Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Meeting ‘Mercotribe’

The new gasket hadn’t arrived by Good Friday so we booked another 5 days at the campsite with a view to making it a base for exploring the area. We went to the supermarket in Eguzon to stock up with food and wine and beer, all the necessities! And a trip round the village for fresh bread from the excellent boulangerie. When we were on our way back to the campsite Peter noticed a piece of paper under the windscreen wiper.

I was quite pleased with myself that I was able to understand most of it. It was an invitation to a gathering of Mercedes trucks that was being held very near to our campsite at the bridge near to the dam across the Creuse.

We had no idea what this was going to be. We were a little reluctant thinking it might turn out to be a real anoracky do, with lots of old men and their vintage Mercs! We couldn’t have been more wrong! It was actually the meeting up of people from all over France and other Francophone (French speaking) countries who live in or go travelling etc in old Mercedes vans and trucks – camions - who otherwise meet up in virtual space through an on-line forum and call themselves ‘Mercotribe’. is the web address. Here is their banner/logo.

We were the oldest people there, but despite this and our lack of fluent French, and only a couple of English speakers, we were immediately accepted and felt very welcome.
Here are some of the various vans and trucks.

… and some of the lovely lads we met …

especially lovely Lolo ( Laurent Kami) a French white Bob Marley who we have a special connection with … That's him again on stilts!

and Lulu (Ludwig… yes that’s his real name, don’t know his last name) with Jojo (from Paris)…

and Syb or Seb (Sebastian whose real name is Pierre!).
This is Lulu being dragged off by Seb as he is trying to make sure he gets to sleep and goes to his work in the morning!

Mercotribe collect money at their meetings for an organisation called Azzeka, a charity that cares for children in Morocco, by selling bottles of Moroccan wine (good wine!) and selling cooked food – lamb tagine (also very good!).

We stayed there overnight, and although the ‘rasso’ short for ‘rassemblement’ meaning a gathering or assembly, was going on until Easter Monday, we decided to leave and come back on the last day as we felt a bit out of place not speaking French and being older. We did a bit of Touristy sight-seeing at the weekend to Crozant and Fresselines; both villages famous for art-related reasons. Crozant is famous for a school of painting that was started by an artist living there and Fresseline is famous as Claude Monet lived there and did a lot of paintings of the area including the ruins at Crozant.

We came back on Monday night, which we thought was the last night but just about everyone had gone, but Lolo, Lulu, Seb and Jojo. They were all having a drink in Jojo’s caravan and they invited us to join them.

We stayed up late talking to them, luckily Lolo’s English is very good! We found out that when they were at school and learning English they had a book similar to our ‘Janet and John’ books (if you’re as old as us!) where the main character is called ‘Brian’ and one of the phrases that was quite popular was ‘Where is Brian? Brian is in the kitchen’! I told them that my Dad is called Brian and he is often in the kitchen doing the dishes ! They were taught to speak English as though they had a potato in their mouths to get the vowel sounds! This became a sort of catch phrase with us all. Where is the sister of Brian is also featured and Lolo said at one point “where is the daughter of Brian? He doesn’t know…somewhere in Europe!” We stayed overnight there again. We swapped email addresses and phone numbers with Lolo to keep in touch when we left to go to the post office to see if the gasket had arrived. He invited us to his home in a village near Eguzon to fit the gasket, but it had not arrived and we decided to go and visit the Brenne Natural Park area for a couple of days.

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