Hello--I'm back! And I will have pictures to share with you once the photographer of the family returns next week.
Pictures of green rolling hills dotted with stone walls and cows in L'Aveyron, pictures of beaches and palm trees and pink flamingos and busy city squares from L'Herault, lavender fields and old villages from Provence, and many, many pictures of family members contentedly eating and smiling and swimming in rivers and showing off their new pocketknives from Laguiole, or not-contentedly hiding from the camera.
I had such a good time with family, with my amazingly smart, bighearted and generous sister-in-law M1, my lovely and creative mother-in-law Mamie. I enjoyed seeing my boys at home in France, correcting my language errors, guiding their Grammy around the streets of Montpellier, showing me how to take the new tram line, instinctively knowing the cultural do's and faux-pas (note to self: do not approach people with cute dogs and ask to pet them), remembering favorite foods and activities. It was special to have Minou share his history and memories with us in a place he still knows like the back of his hand.
It was also an amazing gift to have four days just with my mother, to travel together and visit new places and have an adventure. We stayed in Rennes, ate delicious Breton crepes, visited the Mont St Michel, had a day in Paris where we were scammed (phooey!) by an unofficial taxi driver but then motivated to figure out public transportation (which we did well), and took a train to Chartres to explore the cathedral.
It was hard to come home, because of a combination of no longer being on vacation and leaving Europe
(with Minou and the boys still there).
I miss my boys. I can't wait for them to come home.
I'm anticipating the strangeness that they may feel, cultural readjustment. I jumped back into work, which was much easier than I anticipated thanks to my very interesting job and great co-workers. Jumping back into the student routine was much harder, a little repeat of last term's angst. And the jet lag! I can never remember which direction is supposed to be easier to travel (does anyone know?) but I found it much harder flying home, east to west--of course that could be because I was flying back to a schedule, versus to being on vacation and taking naps.
Anyway, my plan is to stock the fridge with all those good ole American classics (at least our family classics) that they know and love--burrito fixings, tofu dogs and nature burgers, cheddar cheese. And to be all caught up on schoolwork (sigh...) so that I don't have that stress interfering with their much-anticipated homecoming. Speaking of which! Back to the plan for the day.