So much to do. So little time. My adventure is already into week four. If I think about it like the glass of water that is “half full or half empty,” the last half will be the best! Today I was on the road to Sete, France.
Before I get to that, we have some catching up to do. For the last couple of days, I’ve been hanging out with my new friends and not spending as much time being a tourist.
I’m getting to know Nandine, Geoffrey’s girlfriend, now that we’ve visited a few times. She has an interesting background. Born in France, her mother was Italian, and her father, Spanish. Her parents met in France after her father, who was from an aristocratic Spanish family, was exiled from Spain during the Franco regime. Nandine and I spent Wednesday driving to Nimes and back. She owned an apartment there with her son and wanted me to see it. Plus, I wanted to go to Carrefour, the French “Walmart,” to buy a big suitcase. (Do you have to ask why?!)T
The exciting thing about the eight hours Nandine and I spent together, riding in the car, shopping, and having lunch together like old friends, is that she speaks very little English, and I say… no French. She recognizes English words if you write them down. We got along famously between sign language and scribbling words on placemats or scraps of paper. We indeed laughed a lot.
When we stopped for lunch at a restaurant Nandeen knows, I was happy one of us knew French. On the special menu for lunch, which I often order because it’s generally a nice meal at a reasonable price, even Nandine was a bit surprised. Cheval is horse meat! Not for me! All I could think about was my horse-loving buddies! Later I learned it’s not cheval at all; it’s a hamburger with an egg — the egg’s on “horseback.”
A steaming pot of moules (mussels) saved the day.
When we returned to Uzès, Geoffrey had prepared a lamb shoulder for dinner. I was invited to join, so I followed them home to enjoy Geoffrey’s excellent culinary skills. After a few too many glasses of wine, our imaginations got the best of us!
After a late dinner with Nandine and Geoffrey, Friday came too soon. I’d dedicated the day to washing clothes and preparing for my departure from my three weeks stay at the apartment in Uzes. Unity and Tom invited me and some close friends to join them for dinner at their home outside Uzès. Amazingly, I found their village and drove most of the way without a problem. Thanks for the cell phone because Tom had to tell me the exact address. The evening flew by, with each of us sharing stories about our lives in Scotland, England, and the US.
The Road to Sete France
Today I started out to Sete later than I had hoped because I couldn’t find Ales(“Alice”)
When I arrived back in Uzès after dinner with Unity, it was around 11 pm. The parking lot where Ales lives was closed. Fortunately, I remembered another lot nearby, so I left her there. Honestly, I was pleased with myself for finding the parking space because it was close to my apartment. I could quickly get my luggage to the car the next day.
I got up early this morning to meet Geoffrey to go to the market together. He wanted to introduce me to his favorite hat man so I could buy a Panama hat like Nandeen’s (the one I wore in the picture above). Before going to Geoffrey’s house, I thought I should check on Ales and ensure she was ok. I walked the few blocks to the parking lot where I left her the night before. When I got there… no Ales!
Aaccch! I panicked! Was she stolen Hauled away? Where was she? What was I going to tell Geoffrey?
My first instinct was to go to the police station just around the corner, but then I said, “They won’t understand a word I am saying.” I’d have to go straight to Geoffrey’s and confess Ales was gone.
When I arrived at Geoffrey’s, I knocked on the door, and Nandine let me in.
“Geoffrey’s upstairs,” she said in French.
I walked up the narrow, winding, stone stairwell feeling like I was attending the French Inquisition.
“Ales is gone, isn’t she?” Geoffrey boomed
“What?!” I said, amazed. “How did you know?”
“I told you, I’m psychic,” Geoffrey answered.
” Don’t worry,” he added very calmly. “I have her.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Geoffrey explained. One of his friends called during the night and wanted to borrow Ales. His car had been vandalized in the village where he lives. He needed a car the following day to get to work. Knowing that I had taken Ales and always returned her to the garage, Geoffrey told his friend to meet him there. They searched all three levels of the garage and didn’t find Ales. Because I had moved her, they searched all over town before they found and took her away.
That brings me to today.
Now, on the sofa in the living room of my home away from home in Sete, I’m excited about my next two days. I’m staying in a beautifully appointed apartment in the center of Sete that faces one of the city’s central canals. Double French doors open onto a balcony decorated with ornate iron rails. A lovely cool breeze is whisping over me. A Siamese cat, one of two living in the apartment, is perched on the chair opposite the sofa, staring at me.
It’s been a long day. Starting with Ales’ disappearance and eventual discovery, the drive to Sete was longer than planned. It was my first venture on a “super highway.” Because Ales’ speedometer was broken, I had no idea how fast I was going. Probably not fast enough. Cars were whizzing past. I dared not turn on the air conditioner because Ales was putting in as much effort as possible to keep up with traffic.
I did learn something about French toll roads — or at least the one near Sete where the toll booth entrance merges from and back to a six-lane highway. Three lanes of southbound traffic enter a toll station with 15 ticket booths. Traffic moves pretty quickly through the 15 booths. But when those cars and trucks converge up the road back into three lanes? A massive traffic jam. Go figure.
Tomorrow we explore Sete. Stay tuned.