Mamut with human
This day's minutae will be turned inside out...because I feel like it. Most families dream of taking their kids to places that maybe they always wanted to go but there was no money, or they went and it marked their lives forever. These can be locales such as Disneyland or World, Sea World, maybe Graceland or perhaps the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere down there in Oklahoma. Apparently Americans carry these dreams overseas and influence the European populace at large as EuroDisney is the No. 1 visited attraction in France. We are not so different, except that our tastes run counterculture to the choices above.
Today we made a Mama dream come true and went to Prehistoparc, replete with full sized-mammoths being speared to death by Cro-Magnon, a furry version of a WWF wrestler going head to head with a wooly rhinocerous, a cave lion roaring at a cowering man/woman while he/she shrieked in a strange Franco-Neanderthal language...you get the picture. If you don't, see below. It is set in a tract of beautiful deciduous forest with moss covered rocks and the sun filtering through to a small stream flowing through.
The figures were all life-sized and set in place within this forested landscape. Of course, you might not want to look too closely or you'll see the horribly outdated anthropological interpretation of the paleolithic human of the 1970s/80s (and the speaker box in full view behind the lion's derriere).
Previous to this aventure fromageux, we bushwhacked our way up the bramble covered path behind the gite to a trail that led up to the top of the limestone ridge. It was a great little hike that got us a wide view of the Ceou valley. At the top we realized we'd made a wrong turn and stood on the grounds of some manor house. We crept out to the little winding road and passed the little hameau of , which sits atop this ridge. We felt a strong desire to never move again. On the way down, Ruby discovered some rock shelters we'd missed and we looked around carefully in all the crevices just in case someone had hidden a cache of fabulous Solutrean points but, alors non, just some cobwebs and spiders. At this point Mama's jetlag set in and I had to take a little nappy in order to fully appreciate my next adventure (the one above).
So, we have heard it is cold and miserable in Kansas. It is, of course, not miserable here but it is cold. Much the same as when we left, with most days threatening rain, but never quite making good on the promise. Mossy bravely jumped in the unheated pool here today in a rare ray of sunshine and leapt back out like a frog in a fire (no pun intended French people). It is supposed to be beautiful tomorrow, though, so we hope for warmth!
After saddling ourselves with the appropriate memorabilia from Prehistoparc (two rubber bouncy balls and postcards) , we flung ourselves into a short addendum adventure to La Roque St. Christophe, a crazy cliff that rises straight from the Vezere river valley floor up several thousand feet and contains the remains of both prehistoric and "troglodyte" cliff dwellers.
I read this in French on the website before coming and I could have sworn that troglodytes were bizarre creatures of the trilobite era that scooted around on the swampy ocean floor..or in caves...or something like that. But apparently they were cliff dwelling people who built wooden forts into these rocks (18th century/19th). I guess we should read the brochure. Anyway, it afforded us the chance to obtain a rarity in France, one that we dream of every moment: a to-go cup of coffee (at le snack bar).
The Vezere valley is a place we will find ourselves in again and again. It is the seat of prehistory in the area and the largest concentration of prehistoric human habitation in France. This is where Lascaux, Le Moustier and Les Ezyies-de Tayac can be found, among many others. The river isn't quite as wide as the Dordogne but a beautiful meandering one as seen from above.
And, last, the quintessential red flower of the Perigord noir, something akin to a California poppy, but more delicate and purely red. It is everywhere, in rocky soil, in cliff faces, in fields. And so it's found on tablecloths, dishes, towels and everywhere. It reminds me of the surprise lilies that pop up on the lawns of Lawrence..a gift from nowhere and for no one in particular.