Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Adjustment Period

Waking up Monday morning might have been the worst form of jet lag I have ever experienced. I think I thought it was about 5 am instead of normal time. At the point where I was pulling the covers over my head pretending not to be alive, Colleen popped in and ripped open the curtains (way to full of energy, in my opinion) and said check out the view, just after be careful its bright. So pretty much hating her at this point I half stumbled over and realized we have an amazing view of the pyrenees mountains. (and made a mental note to take an afternoon to check them out). We quickly headed out to pick up the rental car from the airport, which is where the real adventure begins.

Since Colleen was only here until Tuesday morning and I am not 25 (so I can't drive said rental car in France) Kathleen (BDJ groom extraordinaire) kindly agreed to be my driver while Colleen was back state side at Fair Hill.  So we all piled into the rental car, and attempted to make it back to the farm with no GPS or real map to speak of (we had an iPad that had most major roads). This was quite hilarious as Kathleen tried not to stall (I swear she really is getting quite good), I was attempting to find the magical disappearing road signs, and Colleen was trying to find out where we were.  On the first trip in the foreign rental, I think I we only made one wrong turn. Which considering the rest of day one the word victory comes to mind.  We got the ponies settled into their paddocks, cleaned stalls (maybe this story will come out later, but the required pictures are MIA), and all the other normal barn stuff, and decided that since it was only early afternoon food, and the acquiring of a foreign cell might be in order.

So off we headed to find lunch, we ended up at McDonald's, which might sound odd, but the free wifi sounded like a good idea so that we could attempt to map out future plans, and was actually a good choice. French McD's has nothing on the American Style.  There are these potato wedge things that are amazing, and after checking emails and the like we ventured out into Pau.

I think that was out first mistake, McDonald's soon became a landmark that we passed a few times, and there may or may not have been yelling. If there had been a recording it might have sounded something like... Kathleen "now which exit do I take off the circle??" Colleen "Umm... What road is that...Lara is there a sign??" "I got nothing"..."I think that one" "O there's (insert landmark here) again" "LEFT..LEFT" (french road signs are tiny, in various colors depending on location, and frequently do not exist, and the roads change names every third block or so)... The good news is after about 30 wrong turns we managed to get it right and ended up at Kathleen's hotel and an orange wireless store.  Pretty impressive considering none of us speak french.  After converting my iPhone (so I apologize to anyone attempting to call my American number) and getting Kathleen a phone, back to the barn we attempted.

Literally if there were 30 wrong turns we were doing good, and upon arrival it was almost tears of joy to be someplace we knew. Colleen got on Luke for a light flat to stretch out his muscles after the trip. Luke was perfect, so we tucked the ponies in and headed back to town. Kathleen dropped us off at our hotel after only one wrong turn. (maybe we were starting to get this whole France thing down). Colleen and I walked to a Tex-Mex place right down the street and while Fajitas are certainly better stateside, it was still pretty good. We called it an early night and after what seemed about 2 hours (8 is more likely) we were headed back to the barn (with no wrong turns) for Colleen to have a quick ride before she headed to the airport to fly back state side.

Kathleen dropped off Colleen and picked up Andrea, while I kept an eye on the ponies, and chatted with the barn owner, who is amazing, I learned many useful things French coffee is way better than American, the Mts, beach, and Spain are all short drives, and French people (the ones I have met) are nice. Kathleen came back with a new partner in crime, complete with a real map, but only of Pau, which while helpful doesn't lead to much exploring...The new trio headed into Pau to grab lunch and look around.  Andrea came prepared and recommended a few places, but somehow I was elected navigator, and managed to find a parking spot right across the street from the Chateau de Pau.  We ended up having lunch right down the road, and exploring the Chateau.  The historic part of Pau is breathtaking, I think I could have spent all day wandering around playing tourist, but there were horses to attend to!! The rest of the afternoon was full of normal horse stuff, and I took Luke out on a nice quiet hack in the national forest that borders the farm.  Luke has a fan club in France now (well atleast I think), since we passed a few families with small children pointing, smiling, and saying something about horses in French.

The next adventure was the grocery and since our map didn't have those sorts of things listed, we played the I think I have driven past 5 or so, hopefully we can remember where game, and managed to make it there without too many wrong turns.  Colleen got a room with a kitchenette, and naturally being a foodie, I stocked up on cheese, wine, bread, and a few things to cook.  Everything here is amazingly fresh, and pretty cheap. I will eat for a week on 40Euros.  However trying to shop was slightly more complex as everything was in French and there were about 3 isles of cheese... Kathleen actually came and found me in the cheese isle to the effect of "wow you haven't made it past here yet... that's shocking"

After what seemed like a marathon day of trying not to get squashed on way to many multi lane circles, luke bonding, laughing till I was in stitches, and enjoying the ride honestly a glass of French wine never tasted so good.

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