Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
Just looking out the hotel window in the morning I know it's going to be a long day. Downstairs at the bar the local workmen are already hitting the rosé and the Ricard at 7am. They keep trying to buy me a glass of wine while I'm eating breakfast but there's no way I'm going there. I tell them: "ça coupe les pattes" (it will take the wind right out of my sails).
The rain is relentless, it gets colder and colder until I start seeing snowflakes. I make a pit stop at a bicycle shop to have the cables tightened, more to kill some time out of the rain than to fix any pressing problem. I spend some time in the shop drinking coffee with the owners/employees, but eventually I have to get back out there.
Late in the day it starts snowing for real, with accumulation, wind, the works. The stars must be aligned because to top it all off, I get a flat tire. First flat of the trip at the worst possible time. I try to change it only to discover my spare tube got torn at some point sitting in the bottom of the panier. I'm not carrying a patch kit so I'm pretty much screwed. I'm in the middle of nowhere, nothing but fields and hills, in the driving snow. I start walking with the bike. After about two kilometers I come upon a tiny village. I'm soaking wet and freezing, so I start looking around the houses to see if there is somewhere I can leave the bike. I'm thinking I'll leave it here then hitchhike to the nearest town to find a spare tube or patch kit. Just when I'm really feeling desperate someone leans their head out the window and asks if I want a coffee. Not turning that down.
They are a bunch of guys hanging out in a converted barn smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Every half hour or so someone pulls up in a car, comes in for a minute, then goes outside with one of the guys. It takes me a couple of hours to figure out that they are selling hash. The cars come and go all night, they make dinner and offer me a place to sleep. In the morning they drive me to the nearest city to buy a spare tube for the bicycle and I'm on my way, the nicest drug dealers I've ever met.