Sunday, November 16, 2008

Roughing It

Now, in the words of our president elect, "Let me be clear." This post is in no way meant to be a complaint. I have not picked up the French penchant for whining. I just want to share with you the living conditions at Camp des Cimes. Ours was the uppermost chalet. We would climb the stairs on the side, go in a door, and then climb another flight of stairs to our third floor room. Upon arrival we were given four sets of sheets and four bath towels--circa 1968 by my best estimation. Each cot was supplied with a pillow, a charming (albeit threadbare) quilt, and a scratchy wool blanket. Our beds might have been perfectly cozy save this one minor detail: they were all somewhat damp. In an effort to warm our room and dry our cots, David turned on the wall heater. This ancient little unit sounded like a dental drill on steroids and produced the heat of a small candle. Our first night I was so cold that I was having chest pains. For survival (really!) David and I pushed our cots together and snuggled.

The next morning David was up at the crack of dawn because he was leading worship at the first conference session. He gathered his things and went down to the bathroom, which was on the ground floor and had two toilets and two showers. There was a wooden sign that said GARCONS (boys) on one side and FILLES (girls) on the other. We were told that the procedure was to turn the sign to your sex when entering the bathroom. David, finding the bathroom completely unoccupied, put up the GARCONS side and got into one of the showers. A few minutes later he hears the door open, and a woman's voice say, "I'm coming in!" You need to know that my husband is the most modest human being on the face of the earth. He barely gets naked in front of me--his wife--so you can imagine his horror when another woman announced that she was getting in to the next shower. I'm sure he did everything he could to seal the seams of his shower curtain to the wall while cowering in the far corner of the stall. He waited in the shower for the woman to completely finish bathing, dry off, and leave the bathroom. Only then did he dare to reach out for his towel, dry off, dress, and emerge from his stall. He was completely traumatized by the incident. I was completely amused.

David and I are not the type who enjoy roughing it. (Okay, I do realize that people who actually "rough it" would not even put this experience in that category. I don't suppose wall heaters, cots, and indoor toilets are generally part of the "roughing it" accommodations, but for us this was downright primitive!) Even in the Alps, camping is not our thing, and Camp des Cimes was definitely pushing the edge of our comfort zone--save this: the food was incredible! The meals were served family style, one course at a time at a slow and very French pace. Each repast was simple, but tasty. Fresh, colorful, and chocked full of flavor.

Greater Europe Mission owns Camp des Cimes and uses it for summer and winter camps for kids. All things considered, it is a great facility.

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