Friday, May 13, 2011
Well, it wasn't midnight, more like 3:30 in the morning, but there were all these noises on the street. Sounded like a street cleaner, but that's not a normal thing for France. And it didn't go away. I eventually decided to investigate what was going on outside our open window. We had left our window open last night with just the shutters closed and locked to let in the warm spring air. The past couple of days had been rather humid with periods of rain, so the house felt stuffy for sleeping.
I opened and folded back the wood painted shutters and stepped through the door out onto the balcony. To my surprise, there were two fire trucks filling the street just down from our house. People from the houses across the street were standing in their doorways watching the goings on. Tony and Marian were standing in their balcony window above me and the new neighbors in the efficiency apartment on our floor were also on the balcony.
There's clearly a car on fire (smoldering kind, not blazing, no explosion at least at the moment) and it's down the street where we've parked our cars. Tony tells me he thinks it is the car behind our Peugeot, but from the balcony, I can't tell. Tony says he pounded on our door to try to wake us. I hadn't heard. After a few minutes of watching them put out the fire, I decide that I need to be sure that our car is not involved. So I put on my robe and walk down to where the "gendarme" (policeman) is standing on the sidewalk.
It is indeed the car behind ours that is now a burned out shell. There is still smoke and the smell of melting plastic in the air but the firemen are finished wetting down everything (including our car) and inspecting the scene. The gendarme gets one of the firemen to come over to talk to me about our car. The pompier (fireman) assures us there is no damage to our car, but that it will need washing off as oil from the burning car has splashed onto our car.
By now it is 4:10 by the clock by our bed and I crawl back in to get some more sleep. It takes awhile before I drop off again. The apartment will need airing out tomorrow to get rid of the smell of burning plastic.
In the morning, Janis and Clark and Judy and Duane and Dave tell me they heard the knocking and the commotion, but didn't have any reason to check it out as they didn't know what was going on. Duane, Judy and Dave check out our car and the burnt out car on their walk to the boulangerie and find we have been lucky. The car behind has damage to all it's plastic components on the front of the car (they're melted), but our car is OK. Dave tells us that he didn't park closer because he had hit the curb and couldn't move back any farther. How fortunate!
Welcome to France, Janis and Clark!