New Friends

Over the last 2 1/2 years Alan and I have made some great friends. Starting with Jason and his wife, Annette. Their hospitality our first year in Carcassonne was invaluable. From the moment our plane touched down in Toulouse, they have been the nicest people, helping with our luggage, driving us from Toulouse to Carcassonne and getting us settled into our first apartment in France. They are a wonderful couple and we have appreciated getting to know them and their family.

Our neighbors in Carcassonne, Sofie, Charlotte, and “Coucou” a lady whose name we never knew, who spoke no English but who would greet us whenever she saw us with the colloquial French greeting. These people made our time in Carcassonne very enjoyable. I miss Sofie, we used to spend quite a bit of time chatting and it was nice to have a gal pal close by. The husband is a fantastic conversationalist, but sometimes girls just want to chat with other girls.

Then there is “Melon Man.” This elderly gentleman who worked at one of the stalls at the Saturday market in Carcassonne. Whenever cantaloupe was in season he was at his best. I never had to select our melons, I need only tell him how many I would like. His face would light up and he would speak in rapid French while handing me my requested melons. They were always delicious and each week when he spotted us, he would start waving us over to ask how many we would like. What a shame that the cantaloupe wasn’t available year round!

Anne and Marie owned a small store at the end of the block. They were always smiling and always happy and would always correct our mispronounced French for us! When either of these ladies would say “Bonjour!” it was the most lyrical, happy sound! We miss them waving at us when we walk by and chatting with them when we would stop in the store.

The family who own La Casa in Carcassonne, a Catalan restaurant that serves the best meatballs I have ever had. Theirs was the first restaurant we ate at and visited often. Momma had a special liking for Kiara and would snatch her away whenever we stopped in. Son greeted us with our first “Ça va” and always made a point to wave if he noticed us walking by. Father always made a point of bringing Sami a plate of charcuterie whenever we stopped in for lunch, she always loved going to their restaurant and visiting with him.

Jeffrey and Michele from Canada and Jennifer from South Carolina, are friends we met while walking the Camino in 2013. We keep in touch through Facebook and really enjoy reading about their daily lives and new adventures. Jeffrey is an amazing photographer, Michele has the coolest job in the world and Jen is an amazing gal with a flair for fashion. We value their friendship and our shared experiences in Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

We met Carol when she came to see our apartment in Carcassonne. Jason brought her by as she was looking to rent the place when we left. We hit it off right away and enjoy reading about her travels through her business. She speaks excellent French and is a natural storyteller. We only regret that we were not in Carcassonne a little longer to spend a bit more time with her!

Since moving to Argeles-sur-Mer we have met two incredible couples through our blog. People who managed to find our little blog in the whole of the Internet (which still amazes us daily) and sent an email through our contact us link.

The first are Greg and Joan who actually live close by in Collioure. We enjoy their company very much and though they are currently traveling, have been keeping up with their adventure through text messages. Joan is an excellent cook and when we got together for lunch, made us the best meal we’ve had since arriving in France.

More recently we have made friends with a couple, Bob and Bill, who are looking to move to France. What started as a few questions about managing the different steps in making such a move has lead to a wonderful friendship. We are both looking forward to meeting these two when they arrive. But in the meantime we are enjoying our conversations with our new “pen-pals.”

A few days ago, I made a rather unusual friend. He has been keeping me company whenever I am on the terrace. I’ve named him Francois and do my best not to let him frighten me. This little bee comes every time I am sitting on the terrace. If I wave my hand at him, he backs off about a foot and hovers at eye level. I checked the patio furniture and haven’t found anywhere that he might be building a nest, but for some reason he comes every single time I go outdoors. I don’t know how long bees live, but I will enjoy his visits while they last.

There are many more people that we have met, chatted with for a while, but these are the friendships we have been enjoying while in this new country. We often say that this life is possible because of the support of our friends and family back home, and Facebook for letting us keep in touch with those we care about. These are people that we would not know if we hadn’t decided to do something adventurous. And just like our dear friends back home, these new friends feel like gifts from the universe. Well, maybe not Francois the bee, that depends on how well he behaves himself!

Here is a photo of a bee similar to Francois. Love his white furry neck.

photo credit: “Andrena vaga” by Stanzilla – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrena_vaga.jpg#/media/File:Andrena_vaga.jpg
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