The other day, while on a “randonée” (I like throwing in random French words – this one means “hike”), Ash and I were discussing the beauty of our aimless wanderings and what they provide; exercise for us and the dogs, spectacular views of the natural surroundings, and the possibility of, well, ANYTHING! One of our mottos on this trip is “the plan is NO plan” and so far this philosophy is working like magic!
One of our most serendipitous experiences happened just recently. But, before I recount this story, I have to give credit where credit is due: it really is Lefty and Midnight who open these doors for us; they draw people to them and we take it from there. I’m quite sure they are our lucky charms!
So a few days ago, we started off on our morning hike in the town of Port-Sainte-Foy-et-Ponchapt (yea, I know, seriously, France, can you make your town names any more difficult?!?). As we walked along a forested path by the Dordogne river we heard music playing and what sounded like a party (a bit odd for 11 am). Soon we approached what we realized was a horse jumping competition; we treaded slowly as we were worried our dogs would not be welcome. But upon asking a bystander we learned that not only could the dogs come in, the event was free; so in we trotted!
I wish I could report that L and M behaved like horse show veterans, but, suffice it to say there were a few barks (I won’t divulge the guilty party), so we quickly went to the farthest point from which we could watch. Shortly thereafter, a friendly man approached to pet L and M. We started chatting and learned that his daughter was in the competition. He was interested in “our story” and we spent the next 45 minutes talking about his family, our trip, and sharing stories and jokes (yes, in French…I’m getting so much better, ya’ll!). As our dogs started to get antsy and we bid our new friend goodbye, he insisted we take his contact info and come visit his home when we passed through his town. We parted ways feeling happy and surprised that we had made such a connection!
L & M “It’s not my first rodeo…oh wait, actually, it is!
Two days later, we showed up at his house; a beautiful work in progress that he and his wife spend their weekends fixing up. We got the full tour of the grounds which included chickens, cats, turtles, a dog, a fish pond, a Japanese style garden, and a gazillion plants. But what impressed the most was their creative sense of interior design- serious contenders for any HGTV show! *I only wish I had taken more pics-gotta get the hang of this blogging thing 😉
Zoom in to see the textured walls….HAY, mixed into the plaster- genius use of extra organic materials laying around the yard!
And their hospitality- WOW, just unrivalled! They fed us a wonderful home-cooked meal, including wine and dessert, and again, chatted with us in slow French for hours, patiently letting us piece together our thoughts in elementary level phrases. When we tried to give them a bottle of wine as a thank-you they insisted they rarely drank wine so we should keep it. THEN, they sent us away with a dozen farm fresh eggs, kiwis from their tree and TWO bottles of wine!! Their kindness and generosity were so authentic and natural; they were those rare gems of humanity whom you can only hope to happen upon.
So a heartfelt thank you to Alberto and Beatrice….and of course, to Lefty and Midnight 🙂