One of the things I love about living here are the lessons we have been taught with regard to the way we look at life, and the strong sense of community that French people have in rural France. This last week and especially today have been no exception.
A week ago I noticed a problem with our toilet, it was not flushing and I could hear water running in the cellar. Further investigation showed that we had a problem, and when he got home from work, R/D (he has two names so this is what I am going to call him now! ) concluded that we had a blockage.
We knew that our cesspit was due to be emptied and hoped it would wait until the end of the month because after being let down with a job we were unable to get the ball moving (or the crap on it’s way) until funds were available at the end of the week.
So all week we have been weeing in the garden (in the pouring down of rain) with the dogs looking at me as if I had grown another head! Visits to the public toilets were clearly de rigour for anything else. I even made up a poo bag of rubber gloves, wet wipes, and toilet roll! In fact yesterday as R/D and I went for our afternoon poo, and sat in adjacent stalls (unisex toilets here in France!) I found myself laughing as I called out to R/D ‘living the dream!’
That is the thing for us: we have learned so much. If you had told me years ago that I could live without a roof, water, and now a loo, I would have thought you were mad. But we have lived without all those things, and yet here we are still here. We have not died, we have not suffered, but here in our community we are not judged. And I believe that is the key.
Last week I looked at R/D one evening and said ‘I am not worrying about the loo, because I know it will be resolved in the end.’ We have learned patience, and to not stress about something if you cannot change it. That eventually what you need will come, when the time is right and not when you make it.
We did try to resolve the blockage over the week, hoping that we could hold on to the end of the month to have the cess emptied: we have used shampoo, washing up liquid, drain un-blocker, stronger drain un-blocker, a spiral spring, and a super duper Luigi plunger, but nothing was shifting it!
Once we had money in our pockets I visited our friend and neighbour Mark, for assistance, and literally at 10am this morning the tractor arrived! But after emptying the cess nothing happened, and the loo was still blocked, and despite working on the chambers for over an hour they eventually called the fabulous Pascal, (who I think can do mostly anything) who arrived toute suite. He could speak a little English, I can speak a little French. He looked at our antiquated cess, and asked me about the pipes and lo: they were off! Trying to solve the problem. All these people just trying to help us. It has not been a simple job, they are still here now, over four hours later, covered in crap, literally!
We now have a completely new cess pipe, because the other one was just full of a compacted wall of merde. We found that out when poor Pascale cut into the pipe and it poured out over his head! Marc and R/D laughed!
Here they all are with the lorry in tow, because it appears our cess has a pipe that leads out to the ditch. It is an air pipe, it creates the suction that makes the cess work, and it was blocked by years of mud, and our pine tree, and was in fact a major contributing factor to our problem.
It has to be cleared, and they are still all here, and the tractor is on it’s way…..
This is what I love about France, these people are helping us, using their time, with no questions. England, and even the majority if the English community, is not like that over here; and since starting this adventure there have been times when I am ashamed if my countrymen.
Marc and Nadia, Michelle and Martigne, all the wonderful French people we have met have been nothing but wonderful to us. But we have been reserved at times, have been afraid to approach them and we must have come off as bloody stand offish at times! Our lesson from all of this has been to stop being afraid of not speaking the language and integrate, that is the only way to do it.
Our lesson has been to join the community, so watch this space we will be.
More to come this week.