Monday, August 07, 2006

A Weekend with the Massebieaus (or why Makis, who claims to have lost all spontaneity, should come spend some time with us)

"As long as we don't have to paddle," Angie and Lea say.

Friday morning I get a text from friends living in Switzerland: "We're in France until August 14. You want to go kayaking?" I mention it to Pierre, who shrugs his shoulders, and we let it go at that. After lunch, he tells me. "Oh, Djannot called. The kayaking is for tomorrow." Okay, I say.

That evening I ask, "So it's an overnight thing?" "Yeah, " Pierre says. After which I'm told, there's no hotel, we'll be sleeping in tents, and there are probably no toilets either. "Huh?" I ask. "You pee and poo in the river." Oh god. So that night we decide, we'll just make it a day trip, paddle around with our friends a bit, then at night go back to home and the comfort of things that flush.

The following morning, we arrive at Djannot's and Malika's (at 10:15, when we said we'd be there at 8:30), and after some discussion decide, okay, okay, despite that I only packed a change of clothes each for me and Pierre, and three changes for Angie, we'll stay the night. The couple from Switzerland, Francis and Tonia, roll in at 10:30.

We have coffee, indulge in chitchat, then go to the supermarket for food. While there, we pick up a small tent too. We finally get to Ardeche and its kayaks at three p.m. Only to be informed: "Maybe it is not possible anymore,'" the lady at the tourism office says. "I don't know if you can get to the point where they close the river before six p.m." We think of all the food we'd bought, and I propose, "Hey, we can just bring all this back to Aigues Mortes and have a big barbecue!" (Back to the comfort of things that flush!)

No such luck, we find a guy willing to rent us kayaks at that hour, if we promise to move quick so we make it on time. We get four water-tight plastic tubs and in 15 minutes pack all we can into them, clothes and food mainly, but in the rush forget: flashlight, portable gas cooker, and snacks. For lack of space the other two couples leave their tents behind. Somebody French remember to bring the two bottles of red wine though.

After two and a half hours of paddling, sometimes against the cold mistral wind, we reach the camp. When everybody had gotten warm and dry, Pierre and I gloat. We have a tent! Then we open the thing and find out it has several metal pieces missing (don't ask me why). We end up using the tent as a duvet. (High point of the night: Discovering the camp had showers and toilets. Then a drop: The hot water had ran out.)

The next day Pierre and I wake up bright and early, make coffee and toast for everyone. While I'm fantasizing about the long, hot shower I am going to take as soon as we get back home, Francis comes walking up, announces, "I've studied the map, and it's going to take five more hours of paddling to get back to St. Martin."

"What???!!!" I scream. "You mean we kayak back? Nobody is going to come pick us up in a van right here, today?" Apparently not. "How come nobody told me about this?" Shrugs all around. Apparently, nobody knew exactly how much paddling we'd signed up for.

A lunch of leftovers and many cigarette breaks later, plus some stops to wait for the one kayak that kept turning over, at seven p.m. of the second day, we finally make it back to where we'd parked our cars. We're told that we had paddled a total of 35 kilometers. My body didn't need the number, it knew it had been punished. Why, even my toes hurt.

This weekend, we're planning to see the same people again. It's going to be just a day on the beach, they promise.


Anonymous said...

Ati, I feel your pain. Sean "tricks" me into these nature trips all the time, not mentioning that there is a lack of toilets that flush. I love the "How come nobody told me about this" part. Hindi kaya na hindi ka sinabihan para hindi ka umayaw?

decorator said...

i hate that!!! why cant you nature trip with 5-star comfort?

umm then again, i might be askin too much.

Katrina said...

Felipe and I share many interests, but roughing it outdoors is NOT one of them. I told him from the start that if he wants to go camping/mountain climbing/ kayaking, etc., he'll have to do it without me. I was not made to do without "things that flush!" ;-)

A said...

Mamu, suddenly hindi mo ba na-miss ang mga Everywhere Boys ng pinas? Pag bumaha? Presto--Boys everywhere with umbrellas for rent. Pag magkakayak? Dyaraaaan--Boys everywhere with paddles and steering power for rent.

apol said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
apol said...

ABI, think Pagsanjan Falls bangkero. Yan ang drama ko nung weekend na yun. Ang pangit!

Actually, GIRLS (yes, GWYN, kasama ka dito), jo-join ulit ako sa Setyembre when the water's higher and there's a slight Niagara Falls action... I know, I'm a sucker for punishment...