Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Skiing in the Alps: 23/2/2011

     A routine had settled in as our stay in France became more familiar. Marie would wake up, then wake everyone else up. We ate together and we dressed ourselves in layers of clothing that made us look like marshmallows. One by one, my group members would meet outside and wait to start skiing. Our ritual became solid to the point where I could anticipate exactly what time each person ate, got dressed, and started skiing.
     Floureen complained about her ski shoes again and our ski group returned to Val Thorens shortly after to take a short break. The other ski boots Floureen used where uncomfortable for her, however, when she attempted to ski with Règines boots (Règine bought new ski boots the night before, henceforth she had two pairs) they were too big. Floureen was not having the best of luck.
     Fred, Marie, Règine, and I were lounging on the lawn chairs at a restaurant outside, drinking our hot lemon drinks, when JohnLuke, Marrie's boyfriend, and his father Victor came along. JohnLuke was a big man with a rounded stomach and strong muscular arms. Stubble covered his chin and a hat and multi-colored sunglassed disguised his face. When he said hello his voice vibrated in a deep tone that was commanding and confident. I had the impression that he was a big teddy bear that could crush a bolder. Victor had the same facial features as his son, but less intense. Victor stood a foot shorter than his gigantic son. With his green, rounded winter jacket and his balding head, he resembled a turtle. Victors slow nature and calm personality made it easy to hold a steady conversation with him.
     We made small talk then recommenced our skiing activity with our two new found members. As Victor skied down the hill I noticed he was having more difficulty than I. At first I thought he was skiing awkwardly because he was elderly, but in reality, it was due to his inexperience. JohnLuke taught his dad how to ski since Victor was 50 years old. I admired Victors audacity and courage for beginning skiing so late in life and JohnLuke for his leadership, charm, and skiing expertise.
     The weather on the mountain suddenly turned from a sunny and peaceful atmosphere to a windy nightmare. The strong wind currents blew the top layer of snow into our faces and it stung like needles. The ride on the ski lifts were not any better because it swayed the suspended chairs and caused me to feel nervous being distant from the ground.
     During one of our rides on the ski lifts, we spotted a pack of skiers below with one laying on a stretcher. Another man from the back was attempting to re-climb the mountain in an area that was not apart of the main path. Concerned, my Belgian group started yelled down at him, asking what happened and what he was doing in french. He seemed to be ignoring us until I decided to call out, "what are you looking for?" In reply, he said, "skis." The man was an Englishman and probably the other members of his ski group as well. I don't know what became of these strangers, but I hoped that a doctor would find the man who was injured.
     At 2:00 o'clock we stopped again at a restaurant on the mountain to eat lunch. To our dismay, the buffet closed fifteen minutes beforehand. We ate left over apple pie from the buffet and hot lemon drinks to hold us over until we returned to Val Thorens around 4:00 o'clock. Many other skiing tourists had the same idea and people were everywhere. I skied past a restaurant called "La Follett Douce" where hundreds of people were dancing, drinking, and talking. It was an extremely popular area for all the partying people.
     My group wanted to go shopping again and I stayed behind at the hotel to repose. Around 6:00 p.m. I had a food impulsion and ate a quantity of food to feed two people. My lack of food during lunch time must have caused my outburst. Marrie and Règine came back with mountains of groceries. They unpacked their load and I looked at the food that was already plentifully stacked in the cupboards. All I could think was that Règine and Marrie love to shop, whether it's for clothing or for food.
       Règine finished cooking the meal at 9:30 p.m. and we sat down to eat together. During our conversation I discovered that Marrie was Règines step-mother-in-law. Règine's husband divorced her, but she still kept in contact with her ex-husbands sister due to their close relationship. And like our morning ritual, we watched some T.V., then went to sleep.
     Everyday, from morning to night, my ski group and I re-enacted our ritual of waking up, eating, skiing, eating some more, watching someone get hurt, piging out, and going back to sleep sore. JohnLuke and Victor decided to join us on our escapade and we welcomed them with open arms. Similar to the other days, someone got hurt, except this time it was a complete stranger. The weather was also something to be worried about; it must have been as windy as a Kansas tornado. My night came to an end and my ritual rested unfinished until the next day.

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