A Dirty Weekend

The weekend had got off to a good start. My husband and I and a couple of friends had plans to hike to Marla, but as the Route Forestière leading up to Col des Boeufs was closed due to road-works we had decided to start by hiking across Grand Sable. After an hour’s trek we reached a junction in the path … only to find a big “footpath closed” sign. So we had no option but to turn round and go back the way we came, and then walk up the Route Forestière, before really starting the hike. All this meant that we arrived at Marla later than planned, as night was falling.

At the time there was only one gîte in the hamlet, and unfortunately it was being renovated, so the school was being used as temporary accommodation. The whole room was chock-a-block with bunk beds, only separated from each other by sheets of tarpaulin. As the four of us arrived last we had the only available beds left – my husband and I had adjacent top bunk beds, and the couple of tourists below agreed to move the bunk beds closer. We slept badly as they ‘made the most’ of being side by side, and found out the next morning that our friends, who were on the other side of the room, had been woken in the middle of the night to find their bunk-bed neighbour injecting himself, albeit with insulin.

It had also started to rain during the night, and we left the gîte under a downpour. To head back to Col des Boeufs we had to cross two gullies, which had been streams the previous day, but the overnight rainfall had turned them into raging torrents. Our two male companions crossed by jumping from stone to stone, but I – seeing my life flash before me if I was to slip and fall – decided I’d be better off wading across. In the first stream the water only come up to my thighs, and I imagined the second would be the same, but I actually found myself in chest-high water!

When we finally made it back to our vehicle we were all completely drenched, exhausted, and shivering with the cold. We put the heating on in the car, no realising that this would drain the battery however, and that when we wanted to start the car the battery would be flat. So our eventful weekend ended with one of our party – who shall remain nameless – back out in the rain, pushing the car to get it started, in their underwear


to lead = mener
road-works = travaux
accommodation = hébergement
chock-a-block = blindé
bunk bed = lit superposé

tarpaulin = bâche
available = disponible
albeit = même si c’était
downpour = déluge
gullies = ravines

to slip = glisser
to wade = avancer dans l’eau
thighs = cuisses
chest-high = jusqu’à la poitrine
drenched = trempé

to shiver = grelotter
heating = chauffage
to drain = vider
however = par contre
underwear = sous-vêtements

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