Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Dax, France: La Feria!

It was time to say good bye to the amazing gang at Au Cler. Next stop Dax to reunite with an old friend, Christelle, and enjoy the Feria. When I left Australia only two things were certain, I was going to land in Paris on 25 June and I was going to the five day party and celebration of la Feria de Dax starting on 14 August. Today was 15 August but close enough.

Hitchhiking Round 2! This time I knew it was going to be tricky. The route of minor roads linking small towns.

The distance is just over 150km. The alternative method of catching the train involves travelling over 350km, taking 6 hours and costing 80 Euro. My goal is simple! Beat the train and save the cash!

I made my sign and was on my way. 1st ride: mother driving a nice car on holidays from Paris with her 2 very young daughters in the back. 2nd ride: an old businessman with a much younger girl with him. 3rd ride: a 35-40 year old lady that liked cool music. 4th ride: a 50 year old man that loved music festivals and running marathons. 5th ride: a 70 year old couple going to the Feria. After 5 rides and 3 hours I had saved 80 Euros and 3 hours... mission complete!

After arriving I met up with Christelle, a French friend I met at a Brisbane CS meeting in June last year (her backpack made an appearance in my first blog post). After introductions the 5 of us (her brother and two of her other friends) stocked up on food and alcohol to begin the 4 nights of partying.

The Team
The Feria of Dax is a massive celebration. The action commences on Wednesday and concludes on Sunday, around the same time each year. All the shops are closed with most boarded up. Only the bars remain open with many additional makeshift bars and urinals lining the streets. The normal population of Dax is 20 Thousand, during the Feria it increases 40 fold to a massive 800 Thousand. All the city streets are closed to cars. The city literally shuts down for 5 days.

Each day our unit awakes late, except for me, to begin again. We start with food, then alcohol followed by drinking games then THE FERIA!

The Feria itself was quite crazy with many drunk people. Music pumps out of many speakers only stopping when one of the many marching bands make their way down the road. The packed streets regularly cleared to the sides to allow a passage for ambulances. Ambulances and marching bands are the only things with the ability to clear these streets and it's amazing to watch.

On the Saturday I finally saw the Feria during daylight. We met up with Coralie's family for a traditional lunch. Her father wouldn't let me pay for anything. After the lunch I tried to visit the ATM to also shout rounds but her father pulled me out of the line, always saying "You are welcome in France". This was crazy, the father of a friend of a friend that I had only just met showing so much generosity... the extreme kindness of strangers is something I experienced very regularly in France.

The Feria was over. After I toured around the streets of an empty unrecognisable town Christelle drove me to a beach next to the famous Hossegor. My first time seeing waves on a beach in France.

It was now time to say good bye to Christelle and an amazing party. Hitchhiking to a town I only decided on visiting two hours before commencing my journey.

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