Thursday, August 29, 2013

In Search of WiFi

We have not been in France long enough to find a more permanent internet connection. Although some larger towns along the way offer WIFI in their tourist bureau or library, most are too small for the Golden Arches. 

We walk through small towns with rows of empty store fronts with a "A Louer", "For Rent" signs as their only display feature. Gone are the small stores; they can no longer keep up with the current change and consumer demand. The ones that remain are post office/tobacconist/bakery/lotto store all in one.

It seems that the baker and post master still make home deliveies.

We continue our journey down the canal towards the next town hoping for better internet connections.

We pass through some old tunnels, some are now lit, but a few still remain in darkness with only the light at the end of the tunnel visible. Some have tow paths, formerly used by horses for pulling the barges, but now popular cycling routes. 

We passed under ancient bridges that played a major role in their time, but are now insignificant even for the swans.

The weather forecast had been for rain and it was 100% accurate. The handling of the locks remained the same whether in sunshine or in rain. Most of these locks are on remote control, with a transponder issued to us as we entered the Ardennes canal system. Once inside the lock there is a ladder, mostly covert in green slime and on top of it is the starting mechanism for the cycling the lock.

Each of these little locks is so individual, some with fruit trees and flowers others with old water pumps. 

As the locks fills with water we absorb the serenity of this little space. We are on your own, with no lock keeper in sight and in an emergency there is a small intercom. We wander through this land that has been used by barges throughout the centuries. In the past the lock keepers worked the locks by hand and sold fresh bread, baking, milk, eggs and wine to passing bargees. Only the lock houses remain, but these are no longer occupied by lock keepers.

When the lock doors open, a new scene emerges and we glide along toward the next corner and another lock.

We come to the end of a very wet day with still no WiFi.

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