Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Still at Tournoux

Our last rest day we walked around Briancon some then went to Italy for dinner. The first town we came to was called Oulx but it sounded too French so we kept driving. We got to Barronechia and that sounded Italian enough so we stopped for dinner. We walked around looking for a place to eat. No one would serve food until 7:00. No one. We checked many places and all would not serve food. You could get a drink but no food. Hmmm. I find this very interesting. We were not the only people looking to eat at 6:00. We saw quite a few folks searching around for some food yet unable to attain any. What are we Mogwai's? Do you think something terrible will happen if we eat before 7:00? So I had this brilliant idea to make millions of dollars. Move to Italy and open a restaurant that serves food all day. Right around 5:00 you'd be making bank. Entrepreneur....that sounds French. Maybe you guys should hop the border and open a restaurant.

The pizza was pretty good but it is finally confirmed. The best pizza in the world is in Fayetteville WV. They didn't even have Pork and Pepper on the menu!

We've kind of settled in at Tournoux. We made a camp just across from the cliff. It's about a ten minute hike in so we leave our tent there and our climbing gear up at the cliff. We came into town today to get groceries and then we'll haul in some more food. There is a fountain to get water just a short hike away.

Elissa sent her 7c project the other day and is now working on a sweet 13a. I sent a nice 8a and was able to pose down for this sweet picture. I was feeling pretty good so I hung my draws on an 8b+ and spent a good bit of time working it. I lost a lot of skin and a lot of power. I did all the moves and knew it would go down eventually but I'm just not strong enough to do it quickly on a short trip. I stripped my draws and hung em on another 8a+ called Loups Hurlant that is a bit harder than the other 8a+ I did. I'm worked though from all the dogging and am afraid that I may have dug myself into a hole in terms of being tired. We'll see tomorrow.
Colley will fire her project for sure.
She remarked that it is a bit manufactured. "This place is like Area 51" she said. We looked in the book to find that it in fact had been equipped by one Jean-Marc Stefenson.

We spent the morning trying to pay a parking ticket. We don't speak French so how were we supposed to know what 'payant' meant? We speak English. Totally unfair.

Ok so Wag of the Finger is gonna be pretty harsh today: FRENCH PEOPLE

You guys suck. There I said it. There is no sense in sugar-coating it anymore. I had heard the stereotypes of the French. Arrogant, ego-centric, rude, etc. My experience is that no matter where you go in the world people are friendly and kind regardless of the reputation. And further more especially climbers. No matter where climbers are from they are friendly and welcoming. Not the French. Let me try to explain with a few examples:

The car rental: This was our first experience. The French guy tried to rip us off, the Swiss girl was sweet and helpful.

The Swindler: This French guy swindled Elissa for 10 euros. He asked her for 11 euro, she gave him a 20 then was fishing around for a one and he distracted her then said don't worry about it and bam....swindled. I can overlook this, swindlers are everywhere. But he did tell us about this climbing area called Cassis. I asked "Is it good?" He responded, "Huff, (2 second pause), Huff, (2 second pause), Huff....Is it good? He was kind of joking but kind of not.

The aloof and egocentric:

This happens ALL the time. Imagine you are in the grocery store and walk up toward someone that is blocking the aisle while they look at food. In most places that person would politely step forward and let you pass. Not a chance. They stand there. And you stand there waiting, trying to get by. They completely ignore you. Completely. You feel invisible. It is so weird. Elissa one time tried to reach in front of someone to grab a bottle of wine off the shelf. The man put his arm out toward the shelf, blocked her, and kept his arm there until he had made his selection. All this without saying a word or making eye contact.

The French will walk down the middle of the street and not step to the side when you approach in a car. Seriously, it is crazy.

The crag couple:

We hiked up to the crag the other day and there was a couple there. Small crag, just them and us. We must have looked very stupid hiking up to the crag with big friendly smiles and saying "Bonjour!" "Hello!" We received blank stares. Face to face. Just standing there not looking at us but kind of through us. Completely ignoring our presence. So we spend all day with these people. Toward the end of the day I send a rig that we were all working on and strip my draws. I get to the ground and try to explain that "I'm sorry I took the draws down but I need them for something else....etc..." I'm using sign language and looking like a fool and this guy starts busting out perfect english! All day he knows how to speak english and just ignored us.

I could go on and on with examples like this. On and on. Nearly every experience has been like this. We wave at folks as we pass by and get the blank stare. Elissa noticed that the babies here will snub you. They won't smile at strangers. Neither will French dogs. In America dogs will walk up to you and greet you with a wag of the tail. French dogs ignore you. They sniff the ground and move on. It is weird. We went to Italy and the babies smiled at us and the dogs were friendly.

So I know what you are thinking: Their CULTURE is just different than ours. Well that is true. I can tolerate cultural difference. But there are certain things that transcend culture. The smile is universally accepted as a gesture of kindness throughout all cultures. And kindness has nothing to do with culture. We talked to some folks from Dublin the other day and the contrast was remarkable. They were smiley and happy and said "have a good day" when we parted. It made us feel good. The French woman the other day that finally decided to speak english was asking for beta on Elissa's project....Elissa gave it to her than I added "Oh, and you need a full 70 meter rope to lower." She just gave me a blank stare, turned, and walked away. What does that mean? I was just trying to make sure she didn't die. Oh well....

Tip of the Hat! Dogs

Although the dogs may be a bit snobby, they are allowed everywhere. We see dogs in restaurants, dogs in the city, dogs on and off leashes. We do not see dogs tied up in someones yard and left to die like we do in WV. Love the dogs.

Didn't we have a civil war over this?


David said...

Dude, it is so true. The French are absolutely useless, awful people.

I went over there with an open mind, eager to learn their language and respect their culture- big mistake!

The only thing these people respond to is rudeness. If you treat them like garbage you will have anything you desire. Don't ever say anything in French, speak loudly and proudly in English, especially in crowded bakeries and stuff.

Once I figured this out, my trip was much smoother. Don't try to make friends with anyone. Treat them like they are something you just stepped in, and everything will run quite smoothly. They are like bees and dogs that can smell fear. Show no fear.

Anita said...


My friend Gen is reading your blog over my shoulder and we are both cracking up. Really; tears in the eyes and everything.

Gen is a systems geeky-type; she wanted to know if you had a "Share This" button on your blog because she wanted me to share it with her. I don't see one, but you should get one. However that works. Guess I'll just cut and paste the URL like the old days. Ha!

Anyway, LOVE reading about your trip! Hi to Elissa!