Today in my Croix Rouge French class, I realized I was the person who had been there the longest. There was me, Marion, Thibault, and Olga (all from the US, three of us from California) David, (a Brit) and Sandra (a South American). It was fun to be learning in French, and then helping each other to translate ideas or phrasing into Spanish and English, making sense as a team. It was a good feeling.
Later on the ride home Marion and I talked a lot, which is easy since we are both from San Francisco. We get where each other are coming from, literally and figuratively. She is so knowledgeable, and talented, and motivated. Just a joy to be around. She’s lived here since September, and is an actual French person because of her husband. She’s gifted me with homemade cherry jam and sauce from her farm, and a beautiful dress made from vintage linen sheets that are over a hundred years old.
Texted with Martine, my friend and walking partner. On Thursday, our usual day to put in a hike, I’m working at the hotel, so we will try to squeeze something in tomorrow morning in between rainstorms. “On se texte,” we say. Martine is way cool, and her family is warm, and open.
Last Friday I did dishes in the kitchen at the hotel for lunch and then again at dinner. At lunch I watched one of the chefs assemble a creme Basque cake, while the other chef simultaneously had a giant pot of fish soup bubbling away, as he prepared a variety of complex plates for the service. “Je suis tres content dans la cuisine avec vous,” I said. They smiled big genuine smiles, and I started to get teary with romantic happiness. I intently watch them work before all the dishes start pouring in, when my attention moves toward my own efficiency.
On Saturday after cleaning the rooms and getting entirely too sweaty, I showered and then had lunch with the patron, her husband, and daughter at a restaurant nearby that I hadn’t been to, and didn’t know existed. There was an off color joke made amongst ours and the surrounding tables related to lomo spices, which I didn’t specifically get, but it was funny to watch the women laugh and blush as they bantered the joke about the patio. I do love eating here. The patron knows I like to eat, and that I’m not very good at cooking. Today at home I made my own version of French dejeuner: Entre, plat, fromage, dessert, cafe, using a recipe for tomatoes and dressing that I learned from Martine. Slow, easy, appreciative.
Tonight I’m having dinner with the landlord’s daughter, who lives across the hall from me. She’s also invited the unofficial mayor of the ville (every town has one), which will be a treat. We dine at 8:30, and I’m taking over a bottle of rioja, my favorite Spanish wine.