Today has been my favorite day here thus far. From waking up rested to cleaning a disgusting pool of festering frogs and bugs and drinking wine between bucketfuls of feces, biking to buy two huge baguettes for the day in town to cooking Taiwanese beef noodle soup for a table of ten, reserving my spot at nine different hostels for my last hike in France on the Chemin de Robert Louis Stevenson to my sixty-six year-old host lady offering me a joint after dinner, it has been quite the day. Today I have laughed more than the entire week combined and I have felt at home.
The first few days here I thought I had to pay for my stay, with work and obedience and cultural contribution at meals, but today I finally realized most of the time Zza just wants company, and new experiences she cannot have by travelling anymore because of her age and limitations. So when she asked me to cook dinner tonight I thought it would just be for the four of us when it ended up being ten of us, sitting outside in the garden, eating bowls of Chinese noodles I cooked for five hours, and which everyone seemed to enjoy! We had been cleaning the pool all afternoon, and I had already been laughing through the mud and yuck of festering bugs and other things in the water because I had relegated myself to needing a shower. I wasn’t even really listening when Zza said to a friend, “je pense que Stefani n’a pas entendu,’ (I think Stefani didn’t hear) but I knew she was talking about smoking weed. I started laughing; I said I had nothing to say, and then following dinner she passed me her joint, stumbling over her feet saying she was drunk. And then she fell on a table of potted plants and had the whole dinner table helping her up, including her two twin sons. It was quite the spectacle. Messiness is always the most genuine kind of home. One of the sons helped me serve all of the dinner and the other stayed behind to chat with me and offered to take me to see some of the football games and go to a party this weekend in Montaren, which was really nice of him since most of what I do here is sleep right after dinner when Zaza does! (When either of them ask me what I will be up to after dinner I always just laugh and say spend time with their mom, which for the most part just means sleep). I’m really glad to be staying here for a while, so that the people I meet aren’t just passing through my line of vision once, and that I can establish “future activities” with these people, and look forward to spending time here with them, eating, laughing, cleaning gunk, and feeling more and more at home.