I just spent the past 3 1/2 days relaxing in a quintessential French farmhouse in the tiny village of St. Ost at the largess of friend Simon, fellow Anglo and teacher at Pueblo Ingles. In exchange for help with chores around the house and garden, Simon invites travelers to stay with him.
One of the most glorious parts of being invited was the drive from Madrid up and over the Pyrenees and into Simon's part of southern France. The views and mountains were jaw-dropping and just couldn't be caught on camera.
When not dusting or washing glasses and 'bits and bobs' which hadn't seen clean for at least a few years, I had time to think about my first 2 full months of travel and why am I doing this crazy thing.
• Was it wrong to leave everything behind - selfish, not normal or fulfilling and adventurous? All 4!
• Am I having fun? Yes!
• Do I miss my friends and family? Yes!
• Have I met some amazing and extraordinary people and made some great new friends? Yes!
• Have I seen places I have always dreamed of seeing? Yes!
• Do I get lonely? Yes!
• Do I want to quit? Sometimes.
• Do I have one thing I miss most? Alone time. I know that sounds weird, but so far I have been with people - either in a dorm hostel, with or visiting friends or teaching in a group situation - that I really haven't had any time to myself since leaving Chicago. I am really looking forward to house sitting (just got a new one for October in Wales!) when it will just be me, 2-3 weeks in a house with a dog or two, or a cat, and time to read, watch TV (haven't seen a thing since leaving the States!) take long walks into the nearest village, or just sit, contemplate and count the stars in the night sky.
• What upsets me most? Plane travel and airport security! It's no fun to travel by plane any more! Airports are crowed, security people and travelers are rude, planes are so crowded and rows are so narrow you can barely squeeze into your seat. Extra charges for any and everything! I'll take a train or bus any day - and in Europe these are really the best, must luxurious, nicest and cheapest way to travel.
• Add to the upsetting list - getting robbed in Athens (though you will be glad and amazed to know that I actually got an email from the US Embassy in Athens this week telling me that the local police had found my document folder with documents in the trash and had returned it to the Embassy. Even the €90 which was zipped in a little pocket was there. They asked if I would like it returned? Told them of course, but would destroy everything when it arrived as had replaced every thing in it! Dropped and broke my camera. Since I NEED to have a view finder to actually see what I'm taking photos of, having a difficult time finding a replacement, as the new digital's don't have view finders as part of the newer models! The TSA in Basel, Switzerland lost the lock the iPad pocket of my backpack. Coming down with a cold!!
Other than that, life is good. Sitting in Georgenborn, Germany in the most fab home of good friends enjoying a cup of delicious coffee and looking out into their beautiful gardens. Slept under a summer-weight duvet last night without any bugs flying around the room. Did I forget to mention that French farmhouses don't have screens? And you must leave the windows wide open if you want any air inside. They have lots of cobwebs and spiders and flying things - large and small. Really yuck! One evening, thankfully after I was asleep, Simon could be heard down below making lots of noise. The next morning learned that a bat had flown in and he was chasing it back out!
I also forgot to tell you that Simon's friend Mark (a Reformed Swiss Pastor) came in to visit and house hunt for a French summer retreat. I got to tag along with! (Now you know where I found the bathtub! Houses are quite reasonable, by American standards and include lots of land with beautiful views.
They are big - have ceilings that are at least 30' high and need SO work to make them livable - by American standards! The one I loved had no kitchen, 1 toilet for a 12-room home, and needed every room replastered, painted and new ceilings! But the charm just poured out and off the walls!
1790 Convent/Finishing School for Young Ladies
1880's Mill with new Gete for guests. (7 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms!)
The size of the rooms were HUGE
Will start my German teaching assignment on Sunday and will try to report on that before returning home for the wedding!
Until next time......