Monday, April 24, 2006


wrapping up saturday...

If it's not already clear, this region in France is very rural and very old. There's a few very distinct areas within the Jura, all relating to elevation. Around my town, at the lowest elevation, a lot of the land is kept as vineyards and cow pastures. Slightly higher up, there's no vineyards, still lots of pastures, but more forest. Any higher up, it's almost entirely wooded - logging, in those parts, is the main industry.
In any area, though, the landscape is most important to the people living here. It's lushly damp and green in the forests, the ground and trees carpeted with thick moss. Huge boulders sit along paths, studded with fossils. There's rolling hills and tall cliffs; caves and waterfalls and natural springs.
So, on saturday afternoon, Pascal and I took a little trip to a small cave. It was probably only 15km away from Poligny, up on the plateau, and marked only by a sign along the small country road.

There are a few tours a day - on ours, it was around 15 people, plus us, and another employee. The man leading the tour (the one in the middle) was clearly in love with that place, all of the stalagmites and bats. He spoke very slowly, too, so I was actually able to understand everything he said....well, once I figured out that "bald mice" means 'bats'.

The cave wasn't very big- three large chambers only - but it was clear much more wasn't accessible to us. The best part came at the end, when we stood in the chamber showed below. He turned off all the lights, then began a recording of "Also Sprach Zarathustra", with lights turning on one at a time, in time with the music. At the end, as the final chord reverberated in the air, I started clapping, saying "Ouaaaaaiiiiiiii!" (meaning, "yaaayyyyyy!") I was the only one. I watched 17 heads swivel towards me, then stare blankly as I quietly put my hands at my side.

We kept driving around after that, stopping once in a town to see the church. This one surprised me, as it looked very un-french like. In fact, it looked downright American, in that German-protestant tradition. I nearly hoisted the starts and stripes above, that's how plain and restrained it looked!

We drove over to the end of a reculee:

Then stopped in Baume-les-Messieurs for a beer:

On our way home, we passed by one of the few flocks of sheep kept around here.


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