Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Postcript

I guess this guy never heard about jumping into the water.

Two Sundays ago was the last day of the revivre, "the revival" or "the rebirth," the weekend when, after a five-day break from a full 10 days of partying, the entire village of Aigues Mortes rises up again, nursed to new life by the steady stream of yellow liquid flowing from the bars, pastis, 90-proof milk of Provence, which the locals suck steadily from morning to night, only weaned away by spectacles involving men riding horses or men either chasing or being chased by bulls.

An excursion at the beginning of the village festival taught me too well why one of the French terms for hangover translates to "my hair is pushing out of their roots," so I exempted myself from the rest of the mayhem. I stayed home most times, even giving up my thrice-weekly evening runs because the festival horses trot twice daily down our stretch of country road, and zig-zagging steaming manure is just not fun exercise.

But that time, two Sundays ago, I decided to have my own little revival. Horse shit be damned, I declared, put on my gray trainers with the neon-green swoosh, and sat down my husband for a serious talk.

"What do I do if I encounter a bull?" I asked in what I think now to be a plaintive tone. (Of course I was worried. Remember that Jeanette had warned me to keep the gates firmly closed lest a creature comes to kill me. She warned me twice.)

"Jump into the water," Pierre said, referring to the canals of brackish water bordering the roads hereabouts, runoff from surrounding marshes. "Bulls hate the water," he added in that quiet way he has of making mundane pronouncements sound somehow important, reminding me of Yoda, if instead of jumbling his words Yoda spoke with a French accent.

Armed with this wisdom, and before I could change my mind, I unlocked the gates and sped off. I was panting after two kilometers, my body having quickly forgotten what a jog was about, and I let down my guard for a minute to gawk at a swarm of swallows overhead so that I stepped on green-brown feces, but the half-hour passed largely uneventfully. Had I dilly-dallied and jogged a little later, this blog would have ended differently. Or would have ended for good.

I had just sat down in the garden with a glass of water, trying to recover, when through the barred steel gates I saw what should have been a hallucination. A bull loose on the streets. As these animals go, this one was only medium-sized, not the massive toro for the corrida, but one of the more slender varieties they use for the course de toro. They were smaller. And quicker. With horns no less sharper. Its passage was announced by the thuds of its hooves hitting the ground, 300 kilos of angry beast looking for a way out. I blinked, but the mirage would not go away, only continued by a throng of men riding their horses fast. These were the gardiens, keeper of the bulls, who had just lost one.

When the frenzied entourage had gone, and once I had managed to pick my jaw up from where it had dropped on the just-cut grass, I looked down at my Nikes and felt immense relief that they didn't have to get wet.


mcsister said...

Apol dear, it's so amazing how you show us a glimpse of your new provenciana life in such humorous ways. I love this post! Btw, I would love to snap these bulls (without flash of course). Perhaps I should shoot them while standing in the canal -- para safe!

cafe rennais said...

i love your blog!!! lalo na about your husband in yoda-speak.:)