Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Big Night

27 March 2010

“The Big Night” La Sauvetat du Dropt sans frontiers Village presentation

Well, we survived it. Hank, Caleigh and I, along with eight other foreigners or “gavaches” as we are called thanks to a word given to outsiders in the 15th century, put together our presentations in front of about 100 villagers explaining where we were from and why we chose La Sauvetat du Dropt as our home in France.

First, Danny from Belgium described how he accidentally came upon this area some 10 years ago when his motorcycle broke down. Ended up finding a farmhouse and later meeting his beautiful wife, Claire from England, whom we had previously met during our first month here when looking for a rental beyond April. Such a small world.

Next, John & Carol presented their hometown of Cornwall and they described how different it looked and felt when compared to the rest of England; so much that I would really like to visit there someday, especially because of it’s “Pagen” celebrations. Who knew and it ‘s probably the part of England some of my ancestors came from I am sure.

Then, there was flamboyant Petra from East Germany, who I could hardly understand, but I couldn’t stop cracking up as she took us through a comical look at life in East Berlin before the wall was torn down. Comparing ultra serious black and white photos of her in her school uniform in the 70’s to her present day attire of a leopard skin blouse, short-short skirt and go-go boots proved yet again that complete deprivation will ultimately cause the opposite effect – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction…Petra and I instantly took to each other but unfortunately could not commuicate until her English-speaking boyfriend, Phillipe saved the day and we all agreed to exchange emails since I was able to read and write in French (which she spoke fluently).

Mini American flag (thanks to isabelle I’m sure). Then it was our turn. Although Hank started off a little bit nervously, he recovered quickly and had the audience laughing with his “merci pour le cadeax” as he pointed to the picture of the Statue of Liberty. I was calm for some unknown reason and was even able to make an unscripted joke at Hank’s expense about his being a comediene that also illicited laughter. Caleigh handled her segment like a pro and everyone said how amazing her accent and delivery were.

We also had two wonderful Scottish couples – Peter & Maggie and Helen and Gerry who we befriended easily at the previous few meetings. In fact, Peter and Maggie had us over for a Scottish Whiskey nightcap after the event joined by the sweet Brit couple, Julie and Bob until 2am.

Dino, originally from Italy, had moved to the area back in 1954 when he was 10 years had a great presentation and represented the many Italian immigrants who came to this area in the 1950s.

Finally, Jean-Luc, the Maire of La Sauvetat de Dropt, spoke about why they had wanted to sponsor this event as he described the desire to bridge the differences between the natives and the “gavaches” and hopefully bring everyone together.

Afterwards, we took group pictures for the local newspaper and there was a little cake, juice and wine as we got to mingle with the villagers and town council. We had a few interesting encounters after the event. A mysterious man came up to Hank immediately after the presentation and told him of an elderly bed-ridden man from LA in the area that would love to have another American’s company. I also attracted two sweet French women who were so excited to tell me of their “American connections”; one having a daughter living in Virginia and two grandchildren with dual citizenship of which she was so proud and she said that she loved to visit in America. The other woman just smiled a lot and made me feel like a true celebrity just by virtue of being from America.

We also spoke to the kind Maire who I had previously thought was sort of standoffish, but he opened up and it ends up, he was very interested in the history of the Hollywood sign of which we really could not help much except to explain how it originated in the 20’s or 30’s as a housing development called, “Hollywoodland.”

And of course, there was dear Colette, who we brought to and from the event. For someone who was not even sure if she could actually be able to go out a few weeks ago, she dressed up and looked beautiful and walked with very little assistance (thanks to the nicer weather and fact that she did her exercises before hand).

Isabelle and Thierry were of course there as she was instrumental in organizing this event and Thierry is always so supportive of her, not to mention all of their parents and some of their friends.

We left with such a feeling of community and wishes that we did not have to leave in two weeks. In just 3 short months, we have made such dear friends, feel like we have our own little village and a sense of belonging in France. If we just had some magic beans to pay for an extended stay.

Love you all,


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