Next stop: chez les Bouchers, whose little country estate, named Balou, could be found (eventually) clinging to a mountaintop in Barnas par Thueyts. But to get there, I would need nerves of steel, a good pair of sprinting shoes, and a patient bladder.
You remember Eskia and the window washer, and the five-kid obstacle course Catherine and I navigated to the train station? That was only the beginning...
We arrived at the train station only to discover that all trains to the interior had been cancelled due to construction. Ah bon.
I could get a bus to a train in the interior, and then a bus from the train to the more interior interior. The line for bus tickets wove out the door, and I looked at the time: we had 6 min.
Catherine shoved me in one direction, charged Rachelle with helping me with the luggage, and stormed off to buy tickets, calling over her shoulder, “Head for Track F!”
On Track F, a shuttle train sat quietly, and empty. Hmm...in a transportation crisis, an empty means of transportation was never a good sign. As the French would say, "One train can hide another."
Was a shuttle train the same thing as a train, and therefore not running? Or the provisional transportation for the real trains that weren't running? I got in. I got out. I got back in. There weren’t supposed to be any trains. Did a shuttle count as a train?! I had a few more seconds to crack the code.
“What do you think, Rachelle?” Although I wouldn't normally count on an 11-yr-old to bail me out, she was French, and well, any port in a storm. She stared blankly at me and the shuttle, sweat pouring down her sweet little face, and shrugged.
Just then Catherine sprinted up the stairwell, waving a ticket. She looked at the train, or shuttle, and stopped dead.
“Where’s the bus?”
“I don’t know - you don’t think this is some kind of shuttle?”
She studied the departure screen - “NO! Get off!”
I jumped, and as I did, we spotted a bus behind us, pulling out--headed for my destination. Waving and shouting, we signaled the bus driver, along with others running with us, waving tickets. He ignored us all, and a chorus of curses exploded as he picked up speed. Moans and groans, wailing and gnashing of teeth...
Cell phones popped out all around, and I asked Catherine for hers--time to let the Bouchers know I had missed my train...