Dear Everyone,

I’m sitting in my room, just a foot from my terrace, where the Mediterranean is lapping right below the window. Such a lovely sound, so eternal and soothing. Seagulls screech and dive and wind surfers are roaring along in the waves.

All is well, but earlier today, I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up. John O’Donohue always said that we are being ‘minded’ and that ‘do not be afraid’ occurs (or recurs in this case) 366 times in the Bible, but today, it took a lot of faith to remember that. But I did, thanks to two retreats with John and rereading his book Anam Cara about 200 times. And interviewing him for The Sun magazine, which required about 100 hours of transcribing…

But first, a little background. I had two fun days with Maite, my dear friend from Aix. She is a tour guide and now lives near Arles, and picked me up in Aix on Monday. She had to do a tour for a group of American bicyclists in Uzes, a wonderful little village, so I went along for the tour. I sent some photos of that.

Then yesterday, she had a day off, so after we did my linge, or laundry and hung it out on the line, we went to Les Baux and saw the Van Gogh ‘Son et Lumière’ which was powerful and very moving. It is so sad that he killed himself! He had so much in him left to express!

I will always remember one painting from the exposition we went to in Marseille. The paint was thick and swirly and in the top left hand corner, he’s signed it simply ‘vincent’ all lower case. Just to see those letters scratched into the paint moved me somehow–to be in the presence of his work, and to feel him there in those letters.

After the Van Gogh time, we visited the village of Les Baux– magical.

So today, I’d planned to leave Maite’s and go to the chateau where the woman had invited me from the luncheon last week. But by this morning, she hadn’t returned my calls or email. I wasn’t sure if she was avoiding me or just too busy to get the messages.

So truth be told, I was leaving Maite’s and going to the train station with nowhere to go. I decided to go to Marseille, which is a jumping off place for many options. Luckily, this morning, I called my good friend ‘Tink’ from the tourist office of the region of the ‘Var’ which we visited last week.

She was my early morning swimming buddy as the sun was coming up, and we bonded over the chilly morning and chilly water. She went to work to look for somewhere for me to go. We laughed about that fact that I was ‘homeless’ and ‘la Perdue Américaine’ the lost American. She couldn’t find anything for me right away–I called her a few minutes before I left for the train station, so we agreed that I’d call her again from the train station in Marseille.

I did and she asked me to call her back in a half hour. She was still trying to find something. So I trundled off (with bags) and had a light lunch and then called her back. She really got into the spirit of the adventure of it all, that I was willing to go wherever she could find me a place. At one point, she asked to call me back at the phone cabine where I was calling her and I stood there waiting for it to ring. We laughed about how it could have been some espionage, with me waiting for the public phone to ring.

But Tink came through big time. I knew I was going to a hotel on an island just off the coast of Bandol, so I took the train to Bandol. I had to ask which stop to get off at and that usually horrifies people that I’m on a train and going somewhere and not sure where to get off. But I got off at the right place and since there were no taxis, lumbered down the hill with my rolling bag, computer bag and backpack.

I try to maintain some sense of dignity in these cases, even though I feel pretty silly walking through the streets of a strange town towing my bags. They make a really loud sound rolling along on the old stone sidewalks. It’s hard to be invisible! I seemed to be the only tourist and the only American–a good sign, and after about 15 minutes of wrestling the bags, I ended up in the port and right ahead of me was the little ferry to L’ile de Bendor and a photo of my hotel, L’Hotel Palais de Bendor.  Wow, it really was a palace!

So here I am, sipping a rose wine that was a gift from Chateau de Berne and feeling very content. John O’Donohue would be proud!  I didn’t freak out. I have a card at home that says: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.” Well, today, I was not taking up too much space and I am so blessed to be here in this gorgeous place.

I’m labeling Bandol the ‘undiscovered St. Tropez’ because there are huge yachts like in St. Tropez, but this place seems to be as yet, undiscovered.

Not sure where I”m going tomorrow! I may stay here another night on my own, at a hotel in Bandol, or head back to Aix.

Helen Keller said: “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all”. Today totally qualified as an adventure. And I landed on my feet.

Will send photos! I also discovered that the three magic words here are:  ”Une journaliste Américaine” (with an introduction, bien sûr!)

The adventure continues and more soon…

Love,

Diane

'Fall in Provence' 2008

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