Perpignan – Sète Mon Apr 2

I woke up every half hour or so since the ground was too hard and forced me to change from one painful position to the other. At one such occasion I could feel the sun

I woke up every half hour or so since the ground was too hard and forced me to change from one painful position to the other. At one such occasion I could feel the sun shining and the next time I woke up after that I reached out for my glasses, put them on and had a look around. A garbage man was standing looking at me. Probably he was considering whether to put me in “cardboard”, “hard plastics” or “combustibles”.

Put the sleeping bag in my backpack and brushing my teeth I walked back to the highway-to-highway road. I was there at 6:56 and it was a foggy, chilly morning, perfect for hitchhiking. Early bird catches the worm or whatever the saying is. After 28 frozen minutes car #9 stopped. He was going a very short way and let me off at the highway where there was like a parking spot. After 10 minutes car #39 stopped at this parking spot and picked me up. It was a man in his early 20s who had a rat and a cat in his car. It was the first time I hitchhiked with a rat and a cat at the same time. Every now and then the cat would come and sit on my lap and receive my love. It was a perfect ride, but I was too tired to be able to enjoy it and fell asleep repeatedly. He woke me up now and then and pointed to my right where the Mediterranean was rolling up the sandy beaches. It was beautiful and then I fell asleep again.

Arriving in Sète he asked me if I wanted to come to his house for a cup of coffee. I accepted, hoped for breakfast and got in. We drank coffee and ate biscuits and I showed him my game. Then suddenly he told me to “do whatever I wanted in the house” and left me to go the dentist. I interpreted “do whatever” as it being ok to have a shower so I took out some kind-of-clean clothes from my backpack and started opening doors to see which one hid a shower room.

Behind one door there was a young, undressed person with long hair lying in a bed, turning its head and looking at me with confused eyes as I opened and quickly closed the door and said “Sorry!” Let’s just hope it wasn’t a girl. The next door revealed a shower room and I slipped in, locked the door and washed myself for the first time since that morning in Barcelona three days ago. It was wonderful. When the clean version of myself stepped out I was still alone in the house. The sleeping person didn’t seem to have gotten alarmed by my intrusion. I ate an orange and had just found the biscuit package from our previous coffee break when Guillame came back home and caught me red-handed. He took another look at the game and I asked if he wanted to play and he wanted to. We played for 2 hours; he was a quick learner and got the strategy and it was a pleasure to play with him. Another great pleasure was that he got hungry during the game and boiled a big pot of pasta for us. Excellent.

Towards the end of the game we got company from his little teenage brother Thibaut, whom I had ran into earlier that morning. After I had kicked Guillame´s ass, Thibaut wanted his kicked as well so we played again, 3 people. They were both surprisingly good at the game so I had to employ the most cunning deviousness I could find in the shadiest corners of my soul to defeat them.

Guillame played Central, I played East and Thibaut North. I traded with Guillame until we didn´t need anything from each other anymore. Now I only needed to conquer the most Northern prefectures, Aomori and Hokkaido, from Thibaut. To do this in peace, I gave away all my unique characters to Thibaut who got suspicious of course, but couldn´t find any reason as why not to take them, so he took them and now he needed only to conquer “SU” from his big brother´s Shizuoka to win. So the two brothers charged against each other in a final effort to win the game. They slowly ate each other´s core areas in a classic “Seigo rotation” of the kind you usually see at the final stage of this game. Only that I was at the axis of their rotation, building up my strength in peace and quiet. When Guillame had finally conquered the Northern prefectures from Thibaut, I could simply move in and take them for myself. Now the brothers woke up from their dreams of an easy victory and joined forces in an all-out assault on me. But it was too late, they were both too far South and I could easily take Hokkaido, build “HO” and complete the Hiragana alphabet.

It was now 5 pm and I packed my stuff and said “I guess I should continue to Switzerland now …”.

“If you want to stay tonight and go tomorrow, then that is also possible”, Guillame said. “I will go to Montpellier at 6 am tomorrow morning, you can join me then.” That was just perfect. I hadn´t slept in a bed for three nights in a row so I happily accepted his offer. Down the stairs, halfways to the cellar, there was a big ledge with a big bed on it, which Guillame laid with clean sheets. The place looked a bit dangerous, if I would move too much while sleeping I could fall down the stairs to the cellar. But the stairs was at the foot end of my bed, and I’ve never moved in that direction while sleeping in my whole life so it felt safe enough.

After installing myself I got on the internet for a little while. There was an e-mail from my mother saying that my step-brother had fallen down some stairs in Thailand. There had been no fence between the level on which he was walking and the level below and in the absence of streetlights he had stepped over the edge, fallen 4 meters and hurt his back and would have to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Quite shocking news. It was so unreal.

After writing e-mails for a while I sat down in the living room sofa. This house was situated on a hill, overlooking the Mediterranean as well as the cute town of Sète and the view was just marvellous.

Guillame was playing with his rat and his parents’ cat. His own cat had grown up with the rat and they were good friends. But his parents’ cat, who was the son of his cat, did not know the rat that well. To him, she was just a piece of meat that deserved to die immediately. Guillame let go of the rat and watched the cat trying to catch her. When the cat was too close he caught him and scolded him for trying to eat mademoiselle Rat. Then he let go of the rat and cat again and continued like that. It was a weird game of life and death. The cat was furious. He went away for a while, pretending like he didn’t care. Then, when he thought we weren´t watching, he rushed for the rat. At times he was only seconds from catching her. I got alarmed and went down to the floor myself to protect the poor rat, who was used to playing with cats and didn´t feel the danger. Death was imminent in this room.

To kill some time – and behave as a good guest – I started washing our dishes. It was good timing, the brothers’ parents just came home. “Who is this foreign kitchen helper?” they asked. “It’s a Swedish hitchhiker I picked up and brought home to eat”, Guillame said. “He is staying here, is it OK?”. Well, that’s at least my interpretation of the French words that filled the room. The parents were very nice and curious. We had beer and talked about this and that. Dinner was nice, consisting of a special, canned pork product, potato, salad and tinned sprats. After we had eaten, mademoiselle rat got her share.

Then, there was cheese. Reeeaaallly nice cheese. Jean-Marque said that his friend was coming the next day. That he was producing language-learning products for BBC and knew all Japanese teachers in England. He suggested that I´d stay for another day to show my game to him. It felt like a good idea so I accepted gratefully. Then I went down to my parking lot-smelling sleeping bag on the ledge bed and slept with the cats. Bon nuit

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