BONJOUR MON AMIES!!!! (hello my Friends!!) Did you miss me? Because I have missed you. Truly and Madly, I have missed coming to this beautiful space I have to call mine, this sacred place to share. So here goes. . . Many months ago, I had decided that if I moved to Europe (to España) I would absolutely see new places/countries/ways of life ideally whilst traveling for an entire summer. I had written down specific countries and cities in my travel notebook, and yet when I set out on July 9th I was leaving with only a plane ticket for PARIS, FRANCE and 3 nights booked in a Hostel, nothing more concretely planned.
It’s almost been 3 weeks of the #summerofAriana, so here is what I have been up to. . .
Paris: for me, was a lesson in synchronicity
Right place, right timing. . . because I had set out to connect with people, not just see the touristic sights. I kept saying throughout the travel: connect me, teach me, guide me Universe. Paris is a beautiful city, undeniably so, but beauty isn’t everything. Paris is lively, full of people year-round, but what was special for me were moments when the streets were quiet and nearly empty (EARLY IN THE MORNING), or when I would wander through the less touristic streets/neighborhoods. At times, I felt like the city was just mine. I opened myself to meeting Parisians, people who love the city and shared their love for Paris with me. “I love this city” or “Paris is so beautiful look at it” said by the people who know it best means more than someone with a selfie stick in front of the Eiffel Tower who “loves” Paris. The locals, new friends I made, I could feel their love and loyalty to Paris and it was so very great to witness. A few things that I learned from my time in ‘ol Paris: Be open and friendly and they just might call you FORMIDABLE (French word for WONDERFUL). Who me? And we had been communicating in partial English/French/Spanish. We didn’t understand every word spoken, but we shared company/shared space and laughed a lot. It was beautiful. I also got to finally hear the Bells the Bells of Notre Dame ring from the top of the Church. I walked up almost 400 stairs (tight spaces for majority of the climb) to get the views that Victor Hugo wrote about. Usually being high above a city or in nature makes me feel daring, like I could fly. I love this feeling, however fleeting it is. Paris, MERCI BEAUCOUP.
And then I was on my way to the west, to FINISTÈRE the western most part of the World (or at least they thought this once, as Finistère means “End of the World”).
Bretagne, you made me come alive and fall in love by the Sea
My travel continued in the region of Brittany=Bretagne, where I met up with a dear friend who hosted me. A Breton (Frenchman from Bretagne) himself, he took me to all the best spots he knew within driving distance. Since Bretagne is surrounded by Coast, I got re-charged by being near the sea. The cleaner air, the endless ocean views, and especially being with someone familiar to celebrate my ANNIVERSAIRE on July 14th, fireworks lighting up the sky as it’s the National Day of France, made these days a Cancer-filled visit. Cancers are at home when they have waters to gawk at, or even better, to swim in. Cancers are at home with friends/family. I got to experience this beautiful part of France with a friend and couldn’t be happier or more grateful for the adventure it was. I also partook in all the local foods in Bretagne, savoring the moments. Not a crêpe, baguette nor chunk of fromage got past me. Nearly a perfect food tour of this French region: stomach happy, heart happy. Spreading the BEURRE on a simple fresh BAGUETTE became one of my rituals in these days. Beurre (Butter) with salt of course, otherwise it’s not real butter (according to a true Breton). I swam in the Breton sea twice; my truest passion. My greatest moments always happen in the water, becoming one with the sands, just so that I can take a piece of the beach with me when I must leave. If there is not still sand on my body, on my feet and in my hair a day or two later, then I have not actually experienced said Sea/Beach. This is what I treasure most, this time where I connect with the water signs in me in a literal way, learning more each time I enter the waters, those moments where life makes more sense and you feel with every part of your body. . . The waters called me to join in their glee, in their ecstasy, and so I did.
Finally, I had to say goodbye to Bretagne and friends for a last experience in the East of France near Dijon. I headed to a tiny village called BAY SUR AUBE. Allez!!!
Bay Sur Aube was a great blessing for my soul, from Nature and my Workaway exchange with the lovely Marie
Having learned about Workaway through a friend, I had no idea there were so many people in the world who participate in this exchange. It’s worldwide. Someone hosts you (somewhere in the world) and usually provides food and shelter in exchange for help in their home/garden/community/business etc. It’s different everywhere, but the purest idea is to exchange ideas, while helping complete tasks or physical work. During free time you might also share the cooking tasks and eat meals together. Here in the Champagne Region of France, I experienced a range of emotions during my FIRST WORKAWAY, learning more in One Week than I ever expected. I did tasks including but not limited to: weeding in the garden, trimming plants like her roses, fixing and trimming the grape vines that were a complete mess, cleaning/housework, cooking, decorating the outdoor Dry Toilet (no running water for plumbing), and assisting in creating a makeshift DIY outdoor shower complete with hose, curtains and a wooden pallet to stand on.
During my free time I went for long walks with Victor, my host Marie’s dog. Sometimes Victor, myself and a new friend Naj (also staying here) would walk at night in the hills and up through the forest sharing life stories and enjoying the warm nights under the stars and even a Perfect Full Moon. Lucky me, I often bathed in the river that was minutes walking distance from the home, fish swimming all around me as I splashed around and soaped down (remember there was no real shower & I found the river more practical than a hose). I meditated under big trees overlooking the village. I wrote about my experiences in my travel notebook too. I had an epic bike ride on my final day in the village and surrounding hills, breathing in all the countryside had to offer. I watched the cows feeding near the river, approached a beautiful fox, appreciated birds and bugs, flowers and the rain. I have been living my life’s dreams during this trip, and these final days in FRANCE were bittersweet. My time in France had to come to an organic end.