I set out towards Bar-sur-Aube around 11 am. France had photocopied a map for me, and drawn a line on it for the best route which avoided all national roads. It was incredibly hot outside, but the run was awesome. Probably one of the most beautiful I have had thus far. The country here is so varied, from vinyard to green forest to fields of wheat, every curve brings some new magnificent view. I spent the run trying to compare the paper map with the one on my phone, guessing between the roads on one and the roads on the other...sometimes taking roads that seemed to be on neither. At one point, I found myself taking a long road dirt road in the right direction that happened to end a half mile or so before it was supposed to. So, instead of turning around, I just ran through an old tire track in a wheat field, letting plants whip me in my legs as I ran. I stopped for a bit in a town with a small Roman bridge, and asked a man for directions and some water. From that point on, it was a dirt road and rolling hills all the way to Bar-sur-Aube.
As soon as I arrived in town, tired from the striking heat, clouds broke out and I found myself homeless and underneath a thunderstorm. After making as many loops as possible around the town, I stumbled into the nearest bar with the need to be inside. I ordered a beer to make myself not seem like a complete wierdo, and after a while I started talking the bartender. She asked for a place to stay from a few patrons of the bar...to no avail. When everyone, including the scary huge lady with the mullet who could have easily killed me, said 'no,' I decided that it was time to head out. I got myself a kebab sandwich at a 'rapid restaurant' and kept walking around in the wet weather. As I walked, I saw my first wild urban snail, who was attempting to cross a busy road and ("snails are cool!") helped him cross the road. Immediately afterwards, I saw several hundred other dumb snails trying to cross the road, so the intrigue kind of wore off. Also, I am pretty sure that I read somewhere that snails can carry some nasty diseases, so now I had snail disease all over my hand...and I needed to go to the bathroom. Feeling a little bit down, and really tired from the long run and the beer that I had drank, I went into a bar which was full of young people (it was around 8 now) and ordered a Coke. I don't drink soda normally, but I knew that I would pass out if I drank another beer, and I was hoping I could stay awake long enough to find a place from one of the people in the bar. It was then that I look around and realized that they looked like they were all in high school. There were also some old men, but I couldn't really speak to them because the local dialect here among old men is incredibly difficult to understand, like if you slapped a thick German and Irish accent onto a French guy.
I headed into the bathroom of the bar and did my deed, only to clog the weak flushing toilet. I tried flushing it again, but it only filled with more water. Also, there was only one bathroom for the bar, so people were starting to knock and rattle at the door handle. So here I am, in homeless with a clogged toilet, incredibly tired with snail disease all over my hand and rain and thunder pouring down outside...and Michael Jackson is dead. What a day. I look around for a quick solution, and find no plunger but only one of those little brushes. I had made the same mistake once in Holland, but with no other solution, I started using the brush to try to unclog the toilet. Without noticing that the brush handle wasn't quite long enough, my hand dipped in the water, and now snail disease was really the worst of my worries. People were still rattling at the door, and the light switch was on a timer, so every once and a while I would have to pause my toilet unclogging to fumble around in the dark for the light switch. I managed to unclog the toilet, but now the brush was in a pretty sorry state, having pretty much retained everything it unclogged in its bristles...doing my best to make things right, I tried to clean it off. Basically, I just kept flushing the toilet over it, having to wait for the tank to refill each time, saying "moment" every other second to the people who were on the other side of the door. After what must of been an eternity, I managed to clean off the brush, and wash my hands, and triumphantly marched out of the bathroom with a huge grin on my face...with everyone looking very curiously at me. Feeling like nothing else could really go wrong, I went up to the bartender, who looked nice, and told him my story. I offered to work for a place on the floor, but he wasn't having it. He asked around of a few people, and after a few "sorry, I can't"s, he handed me a key to an empty room above the bar. From that point on, the night was much better. I had a bit of champagne with a guy who was having a birthday party, talked for a bit, and went to bed. I slept for almost 10 hours. If you ever happen to be in Bar-sur-Aube, go to the Bar Saint-Pierre and buy a beer from Xavier for me.
28 June 2009