When things get very quiet around here, you can bet it’s because my life has been very busy. Since I left Taiwan in June, events have been escalating in fun, quantity and importance! After our time in Madrid and Lisbon, James went back to Paris to await further MSF orders, and I nipped back to Ally and Juan’s for a couple of nights before heading to Pamplona and then Roncesvalles to begin my Long Walk home to France. I crossed the Pyrenees and headed North-East through the Basque country… I hope to write at least one blog post about my wonderful two weeks hiking 200km on the Camino/Chemin du Puy/Way of St James/Santiago de Compostella trail! I have a lot of pictures for this entire summer but need to extract them from their various locations first.
Mummy joined me the last 3 days and thus we do have photographic evidence:
Then as soon as I arrived back to Cahors, I was packing again to catch a ride early the next morning to Grenoble, where I would be reuniting with dear friends from university to celebrate the beauty of the French Alps and also my 29th birthday.
Grenoble is gorgeous and really blew me away with its stunning setting, nestled in the raw mountains and teeming with the kind of architectural delights and atmosphere which is so lacking in, say, Taipei or Melbourne. We had SUCH a lovely time! Again, ideally I will blog about my time separately, including splashing in a mountain lake…
…and a hike up in the Alps with Benjamin.
After taking in as much of Grenoble as we could cram into 4 short days, Ben and I went to Lyon for an AirBnB rental. Our flat was a lovely place belonging to a musician, located within easy walking distance from everything. Ben and I sampled traditional Lyonnaise cooking and enjoyed the sights and sunshine — definitely a great holiday destination. Fingers crossed for an illustrated Lyon blog post!
Believe it or not, James just happened to sublet a place in Paris, so then from Lyon I took the TGV to Paris and jumped into his arms for an unexpected but much-appreciated extra week together! His friend’s apartment is located in the ultra-touristy but beautiful 6th arrondissement, with a disgustingly scenic view of the Notre Dame de Paris. Unfortunately I caught a horrid cold on my way up and promptly passed it on to James, so our romantic week in Paris was mostly spent indoors feeling rotten, but we had each other for company and at least looking out the window guaranteed that we felt like we were sight-seeing…
The only snapshot I have on hand of the view — night-time gloom!
There isn’t much to say about Paris, however I spent a lot (TOO MUCH, some would be justified in saying) of time trying to gather together the elements for a suitable “tropical working wardrobe”, after a few phone conferences to Sri Lanka and then formally accepting the job lined up for me by my friend Emy here in Colombo! More on that in a minute…
James and I needed to vacate the premises by the Friday, so we hired a car and drove 6 hours down to the Lot, to stay (for free!) in a lovely holiday house next door to my mother’s — a stroke of luck indeed! We were both feeling better by then and managed to cram lots of hiking and adventures into our time there, as well as seeing my family for some hugs and kisses before we had to drive back up to Paris (via Orleans and Chartres) for me to catch my flight to Colombo. I definitely want to blog about some of the things we saw and did in the Lot and the Pyrenees — James’ motto is after all to “Convince Rosie To Do Something Dangerous At Least Once A Day”.
Catching my flight was non-stop-fluster as we drove into Orly, discovered my flight was at Charles de Gaulle, then the train from Orly to CDG was interrupted for works, and then the flight itself was full of minor delays and events, stopping in Dubai and in the Maldives before Colombo (with a passenger trying to “smuggle” himself into Colombo meaning all kinds of hassle!). Before I knew it I was in Sri Lanka being picked up by Emy, with a shiny new stamp in my passport. I’m delighted because Immigration squeezed the entry stamp in between 3 others on an “old” page — I’m down to 5 free pages in my 32-page passport and still have a couple of years before it expires, so I’d like to maximise space!
The hour-or-so drive back to where I am living in Colombo was my first taste of South-East Asian traffic. Sam, our lovely driver, is highly skilled at weaving through the cars and in all fairness never hit the brakes, but it was somewhat… intense! Peering nervously through the windscreen, I felt like I was watching my brother play Grand Theft Auto on his X-Box. I’m glad to say I am now getting used to it and have already abandoned my hitherto religious attachment to safety belts, just like everyone else here.
So that’s the summary of the last 6 weeks! I will (AGAIN) write more about Sri Lanka — I kind of jumped straight into my job and haven’t had much time to really let things sink in. Despite today being Saturday, we had a meeting today from 9:30am to 2pm and then I stumbled home (or, to be honest, had the driver take me back to the luxury flat I have been allocated) and passed out on the couch. I am actually more jet-lagged than I had expected, and these early morning starts are of course “middle-of-the-night” starts for me. But when I am not yawning I am growing already increasingly attached to Colombo and the lovely Sri Lankans I have met; the company team, our drivers, the few interactions I have had with people in shops — everyone is really kind and friendly, even though I struggle a little with the local accent!