Would you buy a used car from this guy?

Trip Start Apr 23, 2010
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Trip End Jul 07, 2010


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Flag of France  , Languedoc-Roussillon,
Monday, May 17, 2010



As claims go they don’t come much bigger. It seems to be quite a European tradition. Rely on some past event that seems incredible but because people have accepted it as truth for hundreds of years, you can‘t deny all that history today. Like Lourdes down near the Spanish border where the locals claim that the bottles of local water being sold by street vendors have mysterious healing properties. There is no shortage of willing tourists wanting to believe that the miraculous effects will work on them. Seemingly normal, sane people seem to suspend rational thought in these situations.

About that claim. We travelled the not-so-long and winding road through Montpellier, past Ikea out into the hills to a little town - village really- called St Guilhem le Desert. The place used to be a major stop on the pilgrim tourist route in the middle ages because of a remarkable purchase made by the local church around 800 AD (or CE for those more politically correct than me).

Now I must admit I’m not up on all the fine details of the transaction back then but my sceptical bells started ringing louder than the fire alarms in the res college at uni when my ability to hear loud noises was greater than today. The little church in this cute little town in the middle of nowhere, claims to house pieces of Jesus’s cross purchased some 1200 years ago on the Dark Age’s version of the black market.

What would go through someone’s head when making such a purchase? Do I ask for a certificate of authenticity? What’s a fair price? Given the Dark Age’s technology of the time what rigorous scientific tests can I put the timber through to determine its actual age…‘it doesn’t weigh as much as a duck so it’s not a flightless bird’ or something similar? What did the locals say when St Guilhem returned with the aforementioned pieces of wood? Just another mystery I suppose.

Anyway the village was very old, very pleasant and unlike Lourdes, not making a huge deal of incredible purchase.
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