After realising that the apocalypse in France's tiny doomsday village of Bugarach was a bust, several journalists decided to turn the occasion into a party. While they awoke December 21 to find the earth still intact, something was definitely amiss.
The end of the world began not with a bang, but with karaoke.
Yes, a karaoke party. That’s how Bugarach’s finest eatery, Ferme de Janoux, decided to celebrate the end of the Mayan long-count calendar. The owner’s 200 bottles of “End of the World” wine were snapped up by correspondents keen to drown their mediapocalypse disappointment in cheap local booze.
And party they did! Our colleague writing for FRANCE 24’s Arabic website – a practising Muslim who doesn’t touch alcohol - woke up with a bad hangover after inhaling vapours in the tent set up to host the “End of the World” karaoke party.
I was by then hundreds of metres away, chasing after what appeared to be blinking lights at the base of the Pic de Bugarach. Was it some kind of code announcing the impending Mayan apocalypse? Nope, it was actually Japanese TV crews doing their live reports in the middle of the night to warn Tokyo residents – where it was 8am - that they were having their last breakfasts.
It was only on this December 21 morning that I realised I had avoided a fate even more terrible than hearing drunken songs in dozens of different languages.
The Martians’ 'Trojan Horse'
Everything in Bugarach seemed strangely similar to the previous day. TV crews continued to roam aimlessly, questioning exasperated locals about the impact of doomsday rumours on the sex life of their cats and dogs. Hang on - the impact of the Mayan apocalypse prophecy on…?! Something weird was definitely going on!
The media crews were not the only ones affected – although everyone looked the same as the day before, their behaviour was a little different. We came across some gendarmes who appeared to have gained the capacity to read our minds overnight. We would start a sentence, like “Can we…” and they would reply immediately “…take pictures? Yes. It’s ok, but you have to take them from the other side of the road”.
Impressive. And quite frankly, a little spooky.
That’s when the actual meaning of the entire mediapocalypse circus dawned on this correspondent.
An extra-terrestrial intelligence has cleverly spread rumours of an impending apocalypse to bring journalists from all over the world to this so-called “doomsday village” of Bugarach. The aliens then used the “End of the World karaoke party” to intoxicate correspondents from all over the world, dispatch their bodies in the caves beneath the Pic, and impersonate them.
So here is the only real news from this December 21 in Bugarach: a detachment of 200 aliens parading as journalists have started their invasion of planet Earth. They’ll pretend to file reports from this “doomsday village” before flying back home to New York, Berlin, Tokyo or Istanbul to set-up secret alien camps and plan their next step.
Unable to keep my secret to myself in this oppressive atmosphere, I talked to the only person I could trust in Bugarach – our favourite pan-flute player, Sylvain the Prophet of Doom - to offer him to escape with us. He politely declined the offer, saying he preferred to scale the sacred peak at midnight “with his mind”.
And so we left the Prophet of Doom to his fate and fled Bugarach knowing that the mediapocalypse chronicled in these pages was not the end - It was only the beginning.
End of the World karaoke party… A clever ploy to attract correspondents from the press corps into an alien trap. © Mehdi Chebil
In order to be credible in their role as TV reporters, the alien invasion forces have decided to stay on until December 22. © Mehdi Chebil
Unaware of the alien invasion underway, this new ager came to Bugarach to promote his book about the region’s sacred rock. © Mehdi Chebil
Demonstrators protesting against a controversial airport in Western France also joined the Bugerach circus. © Mehdi Chebil
Too bad for them - these two men who tried to scale the Pic de Bugarach were spotted by police forces. © Mehdi Chebil
One of the would-be climbers arrested by the gendarmes (French military police). Don’t laugh at his commando-like outfit - he was seriously looking for aliens in cavities beneath the rock. © Mehdi Chebil
Small groups of gendarmes with paranormal powers have been posted all round the Pic de Bugarach. © Mehdi Chebil
FRANCE 24 exclusive: What the Pic de Bugarach will look like on the morning of December 22. © Mehdi Chebil
Date created : 2012-12-21