I wanted to leave England, so I found a job doing voluntary work in the Pyrénées, France. On my way, I stopped in Paris, rented a room in a youth hostel and walked around. I came upon a place where men were playing ‘pétanque’ I approached the cast-iron fence and slipped my face between the bars to watch the game. One of the men saw me and walked over. The ground was elevated and as he stood in front of me, his hand, holding the iron balls, were positioned in front of my face. Without any greetings he said, “You want my balls?” This was my first encounter with a Parisian. I left to see the Eiffel Tower. As I stood there in admiration, a guy walked up to me, says hello and approaches his face. I thought he wanted to kiss me on the mouth, so I moved my head back at the same time. (This was not part of my anglophone culture in the suburbs of Kirkland.) “Com’on” he says, “This is the way in France, “on se fait la bise” So we touched cheeks, two on each side to the Parisian custom. Didn’t take too long before he asked me to sleep with him. “No” “Com’on! this is how we do in France, we make love.”
After four days in Paris, I headed for the outskirts to hitchhike. A trucker that was headed 50 km. from my destination picked me up, so we rolled. At supper time we stopped at somewhat of a restaurant that only served truckers. I was the only girl seated at a long table full of men. The food was amazing. While we were eating, a big lard told me he could drop me off even closer than the other trucker but under the condition that I spend the night with him in his truck. I politely refused, “No thanks” to which he replied, “Anyways, all women are whores” I had heard from his conversations that he had a daughter. “And your daughter, is she a whore?” He didn’t answer.
Back in the truck I asked him what that man’s problem was. He explained to me that some truckers only pick up girls to sleep with them and if they refuse, they boot them out, no matter where or when. He drove on. When night-time came, he parked the truck and said, ” I’m going to sleep on the mattress behind the seats, if you want you can sleep on the mattress or on the seat or in the trailer. I chose the seat. He got on the mattress, undressed and crawled into bed. Time passed and I couldn’t sleep right in a sitting position. I asked to sleep on the mattress and went to bed. He put his arm around me and we fell asleep. During the night I slowly got awakened. He was moving around my body in such a discreet way, I had never experienced anything like this. When he dropped me off the next morning, I was stunned, I just wanted to cross the street so he could pick me up again on his way back to Paris. Took a couple of hours for me to get over it.
The closer I got to my destination, the more dodgy it got. A bumbling ham picked me up and decided to take a shortcut on an isolated dirt road that cut through the mountain. All of a sudden, he stops the car, gets out and walks over to a bush bearing small red fruit. I started doubting as I observed him from the window; back to me, leaning over in the bush, his big rear end in the air. Back in the car he was all happy to offer me his berries, but I didn’t feel like eating them. He starts the car and drives. Shortly after he pops the question, “Do you want to make love?” “No,” I say. “Come on…let’s make love.” He repeatedly asked and the more he insisted the more frightened I got. I opened the door while rolling and he, in his turn, got frightened and stopped the car. I got out, slammed the door and he took off towards his wife waiting for him at home.
The sun was going down, and it was getting cold. Lost and isolated on a dirt mountain road with no cars going by, there was nothing else to do but walk. I started seeing myself spending the night outside freezing when I got a strange apparition; an old man holding a big wooden stick, at his side a dog, as old as he, his eyes clouded over with white film. The Sheppard was the first to talk “Have you seen my cows?” He gave me the directions to a children’s summer camp where I can find people and a phone. When I got there, I explained to them what happened and that I did not want to hitch hike anymore. One of the employees looked up the bus schedule and drove me thirty kilometers to Saint-Girons where a bus would be there to take me to Oust, my destination. From the time I left, it was pitch black and sitting on the bus did not see any scenery. But when I put my feet on the ground, I got a feeling in my gut that this is where my travels would end that I found my place in the Pyrénées of France.