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Monday was a long travel day, and it had its moments. My daughter is a seasoned traveller, and rolls with the rides. She tried to keep up our spirits by telling some bad jokes, but mine are worse. We rolled around the platform laughing as we waited for our connecting train to Paris, in the afternoon. The announcer first told us that due to “climatic conditions” the train would be five minutes late. Then, due to “traffic management problems” it would be 10 minutes late. It came in 15 minutes late. We still got to Paris about on time. While waiting, we shared corny jokes. We cracked up (pay attention), when I told her a joke about a kernel who was afraid to go to war. We had our last moments of French speaking when I told her “maize we” (mais oui, for the francophones). She’s 10, she loved it. All went well, but the moments were priceless. Let’s start near the end, then get to the beginning.

My daughter and I saw the funniest sight ever as we sat on the plane waiting to depart from Paris Orly airport. Dozens of rabbits were in the fields by the runways.

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The picture may be fuzzy, but believe me, their running around and avoiding swooping crows was worth the wait for air control clearance.

Would you believe it? The last time I visited La Rochelle, on my last day, my friends and I were having such a good lunch with their neighbours, that we forgot that I had a train to catch. We then looked at the time, and horrified, jumped up, dashed back to their house a few doors away, jumped in the car, and dashed to the train station in no time flat. We all jumped out of the car and ran into the station. My train was still there and about to leave. I gave quick hugs and kisses, then I hopped into the first door and one of my friends put my bag in behind me. As the train pulled out of the station, we waved goodbye to each other, and I then found my seat and sat sweating and panting. I told my daughter this story before our current trip to La Rochelle. It was really a funny incident. It came up in conversation over the weekend with my hosts and we all had a good laugh. It was not going to happen again. We checked my train times before heading to bed: 12:52, I announced. One of my friends said he could not find that train on the schedule, but I rechecked and we all went to bed.

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Strolling calmly into a minor storm

On the day of departure, we all got up later than usual. My jet lag was over. The night had been split with a huge thunderstorm: the day had been very hot–at 10pm, the temperature had been 88F/30C, the same as in Jamaica where it was 3pm. Wow! My daughter had crawled into bed with me during the night, afraid of the thunder and lightning. I had gotten up in time to see and say goodbye to the daughter who is the firefighter. She was making porridge, again, as she had every day since I showed her how. Her parents then woke and, as usual, had coffee and toast and jam. My daughter eventually appeared around 9am. We all ate and slowly my daughter and I packed and then sat to chill out. My hosts decided to take lunch for their firefighter, so we would leave around midday to also get the travellers sandwiches from the boulangerie. Once, we left, we met a traffic hold up, so turned around and decided to head for another route, as time was going, we got the sandwiches and went straight to the station. We looked at the board. No 12:52 marked! I looked again at my itinerary.

The time was there. I looked at the ticket…9:30. Aaargh! the 12:52 was arrival time, which had been misaligned by the printer. We looked at the board and saw a 12:28 train to Paris, and it was in the station about to leave. Yes. We started running. This time, my friends, my daughter, our suitcases and their dog. We scooted down the stairs and up the next flight, and flung the child into the train, then the bags. I paused. I gave hugs and kisses and let out a huge laugh. “Unbelievable!” I said. The train pulled out.

Fortunately, we had a good amount of time on the original schedule. We arrived in Paris-Montparnasse, walked out of the station to the bus 100 metres away, and headed to Orly airport. We checked in by 6:15 for our 7:40 flight. We cooled out in a lounge. Our plane left on time and we were in London within an hour. Our time had been better spent because of my mistake–less hanging around the airport, for sure. My daughter and I shared a strange adventure. You can plan and you can plan and you can still fall flat on your face. A lesson I learned years ago.

 

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