On Sunday, we convened once more at the Saulue’s farm, for a barbecue of bacon, sausage, and duck hearts and livers; afterward we would go on a rafting trip on the Gave (river) de Oloron.
They set up a couple of games of pétanque (petanca in Occitan), which I quite enjoyed (though the team I was on lost). At the beginning, I wore my beret, in a jaunty style. One of the brothers came over to me and said that I was wearing it like an American, and should wear it like a Béarn. He adjusted it for me. It proved too warm to wear it while playing pétanque in the sun, so I removed it, with some regret.
The rafting trip was also a lot of fun. Forty-four of the guests had signed up, and when we arrived at the rafting site, they outfitted us with wetsuits, helmets, life vests, and a piece of string to hold our glasses. We had to sign a statement that we were capable of swimming 25 meters. When I asked if they meant upstream or downstream, everyone ignored me.
Then they announced that we should divide into four teams of eleven. This alarmed me a bit, and I told everyone I could that we needed to make an old folks team. In the end we did, though three of them were François’s father and uncles. They took positions at the front of the boat. Our guide Alex announced that he would be our captain, since this was the English-speaking boat, but the Saulue brothers said, “Non!” So Alex said he would give orders first in French, and we could follow what the brothers did while he repeated the orders in English.
As the trip started, it became apparent that three of the teams had evil designs on the members of the others, and also the Saulue brothers in our boat seemed anxious to join battle with the other boats. Pretty soon, most of the party had been in the water at least once, though the older Americans in our boat adopted a defensive strategy of holding each others’ life vests in such a way that if one was grabbed, there was too much weight to dislodge us from the boat.
The rafting was good fun, and I’m glad I participated, rather than leaving early for Toulouse and my flight home.