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foreign correspondence: Toulouse


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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Toulouse...


I got out of Barcelona pretty easily, but I wouldn't

be able to get

to Bordeaux until 6:30pm, and there was a chain hotel

across from the station.

When I made my connection at Narbonne, there was

someone in my seat. I pointed this out, and the person

moved; as she did so, I recognized the accent.

It turns out there was a group of women from, I kid

you not, the Archdiocese of North Carolina, on their

way to Lourdes. It was sort of like those bus trips to

Buffalo that my Grandmother used to take, taken to a

whole other level.

The lady was in my seat because the car they were

supposed to be in was crammed full of kids on a trip;

they had to fit their luggage into a different car,

mine, and decided to sit with it.

We got it all sorted out, and had a pleasant

conversation. A little while later, their tour guide

came through to give them the protocol to get them and

their luggage off at Toulouse.

"The only problem," she said, "is that a few of the

bags don't have the Pentecost on them..." I guess they

were using religious icons to signify which bags were


I'm just not a good enough writer to make this stuff


A Funnier Thing Happened IN Toulouse...


At the hotel, I got a city map, and asked if

the clerk knew any internet cafes. He circled a place

on the map, and I set off.

The cafe was located on a sidestreet off a main

square. As I got near the square, I noticed a lot of

noise and commotion. It turns out France Telecom

(along with a few other companies) was having a

promotion ivolving rollerblading; they had a half-pipe

set up, and there was music and an announcer blaring


There were also at least 4 groups protesting the

bombing of Afghanistan, and even a busking group of

drummers off to one side.

After I was done surfing, I circled around a side of

the square I skipped earlier, and noticed that there

was an underground parking garage that emptied almost

directly into the square. Further, there was a set of

cars trying to get out. I looked down, and noticed a

lot of suits and some paper pompoms on the cars.

Yup, it was a wedding party (my second in as many

days), obviously leaving the ceremony and heading to

the reception. The only fly in the ointment was that,

at the same time, the protesters were also leaving the

square (protesting all the way), through the SAME

CORNER. The cars were going nowhere, and one of the

suits finally talked to the cops (who were doing zip)

and the cars were allowed to leave through another

corner of the square.

I went down a sidestreet to get a croissant and a

Coke, and noticed something even weirder: there was a

squad (at least 20) of cops in riot gear (helmets,

truncheons; tear gas, the works) just standing and

waiting. I think they were there to keep the

protesters in check, but I'm not sure.

A little ways down the street, I saw the wedding from

the other side. There were loads of people watching,

cops, photographers, etc. I don't know who was getting

married, but it looked serious.

Let's add it up: rollerblading, anti-war protests, a

high-society wedding, riot cops, and a trqffic jam to

boot. If that's not the recipe for a French farce, I

don't know what is...

Au revoir,

BRAD (Bordeaux Reportage About Diversions)

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