This is where our new adventure begins …
This is it, I thought to myself.
On the ship, we were taken care of in every way. All meals and drinks. Room cleaning. Entertainment. We had no worries.
Now that we were on dry land, things were different.
Time to find food, water, shelter.
In terms of gear, we didn’t have a lot.
Raegan didn’t have a lot. She had a hiking backpack.
I had a hiking backpack and a luggage-with-wheels
Pulling the luggage-with-wheels, I felt a little embarrassed.
From being on the ship for eleven days, I had “sea legs”.
The carry-on luggage-with-wheels acted as a kind of training-wheels, helping to keep me balanced. LOL.
We walked toward a street that was adjacent to the dock. It was lined with shops and a few restaurants. We entered a restaurant and took a table.
This is where things go a little embarrassing for me …
The outlets were european-styled. I had a european-style outlet adapter and strip plug. But where was it? I searched my backpack. Not there.
I looked at the overstuffed luggage-on-wheels. Quickly, I laid it on its side and unzipped it.
There it it … underneath some clothes. LOL.
I plugged it in, powered up the laptop, turned it on, and fired up Skype.
We Skype-called Ludmilla, our Couchsurfing host, and told us where we were.
She agreed to meet us.
45 minutes later, she arrived, a smiling, long-haired girl with a flowing dress, wearing sandals. A happy hippie.
Adventures in Brest, France with Ludmilla
Ludmilla, a 19-year old university student, was a wonderful host. A few days a week, she attended university. On her days off, she would take us on walking tours, visiting parks, and even cliffs overlooking the inlet. She played guitar and took photos. She was pretty wonderful.
On the day of our arrival, she invited us to have lunch, with her friends, at an Indian restaurant. The food was good and her friends were really nice. They were super cute, pale, French speaking university students. Hello.
Meeting Ludmilla’s friends
One evening, she introduced us to friends who lived in a communal house. They were an interesting, eclectic bunch, including Yurri, a young physician from Brazil, Cani, a Japanese girl who married a Frenchman, Emilie, a former Boston resident who now teaches English, and others. They invited us to stay for dinner and Emile cooked a delicious meal.
Surfing in France
The next day, communal house kids invited Raegan and I to go to the beach to go surfing. Reagan, feeling under the weather, declined. Ludmilla and I go.
This van was narrow but tall, which suited the narrow streets. The group is chatting in French and singing along with the radio.
On the way, we stop at a grocery store. While I roam the aisles looking for smarties™, they find-and-buy Opinel™ knives, bread, soft cheese, sausage, 2 bottles of wine, and a cantelope. We pile into the van and continue our journey …
An hour of winding narrow streets and beautiful villages later, the countryside appears and expands around us and the road rises ahead of us, toward what-appears-to-be cliffs.
It’s a beautiful site as the road descends a bit and we slow the van to the dirt road that lines the cliffs and far beyond the cliffs is sparkling blue ocean.
As someone who had grown up in South Florida, I expected the beaches to be obscured by condominiums, to have limited parking spaces, parking meters, cops, lifeguards …
This beach was something a lot different.
There was plenty of parking available.
No parking meters. Parking was free.
A wooden stairway leads from the cliffs to the beach area. Two beachgoers offer us pot. Our group accepts with thank you and passes around the pipe. I politely decline.
The view and the raw experience was wonderful enough.
After a delicious meal of figs, bread, cantaloupe, chased with swigs of red wine, he sat for a while and talked and let the food digest. They passed around cigarettes and the second bottle of wine. We polished off the second bottle of red wine and talked and laughed.
It was time to swim and surf.
Cani kindly offered to let me borrow her husbands wetsuit. I thankfully accepted and slipped it on. Even with the wetsuit, the water was cold. The shore was covered with shells. It weather was sunny and beautiful with a slight breeze.
Lightening the Load
At Ludmilla’s, I left behind a rolling suitcase (suitcase with wheels), clothes, and an iMac G5 (Apple) computer. Ludmilla agreed to sell the computer and send me the money. The reason I left that stuff behind was to lighten my load. I took it with me as my intention was to stay in Europe. Carrying that additional weight around, though, proved to be cumbersome. I already had a hiking back pack, a smaller backpack, and a sleeping bag in a stuff sack to carry, so I left that stuff behind.
On Thursday night, Raegan and I discussed with Ludmilla how we could get to Oceanapolis, a seaquarium theme park, in order to meet Yannik Frezel, who agreed to meet us there and take us to his farm. Yannik was the person who we were going to do some work for, in exchange for room and board. He lives in Loqueffret, France, and we arranged to stay with him via wwoof.fr
This is when it struck me …
A feeling of excitement and fear. Both emotions induce a surge of adrenaline, a clarity of focus, a deepness of understanding.
Imagine thinking that you have perfect vision and you’re given glasses and when you put them on, everything in view becomes more clear.
That’s what I was experiencing.
I felt fear (and uncertainty of what would happen next) combined with the excitement (of the possibilities that lie ahead).
On the coin of life, excitement is heads and fear is tails, but they both bring about similar reactions–increased adrenaline, intense clarity, lifelike visions.
We were in a different country.
We did not speak the language.
We were going to meet someone we had never met before, and stay with him for two weeks, in a place we had never been before.
I had nothing to draw any conclusions from, nor make judgements about. And that’s one thing, among many, that make traveling such an interesting and refreshing experience.
A few days later …
We exit the town bus and walk Oceanopolis, a theme park at the outskirts of town.
We throw on our hiking backpacks, tighten them, and begin walking the 150 yards toward the parking lot of the theme park.
The bus doors close and the bus rolls back onto the highway.
Our next adventure was underway and we would soon be in the hands and trust of a complete stranger.