Travel Journal

Bleau job (blown off)

(Tuesday 13 May 2014) by Mariken
My o my, it have been some busy and exciting weeks since our last post in Merece, in several ways! Short version:

Continuation of journey to Maastricht (through Slovenia, Austria and Germany, including one closed mountain pass) - two and a half weeks in Maastricht (including a wedding to attend, annual check up of our beloved Niva, visiting friends and relatives) - one and a half week in Bleau* (including a lot of rain, one visit to Fontainebleau's castle, one day in Paris, one big, bold boudersession and one trip to the hospital) - back to Maastricht (with again a lot of rain and another trip to the doctor, a GP this time) - ...

Okay, maybe a slightly extended version?

We had left Kalymnos mainly because we wanted to attend the wedding of some dear friends in Maastricht. It took some coaxing and some firm action with regard to the Niva, one turn in our tracks (a mountain pass in Slovenia was still closed, so we had to head back and take a road through Italy) and some 'racing' on the German highways (maximum speed of the Niva is about 114 km/h) but we arrived in Maastricht well in time to attend a wedding full of sunshine, love, happiness and promise for the future. And with regard to future promises: our Niva underwent the annual APK and was cleared to stay on the road at least until May 2016 within 20 minutes! With just some eenie meenie tiny deception from our side** :-^ And since we call ourselves professional travellers these days, we travelled extensively through the Netherlands to visit many friends and relatives. All in all it were some busy weeks with a lot of fun and beautiful moments. We even celebrated the first King's Day, in its typical Dutch way, on Saturday as apparently in the Netherlands Sunday is not a day to celebrate... time to go again, I think!

Our plan was to do some 'hard' bouldering in Bleau for a few days/weeks (depending on the weather and general interest) and then to move on to Scandinavia to attend the Midsummer Night all the way up in the north. Well, the weather was a bit of a party-pooper, but after a few days the sun appeared and we headed to Canche aux Merciers to do the orange circuit. A not too difficult start we thought. Nice sun, birds in the wood, baguette at hand and some nice and easy boulders, what can possibly go wrong? Well, somehow I managed to fall/jump off a three metre boulder in a kind of awkward way. Result: a sprained ankle and the top joint of my left little finger dislocated. :-x Despite the sprained ankle I was able to walk back to the car (so it was not that bad), after which we headed to the hospital in Fontainebleau, where they stoically asked: 'Accident d'escalade?' 'Oui, I'm afraid so...' What can I say, they are probably used to foreign idiots coming in with sprained and broken limbs. My little finger was reduced (is that the medical way to say it? Anyway, it was straightened) and wrapped in metres and metres of gauze and bandages. The worst thing all in all was not the pain, as that was not that bad actually, but the inability to do anything. I was frustrated beyond believe within an hour. I was advised to go back to the Netherlands eventually to attend a specialist, although it was not necessary to leave immediately. So the next day we visited the castle of Fontainebleau, the only castle in France which has housed all kings, queens, emperors and empresses. It was a beautiful castle, a lot of grandeur and some fabulous gardens, although walking 130 acres with a sprained ankle is maybe not the best idea. We also spent a day in Paris, where we visited the Musee de la Marine, had dinner in a restaurant dedicated to Jacco's stepmom (Chez Marianne) and walked from Concorde to Trocadero, from Trocadero to Quartier Latin and from Quartier Latin to the Marais; my ankle was told not to complain (and it didn't). We even spent a few hours at Au Vieux Campeur, where I bought new climbing shoes. Life is nothing without hope. :-p

Having visited all sights we wanted to visit and being frustrated like hell because of all the things I could not do, we headed back to Maastricht last Friday. Yesterday I visited a GP in Maastricht who cut and sawed through all the cotton around my arm and fingers and who declared after a close inspection that my finger was probably going to make a full recovery, to avoid climbing for the next two months and to go easy after that and that visiting a specialist was not necessary. Hurray! I can shower properly again! I can cook again! I can typ with ten fingers again! I can do my hair again! I can wear my watch again! I can wash my hands again! Etcetera, etcetera. It might look tiny and insignificant, but that little finger is a vital part of your body, which you only seem to discover the moment you can not use it.

So, plans for the future? Some rest days in Maastricht to see whether my finger truly heals properly, and then we're of to Scandinavia, fortunately well in time for the Midsummer Night. My apologies to everyone who I scared out of their wits with emails about my 'condition', my heartfelt thanks for all attention, patience and help and my best wishes to everyone we could not meet during this short stay. We keep you posted!


* 'Font' for native English speakers, which I am not. I am from continental Europe so I call it Bleau. As the people in Bleau do, by the way. For those not involved in this enigmatic climbing lingo: Foret de Fontainebleau, as is the proper French name.

** Jacco disconnected the battery for a few seconds, about an hour before we went to the mechanics, to make sure the light on the dashboard that indicates a problem, would not blink, as this would have informed the mechanics to check the catalytic converter. They did check it now, and saw it had been tampered with, but as the light did not blink, they probably thought it was ok. :-p

  • Canche Aux Merciers = Chance on dislocation? by Mrs. Marike


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