Day 15: Off to the mountains


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Europe » France » Midi-Pyrénées
November 20th 2018
Published: December 8th 2018
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The journey from Barcelona to Perpignan almost started with getting on the wrong bus (detrimental mistake avoided). I shut my eyes for the last 20 minutes of the ride and woke up an hour and 15 minutes later to a woman yelling. We hadn’t moved an inch from when I initially shut my eyes. Whatever the woman said convinced the driver to pull off the ramp and try a different route. Twenty minutes later, he pulled up to a tollbooth with 5 to 10 individuals with yellow vests blocking the lanes. The driver said something and people started getting off the bus. Thankfully, a passenger told us anyone wanting to go to Perpignan had to get out here because protesters had shut down all the roads coming into the city. We immediately jumped off and ask the driver what we should do next. He told us “Good luck. The bus station is 6 km away.” We went to the tollbooth to see if the yellow vests people could help. One said the bus station was actually 9 km away and went to talk to the bus driver to let him know if he was patient eventually the bus would be able to pass. A man in a blue sweatshirt became our advocate and explained it was a socialist movement against the government and would talk to the driver. The woman waved us back to the bus and as we approached the driver peeled out. Our advocate told us to come with him and he would help us because the movement wasn’t to hurt people but to make the government listen. We walked to a roundabout where 50 to 100 people were moving barricades in the road, stopping traffic, and grilling food. Twice the man waved us over to cars he thought would take us to the bus station only to have them change their mind (either it was out of their way or they saw our enormous bags and decided better not). Finally, he pulled a bus over and he agreed to let us on. The bus had been coming from Paris and was not 2.5 hours behind schedule due to the protest. The woman in front and the driver answered all our questions. The protest was in response to rising oil costs and a proposed increase government tax on fuel. They were upset those in the middle class were taking on larger tax burdens and the inefficiency of the government despite being heavily taxed. This was day 4 of the protest (the first day had over 300,000 people). We got to the bus station and our rental car. We only encountered one other roadblock through the windy narrow roads to Bolquere. They were pleasant enough while conversing with us as we waited for the go ahead to pass. The icing on the cake was our beds in the hotel was sheetless because we apparently forgot to spring for the sheets on the registration who knew that was a thing.

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