Sunday, January 3, 2010
Getting to know the area.
All roads lead to Rome, or in this case our little town. We had one of Caleigh’s new chums spend the night, and after a croissant and baguette breakfast , we all loaded into the Citroen and sped off to drop her home. The drive there was easy, a distance Caleigh should be able to bike ride to in the future. After dropping her off and visiting with her parents for a half hour, we were ready to go. It was a real pleasure to talk with her parents. They had wonderful stories of their experiences in France and I could see becoming great friends with them. They are definitely visionaries, and share a fondness for renovating houses. Their house is incredible. I love it, it has great bones, incredible details, and unlimited potential, and most importantly is says home. The work he has already had done is great; an addition on the end works well with the existing structure. He added three dormers that added light to the interior and looked nice from the exterior.
Back into the Citroen and we head to the neighboring town of Soumensac. I was told that the town was a Templar town and that after their demise, the town’s fortified walls were torn down and used by locals for their buildings, additions, and outbuildings. We headed into the beautiful remains of the small town, gorgeous in it’s intimate scale and preserved buildings. We didn’t get out of the car, but just drove down the two short streets. I knew I would be back later to explore on foot with my camera. Off into the countryside we went, following one small road that turned into a smaller road. We passed the lake / reservoir and went out a few kilometers and then kept making lefts hoping that boxing the compass this way would end up where we started. Nice thing about farming roads is that they are always going the shortest routes from one village to another. We had a beautiful tour of the surrounding countryside in the matter of twenty minutes and ended back in our little town. One of my plans has always been to tour the surrounding roads and towns and photograph them. The small hilltop villages are my favorites. They are so compact and varied that compositionally there are so many places that create a small still life.
We arrive back at the house and prepare for the meeting that Isabelle has set up for Caleigh to meet a few kids that are going to be her school chums. We tried to make it to a local store for provisions, but were met with the cold reality of it being the two hour lunch break all France takes. Our bad. So Cindy in her culinary improvisation makes a great tuna fish sandwich with Dijon mustard and lettuce and tomatoes. Eh…Viola!
We leave to go next door to the meet and greet that has been set up by Isabelle. We have no idea what to expect. First, how thoughtful for her to arrange for us to meet some students that Caleigh will be going to school with. Secondly, we need to set up where to meet on school days for the rotating carpool duties, and even where the school bus stop is located.
What do we bring? a bottle of wine for a 3:00 pm kid intro? probably not. Beads…plague …I don’t really know. Arghhh..I guess we show up empty handed. So not like Cindy; more like me. Well, here we go. I’ll tell you how it went.
Well It’s 830 pm. We were there for two hours then raced over to the Carrefour market before it closed because we had absolutely no food. It went well. Not spectacularly, but well. We didn’t insult the French honor and that was half of our plan. We weren’t beheaded either and that was the other half. Isabelle the hostess was wonderful, a veritable ambassador. We were introduced to the three other sets of parents that were part of the carpool. Really nice people. One family runs a winery, one has a ranch with 150 cattle, and the other family grows barley. I think they may have found Cindy and I amusing. Caleigh had a little of the dear-in -the-headlights syndrome. We all spoke about the region, the school. It was a lively and interesting forum. I think it will help Caleigh fit in a little better. The children sat off at a smaller table which I thought was wise. It gave them a chance to sit together in a intimate space prior to them belting into a small car together. We really tried our limited French. Anyone there might have thought otherwise. We told them about our genuine love of all things Dordogne and how we had visited two and a half years earlier. I think that however we did, it was a growing experience for all of us as a family, I feel so fortunate because of the people we have met so far. We’re not alone in an ocean of foreign tongues and it’s nice to see a lifeguard at the deep end of the pool. And me with my &%#$@@ floaties on at the shallow end of the gene pool . “Water, water, everywhere…and not a drop to drink.”
So as I’m regarding the map this morning, I’m looking over the boundaries of the Dordogne, the town we’re in is straddling the Dordogne and Lot, with where we are in the Lot (or 24 Dordogne and 47 Lot as they are numerically known in France.)
“Yeah hon” she is in the kitchen pouring her second cup of caffeine.
“You know we’re not in Dordogne per say.”
“I know that.” she replies adding milk and sugar to her caffeine. (Half and half hasn’t been seen in Dordogne or Lot yet)
“So yesterday afternoon as I was belaboring my love for all things Dordogne, I was pretty much insulting the entire room?” Please say no I’m thinking.
“No Hon, not at all” The jury has decided you shall live.
“I wasn’t insulted honey, and there was that one child who left to go to the bathroom, he didn’t seem insulted.” But the jury decided you shall live in Iceland, the cold part, not the occasionally thawing out part.
O.K. time to start researching all things Lot. The Dordogne River is what I am most familiar with, the area we are now guests of; The Lot, has the Garonne River and one of it’s branches, the Lot River dividing it. Well good news Dordogne and Lot are both in the Aquitaine administrative region, with the Dordogne being the most northerly. Our little town has the Dropt river running through it. The Dropt River branches off from the Garonne River and heads north into The Dordogne region, but doesn’t quite make it to the Dordogne River. The history of an area is usually decided by the main transportation hubs, in this case by rivers. From the Bay of Biscay, to Bordeaux there is the Gironde Inlet that is fed by the Dordogne and the Garonne. These are in turn fed by scores of other arteries. As one canoes down these waterways you see towns and castles dotting its shores and overlooking cliffs.