This blog is posted mostly everyday when we take a break from our usual retired Life as former full-time RVer's and travel overseas.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Dream Come True

Breakfast at Mme Bauchet’s, a real honest to goodness French breakfast. And did I ever slather the butter on the most awesome baguette before piling on the preserves. Add in orange juice that is nothing like that in the States, a warm croissant, and coffee to die for, that is a real, even if it is less than a make it to lunch without getting hungry, breakfast. I believe that Linda, the no meat fat woman, would admit that even a greasy piece of bacon would make it even better. I know it would for me.

There is more to that breakfast story than meets the eye. It was served at 7:45, an extraordinarily early hour for Mme Bauchet as we were to learn, but with good reason. You see, we had no reserved tickets for the cave tour, and we needed to be in line by 8:30 to have any possibility of getting tickets. Each day they allow people to reserve a set number of tickets, which are done many months in advance, then at 9:00 each day they sell the remaining tickets for that day. Our host insisted on driving us out to the cave, and who were we to say no.

People with no sense of adventure reserve their tickets to Font de Gaume many months in advance, those that decide too late have to stand in line and take their chance at getting a ticket. We didn’t even know this place existed until early August shortly before we left for Europe, so we fell into the adventuresome, take your chances camp.

Those that plan ahead and have their tickets reserved miss out on such things as the nine o’clock arrival of the goats that mow the grass on the steep hillside leading up to the cave.

They also miss out on standing in the chilly early morning air and discovering that the two women standing in line behind you are from England, even though they are talking to everyone else around you in French because they are French teachers.

Or how about noting how ironic it is that in a few hours it is likely you will be inside these limestone cliffs looking at paintings that are 10’s of thousands of years old, while overhead airliners are painting the sky with their own version of art.

The line ahead.

The line behind. Proving that the early arrivals get the tickets, and that we did! So what if all the English tours, there are two a day, were already filled. We were going to see the paintings, and that was more than enough. Besides, as we learned, there were going to be four women from England on our tour, three of whom spoke French, so it wasn’t looking bad at all. (and it wasn’t.)

Our tour was at 2:30, so allow me to skip most of the day, which was time spent in a World Class Museum that has everything you would ever want to know about the the people who lived in this area those millennia ago and were the ones who created these unbelievable paintings. As far as the modern day was concerned, we took time out for our usual multi-course lunch and topped it off with some seriously decadent desserts. Life is short, Live It. (And don’t forget the retiring early part).

So just which cave should we go in? Just teasing. The opening to the left is where you leave any bags, packs, etc. The one on the right is where dreams come true.

In the cave, no photos are allowed. Outside the cave after the tour was over, the daydream believer signifies that dreams do come true, and they were even better than expected. A guide that gave a tour in French, Spanish and English. Friends made in the ticket line that filled in the parts that weren’t said in English by the guide. A 100 quintrillion watt smile on Linda’s face as she stood in front of the cave entrance after the tour was over. It simply doesn’t get better than this.

Afterward we once again went back to museum, where what we saw meant even more than it did originally. This photo doesn’t do any justice to the actual polychrome cave paintings we saw, but it does let me talk about them. In a dark cave, lit only by torches, 10’s of thousands of years ago, Cro-Magnon man used the natural contours of the walls of the cave to paint 3-D paintings of animals. One can not even imagine how far advanced man would be today had it not been for disease, war and the Catholic Church. Maybe someday we will progress beyond superstition and achieve what humanity is truly capable of achieving.

Mankind is who we are.
Earth is where we are.
Deep space is awaiting.
The Stars our destination.

(With apologies to Cordwainer Smith who wrote what I modestly consider the greatest novelette of all time, The Stars My Destination). 

“Don’t be afraid to love, laugh and retire early.” And to add to that, “To Live Your Dream, Whatever It May Be.”

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