What a stew we get into today. There have been warnings about a general strike happening today, and sure enough – no train service for our remaining scenic journey to Bastia. No worries though – we’ll just take our bus. About three-quarters of the way we hit a traffic jam. Crews are repaving the road up ahead, and are letting traffic go in a single lane alternating directions every couple of minutes. There is a lot of clutch work here, as we start and stop. Unfortunately, the clutch seizes this opportunity to come completely detached and inoperable. For a while we can coast down with the traffic, and the driver actually manages to pop the shift into gear while we are moving. But the traffic slows just as we are about to pass the single lane, and our engine dies. There we are, like the stopper in the sink, and now traffic cannot go either direction!!!!! Merde!!! (Do Google translate from French to English if you don’t know what that word means.)
The road construction workers are moving our vehicle over to the side so traffic can resume. Rosa is on the phone trying to get a replacement bus. We’re milling around looking concerned (and relieving ourselves in the bushes). Someone has the nerve to drive by and start screaming out their window at us, saying we are the reason he is hours late to get to Bastia, as if we had caused the entire traffic jam. Rosa gives back as good as we get – she’s a gem!
Miraculously, our driver is able to reassemble the clutch mechanism, which had previously been dangling uselessly, and we are able to cancel our call for rescue and continue on to Bastia. Our delay, however, has caused us to delay our city tour from today until tomorrow – which was supposed to be a free day. Instead, we have lunch at the port area, and then drive up to the citadel and roam until our sea-view rooms are ready for occupancy at the Hotel des Gouverneurs – the most luxurious hotel in the city, perched on the citadel itself. They are worth waiting for!
We walk down to the marina for dinner tonight and stumble across the only gay bar in town (which we find out later is permanently closed). Most of the restaurants along the waterfront have few occupied tables, and it is clear the season is ending. So is our tour. One more day before we begin our long journey home!