Lost in France

Judith and I are currently residents at a writer/artist retreat in France, La Muse. We are in the mountains near Carcassonne, which contains a perfectly preserved walled medieval town within the confines of the modern city. The city is gorgeous as is the countryside and the mountains which begin just north of the city. Unfortunately, we had little appreciation for the sights on our first day as we attempted to drive from Carcassonne airport to the tiny village of Labastide Esparbairenque. Try saying that three times fast. Turns out the place is as hard to find as it is to pronounce, at least by two idiots trying to navigate with a printout from Google Maps.

Labastide Esparbairenque

View from Judith's studio

We even tried asking for directions despite our mutual skepticism of information so obtained. We virtually never ask for directions, even when we speak the language, which, in the case of France, we don’t. We stopped at a likely looking grocery store since we needed to pick up food anyway. Turns out it was an Algerian grocery store, which seemed like a good omen given our colonial goal. The shopping was interesting. The only disappointments, not surprisingly, were the lack of pork products and alcohol. The proprietors were incredibly friendly and offered directions to our destination. Between their broken English and our broken French, we were sent on our way, in the totally wrong direction, south towards Spain and Africa.

It took four hours for the 30 mile journey, but we did make it to La Muse. After seeing the village and a half hour conversation with Kerry and John, the two owners and creators of La Muse, the long miserable drive seemed merely funny.

Now I’ve got time to do nothing but write for three weeks. The prospect is exhilarating and also daunting. I’m working on my second novel which I hope turns out as a sort of Graham Greenish- Joseph Condradish novel of intrigue, love, lust and betrayal set in Lebanon.

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