For my right-wing redneck buddies and buddettes who don't speak French, once you get past the title of this column, you will probably have the vapors.
It's true; I went to France, and I went willingly.
And I can further add that I followed a rule set in stone by a friend. She said, "Don, I do not want to see your face on CNN for causing some type of ruckus." I behaved; she didn't see my face. So why does a trip to France, by me, rate a column? Well, I followed my No. 1 rule, "Never go anywhere without a fly-rod."
So, with my fly-rod safely in hand, I began my two-week trip to France by spending the first week on the Canal du Midi in the south of France.
For two couples of us, the trip began by picking up our motorized yacht at Castelnaudry. We then took a week and motored south on the canal to Port Cassafieres, near the Mediterranean.
Not knowing anything about fly-fishing in France, I took a 6 weight rod, 4X leader and a wide selection of flies. I mean, how hard could it be to catch fish on a canal. Really, I'm a retired guide, live in Colorado and have fished all over the country.
I even had illusions of catching fish for a dinner or two.
The first warning this might be a little more difficult than I expected was when the check-in dame at the boat rental office, in broken English, explained we didn't need to worry about having the septic tank pumped out.
The reason we didn't need to worry about this was because the toilets flushed into the canal.
The second warning was that the people living along the canal, like many Americans, want to see how many plastic bottles the canal can hold.
The validation of these warnings was I saw only one fisherman during the 50-mile canal trip. Not to be deterred, I rigged up, put a Woolley Bugger on the end of my 4X leader, and started casting. I had a single malt in one hand, my fly- rod in the other, a cigar held firmly in between my teeth, and was chatting with the other people in my group. Not an easy task.
So when I had a strike, I missed it. I thought it was a good sign. Sadly, it was the only semblance of a fish for an entire week of casting.
However, I did find fly-fishing is a universal language. Lots of folks, speaking in French, asked me what I was doing. I explained in my combination of French, Tex-Mex, Southwest Colorado lingo, about fly-fishing.
I also had two men from Ireland, who said they were avid fly-fishermen, talk with me.
They told me: "Should you catch anything, don't touch it, much less eat it."
After a week of this, I broke my rod down and mumbled to myself, "It's called fishing, not catching, for a reason."
It gave me great comfort - yea right. From here, Terri and I left our boat and headed to Paris. Being the optimist that I am, I was hoping not only would everyone in Paris be nice, but that I would also find a spot to do a little fly-fishing.
I went 1-for-2.
Everyone in Paris was nice; my fly-fishing in France ended at Port Cassafieres.
At this point I do have to say that judging from my experiences in France, my preconceived ideas about the people of France were wrong. Not sure about their government, seemed to be about as efficient as ours, but the people were great.
Should I find myself there again, I will be better prepared with my French vocabulary and better places to fly-fish.
Reach Don Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.