Last meal: Homemade vegetable soup with lots of bread and cheese.
Drink of choice: Breton cider.
Song in my head:
The train from Montrichard to my present location was fairly horrendous – about 50km outside Tours it broke down, so we waited over an hour for buses to take us to another station where we had to wait another hour for the next train, and I missed my original connection to Quimper. After many a frantic phonecall and arriving three hours late, I arrived in Camaret-sur-Mer.
The area is pretty incredible: the Bretagne coastline makes me think of Ireland and the Celts, and Frédéric says it’s “too wild” for the tourists. The département itself is called Finistère (essentially ‘the end of the earth’), and the town is right on the western edge of the middle finger of the Presqu’Île de Crozon – all very exotic sounding! I have been on a few drives along the coast, to nearby shops and markets and whatnot, and by golly it is a beautiful place. On Tuesday, we even went to a secluded beach nearby, surrounded by dramatic cliffs, but it’s still too cold to get in the water when the sun goes behind a cloud.
The place I’m staying in is an alternative B&B: accommodation, with the added extras of organic homecooked vegetarian food, lots of cheese and bread, no shoes in the house, no smoking, enough alcohol, views onto the beach, as well as therapies such as massage, yoga, sauna and acupuncture. Of course I have been eating too much (running has literally not existed since I’ve been here), loving life without the confines of shoes, and deeply breathing in the sea air like the wholesome person that I am.
I’ve also been getting naked quite a lot, which was rather unexpected: learning the basics of massage (i.e. getting free massages); sitting in the sauna (yes, naked. yes, with others [well, one other and she’s a girl and around the same age BUT STILL!]); and as of Monday I had my first acupuncture session with a man who works out of a room here once a week. It was kind of weird that he could predict/know very specific things about me just in his initial assessment, from how well I’d been sleeping (restlessly) to the consistency of my bowel movements (none of your beeswax).
CHARACTER 1: Stéphanie. Keeping me sane. She is another HelpXer, from Québec (SO freaking cool), and we are cohabiting in the converted attic above the house, so we have the best views of the house – straight over the beach. The more I get to know her, the more I love her. She’s really different to me, very sure of herself and assertive and confident, but also really careful and gentle too. I think it’s good for me to be around her, and I feel that I can learn lots of things from her (not least of all, French). I really enjoy listening to her slightly different accent (avant is said ah-vah instead of the typical French ah-voh), and her interesting stories, e.g. staying in a slum in Greece; being almost-robbed by gyspies in Romania; having a torrid affair with her Québecois masseur; etc.
CHARACTER 2: Frédéric. It’s very difficult to narrow this man down to a few sentences. He’s one of those super sexual people, but almost in a gay way where it doesn’t feel intimidating, and he otherwise just personifies alternative therapies: he’s always smiling; he says ‘ohm’ to everyone before going to bed; and he makes a dark green thickshake every morning for breakfast which tastes like sour berries and pure ginger. Upon picking me up, we sat in the car on the side of the road to call our respective mothers at the same time, and one time at the dinner table, with six paying clients present, he brought up the fact that his ‘full name’ includes the name of his 16000 year old intergalactic ancestor. That was an awkward conversation, even if I couldn’t understand every word of it.
CHARACTER 3: Karen. Frédéric’s wife confuses me. Very welcoming at first, generous, excitable. She absolutely worships her morning kaw-fee, she’s an ex-chef, and a staunch Californian, new age feminist. She can be quite moody and solitary, so I find that I’m having less and less to do with her completely unintentionally.
CHARACTERS 4-10: Clients. This is what the B&B customers are called. They were a bunch of characters. A swanky woman who talked for around 20 minutes about her €450 blender, and her kindly husband who was clearly dressed by her (he wore a beige sweater around his shoulders) and spoke snippets of english to me; a lovely middle aged couple who would hike the surrounding countryside each day (the man was a watercolour artist!); a lesbian who could not stop talking about how good the fish was (I almost couldn’t help myself laughing at the cliché); and a weird older man and his youthful wife who would go outside to smoke and otherwise not have much to do with anyone.
CHARACTER 11: Frédéric’s mum. Her name is Danielle, she is 85 and flew in on Tuesday from Marseille all by herself, she cannot understand french with any trace of accent (leaving only Frédéric to communicate with her), she has only her upper right 2nd incisor and her lower left canine teeth remaining, and today she said Merde! accidentally at the dinner table and only realised when I laughed aloud. Such a champion.
On the weekend just gone, Karen took Stéphanie and myself down to south Brittany to visit Carnac, where there are thousands of standing stones (mégalithes) from Neolithic times, i.e. 4800-4500 BCE. It’s so unearthly – they’re everywhere in this area (there are actually even a few near Camaret) and they’re aligned so perfectly in rows upon rows. On Saturday it was pouring so we had a lunch of mussels in cider, homemade cider apple pie, and Corsican wine. On Sunday we picnicked on the beach of Trinité sur Mer, and the cutest cat took our cheese rinds. Of an evening, Stéph and I would watch films: Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Donnie Darko respectively. Frédéric did not travel with us because his girlfriend was visiting, which was actually why we had to go on the trip – so they could have the place to themselves. It was super awkward when Stéph and I accidentally eavesdropped on a phone conversation of Karen saying ‘Don’t scream too loudly.’
I don’t understand this aspect of their relationship, nor any other – there doesn’t seem to be any affection, they snap at each other openly and they don’t spend much time together. Oh well, I’m learning life lessons I guess.
I’m really missing Jus, that’s for darn sure. Please be sure to hug him on my behalf.