Seems and age since I posted how life is going…..SO very sorry! How are you all?
Life has been busy but the good news is that after eight months of too’ing and fro’ing, the simple sentence said by the lady at the French Embassy in Cape Town…”Now just go within three months to the Prefecteur and get this stamped and they will issue you with a Carte-de-Sejour (like a residency permit )”…has finally come true! Eight months!!
My last visit was an interesting one. We were shown to a booth at the Prefecteur (Home Affairs) and the French lady behind the counter…they all look scarily efficient and distant…was a deep coffee colour and didn’t speak much English…but enough to start. She took my passport and the ton of papers you need to prove that you’re a standing breathing person (the fact that you’re standing there breathing doesn’t help), then she glanced at me…then back at the passport…..then stated in French,
“Afrika de Sud?”
I said, “Oui”
And she said in French “But you’re not black!”
And in my best french I said,
And she said, “Oui”
And I said in French “But you’re not white!”
And we had a good laugh and she actually wanted to help… with a smile on her face! I had all the papers except that my birth certificate, marriage certificate and income certificate needed to be translated by a professional Court Translator at EUR50.00 a sheet! So I said okey dokey I would do that and she said she would start the ball rolling and I must just deliver the papers to the receptionist.
It took longer because I had to get my vault copy Birth Cert from SA and my poor sister had to do the run-around to get it so we thought we’d get them all translated when it arrived. Two months later I get a little slip in the post to tell me to appear, standing and breathing, at the Prefecteur. I thought I would have to start all over again because I’d left it so long waiting for the Birth Cert, the Dear One decided I would be deported (and looked quite perky at the prospect). But it wasn’t to be, they handed me my Carte-de-Sejour and that was that. For some reason, it was all done without the translated papers or birth certificate. I celebrated by buying more art paper online from the UK…..and the husband assured me he would have missed me….
Huge chaos for the Tour de France with banners going up and barricades placed all over the place. We had just had a wonderful week of going all over Brittany with friends from Cape Town. It was fantastic to see them and even better seeing it all through someone else s eyes. We went to Concale, the home of wild oyster farming, sat on the wall outside the farm where little kiosks of oysters and lemons are sold and the Husband bought 12 oysters. I had tried one ages ago and really wasn’t keen but when in Rome….so I wrinkled my nose, held my breath and tipped the slimy, slightly translucent, RAW, jelly-like thing into my mouth. Oh my word the texture! My imagination went into overdrive and it was hard not to spit it out but I had been given instructions to bite at least twice so I did and then swallowed. And here’s the weird thing….
If you love walking by the sea, if you love the tang in the air, the salt on your face, the cool breeze and the taste of the spray, then that’s what they taste like and the aftertaste lingers for about 15 minutes.
I had another one…..
But I’m not sure if I would have more….
But after they had gone and the hole had covered over slightly, we um’d and ah’d about going to see the cycles pass and the heatwave hit and the cool cottage, a beer shandy and the TV called and we watched our surrounds from a helicopter flying over the race and we discovered Chateaus and lakes we never knew existed round the corner. We’ll have to have another day of exploring.
We walked through the forest the other day, damp leaves and that wonderful smell of mold and old rotting matter, bright green leaves overhead and bird calls that echo around the forest and bounce off the trees. The peace and tranquility is amazing. Old trees lay on the floor covered in moss and when you touch them, they just fall apart into nothing and it struck me how much carries on around us with no interference, no noise, no machinery, just the growing, falling, decaying beauty that adds to the circle of life. New leaves had come out on the Fir Trees, pale compared to the older ones and it looked like the tree was holding out it’s hands with newly painted nails.
I’ve read that someone felt that being among trees was like being in a church and I have to agree, just on a grander scale, more like a Cathedral with towering walls, stained glass windows of shadows and iridescent green glass and a thick noiseless carpet of rich brown and gold. I felt so small, so humbled by the silent work going on around me with no praise given, no acknowledgement, no payment, no “well done, good job”, just nature at work.
When we went into Rennes to the Prefecteur I was amazed at the change in us, the noise, the cars, the “stuff” being advertised with bright adverts and scrolling banners, how much people seem to “need” to survive in the concrete jungle.
It’s funny how bit by bit, you adapt to a world and wonder how you lived before..or whether you were actually alive then….I’ve found more life and learned so much more in this tiny little cottage in the middle of nowhere in France than ever before. I feel honoured.
A la prochaine, bonjournay