spontaneity stinks

We decided when we left the flamingo reserve to do something crazy and spontaneous. Now I remember why I don’t do things that are spontaneous.

After typing in a few destinations to the GPS, we decided to drive to the coast and go to Marseilles. Bonnie (Bill’s GPS) said that it was about an hour and 20 minutes away. I sat back and closed my eyes, hoping that would be enough time for my migraine to subside. (I knew it wouldn’t be… they always last two days. Always.) Bill asked if I wanted to just go back to the hotel, but when visions of another take-out meal from McDonalds floated through my head I told him to just stay on course.

Our first glimpse of the Mediterranean was amazing. The water is the most incredible shade of dark blue. Really beats the pants of the dreary gray of the North Sea or the muddy tone of the Atlantic. It was a very windy day and waves were crashing up against a rocky sea wall sending spray all the way across 3 or 4 lanes of traffic onto our windshield. We laughed; it seemed so amazing at the time. Here we were, driving along the Mediterranean Sea on a whim. Ok, even now that part of it is still amazing. But soon we had to figure out where to go. The signs gave us the choice: the old port or downtown. Bill went with downtown. Honestly, I may have chosen the old port… but for the same reasons I can’t keep away from all the lousy disappointing markets. We cruised into town and realized we’d just entered a city. A real, big city. And we had no clue where to head. Bill managed to tell Betty to lead us to a monument next to the ocean… figuring we’d at least be heading to a touristy area. It was about 6:00, too early for restaurants to open… so each one we passed perched right along the water was dark. And since it’s a holiday we couldn’t even be sure they’d be open if we waited.

Finally, Kaitlyn started asking if she could unbuckle her seat belt, she had had enough of being in the car. Bill found a parking place on the street across from a little bit of beach and we got out. That wind that was whipping up the waves was nasty from outside the car. Cold. Horrible bitter cold. Kaitlyn and Bill took off toward the ocean. I had to turn around and try walking backwards, I couldn’t stand that wind in my face. Then I couldn’t see them because when I tried to brave the gale, I was staring into the sun. So I stood there at the edge of the Mediterranean Ocean crying. Made the whole spontaneous thing a lot less amazing to me at that point. I got a hold of myself and found my family. Kaitlyn didn’t care if it was 100 degrees (it was far from it) or zero degrees (it was about that with the wind… Celsius) she loves the beach. She wanted to build a sand castle, and would not be deterred by the fact that it was a pebble beach. When that didn’t work, she ran off to the playground. I couldn’t even take my hands out of my pockets, but there she was grabbing onto the metal bars to climb. After a little while she announced she had to pee. If there was a public bathroom, we had no idea where it was. Bill took her over to a sort-of secluded spot near a lifeguard building and stripped her down to let her go. She couldn’t do it. Said it was too cold.

After some hide-and-seek while Bill took pictures of the sea, those of us who have a normal sense of heat and cold decided it was time to head toward shelter in the form of a restaurant. Across the street by where we’d parked was a row of restaurant/cafe kind of places. We walked up and down that strip reading menus. Kaitlyn wanted shrimp and Bill told her there wasn’t any on the menus, even though there was. Mostly he was afraid that they’d come with their heads and bodies and not be what she wanted. I don’t think she’d care of a shrimp came out on her plate still alive, she’d club it with her spoon and eat it. That child loves shrimp. Cold and hungry, we chose the place that looked the most promising for her because it had pizza. It had a funny trying-to-sound American name, which I’ve already forgotten. But no one in there spoke English. Kaitlyn ordered a pizza, I ordered some creamy gratin pasta (nothing sounded good because I felt so sick, but I knew I needed to eat something). Bill ordered a shrimp entree (appetizer). He asked the waiter about it, but neither of us understood the answer. It came out in a huge glass… piled high with small shrimp drowning in the French version of cocktail sauce (basically mayonnaise with a hint of ketchup) and a single, giant, full-bodied shrimp sitting on top staring at us… defying us to eat it. Bill cleaned that shrimp and Kaitlyn gobbled it down instantly. Then the two of them went to town on that giant mayonnaisey bowl of shrimp. I had a couple, but paired with my creamy pasta it really was not that good. I think Bill and I had both imagined a nice seafood meal at the coast. This wasn’t it. But he liked it, and that’s what mattered, he’d the one who ordered it.

After dinner we got back in the car and headed back to our hotel in Avignon. It may be the last time in a long time I’m spontaneous…. unless I hear about a market somewhere…

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