Never heard of this place? Neither has anyone else. I don’t think it even qualifies as a village. I was able to find a hair salon, a bar that health inspectors in America would shut down in a heartbeat, and a physiotherapist. That was it. No market, no gas station, no nothing. Population: 355.
This leg of my journey definitely gave meaning to that phrase “live and learn.”
It took 29 hours and €50 to get here from Ghent, Belgium. Why oh why did I leave Ghent, my favorite town so far! From there, I took a train to Brussels, a bus to Paris, another bus to Toulouse, a train to Cahors and then another bus to Touzac. Those last three are all in the Midi-Pyrenees in southern France. By far the best part of the trip was when I got to Paris. I was supposed to have 2 ½ hours between buses, but my bus arrived an hour late due to traffic. So I had a little over an hour to get dinner. But on the way in I saw the tip of the Eiffel Tower, and I realized there was something far more important than dinner. Quickly checking Google Maps, I saw it was just over 3 miles from the bus station to the tower. So as soon as I disembarked, I grabbed my 20 kg bag and started jogging. 30 minutes later I was standing teary-eyed beneath the 1000-foot-tall structure, taking pictures with my pitifully inadequate point-and-shoot. Only spent a few minutes enjoying the view and then turned around to make the run back, detouring slightly to pass by the Arc de Triomphe. Made it back to the bus just in time and broke out my back-up trail mix for dinner before getting a couple hours of sleep.
Back to Touzac. It is definitely scenic, but not particularly special. The first two days were great seeing the countryside, but the next week was the same countryside. There is a great river next to the village, and plenty of grape orchards around. But again, that’s about it. Before I left, I did go for a nice bike ride – for about 20 km, to the closest market to get a couple groceries and see some more nice views. The Lot River, which I was next to, was beautiful, and there are some amazing places around. But not many of them. Again, not exactly the most interesting place to travel to.
When I arrived, one of the first things my host said to me was that she would need to vet my post before I left. I wasn’t sure what she meant by this, but it didn’t take long to figure out. I think I might have put her off by refusing the constant drinks in her bar, or not taking a hit of weed that her husband provided. But the fact that she was drunk the entire time I was there, and sick half the time as well, made it a very interesting experience.
I admit I had my own expectations for a small village in rural France. I was hoping for a little bit of French cuisine, maybe some training on wine tasting, etc. That’s been a dream of mine for years, to become a wine connoisseur, or at least study with one. But I’m afraid that will have to wait for my next trip to France, or perhaps until next week when I arrive in Italy.
I also took them literally when they wrote in their job description that they needed me for things like laying paths and installing retaining walls. Not that I was unable to do the jobs they really needed. It was just strange to show up expecting to do one thing from their job description on the website and find that something totally different was needed. It’s not exactly easy to paint for days when you haven’t packed any painting clothes.
I was able to use my spare time wisely though. I did some French lessons on YouTube, worked on my TEFL course and finished my blog post on Ghent. These took a little longer than usual, as there was almost no internet where I was staying, but I finally succeeded. I also got back into my novel that I’ve been writing off and on for the past couple of years. It was a good setting to write, as the scenery was similar to that in my story. But I’m not going to spoil it.
Well, that was my two weeks in France. Now I am ensuring I pick Workaway locations closer to the crossroads of civilization, and double-checking the work expected of me. Speaking of which, my next job is in Italy, and they have been in touch with me for weeks telling me what I will be doing, and tantalizing me with their Facebook posts of their boat tours. Now that one I’m really looking forward to, and it is fairly close to both Parma and Pisa, two of the dozen cities I want to visit in Italy. But before that, I’m headed to Barcelona for some tapas, sangrias and culture. Thankfully Spanish is my second best language.