Today's word: deviner
: to guess
: to figure out
: to surmise
Click here to listen to the following sentence in French
Pour notre 25ème anniversaire de mariage, j'ai reservé une surprise à Kristi. Devinez où nous allons aller.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
When Jean-Marc told me he had reserved a surprise destination for our 25th wedding anniversary, the guessing began as I packed my carry-on: if we took a plane, all these toiletries would need to be under so many grams in weight (just how many?). But if we were traveling by train or via ferry boat, then this giant-size tube of sunblock could go with us. Did we even need la crème solaire?
Mais bien sûr! That much I knew about my husband: this Mediterranean likes to go where he can put his feet in the sand while setting his rosé on the table--alongside his olives and cacahuètes (autrement dit: he loves to dine on the beach--les pieds nus)!
I emptied out some hotel shampoo bottles and refilled with lotion and sunblock just in case we were boarding a strict carrier (living near Marseilles is wonderful for that: so many islands (Malta, Sardinia, Corsica) and cities (Rome, Barcelona, Palermo) can be reached via the friendly skies in under 2 hours for under $100. I packed a swimsuit and various layers to cover any situation: la pluie, la canicule, le froid... and then threw all cares to the wind, or tried to, and got into our car wearing my best version of adventurer.
Which reminds me of one of the reasons I married Jean-Marc, there would always be adventures, which is just what this homebody who likes to know what's going to happen next needs. Speaking of what's next, who knew if our car ride would be 45 minutes (to the Marignane airport) or 2.5 hours (to the Italian border?)--or an all-day journey to Croatia (we drove there once. You should have seen the look on my family's faces when, at border patrol, and after 15 hours on the road--in traffic and heat for the last leg--I realized I'd forgotten my passport)....
I have never forgotten my documents since! "But I cannot find my Residency card..." I said to Jean-Marc, panicked. (If you are a foreigner living full-time in France, you must be ready to show this extra ID card at immigration along with your passport when traveling outside of the country). When my husband wasn't concerned about the missing card, I realized we were probably not flying anywhere...
And when Jean-Marc drove right past the port of Toulon, I had to scratch "ferry boat" off the list of possible destinations. Now it seemed we were headed to the Nice airport, another 2 hours down the coast.... But just when I felt sure, my driver did a switcharoo, looping back into town. By now I was laughing. I love this! I said. The control freak inside of me must have nodded off for a siesta. Meantime, my soul was awake! Oh, the power of letting go! Freeing yourself of reservations, fears, conclusions, expectations and the rest of those monsters and party poopers.
At last we drove to the Port of Toulon, and it was crystal clear we were taking a boat over these turquoise waters just ahead. But which direction? There were three lanes leading up to the drive-on boarding: one read "Ajaccio." One read "Bastia." And the lane in the middle read "Alcudia." All boats read, in huge letters CORSICA FERRIES, leading to many assumptions....
So we are going to Corsica, I chirped. I love Corsica! And I love taking the overnight ferry!
Jean-Marc's sideways smile told me the game of devinettes wasn't up. "If that is what you think," he said simply. Looking back at the signs, I had to admit...to not being able to identify one of those cities on a giant Map of Geography. Just where was Alcudia located? It had to be Corsica...for everything pointing to that direction.
"Can I use my phone and google it?" I begged.
"If you want," my driver said, nonchalant.
And that, dear reader, is how I learned that Alcudia is located... on the Spanish island of Majorca. Now I will never forget that and, si Dieu le veut, look forward to many more geography lessons in the next 25 years!
* * *
Guess who came with us on this trip: Trusty Mr Sacks. He's almost as old as our marriage. More pictures of Mr Sacks over the years, click here.
autrement dit = said otherwise
les pieds nus = bare feet
la cacahuète = peanut
la pluie = rain
la canicule = heatwave
le froid = the cold
devinettes = guessing game
si Dieu le veut = God willing
carry-on = le bagage à main
toiletries = produits de toilette
Jean-Marc needs sun. I need shade. We're learning to work it out. That could be our memoir in a nutshell. Chapter 8 has just been posted, and the second half of it (Jean-Marc's account) is coming soon. Thank you for reading our book-in-progress.
Church door in Roussillon, photo from the archives of this blog. I just received this note--via snail mail--from Elaine:
Kristi, So enjoy your work and finally can send a check by mail. Every best wish, Elaine
Thank you so much, Elaine! And for those of you who enjoy this journal, it is now possible to support it via a check in US dollars or in euros. Here is the information:
Le Vin Sobre
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety