The long and winding road - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

The long and winding road

SOMEWHERE ALONG THIS ROAD there will be sunshine and tears, and flat tyres and headwinds, and birds that sing and people who delight.

I love meeting people on trips, don't you? It's too easy to hurry on, the countryside a side-eye impression, the people faces without names or personality. For me, there is a huge delight in travelling where I don't understand the language - Touring Lite becomes Touring Full Strength when you can no longer understand the signs - but with that comes the frustration of not being able to talk.

Of course, that has its funny side. I don't speak Italian but that doesn't stop my trying and trying at some volume. I walk up to people and shout phrases at them from my guide book and their initial and understandable panic becomes overwhelmed by curiosity. What can this man be saying? It's not Italian - or Hungarian or Polish or whatever else I might be attempting - but surely anyone with the courage to mangle a language so determinedly should be given help. If only so that, then, he will go away. Let's look in the phrase book and try to make some sense.

I once asked directions of two warty farmworkers in Hungary. Hungarian is the worst Scrabble hand you have ever had. It makes no allowances.

"Frobyshnobskurov?", I asked them, looking pleading. I think I was asking for drain cleaner but they cottoned on when I dabbed my finger on the map.Frobyshnobskurov, it said, plain as life. "Ah," said a warty one, finally understanding, "Frropbussplanshikoo-ROFF!" Hungarian is like that.

They talked among themselves, pointed in opposite directions, fell out over who was right and who was wrong, made friends again and then sent us on our way.

I shall enjoy speaking French in Québec, and then across America it will be English. English is my mother tongue, French the language I speak the moment I close the door and step outside. Canada and the USA are, therefore, Touring Lite. But that's fine. I have an accent in both languages and both countries. There is nothing like an accent for getting into conversations.

And that's exactly what I'm wishing for.

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