La Prise de bec - unexpected run-in with a stranger while walking my dog
Afin de + When, just like that, a cultural curiosity is demystified

Dépaysement - one of Jean-Marc's favorite French words!


After a recent dog-walking clash there was no time to linger in the comfort zone of home, dwelling on a negative experience. Une nouvelle expérience awaited just around the corner of North Africa.... 


    : change of scene

* dépaysement can also have a negative connotation, for it also means "culture shock" or  "disorientation" 

AUDIO FILE - hear Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French

Dépaysement sentence

J'enregistre ce message vocal à l'aéroport de Nador où nous avons passé trois jours de complet dépaysement dans ce pays le Maroc, en visite de differents lieux comme Saidia, Tibouda, et la Lagune de Nador. I am recording this message at the airport in Nador where we have spent three full days of a complete change of scenery in the country of Morocco, visiting different places like Saidia, Tibouda, and the Lagoon of Nador.

High quality vacation rental in the heart of Provence. Recommended by readers. Click here for photos


    by Kristi Espinasse

Like a gourmand who is already devising his next meal while enjoying the present one, those who have been bitten by the travel bug are plotting the next destination even as their return flight is touching down in their hometown.

Our hometown was Marseilles when I moved to the Hexagone in 1992, and it was my future husband who had (still has) the travel bug. I am a true homebody, une casanière, or have become one after reaching my ultimate destination (La France). Even if I am thankful for a husband who regularly tugs me out of my comfort zone, I still cannot shake the resistance I feel when I hear his now familiar words: Et si on va à.... How about if we go to...

It was on the tail end of our September périple to France's Island of Beauty that Jean-Marc suggested we go to Rome "la prochaine fois." When you live near a major airport and have access to low-cost carriers such as EasyJet and Ryan air--you can easily and cheaply voyage to a rainbow of Mediterranean destinations all for around 60 or 80 euros aller-retour. And, if you are my husband, you can find a good bargain hotel sur place!

So it was that on Tuesday we stood in line for our next adventure--et c'est le cas de le dire!  I had left it up to Jean-Marc to surprise me about the destination (this being a good exercise in going with the flow). But on the eve of our departure, I needed my husband to break his silence and let me know which city we were flying to--it would mean the difference between packing boots (for Rome?) or sandals (for Greece?) or a parka (for Russia? No! he was only teasing about ce dernier!). 

But it never occurred to me that I might need to pack a headscarf....

*    *    *
Nador Morocco
Coastline near the border of Algeria....

To be continued (click here for part two). Meantime, I would love it if you would share your own experiences traveling to a culture different than your own. Did you make any faux-pas? What surprised you about the country and its ways? Any negative experiences? Or mostly positive ones? 


une périple = trek, journey
la prochaine fois = the next time
aller-retour = round trip
un casanier, une casanière = homebody, homebird
sur place = on site
c'est la cas de le dire! = you can say that again! 
ce dernier = the latter

Build your vocabulary by reading one more story from the archives. This one, in which my mother-in-law is about to reveal the names of all my husband's ex-girlfriends, is a fun way to boost your French! 

Max and jean-marc espinasse

Meet Jean-Marc and our son Max (all grown up now!) in Texas and in Portland. 

Max and Jean-Marc will be pouring the very last US bottles of Mas des Brun and other delicious wines next December in TX and OR. If you live nearby, don't miss 
seeing them.

Houston,  TX : December 13th at 7 PM
- Winemaker Dinner at Bistro Provence13616 Memorial Drive. Tel : 713-827-8008. Reservation needed. 

Portland, OR: December 15th :
- Blackbird Wine Shop ~ Drop in tasting, 6-8 PM. 4323 NE Fremont Street
Portland OR  : December 16th :
- Pastaworks at City Market ~ Drop in Tasting, Noon - 2 PM. 735 NW 21st Avenue
- Providore Fine Foods ~ Drop in tasting, 2 30-4 30 PM. 2340 NE Sandy Blvd
The Harvest Wine Bar ~ Winemaker Dinner, 6 PM. 14559 Westlake Dr, Lake Oswego. Tel : 503-747-7263. Reservations needed

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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I hope you enjoyed your trip. I was fortunate to touch down in Algeria and Tunisia earlier this year. While it was only the briefest of stops, I got to get a glimpse of the cultures that inveigle me. Both stops were on gorgeous days which always helps. The security in Tunisia was a little unsettling but It was still marvelous. I just wish we could all be more embracing of differences.


Good morning. Sounds like an interesting trip - look forward to part two. The oddest feeling while traveling occred in Indonesia. When deplaning and waiting in line at customs I looked around a sea of tops of heads. We tourists where generally taller by several inches easy to see in the crowd I wanted to shrink some but got over that quickly because the people were so welcoming and helpful.

One very unsettling traveling arrival was in 1978 when my husband and I and our 4 teen aged children flew in to the Nairobi Airport, headed for a Safari. In the landing field were foxholes where soldiers manned machine guns...waiting for any possible incursion by Idi Amin's guys from the country next door. We had a great time, but, for arrivals, that was a real attention-getter. I have loved getting to know your family by way of your blog. You are all so generous and adventurous . Best wishes to you all for the Holidays. Lynne

An Scott

This past June, we did a home exchange with a couple of American teachers who lived and worked in Marrakech Morocco. Marrakech was exotic and interesting. While there we visited a Hammam for a day of pampering Moroccan style. You must try this! We also took a 3 day tour into the Sahara Desert, rode camels into the desert, spent a night in a Bedouin Camp in the desert and watched the sun come up over a giant dune in the desert in the AM before riding our camels back to a Casbah for breakfast. It was surreal! By the way, I did not have to wear a headscarf at any time anywhere in Morocco.

Katheryn Lyman

How does one tie the headscarf properly?
Next vocation: tour guide!

Joan Cook

My hidbsmf and I flew to Taiwan where our youngest son was spending his Penn State senior continuing his study of Mandarin as well as continuing his advanced martial arts.
After a few days in Taipei we decided to spend a week traveling the length of Taiwan., mostly by train but also by “gypsy bus.”

One day as we were walking the length of a village, I noticed a large number of people, all dressed in white, entering a beautiful temple. I stopped to take a picture. Suddenly my son grabbed my arm, “NO! Mom! It’s a Funeral! White is worn to a funeral”: Hat was an important learning experience for mr!

joie in Carmel

I am sure Morocco has changed since I was there in 1968! We were told to wear our passports under our clothing. Yes, that long ago...we took a ferry to Tetouan and then got on a very decrepit bus with all the locals, including chickens and a goat or two and headed across the badlands for Tangier. We were stopped by Bedouins on horseback who came aboard with their guns and swords looking for something. A Frenchman on the bus took us under his wing fortunately and found us a place to stay. He also took us into the Casbah for quite a tour. A tea house where they were dealing in hashish, oh my, we got to see part of a wedding and the next morning were thankful to take the ferry from Tangier back to Spain. My girlfriend and I were traveling in Europe for 6 months.

Betsy Foree

This is so far from topic but had to share a French-style #Me too. Have you heard "balance ton porc" It means "squeal on your pig" Has this made the french papers? It was in the SF Chronicle last week...along with others from around the world.

Robbie Lane Jackson

Wonderful story. Have always wanted to go to Morocco. Seeing Patsy and her pal Edina go there on "Absolutely Fabulous," sort of cured me, and my husband forbid me to do that trip. Did you love it? Please, more, and tell us about the food??? And, could you please explain, the "squeal on your pig" thing. Happy Thanksgiving and early Merry Christmas. We love your columns, every one. RL


Great post Kristi and love the photos! I love traveling and would love to do more of it! We are in Germany right now. Looking forward to visiting a few Christmas markets before we fly back to the US.

Merle Minda

Your next trip to Morocco you might want to touch base with a friend of mine who owns a house in Marrakesh. It is a B&B now and it is called Dar Basyma. which means many smiles, I think. The house is in the Medina and wonderfully located with a fantastic in-house cook. My friend is Jane Shortridge. She is not there all the time but she has this terrific house staff plus a sort of partner who takes visitors on these exotic trips into the desert or wherever. You might want to look on her blog to see some of her glorious photos. Check out the house on Facebook and Jane also posts under See Jane Travel. You ought to try it sometime since you are right there!!


Our dear Kristi,
Love the photo of Max and Jean-Marc!
What a happy time with more to be ahead!
Hope your trip has been wonderful,and(OF COURSE) are looking forward to the next installment!!
(PS Particularly enjoyed Joie in Carmel's adventures! Wow!)
Our experience that I most recall with laughter was to Copenhagen.
We were on stand by passes,and had been deplaned three separate times:our hotel reservations had since become a thing of the past,and as luck would have it(or not) there was a convention in town and NO rooms to be had.
The lady at the visitors' desk took pity on us and after phoning around for a good half an hour,finally found a room in a place on the outskirts of town. No uber then,just buses(with changes) and by the time we got there,we were dragging,happy to have anyplace to lay our heads.Weeeeeeeelllllll......
no elevators,carried our(like lead) suitcases up five flights,only to discover that this place was no hotel,nor a hostel,but--SURPRISE!!- a brothel!!!!
Tired or not,it was a LOOOOONG night,filled with a lot of strangers' giggles and tee-heeing in the hall,footsteps and assorted door slamming.
Could NOT wait to leave the following morning!
We still laugh about this,all these years later.

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

I understand that little tug when a suggestion is made for a trip somewhere else - which is at at complete odds with describing myself as restless. Our French life was all of the things that you asked for above - faux pas, surprises, negatives and positives.


Bonjour Jristi et Jean Marc
Je me demandais d’ou Était cet âne, puis j’ai lu que vous étiez à Nador
r et ses environs. J’ai grandit au Maroc à Kenitra avant de m’envoller Aux USA. J’y ai passé de belles années. Bottée blog est toujours intéressant. Bonne continuation et joyeuses fêtes de Thanksgiving!

Patricia Sands

There's no surprise I love more than a trip! Great planning, J-M! Bonne idée! J'ai hâte d'entendre la suite!

Lee Isbell

Gosh, I still wear my passport under my clothing whenever I go somewhere I need a passport (or in transit to or from such a place). I've been with people who lost their passports by one reason or another and it's a definite pain in the petooty to get a replacement.

Suzanne Dunaway

I hope this trip to Rome was in the PAST. WE ARE HERE NOW and if you didn't let me know, I'm going to flip out!!! If you are ever planning a trip to Rome, please let me know. We will be your guides, not literally, we'll leave you alone but we will take you to dinner for the best ravioli with roasted walnut sauce in Rome we will point you toward unknown corners......
Love the story of the headscarf. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us.

Arlette Jassel

Suzanne dunaway where do you get wonderful ravioli with roasted walnut sauce in Rome? We spent a month there two years ago and never had a truly memorable meal. If you have any suggestions please share
so many thanks

Arlette Jassel


Your posts are a constant source of happiness and joy for me. Never think of giving up this wonderful gift you give us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much, Arlette! That is a wonderful motivation to continue. 💛

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