(written on June 11th, 2012)
Last night Mike came to spend the night since today is lazy day. We spent a cozy night in the tent, despite the rain and chill outside. I felt a bit lonely yesterday so it was nice to spend time together. I’m not connecting with my dharma family. They are all very nice but are quite a bit older and I’m finding we don’t have much in common.
We decided to take a taxi to Ste. Foy (where we came in by train) in order to purchase our return train tickets back to Paris. The taxi was 30 euros one way, about a 20 minute drive. We had a delightful driver who spoke no english, she was very kind and cheerful. When she dropped us off we tried to ask whether we would be able to get a ride back but speaking very little french didn’t get us very far. We were a little nervous about how we’d get back to Plum Village. We purchased our tickets, grabbed a couple of train schedules for folks back in lower hamlet needing information, and went out in search for some of our fellow retreatants who we’d been waiting for a taxi with and were dropped off before us in town. After getting some money out at an atm and having no luck finding our friends we got caught in a huge thunderstorm. Soaked and growingly nervous we went back to the train station with our now useless travel umbrellas, which had quickly faltered in the wind accompanying the storm, where the young woman working the ticket booth who spoke english arranged a taxi home for us at 4:00, giving us 1 1/2 hours to get something to eat. Thank goodness for that woman taking pity on two drenched americans in a little french town who don’t speak the language – she was very nice and was happy to help us.
Briefly our spirits were low but knowing we wouldn’t be stranded in Ste. Foy with no way of returning to Plum Village went a long ways to restoring our vigor. In many of the surrounding villages stores and restaurants close from around 12:00 until 3:00 or 4:00 but we found a little cafe that was open and ate french fries, pizza and homemade dessert. The narrow streets were lined with stone buildings, balconies, old wooden shutters and weathered finishes. On the radio that played in the cafe and in the taxi was a mixture of french and american music with songs like Pretty Woman, Heart of Glass by Blondie and a song by the Police. Our same sweet driver took us back home and charged us only 20 euros and when we got out of the taxi she gave me a big hug. It was a good, and extremely wet, day.