Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The three wise guise guys
Today Cindy and I decided we would take a road trip to Fumel, and tour the Chateau De Bonaguil. We drove Southeast for just over an hour, and arrived in the pretty little village of Fumel, not known for its Fumel cakes, interestingly enough, or not. Outside of the village a few kilometers lies the Chateau De Bonaguil, it is located between a tall outcropping of rock and a hill, which was serendipitous because it gave the chateau a ready built foundation. The other nice aspect was that there existed a vertical fissure, enlarged by hand to form a well, which gave fresh water, some believe its name is derived from “Fresh water” or Bonaguil. Without this gift of fresh water, life would have been impossible living within the fortified walls. ( O.K. it’s obvious I’m getting some of this from the brochure, but this allows me to save energy for jokes later on, lucky you.) Around 1271 there was only a tower and a rudimentary wall. (probably stone, not rutabaga,(Thanks, Gary) see how that works, not even tired yet.) Then in 1448 for the next thirty years they constructed the fortress that it is today. Then in the 1750 Marguerite de Fumel got rid of all the drawbridges, added bridges and had the royal apartments “fitted” out. I wonder what the decorators were like in the 1750’s? O.K. present day Cindy and I are buying tickets to enter the Chateau. …..Action.
“Gee, I’m really glad we drove here today.” I say.
“Me too, only three other cars and a tour bus” She says.
“Here is your ticket, sweetheart.” I say.
“Thank you, you are the best.” she says. (Quite often I must add)
We join our couple as they walk over the bridge that leads them to the Chateau De Bonaguil.
“This fortress has it’s own well, hand carved out of a vertical fissure” I say
“Boy I bet life would have been a real downer without all that fresh water within those walls.” She replies.
Eh hem!! Anyway, Of all the Chateau’s we’ve toured over the three years visiting France, this was by far my most favorite. The workmanship of the stonework alone is staggering. The layout of Windows and doors all having radius edges, O.G. sills at some windows, I can understand why it took thirty years to build it. I was surprised that it’s well was not a common feature for any fortification. If under siege and running low on water, well that would really stink. ( Literally) Poor planning, I know a lot of places had all their water diverted to cisterns, but that is still a limited supply. As we’re walking around this awe inspiring group of structures we are aware that the one group in the tour bus are actually a school field trip, and that they have split off into groups of three and are running about doing different research items from a master list from the teacher. It seems that they would race to one part of the fortress and take dimensions of the ten foot thick base walls, jot down four or five dimensions and race back to the staging area. Well Cindy and I are making our way around the fortress, observing stone O.G. window sill detail’s and the like, and as we are walking across one of the walking bridges, below I hear one of the groups of three squeal, “anglais” and out of the corner of my eye, I see them dash off below the bridge we are walking on and say to Cindy. “We are about to be inundated by a hoard of French seventh graders. Cindy asked how I knew. “Well when that kid mentioned Anglais and pointed to us, and raced towards us I knew we were about to be swamped.” Well, it wasn’t that bad, the three boys bounded into the keep we were in and politely asked.
“Anglais?” The front man (boy) asks. Looking at us as though figuring what to charge, the way a shop keeper does in Provence.
“Oui.” looking at him and waiting for the pitch.
He hands me a slip of paper with instructions of a homework looking assignment.
“We are needing sentences.” he says.
“O.K.. lets see,….je regarde.” Trying to say I’ll look.
“Ave’ vous un stylo?” I ask, impressing myself at remembering the word for Pen.
“non…” Then the quiet one behind them says in a quiet tone. “ Portable”
Which I found out then meant cell phone, and the bright quiet one was saying, transcribe the sentences on your phone. It was adorable, there was the brash idea man, who upon recognizing our language didn’t miss a step and raced towards us to procure the easy smart way of problem solving. Then there was the quiet nonplussed guy, who was cool headed and didn’t panic, except probably when around the fairer (Fair? Ha!) gender. And the third guy, the social chameleon, because I don’t remember a thing about him, other than this occasional giggle when I would mispronounce something.
So on their handout were instructions that they should write two sentences in English using the matrix of words on the bottom of their sheet, and that one sentence should be present tense and the other past tense. So we spoke for about five minutes, spelling individual words to construct their sentences. Every once in a while there would be a stealthy giggle, and the idea guy would sort of respectfully giggle and continue typing and showing me for corrections as needed. I will say as much as I loved the fortress, the experience of being a part of these guys problem solving escapade was priceless. And after an hour and a half of touring this stone beauty we made our way through the entry courtyard, where all the kids were spread out having lunch. As we were nearing the front arch to leave Cindy tugs my sleeve and says, “You hear that?” and we both turn around and see our group of three, waving and saying in perfect English, “ Thank you Guys!” Cindy and I wave back, saying “Good bye, good luck.” And I notice all the other students looking at the exchange and the three guys beaming, I smiled and turned around and Cindy and I left the fortress. I imagined that those three would be questioned on the return trip back, and them smugly telling their classmates, how the Americans helped them with the sentence assignment, and all the other kids would respond. “Sacre re bleu!, why was I not thinking this? ” (Well, o.k. maybe not that, but close.) We spent the next fifteen minutes comparing notes on the three guys and cracking up, just like kids anywhere. But these three unknown kids will stay with us forever.
The picture at the top of the post is of the kids having lunch.