March 31, 2001: First bits from nīmes
Almost two weeks of my march were spent in the south of france. This was a blur. Not only is france a borderline communist country that doesn't speak english, but I was under the influence of various drugs at the time. Still, I learned a lot on my trip.

For starters, never go on vacation while you are also on disability, even if you are armed with pain arresting drugs. Second, make some attempt to speak the language; buying "just enough french" on the way to the airport is really not enough, although it did teach me to say a few useful things.

The most important thing, though, is to have people available to help you out. This part worked out really well, as despite the pain and ignorance, I was able to see and do a lot, meet lots of people and take lots of pictures, all because my friend max went out of his way to speak english and tour me around.

Until I find my other film, you'll have to be happy with the four shots here, all from nīmes. Nīmes is somewhere between where italy and spain frame france, about an hour north of the mediterranean coastline. The french pronounce it 'neem.' The french are fairly apathetic about the last few letters of most words.

The little tent over the i (as in ī) is a gravestone for the s that used to be there. That's the same reason they put the same tent (fancily called a circumflex) over the o in hotel: hōtel. It was once spelled with an s. In english, we have both words: hostle (think backpacking australians) and hotel (think monopoly, but not microsoft). Actually, they have both words in french too. There, hostelerie means 'run down old creepy place to stay'.

The first story about my trip should include the flight over. As my take off date got closer and closer, I was feeling more and more crippled. My last chiropractic appointment got canceled, so I went to my doctor to get something to at least dim the pain. He gave me a muscle relaxer to loosen things up. It didn't do anything for the pain, but did give me a rash under my eye and make me excessively tired. Then, just three days before I was supposed to leave, I went back and they gave me vicodin. While it does nothing to fix the problem, it does do a good job of blocking the pain.

They also told me to take a couple days off work. This was great, as it allowed me to chill down a bit before taking off. I typically work right up the day I leave, and then head back to work the same day I get back. This highly efficient time management has a negative effect on the overall vacation idea, however.

So armed with drugs and semi rested, I set my watch nine hours ahead and nick drove me to the airport. At 2:35 pm, I started trying to convince myself that it was really 11:35 pm. That's the best trick you can do to get over jetlag before you get there.

I went through a quick line to pick up my ticket. The agent recognized that I was a courier and checked me in right there, so I didn't have to wait in line at all. She also gave me an 'accepted for cabin luggage' seal for my bag, because flying courier allows for larger carry on luggage. Cool deal.

Going through security, the minimum wage guard checked my phone for a blinking light, then asked me to turn on my palm pilot to see it light up. Apparently, bombs or explosives don't light up. That's comforting to know, as there were two blinking lights on either side of the check in gate, and I'd hate it if the entire gate blew up, just because it wasn't supplied with red flashing lights.

The new sfo international terminal is very modern looking; I wonder how long that will last. The powel street bart station looked modern once, too. Now it looks oddly like 2001 a space odyssey's blandly white, revolving spaceship interior. Now that it is 2001, 2001 looks like 1968.

While I was waiting for my plane, my watch, which has been acting odd for a while, totally freaked out. As I tried to change the time to london's, the thing locked up and the alarm sounded. Not like a regular beeping sound. It put out a constant piercing square wave. Bizarre. All the buttons locked up and even smacking it on the ground didn't stop it. Eventually, it turned off, but not after I had packed up my bags and headed toward the washroom to kill it.

I belted in and sat for the next ten hours, taking vicodin every four hours or so to keep from throwing up. I tried to sleep as much as possible, which turned out to be about two hours out of ten.

A couple times I thought my entire vertebrae was going to burst into flames, snake up through my thorax and rip out of my chest like some sort of gruesome alien appendage, but then another two vicodin and a vodka drink would calm things down. I don't think I've ever been so uncomfortable.

Once I got to london heathrow airport, I was supposed to take a bus to stansted airport, almost thirty miles north. Well, virgin airways complicated things by getting me to london an hour late, making me moments late for my bus, which I missed. I took the next bus and got there just in time to miss my next flight.

Because I had to get to nīmes that night, I had to buy another ticket on another airline and flew into marseilles instead, dealing with british "customer service," which is about as appealing as eating british food.

Fortunately, max drove over and picked me up just after I landed. I was happy to be on the ground again, and on time enough to go snowboarding over the weekend.

The snow turned out to be great. But that's another story, so stay tuned.

More information about france, the future, flying, ripping pain and flying:

buy me buy me buy me buy me buy ime buy me buy me buy me

In the south of france
2001: a space odyssey
Learn to speak french
Why I hate flying
Flying without fear
Smashing pumpkins: the aeroplane flies high
The essential guide to prescription drugs
© 2001 the treasure island experiment. All rights reserved.