EXCERPT 1: from The French Experience

Desperation is the last resort of a conservative like me. Plan Z was implemented . Anndrea got out of the van and I rolled back down the hill to a position that would permit the van to start up the hill at its puny, but maximal, speed. Anndrca's job was to scan the hill and watch for a break in traffic in the distance . She would then yell for me to start up the hill so I could move up the hill and pass into the Corniche without stopping at all. In retrospect, it was the height of folly but no alternative ever suggested itself. It was all or nothing on that one call and it was successful. I crossed into the Corniche and then pulled hard right to get onto the sidewalk and avoid the next surge of vehicles who had probably speeded up to dispense with one more tourist. Anndrea hopped aboard and we puddled into the downhill traffic at the next break. Free at last!

Although both the height of the hill and parking in the lot hinted at a disastrous year, the whole situation worked out well. The side road above the apartment with its hairpins was still not as steep as the apartment driveway. Although parking was forbidden on the Corniche, it was permitted on this side road. We would head down this road, turn around in the driveway to another apartment-a level turn , and then park on the street facing the Corniche. The space directly in front of the phone .booth at the top of the stairs soon became ours and , when we did not wish to see the Mediterranean from our rear window, we could stare out the front at the van and phone booth. The van probably felt comfortable knowing that a phone call for help was that close at hand. It could spend its evenings plotting its next little disaster for us.