Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Back to Paris the unexpected happens

We took the milk train out of Agen for Bordeaux at a little before 10am Wednesday morning. Richard and Pauline took us right back to where they had found us on Monday, although they left us on a different platform that's true. We said goodbye, au revoir -- but not for long. We'll be seeing them in Providence in early June when they come to spend a couple of nights with us before heading off on a long tour through the American South.

These two remind us of several other people we know who are, simply put. just nice people with an incredible sense of hospitality and truly generous with their time and their attention. We will miss them.

In Bordeaux we easily made our connection to the high-speed TGV headed north to Paris. The train left on time and quickly sliced through the countryside, About two hours after we left Bordeaux, the train appeared to have struck something on the tracks and we could see a cloud of debris come streaming back at least 8 or so cars (where we were). Right away the train slowed as quickly as possible and stopped in the middle of an empty, flat sun-drenched stretch of farmland.

Several minutes passed before they announced that the train had indeed struck something. More minutes passed. The announcement came that the train had in fact hit a motorcyclist and we would have to wait for the police to arrive, examine the accident scene and then the train.

Two hours later were were off but slowly at first. The train was rerouted to Tours and, in the wake of confused directions from train staff and general uncertainty among the passengers we were put onto another TGV for Paris. As we understood it there was concern over whether any damage had been done to the train. In fact, as we walked around the front of the train we could see why: the nose of the locomotive had not only lost a large chunk of the center cover-plate but there was blood everywhere. Grisly and disturbing. Equally disturbing were the number of people taking photos with their phones or digital cameras.

Susie and I arrived back at Gare Montparnasse about four hours late. Of course, there was at least one person who would never arrive at his destination. Or perhaps I should say that his destination had been changed unexpectedly.

That evening we finished packing up -- OK Susie finished packing up and we prepared the apartment for our departure early Thursday morning. The two of us shared a quiet evening at home, finishing the food and wine remaining in the house. a day that left us feeling happy to have been with Richard and Pauline, sad to be leaving Paris, eager to get home and back into a groove, disturbed over being somehow connected with the death of another human being.

And odd way to leave but there you have it.

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