"Europe 2004-05" story # 30

Lasalle, France           December 12, 2004

Hey, buddies.
     I must report: the end has come, and Elaine and I will not be going home together.
     It's a shame, but ...
     You gotta move on. (But, man! is she a class girl.)
     So, I put on my cassette of Soda Stereo, the Argentinian 80's-rock-music megalo-sensationals. And I set my focus on painting.
     Truck-driver Antonio had driven me from Portugal to France two weeks earlier. He looked like a character from "The Sopranos," he fixed us Portuguese lunches of goat cheese and fresh bread and purple wine beside his truck, and he said how all politicians are bad. (He thought Kruschev was a good guy.)
     Since then, I've been WWOOF-volunteering for a French family. Today, I painted both sides of their entryway door for them. The piece was as big as four doors, and it contained thirty windows. It was enough work for six monkeys! - whatever that means. I finished the six-monkey job this evening, and I sat back and observed it with a real sense of accomplishment. It looked like crap, but hey! it was the cheap paint's fault.
     No, I'm doing a good job for my hosts. I also raked an estimated four million leaves from their really big yard. In the mornings, as I marched out to where the rake and wheelbarrow awaited me, I liked to look for the one lounging leaf that annoyed me the most and scoop down and grab it and grind it between my fingers to show the other leaves how much I hated them.
     My gracious work-giving hosts include the mother of the family. She's a guide on multi-week Europe tours, she's originally from England, and she has been helpful in giving me life advice.
     Cristophe is the five-year-old son. He kissed me good-night on my first night with the family. Since, he has written on my shirt, yelled in my ear, refused to follow me home from the village because he knew the only thing I could do would be to sit and wait for him (actually, I dragged him), and he messed up my nice and beautifully-stacked leaf piles. He's shown me the definition of "mioche." "Mioche" is French for "child who does not obey." I love that word. Ou est le mioche?
     Like Cristophe, the father is a curly-haired, waning-moon-glasses Frenchman. He's obviously a much larger version, though. And boy can he cook!
     The man, Bernard, spends an hour preparing each meal. His always-different salads contain fresh lettuce and other things like pecans, and he has someone toss it at the table to work the dressing up from the bottom. He puts celery bits in his mashed potatoes.
     His best main courses have been: quiche (a moist, yellow cake that's mostly egg with some meat on the bottom); soufflet (also mostly egg, it's cooked to rise brown like an erupting bread); a thick pea soup including ham (especially good for people who like to fart); a soup which was like an over-crowded city of different vegetables; hardy, smooth sausages with little chickpea beans; an onion, green vegetable, and tofu chunk mixture cooked in a Chinese sauce like soy sauce (amazing!); and rabbit cooked maroon with wine, with stocky mushrooms and prunes.
     Yep, you definitely eat great while WWOOFing.
     Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go earn my keep. It's nighttime, and I have to hurry outside if I want to be able to catch all the falling leaves who plan to sneak onto my freshly-raked yard.
     Death to leaves!
     Mort aux feuilles!

later, Modern Oddyseus

Much thanks to Irena, Bernard, Cristophe, & "Otto" for the place to stay!

P.S. - Next stop: the tiny country of Andorra. I'm gonna hitchhike there and look for work near its ski resorts in the Pyrenees. My money situation is not in good health. Wish me luck!

P.S.S. - And best of luck to Elaine! I'll be with you ...

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