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  • Day11

    A Roman Sendoff from Caumont

    August 31, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Our week long stay in Caumont has all too quickly drawn to a close. It only seems such a short time ago that all we crowded into the taxi for our ride from Avignon. Now our week has flown by and it is time to bid farewell to this funny little community that has been our temporary home in Provence. Unfortunately the run of scorching weather has shown no sign of abating and that has somewhat restricted what we could actually do while we were here.

    On this, our final morning, we decided to forego our daily walk and just meet at the coffee shop instead. We had been aware that the village was planning to conduct its first ever Roman festival and we all wanted to see just what happened. While we enjoyed our coffees, the villagers gradually emerged from their homes dressed in a varied assortment of togas, bedsheets and improvised armour. It was a bit like a primary school pantomime, but we were really touched at the simple way they were enjoying themselves in such a harmless and unsophisticated way.

    At first they seemed a little reticent to emerge. I suspect each person was waiting to see if anyone actually turned up, before they potentially made a fool of themselves. Gradually the trickle of people became a stream as the assembly was swollen by whole family groups. Some had really gone overboard with their efforts, producing elaborate costumes, swords, helmets and such. One small guy came bedecked with a red beard, sword and shield. I thought they he looked like he had stepped straight out of the Lord of the Rings as he looked more like a hobbit than a fearsome Roman soldier.

    The real highlight of the morning came when a few horses were added into the mix. Two of these had been dressed in Roman type trappings and the proud riders were happy to ride back and forth. Apart from the cigarette hanging from the mouth of one of the riders, they could have almost looked genuine. It was an incredible finish to our stay in this town and we would have liked to stayed longer. Unfortunately we had to pack up and be ready for our taxi to take us back to Avignon.

    When we returned to the house we found that our landlady had already arrived and was busy toting up our bill. By the time she calculated the final total it was evident that a few more “extras” must have been added. We could have been upset, but we had really had such a great time here that it was just not worth fussing about the details.

    Our taxi arrived only ten minutes later than it was ordered and the driver somehow managed to crush all our luggage into the rear compartment, without resorting to crushing Gordon’s knee caps. About 30 minutes later we were back in Avignon and unloading our luggage onto the L’Estello. Although it was too early for us to board, they were happy for us to drop our luggage and return later in the afternoon. We asked the taxi driver to take us into the centre of the city so that we could have some lunch.

    We found ourselves back at the same café that we had eaten at when we were in Avignon a week earlier. Since we were right outside the Hotel de Ville we were entertained by a regular succession of newly married couples emerging from their civil ceremonies. A group of African drummers and ululating women made sure that the newlyweds were met with a noisy welcome. It was another fascinating insight into the local culture.

    As other team members joined us in the city the group grew steadily and by 5.30 pm we were ready to make our way to the boat. To our enormous relief we discovered that the boat was extremely well air conditioned and it was deliciously cool inside. It was the first time we had felt comfortably cool since leaving Australia. Not so welcome was the diminutive size of our cabins. Apart from Carol and Sam’s luxurious room, the rest of us were allocated rooms about the size of small dog kennels. It will be an interesting time, but that is all part of the challenge. We also found that there will be three Americans sharing the boat with 17 Ghostriders. We could only imagine how difficult that will be for them.

    Tomorrow morning we finally begin our cycling. We can’t wait to get underway.
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