, and petrol! It's environmentally friendly, since it's...well, gas made from flowers. The exhaust from your car is little butterflies and rainbows, too.

This field was right on the edge of town:

But not just any town! Menetru town!

Just look at how gosh-darn pretty this place is.


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