A Dumbfounding Night

I’ll start this off by saying of course we missed the last tram.

I’ll clarify by saying that the schedule on line said that we had over an hour before the last tram was supposed to arrive and we only missed the one that ended up being the last by about 3 minutes.

………………of course.

After a really exceedingly cool street performance festival (No, it was really, really, really cool. AND FREE!!), two among us were feeling rather tired and the others were not quite ready for the night to end. Normally I’d be a part of the former pair, but the stars were aligned and the Jewish hip hop concert (seriously) had me fired up even more than the fire-tango performance (yep), BMX infused contemporary dance (yyyyep), or tight-rope walkers on a moving bus surrounded by fire (….) that proceeded it.

Welcome to France.

The sensible ones worried the tram might not run late, but my friend, let’s call her Schmorla, was SURE they would come. I mean Schmorla was down right positive. And I didn’t see why they wouldn’t so we stayed for a while and finished our.. beverages.. and headed out a little before one. Remember the tram runs until 2!

As we walked towards the tram stop, Schmorla suddenly stops and her mouth hangs open as she stares into the distance. I still cackle when I think what her face looked like in that moment. A bit like this, in fact:


“What’s wrong with you?” I said.

Service……………..Terminé,” she said, dumbfounded. (I think you can probably guess what those words mean, even if you are just an anglophone. 😉 )

I was confused until I looked where her gaze fell, and sure enough, each space that should have displayed the approximate arrival time of a tram instead said in no uncertain terms that we were walking home.

Like I mentioned in my previous (and admittedly rather bleak) blog, we’ve all become accustomed to these types of mishaps, so our responses were less severe than the situation might have called for. We laughed. No, I think the word is guffawed. We sat on the ground and guffawed until we mustered the courage to stand up and follow the tracks for what ended up being our four hour journey home.

Here are a few happenings and mis-happenings that followed, in no particular order.

• To set the scene: The square in the very heart of Montpellier takes on a new shape at night. It’s a fuzzy and oddly enticing shape that’s slightly reminiscent of a scene from some post-apocalyptic film where everyone is forced to drink wine instead of water because the pipes have stopped running. Really, that’s not that far from the truth. Think: the pink elephant scene from Dumbo.

• When walking through the city center, we finally got to check out the Seuss-inspired playground, as there weren’t any slow-moving children to get in our way or parents to judge us for being there. Believe me, this is something I’d been wanting to do since I first laid eyes on the thing. It wasn’t totally empty, though, as there were a couple of mecs (that’s guys to you anglophones) that were sitting on top of the slide, smoking something.. questionable.

Anyhoo, through a certain amount of exploration and experimentation we found out… this was a MuSiCaL park! With giant tin drums you can climb on that produce different pitches, and a secret message sender (basically a glorified tin-can-on-a-string type deal), and all types of things to bang and crash! I guarantee the kids who get to play there in the daylight (sans odd looks or judgement) don’t know what they’ve got.

• Another couple of mecs approached us and after a tedious conversation where they tried to ascertain whether or not our French was good enough for them to make their “proposal”, they explained that they “simplement cherchent deux filles qui voudraient faire l’amour”. (You might not know “faire l’amour” and if not, I’ll leave it to google to translate that one. They needn’t have worried, though, because we didn’t need the google to understand their intentions.)

These are people we met in the street! No, I think “meet” is actually too intimate a word for what transpired. They didn’t even ask our names for crying out loud. Sigh.

Well. At least they’re honest. We told them sorry, but they’d better keep looking. “Bonne chance!” we said. Good luck!

(I want to point out that they actually had the audacity to look as dumbfounded as Schmorla had, as if they hadn’t even considered the possibility that we might not want to faire l’amour with them that night. What even. Honestly.)

• We saw a conglomerate of hooligans perched on top of the fountain which you might have noticed featured in front of a lovely blue sky in my photo album on Facebook. You ain’t never seen it like this though. I’ll just say that not everyone found it to be necessary to wear pants (or underpants) while climbing a fountain at 4AM in downtown Montpellier.

Maybe it’s not.

I wouldn’t know.

• We saw at least 9 cats. We asked one if we could stop walking and sleep with him for the night. He responded (in a French accent of course) “Humm, Aye do not know, because aye am a cat. I wheel half to sink about eet.”

..Cats are the same wherever you go.

•There was a makeshift soccer game happening in the square. Somehow the ball made its way over to us. We kicked it back and one of the players kicked it back to us and said something we couldn’t understand. We looked down at it for a few seconds, not sure what to do with the ball sitting expectantly between us or the boy standing expectantly a few feet away. Just then, Orla.. whoops I mean Schmorla.. decidedly kicked it in the opposite direction and kept walking. Just another priceless dumbfounded expression to add to the list. (That’s number three, if you’re keeping track.)

• We broke down the lyrics to “My Favorite Things.” Maybe it was just the 4:30AM giggles, but hearing the lyrics through the ears of someone who’s never heard them before… well it is a bit of a silly song. It took about 15 minutes to get through the whole thing because Shmorla kept repeating each line incredulously and laughing uncontrollably. No seriously. Every. Line.

“WHISKERS on kit- on- on- ON KITTENS???….


….Copper kettles and mittens, what kind of a life does this woman have??”

“Well, she was a nun before she started babysitting those 8 kids. So she was pretty sheltered, I’d say.”

“…. Wait, what?”

“Uhm, I don’t know. It’s based on a true story what takes place in Nazi occupied Austria and that family ended up escaping into the mountains and becoming a band together or something.”



NEXT TIME, on Ambling Abroad:

Flash Floods in the south of France: could it be any wetter?

UFOs: is that a thing? (spoiler alert, it’s totally a thing)

Wondering about some aspect of my stay here in particular? Think it’ll make for a good story? Let me know! I will either answer you directly, or make you wait approximately two weeks for a blog concerning the subject.


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