Week one- Why am I voluntarily back into the wilderness?

July 06, 2015
I don't consider myself a religious person, however I'm starting to believe that if there is a God then he's only just discovered Google Maps, and I'm the little yellow man who he enjoys flinging anywhere: I always seem to find myself in the middle of nowhere. For a third summer now, I've found myself enveloped away in the French countryside where the vineyards grow aplenty but where civilisation is sparse.
French drivers don't notice the road markings- they drive where they see fit.
-D17, Pomport
The Dordogne is a 'department', as the French say, in South West France, in the region of Aquitaine. It lies between the Loire Valley and the Pyrenees and is named after the great river that runs through it. (The one that I'm yet to see.) According to tourist brochures, it's rich in châteaux, sprinkled with medieval towns and villages and boasts of unspoiled countryside and prehistoric caves. It's considered one of the most beautiful regions in the country, apparently. I should have realised that I'd travelled back to the middle-ages when I arrived at Bergerac Airport which bore a strong resemblance to an old rusty barn. Alas, the alarm bells had yet to start ringing. It wasn't until we began to drive away from the city and towards endless rows and rows of vineyards that I began to wonder if we'd gotten lost.
'Near Bergerac', they'd told me. Yeah, in the same way that Derby is near Manchester.

Pomport Beach is situated between two small, sleepy villages -Pomport and Sigoulés. On three occasions, I have asked locals what there is to do in Pomport and each time I've received a smug '"rien" and a smirk. And they weren't exaggerating- there really is nothing. It's picturesque- don't get me wrong but it's sleepy and in good need of a Sainsburys Local or something like that. In fact, despite having never been to the Cotswalds, it's how I'd imagine it to be. Maybe a bit sunnier and warmer. Sigoulés, however, is home to a bit more life. Around 3km away from the site, Sigoulés boasts a pharmacy, a Carrefour Contact where we do our weekly shop (think Tesco Express), a PMU (think The Standing Order at 10.30am- same calibre of drunks) and the quintessential Boulangerie. Whilst many may consider the dormant state of these villages a charm, it just leaves me wondering what people actually do? Surely they can't all just be living off fatta' the lan- the land is just vineyards?

I said in my first post, quite smugly, that I'd adapted well to French life. This was before I'd encountered the wildlife. Having lived in a tent for the last two summers, I had previously considered myself well acquainted with wildlife. On Tuesday, I was quite blasé about the fact I'd seen a lizard running round the supermarket- "Yeah, all part of the experience", I thought, and the mosquito bites? That's fine, I'm prepared with my after-bite solution. Then I noticed the small snakes holes around our accommodation and decided that Bear Grylls I am not. There a snake holes literally everywhere ( although I'm yet to see an actual snake, thank God). And the gardener, Laurent, took great pride in telling me that they're a metre long, that he sees them all the time and that they're protected by the government, so if I kill any (heaven forbid) I'll be presented with a nice prison sentence. Needless to say, I've been keeping the door shut as often as I can to hide myself away from the wasps, hornets, spiders, snakes, frogs, the fucking mosquitoes and even the owners' satanic cat.

The sun sets extremely late here, around 22.30 which makes for great photos like this one. 
That's another thing that I have learnt this week- the French love taunting each other. They are the devil children at school that dangle the worms in front of you and relish your screams. After Laurent had told me about the snakes, Adeline, the cleaner, saw it only fitting to tell me about the ubiquitous frogs with the red hands that she is always shooing out the way and how poisonous they are. After a bit of research, I'm not sure I should believe her about them being poisonous, but I shan't be telling her that for fear of her putting one in my room.

So this past week has just been me, settling in and deciding to what extent I hate nature and being corrected a million times over by the French people. Not only my French either; in fact, I find it completely charming when French people attempt to correct my English, especially when they've asked a question about the language. "How do you spell sausages in English?" "S-a-u-s-a-g-e-s" "No, it is saucsages". Whatever. Do as you please, I did tell you.

My most profound moment of the week, which made up for every mosquito bite, every early wake up, every screaming child etc, was when I a native French man mistook me for a local. I shit you not. He thought I was the real deal. And no, he wasn't deaf. Now I'm a long way off to being considered as fluent, but that means I can blag my way through an entire conversation and it sound pretty decent. This has had me beaming like a chubby toddler all week.

On a more mundane note, the weather is still boiling hot and the bar work is fine. I wait with impatience for the high season because I just can't get along with this sleepy French attitude forever.
Until next week!
2 comments on "Week one- Why am I voluntarily back into the wilderness?"
  1. Who are you working for? I think Amal said it was the owner's son from Pierrefitte? Why are you back near the Loire? You want me to post you some stuff? Oooh, look at all these questions!

  2. Yeah, the owner's son and his wife from Pierrefitte. I knew them from the first season at Alicourts. God knows why I'm back in the Loire; maybe I should've looked at the location before accepting the job. To be honest, it's much hotter here which makes it more worthwhile and bar work isn't half as bad as couriering. I'll send you my address! x