Though I let you know at the beginning of these last two weeks that my posting would be less frequent, I apologize anyway for my lack of attention. This will be my last opportunity to write here in France before I fly home on Saturday. One final and reflective post will come early next week. Otherwise, thank you all for the continued interest and support.
As it has been so long since I let you know what I have been up to, here is a brief overview of my final week in France:
This past Monday and Tuesday, we began the work week with another foray into the construction of the pottery oven. Last week, we had successfully constructed the three, ascending foundations of the oven and the temporary supports for the arch. This week, we built upon our previous progress by beginning the walls that will eventually arch into each other, forming the roof of the oven. More specifically, the job included laying bricks with special attention to vertical and horizontal levels, cutting wedges to support the curve of the walls, and reflecting a lot on how we want the project to proceed. At the end of the two days, we were physically and mentally exhausted but had mounted the walls about two feet.
In the middle of Tuesday’s work, I took a break from the work and went on a serendipitous visit to the region with a family friend named Michel. An incredibly curious and hospitable gentleman, he observed that the work was taking its toll and off we went in his car to explore. Over the course of the afternoon, we accomplished little tasks like buying a train ticket to Lyon and finding a store that sells Opinel pocketknifes (a celebrated and inexpensive brand made in France). The best part of the afternoon, however, was when we took the time to visit a local village built on the remains of a two-thousand year old Roman encampment complete with a Twelth Century chapel. It really puts into perspective the short amount of time we Americans have been around. After, we ate a pastry at a local café and talked about the evolution of French consumerism over the past fifty years. Sitting there, discussing societal trends in the shade of the imposing church and watching the townspeople pass, the day could not have been any better.
The next day, I woke early to get to work and was once again surprised by an adventure. Out of the blue, Albon (Jean-Yve’s son) and Jean-Yves (a neighbor with the same name as my host) asked me to accompany them on a trip to a local mountain. After quickly packing a few things into a backpack, we set off towards Le Lac d’Anncey www.mountain-riders.org/_news/upload/lac-annecy-forclaz-2210084529.jpg and its famous mountain “La Tournette” www.randos-montblanc.com/pages/album/album-tournette.html which was about an hour-and-a-half away. Once arrived, we began an arduous three hour hike up the mountainside, eventually reaching the summit where we saw Mont Blanc in one direction and the Lake in the other. It was a breathtakingly beautiful view accompanied by a delicious lunch of crusty baguettes, local sausage, and Roblochon, an Haute-Savoie cheese that resembles Camembert in ooziness and is a must-try.
Looking back over the two days, I could not think of a better way to have spent some of my last days here in France. Though the experiences were not directly related to the agricultural base of the project, it was nice to take a bit of time to appreciate the area and to see how the locals spend their time. I am indebted to my hosts and their incredibly hospitable friends.
Now, I am in the middle of getting ready to leave. Tomorrow morning, I will take an early train into Lyon and check into a hotel where I will sleep tomorrow night. For the rest of the day, I am going to explore the city and experience its gastronomic traditions with the help of a New York Times article a friend found earlier in the summer. frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/in-lyon-a-day-devoted-to-the-stomach/?scp=1&sq=frugal%20traveler%20lyon&st=cse Hopefully, I will find a few good places to eat and will get to see the famous St. John’s Cathedral in Vieux Lyon. Then, Saturday morning, it is an early train to Charles to Gaulle Airport and a much awaited flight home.
Wishing everyone an excellent weekend,