and Returning West to Pays Basque
20.05.2014 - 29.05.2014 24 °C
The insecurity of plan-less travelling, having to find nice people to stay with at short notice and regularly re-adapting to new environments is a constant niggle in the mind. It only disappears temporarily a few days after arriving at a new host and getting the gist of how their life functions. Putting my really heavy backpack out of the way in a corner and knowing I have a few weeks to feel again some routine and guidance and have 'my own' bed. No matter how friendly and easygoing other people are - and how easygoing and flexible I am - it always takes some time to feel at home in another's house, and life, and quite rare to entirely feel this way.
Only 2 and a bit months after departing Perth but constantly being conscious of this I was super excited to know I was only days away from seeing my child-&-teenager-hood neighbour Lil, someone I've known since before times my mind can remember and I don't catch up with nearly enough in Perth. Holidaying with hubby Pete and 2 friends from Perth now living in Paris, they were cruising the canal-du-midi and it worked out I could meet them around Beziers soon after leaving Toby's in The Bearn.
I arrived a couple of days early in Beziers (not a particularly exciting place) then wandered on down to the canal to sit and wait somewhere, not knowing how long it would take for them to arrive at the town or where they might pull in. Spotting the lock-keepers cabin I went to perch myself on the wall near the lock, sure that this was the only way they could pass in.
Not even 2 seconds after stepping onto the wall and looking down - Et Voila !!!
Oy! Aussie ! Qu'est-ce que tu fais la !!?? (What are you doing!?) hahaha
Lil, Pete, Tom and Lucy were 1 day into a 5 day trip to finish in Narbonne. And had a spare bed. And I had no plans and no where else to be. So I was incredibly lucky to join them for the remainder of the journey, turning a brief lunchtime catch-up into a fabulous 4 night cruise through Langued'oc wine region. Had a ball, we drank a couple of different wines each day (I now quite like French Reds, thanks boys!), took turns steering the boat, relaxed on the top deck and caught up on many many months of each other's lives. Bliss !
Winery tastings - they sell wine by the litre from big tanks at a petite €1.50 per litre!
Grateful to be spending so much time with familiar faces, the Friday we arrived in Narbonne and they continued on to Barcelona by train.
Au revoir for now
I hung out in Narbonne for a couple of days to sort out the next move. Tapas and a few rosé wines at the indoor market the next day led to chatting with some locals (getting in much missed language practice) and a then personal tour of the outer Narbonne surroundings and pretty villages. I probably would be more selective in future about taking up offers though. There's never a problem, but It does usually lead to politely having to decline further offers of dinner and then doubt of what direction their friendliness may take... I figure all of this experience meeting and dealing with strangers of all ages and backgrounds is adding up and I am learning to judge people and situations more accurately and quickly. I will always chat though as sometimes it leads to unmissable great things happening. Like Café owners offering potential au-pair work (and gelato makers giving free gelato making lessons - but that was another trip)
So knowing only I wanted to get back to the West coast I searched for a new Helpx host. Frustrated after a couple of days with nothing jumping out at me I moved on to Toulouse for a couple of nights in a hostel, landing in a room with the most ocker of Aussies, Joe, and some friendly young French guys. Playing the French host for Joe we dined out for a special meal... he admitted he was curious about tasting frogs legs. Its actually quite rare to find restaurants serving this but fate was on Joe's side and we passed a resto with it on the chalkboard.... And you don't have to ask me twice! a taste of 2 was enough for him (the juicy steak was apparently more appetising) so I enjoyed the plate for my dinner
I spent the next day with Fabien one of the Frenchies before he took his flight back to Paris. Really nice guy who worked for a big IT company and let me talk terrible French. And now I have another contact in Paris. A hah! The unfriendly French stereotypes are being broken all over the place !