So there we were…slap bang in the middle of the country side with fresh grass smells, wild bunny rabbits and our small zoo to look after. We found two bicycles in the barn, bought the necessaries from the local Carrefour (combination of Woolies and Pick n’ Pay Hyper) to get the inner tubes sorted and we explored the countryside and small hamlets around us. We went to the Saturday markets, shopped like we lived there (which I suppose we were – but it was different to a normal holiday somehow) and attempted our best, or should I say worst, french. The people were friendly and helpful, their lives are simple as far as material things go and what seems to count the most is family, friends and their country. When I say country, I don’t mean it in a political or patriotic sense, I mean in the sense that they enjoy the actual earth… what it provides as far as food, what pollution does to it, what lives in it – animals, birds, fish..all these things are deeply respected and the more respect they have, the great the reward. For example, the government will offer a rebate if you have a smaller, more eco-friendly car, if you install solar geysers etc, and if you work the land.
The country folks values were brought home to us one overcast but warm Sunday morning. We half guiltily found a movie to watch on TV and decided we needed some snacks to go with it. Off my husband went to the local shop. He came back with a look of stunned amazement on his face. There wasn’t one car on the roads – both country and freeway, not one person in the villages and not one shop open. The only people he saw, we families picnicking by the river, couples riding bicycles, walkers and their dogs and families at home. And that is the essence of France, the secret to their longevity and the reason they come across as abrasive or rude. They’re not, they’re just proud of what they have and their country is precious. I would also want to be rude to a loud ostentatious tourist who spoils the peace and tries shove his ways and demands down my throat! So…we asked ourselves….if ever we wanted to have the adventure of a new country, could we, would we be prepared to “be” a french person and not hold to the stubborn need to be a South African in France?
We decided to sleep on it….
A la prochaine