24 July 2011


cdv06you did it. you did everything you wanted to do in france. everything on your list is crossed off. everything on your mind is crossed off. and most important, everything in your heart is crossed off.

cdv07in january, you found this quote. the ancient definition of courage. which is linked directly to the word cœur, or heart.

de cœur disposition d'esprit ensemble des emotions et des intentions qui peuvent aimer un cœur humain

a definition you found beautiful – but also something you realized you lacked. a grosse timide is what you are, and there wasn’t much courage in you. so you searched. all over france. all over europe. cities, countrysides – you looked everywhere. and you couldn’t find it.

compassthen, a few days ago, you finally found it. where else? in evreux. dans les yeux. with the help of a compass, your spinning heart was able to find some courage. 

and you did it. the toughest thing you’ve ever done, and you managed to do it.

avocetteonly… it was a bit too late. because tomorrow you’re flying. to taiwan. to not only see your family, but to continue dancing with people you cherish.

either way, unlike last year, you are leaving with a cœur léger. better to leave with no regrets than with regrets that will weigh you down.

what you wanted to do. done.

what you wanted to see. seen.

what you wanted to show. shown.

what you wanted to feel. felt.

23 July 2011

le carnet de voyage de recettes

cdv01more than your camera.

more than your laptop with all your photos.

this is what you treasure most.

the project you began in germany at the end of october 2010… a carnet de voyage de recettes. it’s your travel recipe journal.

and yesterday you finished it.

cdv02250 pages. full of people. full of handwritten recipes. full of memories. anytime you met someone sympa you asked for a recipe. friends, carpools, couchsurfing, restaurants, co-workers, random people on the street, children… and rarely did people ever say no.

cdv04a place where different languages and cooking styles and personalities are in one spot. in one special leuchtturm journal.

cdv03you didn’t contribute one word to this journal. it’s all the people you’ve met who have written it for you.

cdv05it’s full. there isn’t any space left. and originally, you wanted to cook everything in the book once you completed it. and write about it. photograph it. and share it with everybody. you still want to.


cdv10your life is a life of suitcases. a life of moving.

there is no kitchen. there is no chez toi to invite friends and neighbors over.

it is physically impossible at this point in your life.

cdv08so you decided, rather than stop completely… to just continue.

cdv09tome two. volume two. has been unwrapped. blank pages.

so, you decide – the day you sign an apartment lease will be the day you stop this project. even if the journal is incomplete, it doesn’t matter – once you have your very own chez toi, that will be the day you stop asking for recipes and start cooking all these memories. and don’t worry – those recipes will be shared.

20 July 2011

a ticket stub

contesa ticket stub.

which meant that today il a fait moche. wet cliffs are not climbable.

tomorrow, will the sun come out for a bit of  climbing? if not – it will be another movie and a fried camembert. in good company, as usual.

but now, it’s time for bed.

19 July 2011

a goodbye. but not your goodbye.

paolo0120h15. a reservation for 20h00. oops. in france, nobody is ever on time.

especially blue skies and puffy clouds. they’ve been noticably missing – and this is from personal experience – personal cold and wet and shivering experience.

after an entire day of heavy gray rain clouds, tonight, the sky decided to clear up. to say goodbye. not to you, but to another friend. a quality man. un homme de qualité. your goodbye will be this sunday. but for now, it is someone else that is also saying goodbye to evreux.

paolo02his last dinner starts with apéro. you select a kir. your cheeks redden. you haven’t eaten much today, and it only takes a bit of alcohol for your body to react.

paolo03then the food – a monster salad – arrives. it helps absorb some of that kir.

paolo04while it may not feel like summer, it is summer. pistachio and chocolate ice cream for dessert.

paolo05this is evreux. evreux is in normandy. which means calvados is a must.

paolo06you can’t say goodbye without a trou normand.

paolo07in good company. always.

paolo08when you leave the restaurant, the sun has already gone to bed.

paolo12hugs. kisses. then a slightly tipsy walk home. you can thank the calvados for that.

paolo13but before you head inside, you make a quick detour to your favorite spot. the wheat fields.

here, your heart is jumping. since february, it’s been hibernating. but ever since last friday, it hasn’t taken a break. and you love the feeling of a jumping heart. you’ve missed it.

it is jumping in so many directions. for so many reasons. but the main one being is that you love your friends. and these last precious days are reserved only for them.

paolo09as a bonus, unexpectedly, you find your lost sheet of paper. full of vocabulary that you thought you had lost. handwriting that also makes your heart jump because you’re reunited with words you love.

and, you wonder, where did it hide for an entire three months?

paolo11behind the month of february on your calendar. of course! you were wwoofing in february, of course it is logical that you’d use the back of your calendar to take down notes.

and now – it’s time to sleep. you don’t mind if tomorrow it rains or if it shines. if it rains, it is lunch and a movie with great people. if it shines, it is climbing with great people. either way, tomorrow will be a day with great people.


10 July 2011

you will miss…

bisexto01still in april, but another weekend. a weekend you will miss.

bisexto13you will miss the picnics. the jokes. the always present saucisson and baguette combo.

bisexto03you will miss the barely blooming flowers.

bisexto02you will miss the seine and colza fields… from above.

bisexto04you will miss the ropes. the smelly shoes. the harnesses. the helmets. the quickdraws. the materials.

bisexto05you will miss balaying and straining your neck.

bisexto06you will miss climbing.

bisexto11ayou’re lying. you won’t miss any of that.

everyit will be the climbers that you will miss most.

two weeks.

06 July 2011

on fait de l'escalade de bloc

boulder10time traveling again.

boulder01but instead of walking, you’re going to climb back to the second weekend of april. to the forests of maincourt-sur-yvette, a suburb of paris. and no, even if you are in a forest, it isn’t trees that you’re climbing.

boulder03it’s the rocks that interest you.

boulder04boulders perfect for climbing. which is why there are numbered routes painted onto them. white = easiest. this is the one you follow.

boulder02but before you start, you need to eat. so the first thing you do is picnic, in true french style.

boulder05once all that food settles down, it’s time to get ready. climbing shoes, crash pads, and chalk – all essentials if you decide to go bouldering.

boulder06 c’est parti!

boulder07faire du bloc, or to go bouldering, is a type of climbing without ropes or helmets since you don’t climb very high – but crash pads, or les matelas, are a must since falling from a short distance is still falling and the ground isn’t any softer.

boulder08to make it even more fun, try climbing without your hands.

bloc12if you need motivation, there are people at the top to cheer you on. allez allez allez! c’est facile! allez! tu peux tu peux! 

bloc22 and if you really want a challenge, follow the orange route. these climbers make it look easy, but you witnessed them fall multiple times before finally making it to the top.

bloc23the key to climbing is to not give up. eventually you’ll make it to the top with enough effort, because it really is worth it once you succeed.

04 July 2011

walking backwards to a dream for the future

fourth01today is a hot summer day in evreux.

fourth02today is also your nation’s birthday. you haven’t forgotten. happy birthday america!

fourth03today, your feet also destroyed a pair of shoes. you tend to walk a lot, and often where you walk, there aren’t pavements. the feet are okay, but your shoes suffer.

tours07but let's walk backwards for a moment.

tours20to the the beginning of a french spring in april. to when you still wore your coat and scarves. to when you had on three pairs of tights. to when the peonies were only just starting to bloom.

tours01you find yourself in tours. right in the vallée de la loire, or the loire valley.

tours02there are plenty of historical gardens and castles to be seen here.

tours03and since it’s mid-april, cold, with school in session – you’ve practically got the entire place to yourself.

tours04an oven. a cutting board. simple things.

tours05 lots of people might dream of living in such a place. but not you.

tours08this is your dream. rows of cherry trees. with a bright blue sky.

tours11but this specific dream in tours actually belongs to juliette. not you. you are a guest.

tours15when you began this little journal, you had no idea that it would connect you to so many people. and when someone emails you with invitation to visit her home in tours… how can you say no?

tours09her home is more than a home. it’s a dream. a restored farm bought together between five neighbors who are also friends. imagine living right next to not one, but four friends that you adore.

tours12and the garden. or rather, gardens. grouped by color, divided by ponds, connected by steps – cold weather would be the only reason why you wouldn’t want to spend all your time here.

tours16most importantly, this is a garden with tables and chairs where she can gather and prepare cookies and ice cream for the people she likes most.

tours10if it were summer, you could be swimming. instead you admire the sunset’s reflection.

tours19here, she spoils people. especially you. with what? with food. 

tours25you remember when you first came to europe you’d take notes about everything you ate. but now, you take mental notes instead about how the meal is enjoyed rather than what is being eaten.

meals with juliette and her husband in her garden, that is a taste you’ll never forget.

tours26of course it must finish on a sweet note.

tours14her home is in the countryside. surrounded by nothing. yet it is also a fifteen minute drive from the city. the perfect place, she says, is to find a bit of campagne that is not too far from a city – because things such as the theater, libraries, sporting events, markets, schools, etc. are also essential to live.

tours13and for you, especially flea markets. this one is extra special not only because of the empty journal you find but also because this market takes place sous les cerisiers. cherry blossom leaves swirl and fall around you as you browse.

tours06a tea and pastry break is always important.

tours18back at her place, the cherry blossoms are falling as well.

tours17she introduces you to michel bras. a chef whose adoration for photography is well reflected in his recipes. you spend quite some time curled up with her cookbooks.

tours21oddly enough, or perhaps it isn’t so odd, this weekend was a weekend where you slept well. and that is rare, because it only happens in places where you feel truly at home. at first you’re ashamed at how much you sleep and nap at juliette’s, but she understands completely and encourages you to sleep more.

tours22a little walk by the loire river.

tours23also – this is a message to all ducks in the world – this place is the ideal place to live as there is absolutely no shortage of bread that people leave here. to the point where all the ducks ignore the bread floating around.

tours24one last look at her living dream in tours. back to evreux. your current dream. to another adventure. but you promise, once you’re finished with all these adventures, you’ll give your feet a proper break with a home just as dreamy where you can nap and eat and most of all invite all your favorite people to have some amazing cooking parties.

chère juliette, merci encore pour le week-end incroyable en avril. je ne vais jamais t’oublier, ta maison, et ton hospitalité. je ne passerai pas a tours avant mon départ cet été, mais je te promets qu’on jour, dans l’avenir, je reviendrai pour te faire coucou. il faut que je goûte les cerises de l'été, non? passes de bon vacances et profites bien de beau temps avec tes amis et ta famille. cathy