"Europe 2004-05" story # 35

Thues, France           January 15, 2005

Okay, guys.
     I was making fun of a lot of things last time: including but not limited to the esteemed profession of bowling alley "pin-monkey."
     The truth is my Andorran boss treats me very well. He owns a ski-rental shop in addition to his supermarket. So, in the midst of my fifty-hour workweeks, I can take out snowboards when I want to. woohoo!
     The next challenge in my snowboarding progress is learning how to "snake" down the mountain. Like a snake. A beginning snowboarder usually "wobbles" down the mountain. Like a weeble-wobble. He goes downhill angling to the left, breaks to a stop, goes downhill angling to the right.
     A snaking snowboarder changes directions sleekly, his board passing as it goes that screaming angle in which it would shoot straight down the slope unencumbered by breaks. The transition has to be ace-quick. One second, heīs facing down the mountain and leaning backwards for control; the next, heīs advancing back-first and leaning forwards. Essentially, a "snake" has to completely re-swing the different momentums of every individual part of his body - at precisely that moment when his board is pointing straight downhill and trying to go fifty miles an hour.
     I fall a heck of a lot. Itīs really fun. Once, while heading down with a bit of speed, I snaked. My back was then facing downhill, but I didnīt lean enough forward. My board got (I know this isnīt a verb, but:) upheaveled, and I toppled over backwards and slammed back-first onto the slope. Awesome! I sat up, looked through my long hair and its snow-fluff parasites, and crawled twenty feet uphill to where first impact had knocked my hat off.
     Later, I rode a new ski-lift. This led to the top of a "black" ski run, the highest level of difficulty. The mountain plummeted down like an anchor. It was a run that Picabo Street or Tommy Moe or a beginner who wants to kill himself would go on. I fell almost immediately. Normally, you get up when you fall. But, I couldnīt stop falling. I slid downhill on my stomach, hands flailing pushing snow in my face, unable to stop myself as I belly-tobaggoned for twenty seconds. When my slide finally ended, the end of the ski run was closer than the beginning. All right! now I can brag to everyone that Iīve snowboarded down a "black" run.
     After falling in the snow and pushing around blocks in the supermarket, relaxation is needed. FRENCH INFILTRATION STEP 4 - Read French kidsī books, has been helpful with that. "Le Petit Prince" (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is a French classic. Itīs a really beautiful, really intelligent yet simple book, and I recommend everyone to read it.
     It tells of a young boy who meets another young boy (a "little prince") from outer space. The bookīs author suggests that only children know the meaning of life, while grown-ups are interested in things like numbers and other non-beautiful things. In his extraterrestrial travels, the little prince visits several planets. One is inhabited by a king who wants to tell others what to do, one by a narcissast, one by a drinker, and one by a businessman who wants to own the stars. The little prince remarks that he doesnīt understand these grown-ups - how each is obsessed with his own self.
     The little prince and other young boy adore beauty. They adore the flowers and the stars.
     A fox comes to love the little prince. The fox explains that love is a slow process like domesticating a shy animal, and love is born out of oneīs own excitement and sacrifice for another. The young boy who narrates also comes to love the little prince, the little princeīs laughter.
     The little prince realizes he loves a flower on his home planet. He has to leave the fox and narrator behind to return home. It only makes sense to live for the beauty he loves.
     The fox and narrator are sad. But, at least, the fox can think fondly of the little princeīs blond hair when he sees the wheat fields sway in the breeze. And the young narrator can hear the little princeīs laughter when he looks to the stars.
     Today, maybe, I was thinking of Elaineīs smile when I saw potential bunny tracks in the snow. I had the day off work, so I had gotten the hell out of ugly Andorra.
     A beautiful road led me and my hitching thumb through forest thirsting for snow and old, gray and almond villages in the French Pyrenees. Cool, young French guys and one Spanish snowboarding girl with four silver lip rings carried me, as I waited an average of three minutes for each ride.
     I visited wild hot springs. They sat beside a forest path above the roadway. Someone had laid stone around the springs to create little hot tubs which looked like wells. The springs relaxed me on the side of a mountain gorge. Across from the springs, a massive, gray, bsh-decorated cliff blocked all passers. The springs smelled strong of sulfur. Luckily, my body didnīt collect much of the odor, and my drivers were happy to have me on my way back to Andorra.
     The last guy, forty-two-year-old lizard-skinned French "Amid", had never met an American before. He loves American movies and country music. He couldnīt wait to tell his family about "le americain."

later - "The Cobra of the Black Runs" Modern Oddyseus

Thanks to Jean-Pierre & Cyril; Vane; Manel; Jean-Marc; Tomas; Alex; and Amid for the rides!
Much belated thanks to Rob, Saccy, & Dave for the place to sleep!

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