Saturday, 3 March 2018

Palm Trees and Snowflakes

I woke up because Timo was moving in the caravan and checking our heating system. I crawled out of under my warm cover and noticed that the caravan was chilly. We had run out of gas during the night. Luckily we had bought another bottle just before we left the Alps.

Timo changed the bottle, but we couldn’t get the heating working. We had bought butane instead of propane. We learned that the heating system couldn’t use butane – and that butane does not like the minus temperatures there had been during the night.

”OK, so no heating. How is the tire?” I asked Timo.
”It’s flat.”
”What a lovely morning.”
The Cannes Game Fair was about to start in 5 hours at 200 kilometers away from us.

Mr. Murphy On Our Tour

At the Alps someone had broke the left side mirror of our car on a parking lot. Local car repair managed to change that. While we drove south from the Alps I googled for solar panel repair services, because the charger of that system had stopped working. I found a good place and we spent 7 hours there. We drove until midnight. When we parked for a night, we heard hissing sound from one the caravans tires.

Now the tire was totally flat. Luckily we had stopped at a service station, so we were able to fill up the tire. We drove 6 kilometers and stopped to check the tire. Still round, let’s continue to the closest tire repair. Yet another interesting googling task for me.

I have got the feeling Mr. Murphy is traveling with us. Or then we are just extremely lucky, because so far we have managed to solve every problem there has been. After we got to the repair place, the flat tire was fixed in less than 30 minutes. There was a screw in it. We got our car in a camping place and arrived to the fair only two hours delayed.

French Forms And Families

Cannes International Game Fair is a big event with over 100 000 visitors. In this case ”international” means ”French”. There where some foreign exhibitors, but most of the information is available in French only. Where Nuremberg fair failed to tell what all information they needed, Cannes fair had a good web-portal with deadlines and forms to fill in. Only in French.

I needed to sign a paper for that somebody can else can work and build up our booth. I entered the birthdays of all our exhibitors to the portal. No complaints about Väinö’s age. Even during the check-in I was reminded of one form, which was ”really important, must be at your booth all the time, show this when somebody asks”. When I asked what it was about and what I needed to fill in, the check-in lady couldn’t answer. So I kept the paper safe and threw it to the trash bin on Sunday.

Many families visited our booth and played Darwinning. Väinö has learned to teach the game in English. Sebastien, one of our translators, was presenting the games in French. I also found out the we have exceptional fans: Matthieu, one happy owner of Perdition’s Mouth, stayed at our booth several hours just explaining the game in French to others.

As usual, I didn’t have much time to look around other booths. But I happened to notice one interesting game: it was called Finnish pool. Combination of pool and Finnish outdoor game Mölkky.

Detour To The Top

The morning we left Cannes it was snowing. A lot. It was weird to look at palm trees and snowflakes at the same time. We had a long drive ahead: LeiriaCon was starting on Thursday in Portugal. We had one stop at a parking lot under the oak trees and next day a booked camping place near San Sebastian in Spain.

We were driving the road N-634 along the coast of Atlantic ocean. It was less that 10 kilometers to the camping place. The road was blocked. Stones – or actually a part of a cliff – on the road. There was a sign to a detour. The scariest detour I have ever been. Going up and down on very a narrow, curvy mountain road. The type we were hoping to avoid on this trip.

Even the camping area was located on top of a steep hill. Not the most practical location, but the view was magnificent. At the reception I told about our long and difficult drive and snow in Cannes. The lady in reception was very understanding and told the forecast promised snow in the area for tomorrow. Snow!? And we were in Spain.

When the Winter Came

Do you know Douglas Adams’ book ”The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul”? There is a truck driver, a kind of a rain god, forced to drive in constant rain. I started to feel we have a similar curse with snow. In the morning everything was white. From forecasts we found out there was a snowy front between San Sebastian and Cannes. The worst part of weather was around us.

We decided to wait two hours. Temperature would go higher, roads to be cleaned – or at least some of the snow could have melted by then. We had a proper shovel with us and Väinö cleaned the roads and stairs at the camping area.

Even though there were not many other camping wagons, we didn’t have much space to turn our caravan. I have already learned the camping areas are not designed for the largest vehicles. The front wheels of our car dropped to a slippery ditch. The engine howled. For a moment a though we would never get out. But eventually we did get out and to the motorway.

The engine didn’t sound healthy. After some driving we were barely moving. We managed to get our combination away from the motorway and stopped on a road side. We have been for years members of The Automobile and Touring Club of Finland (ATCF). I phoned to their emergency number.

Within an hour a towing car came to get our car. It would take much longer for them to organise towing for the caravan thou. Whole Spain was in chaos because of the snow. Towing cars were busy. Timo went with the car, Väinö and I stayed in the caravan. A security woman from the close by industry area stopped to ask if we need anything. I told we are fine, but would have to wait for many hours.

It had started to rain. Hard wind was shaking the caravan. It was chilly. We couldn’t put much heating on, because the gas was running low. Fortunately we had still our winter jackets.

”Now we would have time to play Darwinning!” Väinö said. ”I could teach you the two player rules.” What a clever boy!

PS. We played Darwinning and made dinner while waiting. Eventually we got the car to repair and caravan to a safe place. We were accommodated to a hotel. ATCF phoned the next day to check everything was fine. Everything was fine, we were on our way to Portugal – but that’s another story.

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