Posted by: lifeonislandtime | July 26, 2015

French Pastimes

The Great French Pastime
Driving from Normandy to Reims, we got to experience a time-honored French pastime: a strike. It started innocuously enough. We were just entering Caen, when traffic began slowing. Soon, we were at a crawl. Cars began moving to the right. If you’ve ever travelled by car in a large cit, you know the drill. We figured there had to have been an accident, and we were being routed around it. Nope. We got to the exit and there were giant John Deere tractors (these seem ubiquitous world wide) and other large farm equipment blocking the lanes and routing us off the highway. 
Keep in mind, this is not a small, rural highway; This highway is the size of I-5 through northgate or SeaTac. When we took the overpass over the highway after the off-ramp, we saw farm equipment blocking both directions of the highway for at least a mile, all lanes covered, all exits and on ramps blocked. Many of the trucks had banners, hand made signs, and many people were holding placards. The slogans on them, however, were lost in translation for my poor school-girl French. 
Luckily, we followed a semi around through a suburb of Cannes and on toward our destination. We marveled at the traffic backup in the other direction; it was nearly 3 miles long. We were also surprised that the police just stood there, and diverted traffic around the strike. Maybe it’s just that we’ve become so used to the military/police complex that it’s more remarkable to see that the police actively work to protect the rights of the people. 
Watching the news the next day, I pieced together that the strike was over food prices and the subsidies paid to farmers for growing food. I also realized that the strike has been going on for quite a while, so I’m not sure what accounts for the traffic issues. If I knew I-405 were blocked through Bellevue, I Would take other roads to avoid the block. If it were blocked days on end, you can bet I would find another way to get where I was going. 
I guess that’s just part of the pastime, though.

Full disclaimer: the image is not mine. I couldn’t get the camera up in time.


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