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Thursday, November 6, 2014

When the Crap Hits the Fan

As I left my apartment building this morning, I could tell that something was different.  There was a low murmur filling the usually quiet neighborhood.  My apartment sits just off a road that leads up to the périphérique around Toulouse and I recognized that quite a bit of stop-and-go traffic along this street was producing the unsettling, agitated noise.  Once or twice, as I got closer to the road, although it was still out of sight, someone sounded a loud, comical sounding horn.  "That doesn't sound like a normal car horn at all," I thought to myself.

I rounded the corner and saw that the street of our typically calm suburban neighborhood was crowded with morning commuters, and also an inexplicable number of farming vehicles.  Bright green tractors, and backhoes and giant, red machines with spiky arms, their engines low and thrumming inched along, much too bulky for the road on which they rolled.  Odd, I thought, maybe it's some big monthly agricultural event?  Maybe they're doing an expo or something in town?

I hurried on to head underground and catch my metro, my thoughts turning to my class that I didn't want to be late for.  A couple hours later, I was back on the metro and heading into the center of town.  I skipped up the steps to the weak November sun, rushing to get my errands done so I would make my next appointment.  Right there, in the center of town, main roads were blocked off and traffic was blocked by big white tents and more farming equipment.  Crowds of people were milling and talking and looking and pointing.  I glanced and figured, meh, no big thing.  Once or twice even, a loud "CRACK" sounded, although I never found out what it was and it didn't seem to be dangerous.

Determined to be early for the first day of training at my new job, located in a commune just outside Toulouse, I headed back into the metro to get on my way.  Getting off a few stops later, you could smell something awful immediately.  Ugh, someone let their dog poop around here, I thought.  I climbed the first flight of steps, on my way to fresh air, but the smell just thickened.  Another flight I climbed and ugh, it seemed like the smell was everywhere.  I got on a final escalator and saw, right at the metro entrance, partially blocking the stairs down, someone had dumped a HUGE pile of manure!  I gingerly stepped around it and continued to pick my way down the sidewalk, since the pile had been strewn and squashed and smeared around a bit by passersby.  A handful of businesses and administrative buildings are located in that area of the city.  As I walked, I passed an entrance to such a building which has a wide set of stairs leading up to its entrance.  These stairs were piled high with a heavy layer of manure and tires.  Large banners had been affixed to a nearby fence, expressing displeasure at government constraints placed on the farming industry.

Oh, it's a strike!  A farmers' strike!

Half a dozen street cleaners were busily working their way through the neighborhood, down side streets and around corners.  Even still, the sidewalk and street was covered in s thin film of watery, smelly, brown...crap.

I made it to my bus stop and panicked only a moment before my bus arrived, as some other bus-awaiters wondered aloud about possible transport interruption.  I arrived in plenty of time for my work training and didn't mind the strike all that much, it was simply pleasantly thrilling, nothing intrusive.  That is, until I caught a bus home and traffic was still jammed up from the day's events!  Took awhile to get home!

It turns out the strike was nation wide, and that in some places, like Paris, farmers were handing out free produce!  The farmers in Toulouse were definitely leaving behind something much less pleasant....

A link to the day's events in the news! And Anglais!

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