Thursday morning I met Mina, our landlady’s friend. I thought we were going to be walking together, but she had some errands to do, so she drove instead. We really covered some territory! I’m not sure I could find many of the places she showed me, which is a shame, as that was the whole point! Roy and I will just have to go exploring based on my poor sense of direction and recall!
Mina is amazing. She drove me around for about 2½ hours! We’d drive to what seemed like the end of the world, then she’d park, and we’d get out and walk a short distance, and she’d tell me that here was a great place to walk, or for Roy to fish, or whatever. She showed me beautiful views, and told me some history about what I was seeing. She took me to a community center where there was an art exhibit, showed me around the town where she used to live (La Seyne-sur-Mer), took me in to a place and talked us into discount books for lots of sights in this area…she was incredible!
The original idea was that, if we’d been walking, we’d talk for a while in English, and for a while in French. We both want to improve our language and to have a friend who will correct and help us. But, since she was driving, she asked if we could speak French only this time, as she was too distracted while speaking English to drive safely. I thought that was a great idea, and I promised that next time, we’d speak mostly in English!
It was a wonderful experience, and I had the chance to get to know Mina a bit better, too. She’s fascinating! She grew up in Algeria, and spoke only Arabic at home. When she went to school, which was all in French, she was at quite a disadvantage, and did not enjoy it at all. She said that she had to repeat primary school as a result, and finally left school altogether at age 14. Somewhere in there, the French left Algeria, and she and her parents left too. They moved to Paris.
Then she married her first husband, and moved to Guadaloupe! She lived there for 20 years. She told me that at first, she was very homesick, and she would make French friends, and they would stay for a couple of years, then move back to France, so she was always having to make new friends. Finally, she said, she got smart, and made friends with the locals, and thereafter she loved it there!
Her second husband worked in La Seyne-sur-Mer in the shipyards for 15 years, until the government shut down shipyards all over the country and pretty much all that work was moved to Nantes, France. I’m not sure what happened between then and now, but now she lives here in Bandol with that second husband, who is retired. I assume all is well now.
I’m really enjoying having this local contact here, and getting to know her. We’re going to get together again next week, after she has her cataract surgery! Perhaps Wednesday or Thursday. Anyway, it’s great to have this opportunity.