We've spent the last few weeks working on the calendar, trying to figure how to puzzle out the next few months. It's a megillah! But still - figuring out where you're going to travel next, and how to puzzle everything together, is a good problem to have.
We've just booked seven weeks in a little town in the south of France called Saint Quentin la Poterie. I am the luckiest girl in the Whole Wide World. We got a good rate on the house from Joe, the owner. Joe is a chef and writer, and lived in Saint Quentin (that's what us locals call it) for 12 years before moving to Canada. Joe has even volunteered to introduce us to his friends!!
I have visions of lovely idyllic days in our little town. The butcher in this town will be super-friendly! Not like some crazy Polish Butcher Ladies we know! The baker will be reserved, yet polite, and will favor his pastries over his bread. Like this guy:
You see there is the boulangerie problem: the man is either a good bread man or a good pastry man. The man at that Boulangerie, his heart is in his pastry. The bread suffers.
~from Rick Steves' "Postcards From Europe"
The baker in Saint Quinten will be a pastry man all the way, much to my children's delight. This way I won't gain 20 pounds while living there, because I am absolutely a bread girl!
I also plan to run across the perfect little basket in my entryway. I'll use it every day to bring home cheese and wine. On Saturdays I'll walk to Uzés (the bigger town just outside of my little town) for Market Day to buy vegetables. Never mind that it's only April. The farmers will have miraculously early crops. Also - friends will suddenly decide to pop over for visits from abroad! The only thing that worries me is that I just recently read 'Chocolat,' and I'm not nearly as winning as Juliette Binoche... Hopefully there's not a pyro-maniacle priest in our little town.
It will all be lovely, except that we won't all be together for most of it. Both Bob and I are going back to LA to work, but at separate times. Bob will be in LA for four weeks, and I'll be there for two. It will be the longest this family has ever been apart, and the kids are already fretting about not having their dad around. I'm having a worry or two about spending a month, without my man, in a small town where I don't speak the language. But mostly I'm cool. It's a very good problem to have. We are so incredibly lucky to be able to do the kind of work that can make this possible. The money we make will be a lifesaver, and the hours we bank will keep our health insurance going.
I'll be going back to LA first, in a week actually. The timing means that Bob has to move the family to France from Scotland by himself while I'm gone.
So we have little more than two weeks together in St Quentin. Then we'll have a month left in Schengen Zone Europe before they kick us out. It's kind of a bummer. Should we stay in Saint Quentin a few more weeks? Should we save our visa days for renting a car and traveling through Spain, Italy, somehow over to Greece? What's the cheapest way to do it all? Again, good problems to have. Yet, also problems that need decisions to be made, one dominoed next to the other -- and all of them costing money. Of course, it might be time to get the hell outa Euro-Dodge, and go somewhere our money stretches farther, 'cause the coffers -- they run low. Pounds and euros continue to kick our dollar-earning butts.
After Europe, we hope for Morocco (which had to be pushed out of March because I'm going to work. Good problem) and Egypt and maybe Turkey, if we can figure it out. I'm spending hours and hours comparing flights and ferries from one place to another, learning about which countries in the region have closed borders, and weighing the options of planes, trains, and automobiles. I don't have much time. I'd like to get this leg booked before I leave for LA. Honestly - I'm a bit overwhelmed, and I have to remind myself at times about the good problem thing.
That brings us to about the end of June, when vacation season is in full swing. Most people planned their trip for this summer sometime last summer, so we're a little behind the ball. We like it this way. We must, because we don't seem to ever do it any differently. But it's a bit stressful at times. We can go anywhere we want, as long as it's super-cheap to live there. So this summer - the third-world is our oyster. And that's pretty awesome.