We’re back in Thuir, and all seems exotic again. Exotic, but so familiar. After final goodbyes at the airport with my mom in Halifax, sorry to leave her, we flew to Newfoundland, overnight a quick hop (across the Atlantic in less than 4 hrs? wow!) to Dublin, and finally, in early afternoon, on to Perpignan. Claire, at not quite 7, was already such a pro traveler that even after 24 hrs of travel and maybe 3 hours of sleep, she emerged with her backpack into the damp heat on the tarmac, gazed around at the palm trees and blue sky, and said cheerfully, “My, I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so hot!”. And headed confidently for the luggage carousel.
We had 5 huge bags and a car that fit 5 people but just two bags. Somehow we put 3 in there plus assorted carry ons, like a clown car, begged a spot for the other 2 behind the info counter until we could come grab them, and drove off for the B&B. It was strange to feel completely new and yet know exactly how to get where we were going. We had stayed at the same B&B 2 years before, and Claire turned 7 in the same place she turned 5, a neat symmetry that pleased everyone. There was a pool, an outdoor kitchen, big grounds, and a large room that slept 5 of us. The favorite part, esp for Kate, who had clear memories of what to expect, was the breakfast. Hot chocolate in bowls, miniature boxes of sweet cereal, and pain au chocolat. Of secondary interest, at least to her, were coffee, yogurts, and fruits, as well as homemade jams. And the same hosts, giving us all our first bises, or double kisses on the cheek, and welcoming us back to France.
Ortaffa B&B breakfast: worth the trip! Birthday girl sparkler in blue ice cream!
We had 4 nights there and the time flew. There was our car parked with two flat tires and a dead battery in a caravan park to get running, a phone to set up, kids to register for three different schools, as well as for school lunches, meals to figure out, not to mention a birthday cake, and, as a bonus, friends from Newfoundland to see. Too rare while in Canada that I get to see my friend Lori but now here she was, only 15 minutes away for one night because of a bike race, so we got in a brief visit.
A friend from home in the first 15 hours, yay!
Tuesday we landed and were at the B&B by supper time, managing sandwiches and a swim before falling asleep by 9 pm, only 4 pm for us, and I think the kids didn’t move for about 12 hours. Wednesday we visited city hall (‘le Marie’), and after providing various documentation on our house rental, insurance, and passports, we had stamped papers in hand and were told to take everything to the schools on Thursday to meet the directors (principals). We had health insurance but I’d forgotten about vaccination records and got grief everywhere, especially the canteen lady who sternly said she’d set aside their papers to wait for the records but she supposed they’d better eat on Monday regardless. I promised to get them there quickly (thanks, mom!).
Back in Thuir and despite our long absence, she is still reading the same page!
After being registered for school, and car on the road, the rental returned, Tris having spent a long time at the caravan park with the helpful owner of the park, starting the car, and breaking his tools, we felt good to go. Okay so we were driving illegally, since we like to keep it exciting, and the only papers for the car we could find where we expected them was the cat pet passport, and it took two days to get insurance and ownership doc copies from the insurance company, but by Saturday the crucial jobs were done and we could move in to our house. With just a little down time by the pool before school starts Monday.