Hi ! My name is Imogene. A very good news that God and Universe are in unity bring me opportunity to Europe. And when I’m writing this post, I’m on my way back from Lourdes, France.
I’m sitting down in the middle of dark in front of the Toulouse-Matabiau Train Station or in French is Gare de Toulouse-Matabiau. Please bear in mind that not many Parisiens speak English. Even though they are able to, they would prefer to communicate in french rather than english. No matter you understand or not, they are still do so. Yeah, welcome to France, oooppps. Bienvenue en France !
It’s already 10.00 PM and my journey not stops here. I’m going to Lourdes for my mission, pilgrimage purpose. My next train is about 6AM tomorrow in the morning, and it’s impossible to leave the train station due to tight schedule (and tight money also, since I’m a happily backpacker). Hahaha. So I decided to stay in this train station. Fyi, it’s my first time going abroad, and also my first time traveling using train within EU countries. Yeah. As I remember, i must exchange print out booking SNCF reservation in the machine into an original ticket. This is what I see when I entered the station.
Shops already closed. No crowds. Oh, where I should go now ? Wait. Keep walking ahead. Then, I see the line of ticket machines. I follow the instructions from the machine, insert the card using for booking payment, entry some codes and kwakk..kwaaw, it didn’t work out ! I Try again, and still the same. Again, and still have no result. I did the same for almost eight times with different machines. And i’m getting cold sweat on my head cause i got panicked. Why if it still didn’t succeed until departing tomorrow ? Go to the customer care. Oh, i see from the window, the information center open at 7.30AM while my departure at 6AM. Yeahhhh. Buy another ticket would cost me SOMETHING. It’s almost 40 euros for return ticket and I didn’t want to buy the same ticket for two. Never !
Ok, I find another officer, and they’re all didn’t speak English. I didn’t understand youuuuuuuuu, Sir ! I felt my anger in empty little place inside my heart. Clocks ticking, and i just count at hours. 10.30PM. There are some people queueing in the line for a departure checking. I ask one woman, hope she could speak some little english to solve my problem. And yes, she did. She helped me translate my problem to the officer, and in a hurry say goodbye because she had to go to downstairs.
My officer help me using the machine. Still do some instructions, insert card using for payment, enter booking codes and didn’t succeed. Did the same for almost five times. And I’m starting to give up. He said something yet I didn’t understand. And I’m sitting down now, thinking. I just thought, when you’re sitting inside the train, means you buy the ticket. And if you don’t, there may be some penalty/administrative sanctions imposed. And I’m wondering this could happen to me tomorrow, even worse I’m forced to be dropped out of the train. Must paying about three or maybe five multiplier more expensive ? Who knows ? I said a little prayer.
My eyes catched that part of the station already dark and locked. Slowly but sure this station closed one by one side. While I’m thinking of that, I just saw one man. He looked like a student college, read a thick book, seriously. And somehow, I’m surely sure he speaks English. Then, i just interrupted him to be asked about my problem. I can’t print my ticket from machine. After a little explanation, he helped and give me guidance. And it’s like nothing ever changed. We came back for sitting and talking due to this quaint problem. He gave me an alternative to keep bringing my booking ticket when depart tomorrow morning and during the journey. He said “just show your booking ticket to the controller during the journey!” I ask what if and why not and so many questions. He catched my worries on my face and said : “You’re just too panicked. Just relax. I know it’s your first experience, but it would be ok, trust me.”
After he was calming me down, we flew into light conversations. His name is Jeremy, oh I thought he was Clark Kent 🙂 He has similar face and hair with main actor in Smallville. Haha. He studied at one university in UK majoring aeronautical engineering, and he’s going back to Marseilles, his home country for holiday. And I tell a little about me. I ask him last favor before he leave. I handed him my booking ticket and a pen and ask him to translate my problems into French on the other side of the paper. So, when controller ask something I didn’t understand, I just show them this paper. He gave me a little smiley, write some sentences and giving back to me. He translated what he wrote to me. I said a big thank you for his help, and Ieven said don’t know what to do when I didn’t met someone speaks English like him. I gave him also a puppet bookmark for his book and he said thanks. 11.45PM, his train are about to depart, we said goodbye one another. Thanks more and moreee Jeremy !
00:00 AM Station is closed officially. And I’m forced to wait outside the station, which so windy. I’m waiting with three people who are going to the Lourdes too. Two Philippines man are priests who had the same schedule and another man do with different train. Ok, now I’m sleeping in the station for the first time in my life. Emmmmm, i’m not sleeping then. It’s because i saw a beggar and his dog walking around us. It’s only inches around me and he shout like million times loudly and i’m getting afraid he did something, or steal something even from slummy backpacker like me 🙂
Time pass by. It’s 6AM and I go downstairs to the platform enter the train, and leaning on a seat since I’m not even closing my eyes last six hours. This is below gives you idea of what TER train is looks like inside. Anyway, I bought a 2nd class ticket. Since, the train is fewer passengers, I choose to sit as i want it !
I had my French translation in my hand. And here I am, when a controller checking my ticket during Toulouse Matabiau-Tarbes journey. I show my booking ticket to him, speak a little English (i don’t care what would he did after that). He give me back the ticket and just go away to other passangers. As well as my next connecting train from Tarbes to Lourdes.
Yes, I did not need to worry. Beside the magic translation in my hand from Clark Kent, my hero, I also have a big God. Dear problems, dare you to stay here a little longer ?
Happy Month of Holy Rosary ! On this holy month, I will posting my journey stories in Lourdes, a major place of Roman Catholic Pilgrimage and of miraculous healings. So keep your eyes on 🙂
“If we consider the power of the Rosary as seen in its effects, we find a great abundance of proofs of its wonderful value. Many are the favors granted to private individuals through its devout recitation: there are few devoted users of the Rosary who cannot testify to experiencing its power in their own lives.” (www.catholicculture.org)
A Journey of thousand miles must be begin with a single step