I don’t know how to say this word in any other language, but yesterday the gas cap on our rental car nearly brought me to my knees. It must sound like I am making this up, but the first two days of our roadtrip to France have felt like a Chevy Chase movie, with me in the lead role.
After a brutal Friday with the police, and nine hours in the car en route to France, we needed Saturday to go our way. It started alright, with a good breakfast in the hotel (we had the whole restaurant to ourselves), and a sunny day. We had to go for gas as we were just about out, and the girl at the front desk directed me to the nearest gas station. There, I couldn’t get the gas cap unlocked. I used the key, I used a variety of maneuvers – and, we had Dawn, my mom, her mom, and even a third party frenchman try to unlock it, but it wouldn’t open. We couldn’t get gas. The instruction manual was in German, and was no help with what we could decipher. We tried closing all the doors before unlocking it; it went on and on for 20 minutes at the gas tank. So I pulled out, and we headed back to the hotel to try to make a call to the Avis office in Germany. Our cell phone was out of juice.
The girls at the front desk were very helpful, and they will get a good review from me on Booking.com: they placed the call to Germany – but the German woman was no help, and directed me back to an Avis office in France. The French girl at the front desk talked to the French woman in the Avis office, after locating one on the internet, and explained our situation. Then I got on the line and elaborated. She sent a mechanic to meet us.
As I knew would be the case, the mechanic opened the gas cap with no problem and gave me a look like, “are you playing me?” But then it was clear to him it was not a practical joke; we really didn’t know what we were doing. Instead of being relieved, we all felt angry and disappointed. Dawn and I had a brief spat, and we got back in the car to get gas. Sometimes things just don’t go your way, and when you’re in a foreign country with seniors and toddlers, the situation is more complex.
We stopped in Nîmes for groceries, and the GPS man came through: he successfully led us through narrow streets and twists and turns to the Marché U supermarket. Dawn and I got shallots, tomatoes, basil, cheese, bread, and then about eight bottles of wine. A bottle of Balsamic vinegar fell off the checkout counter as I was being rung up, but I caught it with my right hand and winked at the cashier like, “I still got it, man.”
It was still a longer trip than we had all expected when we rolled into Saint Pierre-des-Champs. In fact, it was just after 6:30 p.m., and we had checked out of the hotel around 10:45 a.m. It was only supposed to be a four hour drive, but the gas cap delayed us a solid hour and a half.
Today, I am enjoying some time to myself, now that Charlotte is upstairs napping, the others are in the medieval village of Lagrasse milling about, and I am having the last glass of Rosé from last night’s bottle. I also introduced my mother-in-law to Pastis last night, and there will be more of that, this week.