So here we are, stuck in a crappy roadside hotel near Perpignan, at the eastern edge of the Pyrenees in southwestern France. Seven of us U.S. Adaptive Ski Team racers and six staff members (a nice ratio, that) flew from the States to Paris-Charles de Gaulle last night, and then hopped an hour-and-a-half Air France flight to Marseille. Our destination is La Molina, Spain, close to the borders with France and Andorra, where we'll race in the opening World Cups [PDF] of the 2009 season.
(Why fly to Provence and then drive four or five hours to La Molina when we could more easily fly into nearby Barcelona or Toulouse? Well, after these races are over we head by car to Sestriere, near Turin, Italy [where the alpine events for the 2006 Olympics and Paralympics were held], and Marseille is more or less equidistant between La Molina and Sestriere.)
After waiting around for all of our teammates to arrive — we didn't all make it onto our scheduled flight from Paris because Air France would only allow two wheelchair users per flight! — four of us found ourselves short a total of twelve checked bags, including all of our skis and my monoski (and Jonezy's clothing/gear bag). We spent a good two hours filling out forms and waiting around in the lost luggage office, only to be told that Air France didn't really know where our bags are or when we'd get them.
We made arrangements to have the bags re-routed to Toulouse and then delivered to our hotel, and took off for La Molina in our fleet of three rental vans (two for passengers, one for cargo). But over the past few days, Provence has experienced what one local said is its first snowfall in twenty years, and today it's been pouring rain. As a result, the highway driving conditions are decidedly sub-par. (Actually, isn't being below par a good thing? So "over-par," then.) We made it about two hours out of Marseille before the drivers (our coaches) wisely decided to stop for the night at a roadside hotel and continue the drive in the morning.
So I'll finish my delicious almond-pear tarte (God bless French convenience stores), and wrap up this post by publicly expressing to the cosmos and to Air France that I would really love to get my ski equipment sometime tomorrow so that I can get in one day of free skiing before the races begin at La Molina on Monday. Please? S'il vous plait? ¿Por favor?