You may have noticed the lack of photographs in the blog lately. We are still without internet service in the house. And therein lies a story. Americans may find this astounding. If you are French you may say “Qu’est-ce que la problem?” If you are British, I don’t know what you’ll think. Anyway, we mentioned a couple of posts ago that we had gone to France Telecom and arranged for phone service and that would grant us the ability to have internet. Well, right on schedule, a week later at 4:00 in the afternoon, the phone line was working so we rushed off to Lavalenet, a larger town nearby, to get ourselves a phone and a router box. The France Telecom store there had been reorganized into the one in Pamiers, which is 37 clicks from Leran. So we decided to get there as early as possible. Their doors opened bright and early at the crack of 9:30 the next morning. Other folks had the same idea, and since we were 20 minutes early we were first in line. Nancy counted 13 others behind us. We would have had to wait for two or three hours just in time to close for lunch. But, being first, we transacted our business in record speed. We got a phone and a livebox (a router box) and were finalizing the details when Nancy asked if we could get hooked up to the internet as soon as we got home. The agent, Alain, said “No, you must wait ten days.” Ten days? TEN DAYS? Why must we wait ten days? It wasn’t clear to us why we had to wait and we thought maybe it was a joke.
We left France Telecom and headed to Toulouse……for today was the day to buy our furniture. IKEA was not too crowded and being old IKEA hands (translation: we now understood how to follow the directional arrows on the floor) we took care of business and got us some Ektorps, a couple of Toulstas, one Bromma, and one Norden, and a Varde and two Arstid. (For those of you who don’t speak IKEA, which I guess is related to Swedish, that’s a couch and armchair and ottoman, two side chairs, a kitchen work surface, a shelving unit and two lamps.) Being led to believe that all IKEA furniture comes disassembled and flat-packed, we naively assumed old Smokey could rise to the occasion. Too much assumption on our part---flat-packing is for delivery. We crammed the Norden, the Varde and the Toulstas into old Smokey and headed back to Leran, unloaded, and went back to Toulouse for the Ektorps and the Bromma. Needless to say it was a long day. Like going from Moab to Grand Junction twice in a day. Not as many miles but through more traffic.
Weary from driving and shopping, we unloaded the pickup and tried to hookup to the internet. Alain, our FT agent, was true to his word; we had a signal but couldn’t access it. Some functionary in Paris must type in a code or throw a switch. We have asked around, and indeed, it will take ten days, give or take a few. So, the moral of the story is that life moves at a slower pace here than in the United States. (It is hard to imagine a pace slower than Livingston or Moab, but, yes, it is slower.) We must learn to accept it. We will get used to it and appreciate it someday. However, I do think even the French are a little frustrated with the bureaucratic hocus pocus. Wisecracks are uttered about French efficiency, in English by the French.
For now, we write our posts on a word processing program and quickly download it when we can find WiFi somewhere. So we have a few more days, seven or eight, to wait for internet service. Then maybe you’ll see pictures of Drew, Joan, John, Lee-anne, Nancy and me drinking champagne after the house closing, the beautiful French countryside, the wooden shoes with leather tops at the Brocante Fair, the views from our hike up to Rocquefixade, the ruined Cathar stronghold, the snowcapped Pyrenees and pictures we haven’t taken yet. In seven or eight days I might e-mail you. In seven or eight days I may catch up on the news of the world and the USA and I’ll find George Bush is still president.
We are looking forward to the time very soon when we can begin reporting on the reason we came over here instead of the frustrations and tribulations of the neophytes. Progress is being made, things are going according to plan, and the house is becoming quite comfortable, if rather Spartan. We have identified the leak in the shower as something possibly quite manageable. If not, we already know M. Boulbes the plombier. And if not M. Boulbes, Lac Montbel will be open for swimming soon.