28 March 2015, Saturday – Journey to Le Vernet (2)

Melanie and Hans visit us again after breakfast at the hotel. Hans lives in Xanten but has temporarily moved in with his daughter in Düsseldorf in order to help her.
We stay in the room reserved for family members. Jens´ colleagues also start arriving. They nod hello and sit three tables in front of us. Germans would quickly form a connection in such a situation, but the Japanese don´t do this. They are different to us. Or are we different? It doesn´t matter!
Suddenly two men approach us and introduce themselves as criminal investigators from Düsseldorf. They need a saliva sample which they want to give the French to help them identify the human remains. They ask questions.
In many respects we have got mixed up in a criminal case. We never wanted this. It is the worst nightmare of all because we can´t wake up. We have to spend the rest of our lives with it — it lives within us.
The Japanese stand in a corner of the room and talk incessantly on their smartphones. Sometimes they talk to each other. They seem busy.
Time flies. Our flight to Marseille via Munich leaves in the late afternoon. Christa and Alexander accompany us.
Jens´ colleague, who was sitting next to him on the plane, is survived by his young widow and two small children. She is on our flight, as well as the victim´s father and another relative.
After about two hours we land at the Marseille Provence airport, where a small bus is waiting. More Japanese join us. The Consul General and a Japanese doctor are aboard.
During the drive Christa is startled. “Where are we going? This is the wrong way!”
The Japanese have reserved a different hotel. A bit of a discussion ensues between Alexandra and Christa and the General Consul, as they want to be near their team. Despite their different mentality the Japanese prevail.
We arrive at the hotel around 10PM and are taken to a separate area, where we receive a printed itinerary and an explanation, both in Japanese. As my ears are completely stuffed up from the flight (the gummy bears from Frau Zeisel had no effect at all), I follow even less.
Alexander and Christa have the itinerary explained to them in English so we know the most important information for tomorrow.
The hotel room is light and spacious. We´re dog tired.
I sleep very badly. What will tomorrow bring? We´re going to be confronted face to face with this disaster. But Jens is there. We want to be with him.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum


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