Down and Out in Paris

There’s a bastardized quote, filtered through a few generations of people that says something like, “You only own what you carry on your back at a good pace”. It was first attributed (the idea at least) basically to Hobbes. I think.

I wonder what Hobbes would say, if you took those possessions with you on a trip to a country you don’t know the language and then they LOST THOSE POSSESSIONS?!

Sort of in that situation now, my lovingly and extremely well packed stuff for a two month camping trip have thus disappeared en route to France. I’m over the materiality of it all, except that perhaps, what a waste of some great gear. I’ll never see it again, I’m sure.

Amazingly, what didn’t get lost was most all my electronics: My two cameras (one a dSLR), my eee PC, my phone and a few memory sticks were in my carry on – as was my handlebar bag. I also have all my language translation, verb, grammar and “french for travelers” books, as well as my flashcards. I’d be fucked without those.

What did get lost is everything else: tent, pad, sleeping bag, panniers, tools, change of clothes (I stink), bike shoes, shorts, gloves and support things like my lock and extra bags. I also lost about 20 gigs of flash memory cards. And my art project and sketch book.

Right now, I’m exercising patience, but I also want to start moving. My thought is to just get the bare necessities of all this tomorrow and start moving. I don’t need much: a bivet to replace the tent, another sleeping bag (skip the pad for now), two small, (hopefully cheap) panniers, a multitool, a patch kit, some inner tubes and a new pair of pedals with clips (to replace bicycle shoes and replacement cleats) Skip a bike jersey and bike shorts. It makes me excited to ride so bare-bones – honestly. I’m not a real creature-comforts person, anyways.

I have to look at financials to see if this is doable. I don’t think it’s doable, but then I’m absolutely stuck. I’d rather be mobile and completely broke than stuck.

Today’s been trying, although it’s been trying in a most beautiful area. I have no watch, just my cellphone, which is slowly being drained – and has the wrong time, anyways. I have’t mastered how to ask for it: another thing to put on a flashcard tonight.

The PC also needs power and my adapter was lost as well. Walked to the airport for a little ways before realizing I have nothing to show the person at the counter, so walked back (refreshing, really – this hick suburb is quite beautiful) and took the bus, which was just 1.60 Euro. Got to the aeroport and updated my info for them (no luck on the bags). Bought a necessary adapter and went back to l’hotel and napped. I’m presently in a McDonald’s across the street. It smells like a McDonalds (gagging and.. plastic?) and something is always beeping – it’s driving me insane, but the wifi (pronounced wee-fee) is free – it isn’t at l’hotel (1 euro an hour – bastards!). No wall outlet though. Everyone is careful about that. Took me forever just to find one in my *room*

The language barrier is… interesting. I am stumbling through it and can almost order my, “Grande Cafe” at Mc’D’s without screwing it up. “For here?” I have to remember to either answer or ask correctly. Also, you need to say, “Bonjour” to get their attention. A slight few things. Was able to also get some contact solution at the Pharmacy barely and check into my hotel. The worst conversation was with the cabbie why could speak fluent English. Not getting into that.

What’s frustrating is the baggage issue – the aeroport people can speak English fine, but I can’t call a number to get updates – speaking without looking at a person is impossible.

Hopeful of Following Conclusion:

Will buy replacements and go about my way, having a fun time of it all.
Will be able to eat at least enough to not lose too much weight.
Bags will be eventually found, I’ll pick them up at some aeroport in my travails. It will be like Christmas
Can send back newly purchased items home. will sell on CL eventually.

Most likely outcome:

All of the above, except the bags won’t be found

Don’t want to happen:

Run out of money, because of add’l gear bought.

Time to check my balances and call my CC company for a, “emergency credit raise”

To answer the inevitable(s), why yes, I did insure my flight and the bags, but insurance usually means, nothing, correct? Also, the airline today won’t give me any compensation (yet?). I was hoping for 100 euro. to start. Perhaps I have to be French about my conversation about it. But, talk in English. Sigh. Filling out a form, etc will take a month to get any sort of compensation back. If anyone has done research on that, and can let me know, well, that would be lovely. I was under the impression that if you go, “I’m stuck, those bags had all my possessions, I need something” they give you *something*, ala that 100 euros.

Oh well. Probably to Paris tomorrow to find the Magasin de un Camping et Cyclotouring, build the bike and get out of here (the only good thing to do in a small town).

As for problems, it’s only the, “sad that the keen gear is lost forever” feeling, the inevitable financial strain of purchasing add’l items and wondering what bridges won’t be crossed because of that and slightly, the loss of time I can make up, since I’m a freakin’ animal on le velo. But think about it, “Oh, I *have* to go to Paris”,

Oh-woe-is-me. wah wah wah. Tis the start of an adventure! What would Genet do in such a situation? Kerouac? Ginsberg? (Down and Out) Orwell? That’s right. Find someone to have sex with and drink a terrible amount of vin rogue.

Allons-y!

A la prochaine,

-js