Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Call me butter, 'cause I'm on a roll...

Second post in two days? Yeah, crazy.

I wanted to give some background to the other albums as well, namely Orleans as it was one of my most outlandish, albeit semi-predictable, experiences I have had in France. Kathi and I drove from Toucy to Orleans, normally a one hour drive but when she gets behind the wheel Kathi becomes a basket case of nerves and stress. The long and short being driving anywhere with Kathi means doubling travel time. So after a good two hours we arrive within view of the city and immediately after entering the city limits it felt like descending into chaos. There were tractors coming at our little VW golf from seemingly all directions, police men furiously blowing their whistles in a futile attempt to control traffic, and, wait, was that a giant pile of hay where the median should be? It took another half hour to navigate this madness but we found a parking garage near the cathedral and took our first chance to get off the roads. We hoped we could survive on foot. As luck would have it we ended up being only a block from the Tourism Office so we headed over there to get our bearings and maybe some useful info. The kind lady behind the desk informed us that, "The cathedral, directly behind you, is a must-see site and the Museum of Art is open until 5:30 tonight." While pointing at the map and in an equally nonchalant voice she added, "Oh, and avoid these roads as the farmers are protesting today." Excuse me? Yeah, farmer revolt. On tractors. This had to be good. I took only a couple pictures of the aftermath, but what happened was hundreds of tractors filed into Orleans (and other major French cities) that day and dumped copious amounts of hay, manure, and rotting vegetables such as onions all throughout the main streets but especially in front of the city hall. The farmers want the government to set higher quotas for purchasing goods from farmers and to raise the minimum purchase price for their products. So what a better way to get your message across than riding in on your tractor to dump poop on the government's doorstep? It really makes you wonder just how the French think things through... So they protested like this for one day (luckily for Kathi and I it just happened to be the one day we were in Orleans, go figure) and then around 4 pm everyone packed up and went home, leaving their "products" in the streets for the local city cleaning crew to take care of. Keep in mind what these farmers did is entirely legal here, there were no legal repercussions. And as if this one protest wasn't enough, after making our way up to the main strip in Orleans (the road headed with a giant statue of Joan of Arc) we saw yet another protest! Couldn't they have combined forces or something and made a mega-protest? This time, however, it was the baby boomers wanting better care after retirement. By the way just to clear things up, the retirement age in France was only recently moved up to 60 years old from 55.

Just another day in France.

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