30 June 2009

Day 38

Nice room, day 38, originally uploaded by Ryan Runs Europe.

32 Kilometers.
In the morning, my host drove me back to the point where I found them the day before. For me, it is important that I maintain a constant line all the way to Athens on foot. If I take a car anywhere, I have to return to the the same place...even if it means backtracking 10 k and then passing by the same door I walked out of in the morning a third of the way through my run.
When I arrived in Val-de-Meuse (aka Montigny le Roi), I stopped in the hotel of the town and asked for a carafe of water, free by law in any establishment in France. I wandered around the small town for a while looking for...pretty much anything. It was Sunday, however, and everything was shut. Everything. I was lucky however to find an elementary school party where they were selling plain bread with ketchup and thin burnt sausages and fries. I spent some time watching elementary school kids perform Karate and dance to American songs like "Cotton Eyed Joe." I even saw an 8 year old kid doing the Tecktonik dance (aka the way they dance in that Yelle video). After I spent enough time feeling like the creepy dude who wasn't a parent but was watching an elementary school pageant, I left to see if I could find anything else to do.
On the outskirts of town, I found a nice little camping ground, where I figured I could sleep outside if the weather stayed nice. There I saw a couple with two bicycles loaded with saddle bags and tents, and asked them (an obvious question) if they were doing a big bicycle tour. They turned out to be a young German couple who were touring France for 4 weeks on bikes for their honeymoon. After we spoke for a while, we decided that we would meet up for dinner around 7:30, and I used the in between time to take a shower and wash my stuff in the free campground facilities. I had dinner at the campground snack bar, and lost my hours of light in conversation. I didn't get back into town until after 10 pm when it was dark and there weren't many people around.
I was lucky to come across a group of kids (18ish) sitting in the middle of town, hatchback cars clustered together with doors open, listening to Offspring and Snoop Dogg. I introduced myself and stood around awkwardly for a while until I found a few of the kids who thought what I was doing was interesting and wanted to help me out. After a few phone calls to friends who weren't around, some of the kids told me that they had found a place, and that if I went with them, they could get the key to a room for me. "Sounds good to me."
After about 200 m of driving, we ended up at the police station. I was thinking "uhh, not really what I was looking for guys...hopefully I don't get deported." They assured me it was alright, and there was a nice room kept for people like me who came into town. No questions, just a key with a bed. Right. So after talking to a police officer and waking up the Mayor, I found myself driving another 400 m to the Mayor's office to find this magical key. After some searching, the older mayor returned with a key. He showed it to me and read the tag out loud to prove that he had found the right one. It read "SDF." Salle Des FĂȘtes" he said (translation: "Party Room"). I knew, however, that what "SDF" really stands for is "Sans Domicile Fixe" and that it is the term used here for bums.
Still not really knowing what I was getting into, the mayor took me to an old garage, opened it up, showed me around, and left. There wasn't much to see, and it certainly wasn't a party room. I think the photo and facial expression speaks for itself, but the place was definitely very grungy. I pulled out my emergency blanket and covered the dirty mattress with it, hoping that Mylar was impermeable to bedbugs. I made a pillow out of my jacket, plugged in my phone, left one of the lights on and spent the rest of the night rustling around on a hot piece of tin foil fearing any contact between my skin and the fabric below. Not the most comfortable night I've had...I guess I'm a little bit picky for a bum.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Maybe it would have been better to sleep in the campground?! Glad you made it through the night!

  3. sounds like a night under the stars in the campground would have been a better deal! Hope your previous good luck continues for the rest of the journey!

  4. Are you going to write a book when this is over?

  5. You've got the personality and the guts to walk up to foreign teenagers and make friends, and get shelter. Inspired by your stories.

  6. This must have been one of the harder days. It must be a lonely feeling being unsure where you are going to sleep. So glad you found a bed, grungy as it may have been.

  7. Hmmm, I'm pretty sure that's not what the "bum" in "Rybum" was referring to, but hey - who knew it would rise out of obscurity. Ahhh, I'm bringing it back. You're doing awesome, keep it going Rybum!

  8. Very nice. I'd be right there with you, freaking out about bedbugs and not sleeping.