I’m clammy, static and feeling a bit high from the fumes of cheap plastic. It’s starting to give me nausea and I’ve been uncomfortably stuck in the same awkward position for over two hours. The reason? Because I can’t resist being a basic bitch.
Flamingos. Unicorns. Donuts. Even pizza slices. As soon as it becomes hot enough to venture outside without a coat, it seems that every girl with access to open water immediately jumps on a floating symbol of the millennial, just long enough to throw her hands in the air and grab that staged summer selfie.
You might say it’s lame. You might say it’s superficial. You know what I say? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em (just make sure to do it with a hint of sarcasm).
Alas this is where I find myself. Suffocating in the back seat of a small Vauxhall Adam with a growing case of claustrophobia. I’ve been squished in with a 6ft inflatable avocado. My two friends have got away lightly. In the boot is a half blown up flip flop whilst taking the passenger seat are a miniature penguin and mid-size giraffe. At least if we crash it’s almost a 100% guarantee that I won’t so much as break a rib.
Unlike the glamourous gals on Instagram, we weren’t prepared. We forgot to consider the effort it would take to inflate these objects by mouth and spent the evening before trying not to inhale carbon dioxide or burn our fingers with the hairdryer.
At 10am the next morning we took our semi inflated friends over to Adam the Vauxhall and squeezed ourselves in with great force. “Yeaaaaah this will be fine!” I said, climbing into Ricardo the Avocado in the backseat. “It’s only an hour or so drive”. Little did I realise that it would be over two hours until we saw the sight of open water.
It hasn’t been the smoothest of drives. Our destination, the Gorge du Verdon, is a gigantic canyon surrounding large patches of open lakes where the French flock to float around and paddle in. On our mission to join them, we picked road signs over our Sat Nav and ended up nervously swerving round narrow corners with a rocky wall on one side and nothing but a sheer drop on the other.
After twenty or so minutes of silently screaming through the Gorge, we join a non-moving queue of cars which we can only hope are also on the lookout for that patch of clear blue. They’ve got beach bags and sunhats balanced on the boot lid, surely that’s a sign?
I’m getting really hot now, it’s testing my inner strength to not suddenly let my frustration take control and demand to be let out of the car. The lack of fresh air and stop start motion have meant that I’ve had to close my eyes and deep breathe as we move a metre a minute.
Abruptly, my moment of meditation is interrupted by a brash thud on the passenger window. A young semi-naked French man is loudly laughing whilst gesturing that we break down the glass barrier between us and his foreign mutterings. He finally gives in, making his way from car to car with a bottle in hand.
“He must be off his tits" we chuckle. "He didn’t even notice the penguin, giraffe and avocado”.
Finally, the traffic disperses over a hill, creating a clear gap in the horizon. We squint our eyes, slightly stretching our necks like a curious bird to get a glimpse. There it is, an hour after we’d thought we’d see it… the calm waters of the Lac De Sainte-Croix.
The next ten minutes feel like a lifetime as we impatiently race towards a turquoise heaven. The car swings into a tight parking spot, the doors are thrown open as I peel myself off Ricardo and fling out of the vehicle with limbs flailing. I’m free.
We spend the next five hours floating, paddling, and pedalling around the gorges of the lake, exploring almost every crevice and clear spot of water. It’s packed full of families, couples, friends and dogs, all equally grateful for the refreshing break from the 30 degree sunshine.
Every so often we receive looks of confusion-cum-amusement at our inflated companions. It seems that the French haven’t caught onto the trend, sticking to their canoes and rowing boats whilst here I am humorously mounting an avocado. Perhaps they’re missing out. Perhaps we’re just millennial morons. Ah, so be it.