Saturday, August 4, 2012

MLG Travel Update: Days 80 & 81

Mufidah at the Vichy library
(click image to enlarge)
Photo/Text © 2012 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

DAY 80 (Fri 3 Aug '12, written from the perspective of the morning, now afternoon, after): Today flew by like the evening crows who speed their way past our campsite on their commute home each day from somewhere vaguely north of Vichy.

We managed to spend three hours parting with a total of €33. The good news is we now have the makings of good, nutritious meals for the next several days, and managed, too, to buy a liter of oil which brought the level from the minimum to the maximum mark on the dipstick. Not an oil change, but will hold us over for a while. And the oil's actually quite clean still.

Took a rest in the afternoon, in the tent's "chambre" which was just bordering on being too hot.

We then made a scrumptious stir fry — a simple concoction of sliced onion stir fried with a couple small cloves of garlic, sliced, fresh ginger, chopped, and zucchini (courgette) cut into batons.

I added three red chili peppers (sliced, crosswise, into small bits), with all but a few of the seeds removed so as to capture the flavor, add a bit of spice, but without taking over the dish.

We had prepared the rice ahead of time, so when the veggies were done, I put these into a bowl, and stir fried the rice along with a couple eggs and a dash of soy sauce.

A couple minutes later, I folded the veggies back into the stir-fried rice, and served with a dash or two more of soy sauce.

We brewed cups of jasmine green tea, plucked from an assortment of teas, herbal and green, which we'd brought with us from England. Fortunately, too, we had thought to bring our simple bamboo chopsticks a-traveling with us. Good decision.

After dinner we walked into the village of Abrest, hung about on the pedestrian walkway which spans a vast railroad bridge crossing the Allier River — hoping for a train to come speeding past — but when it didn't come, and we realized that we were both whacked, we walked back home, Mufidah, in particular, overcome with the need for sleep.

I read the King James version of the Bible on my iPhone for a while before going to sleep myself. I had downloaded this yesterday evening to iBooks, having the day before downloaded (both onto my PC and my iPhone) a free Kindle edition of the English Standard Version (Crossway, 2011).

I've been kicking myself for not having brought along the copy of the King James version which our dear friend Martin gave to me earlier this year. We had to pack in such haste, and made a million and one good decisions, but inevitably have regretted a few things which would have been helpful.

Martin's Bible is one of those precious personal belongings we wish, now, we had with us. But for the time being, I'm going to do my best to read the Bible via my iPhone, ideally the King James version, though the ESV version has lots of helpful features, embedded links and such.

Anyway, that takes us up to today (Day 81), which is the topic of a separate post.

Therefore, all for now ...

With love and warm regards,


DAY 81 (Sat 4 Aug '12): After writing my retrospective DAY 80 post, Mufidah and I came to the campsite pool. And I'm still here, having made the decision — for the first time since our arrival here — to essentially spend the afternoon lounging, poolside.

It's doing me much good. I needed the rest and relaxation, and the pause to refill my well.

Mufidah and I had the pool to ourselves for just a second before the hordes arrived on cue. But we managed to swim laps before things got overly chockablock. Mufidah then returned to the tent to telephone her mother, and I returned here with my laptop tucked away in my bag.

I read from the first narrative of Matthew (from the aforementioned iBooks edition of the King James Bible) until my iPhone was about to die, and I needed to stretch my lounging bones. And while the pool is as chockablock as ever, I thought I'd open up the laptop to write a Day 81 post.

We've now been at this campsite for six weeks, I think by far the longest-staying-on folk at this point. It's interesting to watch all the people arrive, set up their site — whether pitching their tent(s) or unfolding the contents of their caravan or motorhome — enjoy their time here, and then pack up, leaving a vacated pitch, usually with a yellowed, or no longer existing, patch of grass.

And mostly they come and go in batches, as if the campsite were inhaling and exhaling visitors. Those who stay on for some time leave us with a little hollow in our hearts, even those with whom we never really connected, usually because of a language barrier which, unfortunately, keeps us artificially at a distance. Others come and go before much of a connection, spoken or otherwise, is made.

Meanwhile, we linger on, staying just outside a large town (Vichy, France) we never planned to visit but which we very much continue to enjoy exploring. The best laid plans.

Anyhow, that's it for now. I'm going to put the laptop back into its sleeve within my bag, and go for a second swim, this one perhaps a bit more playful and less lap-intensive.

Speaking of which, I've been noticing that my continuing to practice bilateral breathing — alternately from my left and right side every few strokes — is finally paying off. For a few seconds this afternoon, while swimming a lap, I realized that I couldn't recall which side I used to favor, both sides now feeling natural. If only I had lifelong access to the sea or a swimming pool. Whenever I do have such access I feel so much more complete, more centered, more content in my body, and more fit.

Note to self.

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