We were in the beautiful city of Lyon, France. This particular morning started like any other when you are living out of a backpack. You rummage through your stuff trying to locate things by feel alone (who wants to unpack every time you need something?) Not this girl! So I dig out my makeup/bathroom bag. To my dismay my convenient travel size shampoo has leaked all over everything. While this was disappointing I thought I could live with having to pick up some French shampoo (how chic!). I soon realized that I had bigger problems. My contact case was not properly sealed and shampoo had leaked inside. I tried to wash my contacts off as best I could. However a few blocks away from our place I realized that was not going to work. I needed to get to a pharmacy immediately.
Once at pharmacy I communicated (in broken French) that I needed some contact solution. They were super helpful and brought out the biggest bottle of contact solution that I had ever seen. My total came to 18 euros…yes 18 euros. I had some internal conflict at this point but I went ahead with the purchase. I left the store conflicted. I could buy this for less than half the price in the states! How do the French people do this? Did I just discover some French secret? Nobody actually wore contacts here? It seemed logical at the time. They must all wear glasses, nobody would actually pay this much for glorified salt water.
My eyes were burning and had turned quite red by this time, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t live with myself if I kept this crazy expensive bottle of contact solution. I marched right back into the store and returned it. From there I started my internal dialogue about how I could go without contacts for 2 more weeks. I wasn’t driving, being near-sided is not really that big a deal, and apparently lots of French go without contacts! I can do it too!
From there we wandered into an English bookstore and I pretended to look at books. A side note here-when you are traveling and you come across someone who speaks your language part of you kind of bonds instantly with that person. You are immediately best friends, you both speak English! This is what happened to me and the poor bookstore worker. He came up to ask if I needed any help. Yes I do! I started going into my drama with my eyes and how can people afford to have contacts here? He was a little taken back by my non book questions. He eventually got it together and was able to help me in my desperation. So listen up kids, if you ever need contact solution in France don’t go to the pharmacy. You go to the optometrist, genius!
There happened to be one right around the corner and I all but ran over there. I walked inside and told them what I needed and they handed me a cute little kit (bag included!) that had everything I needed, bam 7 euros! It was blissful. I walked out the door and on the curb outside I gave my contacts an impromptu cleaning.