You may remember how hard it was for us to get out of the little village of Vallery. Well, our route from the abbey led back through Montbard, where we’d eaten lunch in the parking lot. Not being able to get our GPS to work forced us to rely on maps and – even worse - the road signs at the roundabout.
The first roundabout proved challenging enough. We went round and round, trying to agree on which exit to take. The one we chose took us off into a field. Finally, we were able to find what we thought was the road out of Montbard. When we encountered the next roundabout, however, we couldn’t agree on the correct option out of the city towards the toll highway. I insisted on going right. We followed that road for a while until Dori pointed out that it couldn’t be the correct one.
After another attempt, we made a successful escape from Montbard, and were once again driving through the beautiful French countryside. Actually, the roads are good in France, and I’m sure that if you know where you are going or have a good GPS, driving would be pleasant.
The toll highway led toward Sens, where we would spend the night before catching an early morning train to Paris. We were starting later than we had planned, but at least the summer sky was light and the sky was clear. We made good speed. The trip was uneventful and smooth and before too long we had reached the outskirts of Sens.
I was giving thanks for such an easy journey when we pulled up to the toll station. I inserted my credit card, only to have it rejected. After another unsuccessful attempt, I pressed the “Help” button. When I said, in English, “My credit card won’t work,” the man responded with instructions which, though in English, I couldn’t understand. I tried what I thought he meant but the machine again spit out my card.
By now, being exhausted from a very long day and completely frustrated, I “lost it.” I just collapsed emotionally and begged God for mercy.
Then the man said that I should switch to the toll lane next to ours. That meant backing up, very slowly because a line had formed behind us. Sweating profusely, I was able to get over into the next lane, where I tried the machine again. It wouldn’t work.
This time, a woman with a pleasant voice came on and said I could use cash. After inserting the required amount in coins, I saw the gate open and the green light come one. I felt as if I’d been released from prison!
We had reservations at the Arc Hotel, part of a chain. After driving for what seemed like an eternity through Sens, we finally saw the sign for the hotel and pulled into the parking lot. We checked in and took our bags up to our room.
The room, though tiny, was clean and modern and would do fine for one night. Suddenly, however, we realized that it had no air conditioning. Remember that France was suffering a serious heat wave at the time. The temperature in our room was about 95 degrees.
Dori immediately opened the window to allow some air to come in. It looked out on the parking lot, and we could hear cars and people below, but we had to cool the place down somehow. Dori can’t stand heat but this was too hot even for me. We left the window open when we went out to look for a restaurant, hoping that the air wouldn’t be so torrid when we returned.
By now, we were both very weary and very hungry. Dori located a restaurant within walking distance so we made our way there, perspiring along the way.
She had picked a very charming place. They had a large courtyard with tables under trees and lights. We selected a table and scanned the menu, which featured some entries that seemed very appetizing.
There were only two problems: It was stiflingly hot and we could see that we would have to wait a very long time. It had taken “forever” just to have the waitress give us the menu, and we hadn’t seen her since. We noticed the people sitting near us, who had come before us, had not yet been served.
So, we got up and walked away. We were sure that people were commenting on “those Americans,” but we didn’t have the time or energy for a leisurely late-night dinner in an outdoor oven.
On the way to the restaurant, we had noticed a small Casino supermarket, part of the same chain where we had bought our lunch in Montbard nine hours previously. A very small bar with three high stools faced the window. We realized that it would be air conditioned, and decided to eat supper there.
We were not disappointed. We found some milk custard, fruit, and whole-wheat bread, and enjoyed a thoroughly adequate supper in cool comfort, filled with gratitude to God for supplying our “daily bread” just in time.
With happy tummies, we started walking home. Then we remembered the heat in our room. Would it have cooled down enough for us to sleep?
The answer slammed us in the face when we opened the door. If anything, the place seemed hotter. And there was some noise coming up from the parking lot.
How would we sleep? We were exhausted and desperately needed rest before our trip the next day.
We had no option, however, so we got ready for bed and lay down, prepared for a miserable night. We did pray that God would work a miracle and allow us to get at least a little sleep.
We woke up refreshed the next morning, stunned that the heat had not bothered us at all. God had answered another cry for help.