TODAY’S Word: smala (smah-lah) noun, feminine
: entourage, big family (famille nombreuse)
from the Arabic, zmalah: tribe
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
This first week with my American family has gone by en vitesse! Beaches, the farmers market, snorkeling in the Mediterranean and even cliff diving (for the guys). What a whirlwind good time it's been with Heidi, Payne, and Reagan since they flew in from Denver to Marseilles via Munich. So far we've visited La Ciotat, Aix-en-Provence, and Cassis and now my sister and her kids are in Paris (those last two cities rhyme if you pronounce them correctly…).
It was the first time my 19-year-old niece and 21-year-old nephew have been to France (not counting when Payne was a baby), and it was fun to hear their reactions to the culture (for them, the French light switches were backward, the toilet handle wasn't a handle (but something you pulled--thus the verb "tirer la chasse"--and a few other bizarreries in their Aunt Kristi's household for which we can't blame France!
A highlight of my family's visit was meeting up with my French family, thanks to Max who organized la sortie. My belle-soeur Cécile, beau-frère Jacques and his girlfriend Mariem joined us at the Vieux Port in Marseilles at Ciao Marcello for pizza. Though half the group could not understand each other, in the end language wasn't a barrier and our our mini réunion de famille was un succès. After a 2-hour lunch we kissed each other goodbye. That is when a cozy feeling came over me as foreign word began to echo in my mind….
Smala. The word, borrowed from Arabic, means big family or entourage. As the word smala filled my mind, so did an appreciation for this chance to finally have my family in France for an extended period of time—time enough to, well, be a family in France: cooking together, cleaning together, caring for our Mom/Grandmother together, and especially laughing and loving together. At one of our big dinners on the front porch, I looked over at Jules and said: “Can you believe we are all here? All your kids and all your grandkids! We are all here because of you… “ Jules was visibly moved.
I was kicking myself this morning for not boarding the TGV to Paris with my sister and the kids for even more time with family. But I have a few obligations here at home....and just as soon as I typed those words I realized "will those obligations matter a year from now?"
The truth is, downtime is good. It is now thundering outside and the rain is pouring down—a good time to sit back and review some photos from this past week. I leave you with some of my favorite pictures and we'll see you next week for more updates from le bercail (another cozy word for home).
Prenez soin de vous et à bientôt,
Another highlight of my sister’s visit was visiting Flavia and Fabrice in St. Maximin. I wrote a story about a memorable meal there a few years ago, « Pour Vivre Heureux Vivre Caché » (To Live Happy, Live Hidden)
My nephew and niece is Cassis
la smala = entourage, family
en vitesse = quickly, rapidly
Cassis = Cassis
Paris = Paris
tirer la chasse = to flush the toilet
bizarreries = peculiarities
la sortie = the outing
la belle-sœur = sister-in-law
le beau-frère = brother-in-law
la réunion de famille = family reunion
un succès = a success
le TGV (le train à grande vitesse) = fast train
le bercail = home (slang)
Prenez soin de vous et à bientôt = take care and see you soon
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