May 06, 2011 GMT
Bonjour, Yo parle Franole ahora

When we crossed from Spain into France two things became immediately apparent.

The first was that we had finally entered a country where the road signs made logical sense (to us) with the same towns consistently listed, in the same order, and fair warning of a junction appearing. Spain had been little different from the Central and South American system of randomly changing what towns are signposted, with the added attraction of telling you you had just missed your turn off.

Not since the USA, with the exception of some parts of Chile, had navigating been so easy.

Our second experience was that we suddenly had fresh communication problems. During the last 7 months we had become used to listening to Spanish and forming a response, initially I had mixed some French into it but had grown out of the habit. Now it was back to square one.

I found I could understand what was being said to me in French, but forming a response was slow and laboured or resulted in gibberish as I mixed the two languages together. It seems we have become wired to hearing a foreign voice and immediately responding in Spanish, so "si" not "oui", or "dos" not "deux".

When asking for things I would prepare the sentence, get it out and be understood but fall back into gibberish when more was needed.

As the week progressed we improved, even managing a slow stilted conversation explaining our trip to a nice French woman who was fed us yoghurts and home made plum jam in a lay-by. Even in France we meet nice people at the side of the road.

Our long meander home has taken us down to Alicante then up the Mediterranean coast past Cadaques (North of Barcelona) where we went all arty, visited Dali's house, and excelled our culinary skills cooking Lemon Chicken on the camp stove.


up the West side of France, through the Lot region,


then alongside the Dordogne and past Limoges before heading towards Brittany and now the Roscoff to Plymouth ferry (6 hours across the Bay of Biscay, not known for its smooth sea state) as we retested Jean's new anti sea sickness tablets.

However, she still assumed her usual ship position.


But increasing the dose and getting the timing right worked.

Our final approach to the ferry gave us one final road block caused by an accident.


They could teach the Mexicans a thing or two about how to clear a road quickly.

After 8 months, finally back in the UK, but still not home or even sure when we will get there.

Posted by Bruce Porter at May 06, 2011 09:58 AM GMT

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