“Are you looking at the map, which way do we turn here?” MB is talking to me while driving as I search both the map and the road for a sign.
“I’m looking,” I wail, “but I’m telling you I can’t even figure out what road we are on!”
MB sighs and pulls over and I can tell he is blaming this confusion solely on the fact that I have…meh…not a great sense of direction (seriously, it is a miracle I can make it out of walk-in closets).
“Let me see,” he says, relieving me of the map and scanning the page.
I wait as he looks at the map, then looks up at the road, then down at the map, then up at the road, over and over again.
“You look like a bird eating bird seed,” I say. I’m so helpful.
“Quoi,” he says with irritation in his voice. I realize he has not heard my statement at all…he is “in the map.*”
He steps out of the car and walks toward the intersection, searching for a street sign, looking on sides of abandoned sheds. Finally he spots something and I see him throw his hands up in frustration before returning to the car.
“(French expletive),” he says, shutting the car door. “I mean, this is ridiculous.”
I shrug and smile at him smugly serenely. Mwahahahahaha! Now who has no sense of direction, huh?! (yeah, that would still be me.)
“I mean, how can both directions be correct,” he says angrily as he points to the only apparent sign.
I burst out laughing as I look at the signage: TOUTES DIRECTIONS = all directions. Beneath these words are arrows, one pointing to the left and one pointing to the right. It might as well say: make something up.
“ARGH!!!!” MB gives a shout of irritation and I have to force away a smile. (Sometimes it is really funny to me when MB gets angry because he is usually so calm. Does this make me a bad person? …possibly.)
After a few minutes of debating with himself and looking further down the map MB decides to just pick a direction and hope for the best…I mean, it’s not like it would be the first time.
You remember the movie Labyrinth? If not, I would be happy to give you a one woman show BECAUSE IT IS AWESEOME (David FREAKIN Bowie). Anyway, I digress…do you remember this scene – go to about the 2min mark:
That pretty much sums up what it is like to drive around on back roads through France (minus the hot androgynous fairy king). On the highways it is no problem, even the smaller national highways are great and well-signed but once you get off the beaten path, you are on your own. Street signs may or may not exist and the indicated directions often have an “all roads lead to Rome” style. Even for MB it can be a struggle.
“OH please, she is just being silly, I mean, doesn’t she know everyone has GPS these days.”
HA! I scoff at your GPS…and so does France. Do you remember that episode of “The Office” when Michael drives into a lake because the GPS tells him to? Yeah, well, that scenario happened to us in Provence (incidentally, we chose not to drive into the large tree indicated).
“Yeah, but I’ll still have my IPhone, I can pull up maps or call someone.”
No you can’t, France will take away your cell phone reception too. When you are traveling through the countryside, cell phone reception is spotty, to say the least. Basically, consider back roads as a personal challenge issued to you from France.
FRANCE: HA! You want to go on a nice weekend road trip? That is fine but don’t think it will come easy – you have to work for it!
ME: But France, WHHHHHHY?!
FRANCE: Don’t question me – I am France, I am full of enigmas!
That is pretty much how the challenge is issued.
So, when that moment arrives and your GPS tells you to drive into someone’s barn, dust off those wilderness skills (Girl Scouts 4 EVA), pull out one of those old-fashioned paper things with directions on it and figure out from the placement of the sun which way is North…
…or stop and ask for directions – the answer can’t be nearly as confusing as trying to figure it out yourself.
*In the Map! Remember this from “Friends?”