The Kindness of Strangers
Shortly after we tore ourselves away from the tranquil and beautiful paradise of St. Antonin Noble Val, we realised that neither one of us was too excited about the day ahead. Going to a fairly large city (Toulouse) was not exactly what we wanted to do, but we found it a necessity. We were in need of LPG gas straight away, as well as making a stop at an organic food store, which we had found online, and a pet food store.
Our first stop was for the LPG. As soon as we spotted the LPG dispensing station we knew we had some careful manoeuvring to do—there was a van parked by it that we would be blocking. We proceeded to hook the nozzle up to our connection when the van owner appeared. My first thought was oh-oh, he’s going to want us to move so he could get out. But, no, he wasn’t a bit put off, he said to take our time. Well, a few minutes later we were still having difficulty with the connection. So the van man went inside and came back escorted by the owner of the Total station himself! He couldn’t have been nicer, showing Paul how to connect the pistol to the nozzle. He went back inside and then Paul found he couldn’t get any more gas to come out.
At this point the kind gentleman in the van came over to try to help again. He even spoke some English! We ended up moving the van forward so he could get out. We waved good-bye and thanked him for his assistance and patience.
We finally got the gas filled and I went to pay. The shop was as neat as a pin, and the owner was so kind and smiling as he took our money and wished us a good day.
Our next stop encompassed an organic food store that looked quite new and inviting and we drove to the back to park. Just as we were gathering our shopping bag and stepping outside, a smiling lady came over to us and said she was most sorry, but the store was closed and they wouldn’t open until the following week. She did point us in the direction of another organic store a couple of blocks away. There was also a pet food shop I had spied on the way to the parking area. We stopped in there hoping they would carry grain free dog food. And, once again, the proprietor couldn’t have been more upbeat or kind. He was helpful and even spoke some English.
I must say, Toulouse did not impress either one of us aesthetically or architecturally in any way, but then again we did not see the old part of town. We did cross over the Canal du Midi and I spied some rather run-down (to put it mildly) barges and boats. Not a place I can imagine us stopping on our explorations of the French canals!
We made our way to Samatan after a diversion in Toulouse through a deserted industrial estate, and settled in for the evening. Paul had read that someone came around to collect the money for the Aire. Sure enough, a gentleman showed up about thirty minutes after we arrived. He had a big smile on his face and he fell in love with our girls. Another kind stranger!
The next morning I meandered into town to do a bit of shopping and poking around and the people at the food market couldn’t have been nicer. This happened no matter where I went over the course of the day.
Around 2:00PM Paul had finished his work for the day, and we decided to try to find the Renault dealer we had passed the previous day on the way to Samatan so we could have our troublesome headlight replaced. As it turned out, it was a Peugeot dealer. We walked into the cavernous indoor work area and in a few minutes the owner came over to us and I explained in my limited French what the problem was……and at this point I hand the story over to Paul which I hope you read and laugh over as much as I did!
To conclude, I really am enjoying the kindness of all the southern French people and find myself somewhat reluctant to leave, because I feel comfortable with the language and the vibe here. I will certainly be challenged once we arrive over the border in Spain, and not knowing the language should provide some interesting situations. I just hope they are as understanding, helpful and kind as the French have been!