my first visitors!

my friends carine and her son mateo (my almost 3 yr. old french boyfriend!) and carine’s mom, anne marie, came to visit me from last sunday nite to thursday.  they arrived sunday nite with enuf stuff for a month long visit, it seemed (but necessary when traveling with a little one!), and we all hauled it up my 29 steps in record time.

we had gorgeous, warm weather on monday! we walked all around collioure and mateo got to play on the beach and we had lunch at a restaurant right near the water’s edge.  later we walked to a park on the other side of collioure and mateo got to go on a merry go round and then a little playground with a nice slide for him.

i found all kinds of short cuts into town walking around with them!! and i live almost across the street from a socio-cultural center that shows movies a couple of times a week and has qi gong classes on thursdays. i’m definitely going to check them out!!  i feel so much safer walking around at nite here than i did in toulon and now i only have to go across my little street if i want to go to the movies. how great is that?

but then on monday nite there was a huge storm with very strong winds, which are called tramontaine here. someone explained that the tramontaine are the winds that come from the mountains and the mistral, the bane of existence in provence, comes from the sea.  i need to ask someone if we ever have the mistral in collioure.  anne marie, mateo and i walked into town and were shocked to see that the streets we had walked on the day before were completely flooded!! apparently this happens during a storm and it’s specifically constructed to handle all the run off water that pours down the streets to the sea.  of course i didn’t have my camera for any of this!!!

and the waves were HUGE, cascading over the wall near the restaurant we had eaten at just the day before.  we tried to take a shortcut back to the park and the waves were coming onto the sidewalk and we saw a woman fall down in front of us, so we decided to turn back and were trapped for a moment b/c the waves were coming onto the walkway both in front and behind us. yikes!!!  it was SO different from the calm, idyllic mediterranean we had just enjoyed!  it was kind of exciting, tho, i have to admit! i love watching the ocean or the sea during a storm (from a safe distance, of course!) – a reminder of how powerful nature is!!

on wednesday, we drove into spain (the border is a half hour away). we took the windy mountain roads and interestingly everything seemed to be closed and we hardly saw any people or cars for most of the drive. anne marie called it a “phantom road”.  we finally stopped in a little town and asked at a market if any restaurants were opened. it turns out it was too early for them (it was just before noon) and i remembered on the camino that the bars and restaurants usually opened around 12:30 or 1 pm and it was almost impossible sometimes to find anything open before then.

we did end up having a nice lunch (paella for carine and anne marie and grilled salmon for me – yummy!) and then we went for a walk on a path along the sea. carine said she thinks it went up the coast, at least to banyuls, which is about 15 minutes from collioure.  the sea looked like it was still churning and there was a lot of debris on the beach from the storm, but it was still beautiful (but cold!!!).

thursday we had breakfast together, took another walk to the park for one last ride on the merry go round for mateo and then they headed back to marseille.  my house felt so empty after they left, but i was kept busy with washing and hanging up the sheets and cleaning house (not that there was that much to do).  life here is so much more hands on, as far as household chores are concerned, especially without a clothes dryer.  i do have a dishwasher, which i thought was a very unnecessary luxury, but with house guests it was a very welcome one!

so, the house has been initiated with visitors – who’s next?? 🙂




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