I swear if I hear one more person in the village tell me that “there’s no one here” this year (talking about tourists) I’m going to scream.
It is really vacation season now and as far as I can tell, there are way more people in the area than there were last year, when I already thought it was more crowded than it had been in the past. It’s true that on a weekday afternoon, you don’t necessarily see hordes in the village, but I definitely see way more “strange” faces and have noticed lots of out-of-area cars parked all over the place.
Where I’ve REALLY noticed the increase in visitors though is in the grocery store. I did my big, once or twice a month marketing last Monday in Limoux and it took me forever. I thought it was because I went around 4 pm, which is late for me to shop. The aisles were jam packed with shoppers and their little demon spawn (who all seemed to be pushing demon-spawn-sized shopping carts). The large numbers of shoppers combined with the employees trying to stock the shelves caused massive gridlock in the aisles. I waited close to 40 minutes in a check out line before I could get out of the store.
I needed to go to a big, hypermarket again this morning (unusual 2 weeks in a row) because JM’s trousers decided to secede from the union on Saturday and were unfixable. Knowing that we are not in an area that usually has early birds, I set out at 9 am and arrived in Pamiers before 10. My hope was to get in and out and be home by lunch time. No way, José! I guess vacationers rise earlier than local residents because the Carrefour was packed to the seams! Again, the employees were stocking the shelves and it took forever to find the few things I needed and get out. Of course, as seems to ALWAYS be the case, I wound up buying something that didn’t have the bar code in the computer, so I held up the whole check out line for 10 minutes while someone tried to find the product on the shelves.
I did at last get out of the store, but the parking lot was a bit like DEATH RACE 2000 and I wasn’t sure if Beanie and I would manage to get on the road unscathed. Even the Picard store (terrific frozen food/ice cream specialty store, which is normally pretty darned quiet, was full with people queuing up in the parking lot for spots.
The worst part about all this is the roads though. We get so spoiled with doing errands and not dealing with any traffic. But that changes in July and August. Now, if I had this same amount of traffic in L.A. I would be counting my blessings, but here it is kind of annoying. There are a couple of things that make it particularly irritating. First, are the humongous camping cars (RVs) which take up most of the road and completely block your visibility. They are very difficult to pass because you have limited areas where you can see far enough in the distance to feel safe, and also, there is much more traffic coming in the opposite direction, making it hard to have enough space to build up speed.
But worse than those are the people who drive very slowly in sections where you can’t pass them safely, then, when you get to a spot where you can see AND you have enough room, they speed up to make it IMPOSSIBLE for you to pass! I don’t understand the mindset of anyone who does this; when I have someone behind me who wants to pass me, I try to make it as easy as possible for them to do so, because I want them off of my bumper.
There is good in here though. Because this morning I saw that the SUNFLOWERS are once again starting to bloom! Next to fall, with it’s stunning array of colors, I think that sunflower season is one of the most magical times of year. It practically takes your breath away.
July DOES have its compensations.
I also need to report on the weekend’s events!
The books signing/tasting at the Library was a big success on Friday night. There were about 20 people there, which is huge for an event like that here, especially at that time of day (5 to 7 pm). All of the food I made disappeared and I didn’t have to worry about leftovers, which is always nice. As usual, the garlic cheese bread was a huge hit. I even sold some copies of the cookbook, thus paying for the ingredients for the goodies. “Baiting”the public is clearly the way to reel them in!
On Saturday the first annual Chalabre Literary Salon took place in the afternoon. Not unsurprisingly there were more authors than readers, but it was a hot, sunny day and it was the first getaway day of the real vacation season. We all hope that next year, with a bit more advance publicity, we can do better.
The prize giving ceremony at Town Hall was a hit as always. Mom was EXTREMELY pleased to be recognized for her painting that was the cover of this years short story collection. It was the first time in her life that she was ever applauded for her art skills and I think it meant more to her than anything that has happened to her in a long time.
Afterward, we all went for dinner at the Cazalette, the snack bar/restaurant at the village camping grounds. A new person has taken over running it this year and we had a delicious meal of tomatoes with mozzarella, lasagna and Tiramisu. The hot temperatures finally dropped as the sun set and it was delightful to sit out on the patio under the trees and talk, eat and have a general good time.
As I said; July DOES have its compensations.
Ciao for now.