An onslaught of 200 journalists has temporarily doubled the population of the French doomsday village of Bugarach. But with only one “prophet of doom” in town, the wait for the apocalypse on December 21 is set to be excruciating for reporters.
Bugarach was bracing for an invasion of new agers in beat-up vans, stoned hippies in white togas walking barefoot, and doomsayers seeking refuges in caves beneath the now famous Pic de Bugarach, the mysterious peak long believed to conceal a garage full of UFOs. Instead, the French doomsday village has been overrun by dozens of international TV crews rolling in on trucks with giant satellite dishes.
A coup in the making in Bugarach?
Bugarach mayor Jean-Pierre Delord may survive the December 21 apocalypse, but he could well lose his seat in the 2014 municipal election. Quite a few Bugarach residents are blaming him for turning their sleepy hamlet into a farcical media circus.
The strongest challenge for Jean-Pierre Delord’s job does not come from aliens hiding under the mountain, but from the Relais de Bugarach. It seems that every cup of coffee the small restaurant serves comes with a very critical assessment of the mayor’s policies. No wonder several locals see the owner as a credible replacement for Delord in the event the Mayans got their prophecy wrong.
It took jet-lagged correspondents about five minutes after arriving in town to realise that their end-of-the-world report would look as bleak as a rural French village in winter. Which, by the way, is exactly what Bugarach is. Their editors in New York, Tokyo, Berlin, Istanbul or London were definitely not going to be happy with endless footage of TV crews roaming helplessly in the otherwise empty streets of Bugarach, the rocky outpost in southwest France that doomsday prophets inspired by an ancient Mayan calendar have designated as the sole survivor of the impending apocalypse.
Disappointment gave way to anger and exasperation on Wednesday when the mayor failed to appear at his 2pm press conference. Scores of journalists armed with massive tripods and cameras lay siege to the stone building housing the town hall, clamouring for an appearance of one of the top suspects behind the Bugarach apocalypse survival rumour.
The situation was about to degenerate into a storming of the Bugarach town hall when the ultimate prophet of doom suddenly made his appearance. Nobody quite remembers whence Sylvain Durif came. But for the correspondents swarming Bugarach's town hall, this pan-flute player with his oversized head and very articulate speech was simply a gift from God.
Dressed in a bright orange woolly jacket, Sylvain had all the self-confidence required to announce the apocalypse for December 21 in a matter-of-fact voice. Even better, the prophet of doom was happy to spend time with each TV crew to describe his personal version of the end of the world a sudden “cellular alchemy that would bring humans closer to God”.
Granted, it might not make much sense. But Sylvain Durif also came up with eyewitness descriptions of massive spaceships chartered by the Virgin Mary or three-metre-tall human beings living in the woods nearby… Just enough in terms of juicy stories to appease the jet-lagged invaders and prevent them from lynching the Bugarach mayor when he finally stepped out of his town hall.
Bugarach mayor Jean-Pierre Delord will probably think twice before mentioning any Mayan apocalypse prophecy in the future. © Mehdi Chebil
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie visiting Bugarach? Nope. Just a press conference with Bugarach mayor Jean-Pierre Delord, who presides over this sleepy village of 200 souls. © Mehdi Chebil
Waiting for the apocalypse: TV crews filming any car that passes through Bugarach. © Mehdi Chebil
FRANCE 24 journalist Charlotte Boitiaux having a heart-to-heart with Bugarach’s prophet of doom. © Mehdi Chebil
Apocalypse correspondents have received special training to feign deep interest in the theological details of doomsday predictions. © Mehdi Chebil
The prophet of doom has approved the authorities’ decision to rent portable toilets painted with New Age themes for apocalypse day. © Mehdi Chebil
Date created : 2012-12-20