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Merignac and street kids

The text message from home informed me of the document. I had to sign a letter to let the Social Security people, in the States, know I was still alive. Unfortunately there was a problem.

Some mail had been sent to me in Spain, which never arrived. This meant I could not trust the form to the Spanish postal system. I was in the middle of visiting towns in the Basque Country, with plans to head south after the San Fermin Festival. From the Sierra Nevada, it was then onto central Italy and Sicily. I did not want to see the UK until September. Now I had to cancel everything from mid July—just to sign a piece of paper.

Once the festival finished, I planned to return home to do the paperwork. A flight from Bordeaux, France was booked, for only 40€, to London. That meant a bus to San Sebastian and another to Bordeaux. Should be easy enough.

Everything was going smoothly. Bus connections worked great. I got off the bus in Bordeaux about six hours after leaving Pamplona.

France—every journey, over four decades, has been nothing but trouble. As I stood in Bordeaux looking at it, all I could think of was—what a dingy town, like it's crying out for someone to come and fix it up. Everything I saw was the same color and in slight disrepair. From there I needed to get to Merignac, which is near the airport. How do I do that?

Several people were asked the question. Just like England, I was given the same number of totally different answers—none of them right. Then this guy wearing a special jacket, asked if he could help. It seems someone knew of the stupidity and set up a small charitable, organization to help visitors. He was, indeed, very helpful and I was on a tram to Merignac in under 5 minutes.

The buildings of Bordeaux, that were viewed from my tram seat, still looked the same tone and nearly all needed some attention. Then, after a stretch of grassy area, it changed. The architecture took on brightness. Houses and other buildings had air between them. Different colors appeared and space let in more sunlight. I entered Merignac.

Eventually, the town center saw me disembarking and take stock of where I was. It had a totally different feel to it. Plus the buildings were a lot more interesting. Where Bordueax felt depressed, Merignac felt lost—but looked after. I soon found that to be true.

A provided address of an hotel proved near impossible to find at first. Not one street in the town had a sign, you had to guess the name. The so called hotel (BnB), had no staff, no reception and locked doors so I reckon it's nothing more than a scam of some sort. I returned to the center of town—about twenty minutes hard walk away.

By now France was proving it's usual uselessness. A small bar provided a cup of coffee (passable), but the people there were very friendly and helpful. Had I somehow been teleported to another country? One guy told me exactly where there was a nice hotel, that didn't charge an arm and leg for some ropey room.

I decided France may have a few okay people in after all. Thanks guy.

The Interhotel in Marignac is good. Staff were excellent and the room fine. I took a very long shower and ordered a taxi for 0630. Then had a little wander around.

Stopping in some sort of a monument thing, I sat down and enjoyed one of the small Cuban cigars I'd bought in Spain.

The monument

Street kids in Merignac, France?
Three kids approached. First impression was gang. But—these were a bit different.

"I am the King. The King of weed", one announced. He spoke for a short while, trying to be humorous. This was getting just a bit Tangierish.

I ignored him, turned and began talking with the other two. One had very white teeth. His mouth was under construction, with the shiniest braces I'd ever seen—holding his upper lip in place. The "King of weed" wasn't quite sure how to handle all this and stood speechless for a bit.

For about 5 minutes we all talked and joked around. Mainly myself with the two other boys. Then I said that I needed to get back (the small cigar was now finished) and they wandered off. I reckon the oldest (the King) was barely 15.

I'm still not sure what to think of Merignac. What with street kids, it's nice appearance and no way to know which street you're on. I guess I'll just call it messy and leave it at that.

Next morning, bright and early I was at Bordeaux airport and boarded my plane to London. It was an okay (BA) flight. Sitting next to me was a woman, who makes documentaries about Syria. She proved quite interesting. We chatted for a while, then she took a nap.

I arrived home just past noon, signed the paperwork and mailed it off. The rest is history.

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The King of Weed? Haha. I was pleasantly surprised this year with France. I expected Parisians to flog me for being American, but they were actually very good to me.