Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Travelling back to the past and into the future

It’s a shame to spend most of the day travelling but that’s what I have to do for the next few days. I delayed leaving my hotel until the very last minute so I could have a bit of a lie-in and check my email. As usual, hardly any contact from anyone. What are you all doing out there? Forgotten me so soon? Isn’t anything I write worth a bit of comment? Oh well, I’m writing this for me too.

So, brunch in a very ho-hum brasserie near the Gare SNCF, after a long and uncomfortable walk through Nice Ville with all my luggage. With plenty of time on my hands I could chill out a little before I caught the TGV to Paris. I must say, the long trip to Paris is a very pleasant one.

The train tracks often skirted the Mediterranean when they weren’t going backstage in Provence. Civilised, beautiful, red volcanic rocks erupting through the shrubby trees; so different to the colours of Marseille. I wasn’t sitting on the Med side of the carriage or I would have taken more photos. Maybe you’ve seen enough of those though; how much sun and sand and trees can a person take, really? For me the Cote is eye candy at anytime. And now the rocks change to white and I know we are skirting the back of Marseille and on past Aix en Provence.

For hundreds of kilometres I see no sheep or cows and it’s glorious. All I see is food production, not exploitation, just fruit, vegetables, grains. The landscape is in harmony, it’s feeding people without a lot of pollution. It’s using sun, wind and rain and good growing soil. The stalks from the harvested wheat are ploughed in. The sheep and cows only appear in the fields as we get near to Paris. I like a bit of sheep and cow myself but I’m eating a lot less than I used to. I’m horrified at what is happening in NZ with dairying and the insistence on following old, short-sighted and inappropriate behaviours. Get with-it NZ. Find something else to do instead of polluting the country for money.

I bought a couple of pain au raisins before I boarded the train, just to keep me going on the almost 6 hours to Paris, a cheap and agreeable way to keep one’s blood sugar up. There’s a woman in my carriage marking papers, another breastfeeding a young baby, a mother and teenage son scoffing sammies and Coke. Someone with a broken leg, on crutches, has just negotiated the aisle and two passengers have to move to another carriage because they are sitting in someone else’s seat. One guy’s reading L’Equipe with the headline La fin d’un monde – it must be referring to the French Le Foot World Cup disaster. And oh, the people who seem to have i-Phones grafted to their bodies these days.

The carriage is filling up as we move closer to Paris. I’m about to leave Provence behind. I love this part of France but I know there are so many places to visit in the future, not to mention other European countries. I so hope my new job in Paris comes to fruition. No longer will I live at the end of the earth. There will be so many more possibilities.

Sitting in a train for hours you have time for reflection. What will it be like at work when I get back? Will the French Embassy in Wellington behave reasonably? When I be given an official work offer? How will I cope with the intimidating logistics of moving to the other side of the world alone?
How will Laura and I adjust to not having each other in our lives each day? It will be difficult. Each of these questions will be answered in time. It’s been an amazing trip.

Along the way I have lived a primitive existence with bare necessities, obtained a new qualification which may or may not get used, met fabulous French people who have taken me into their homes and shared their lives with me, met the lovely Pascal whom I hope will remain my friend, met an ex- president and A Nose and some charming students, accepted a proposition from a university to join their research unit as a communicator for environmental economics and injustice, sampled food I’ve never wanted to such as snails, raw duck liver and goat cheese and milk, walked an extraordinary number of kilometres, used planes, trains and buses, seen amazing French design and modest homes, sampled hotels, cities and countryside, taken hundreds of photographs, seen 4000 year-old megaliths and experienced warmth richness and acceptance from most people I have been in contact with.

Tomorrow I fly home if I can get myself to the airport. Buses and trains are on strike. I've had to order a very expensive taxi.

See you when I get back to NZ. This blog continues. As you can see, there are a lot more adventures and scary moments to come on my journey back to my true homeland, reversing the colonial migration that placed a little bit of France in NZ. Soon a little bit of France will go home, maybe leaving NZ for good.


Defogger said...

Hey Frances, what a marvellous trip you have had, stepping so incredibly fully out of what you have known into something that has the real potential of thoroughly transforming your life. I hope that what you have gained from the trip, the things you have learned about yourself and the evidence you have received that you are capable of pretty well anything you choose to do, flows with you into the next phase of your life, whatever that is. I wish you every success in achieving your Frances France dream. See you soon.

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