Saturday, March 5, 2011

Making New Friends in France

I am going to finish this week with to final posts from our France trip, neither about food. I mentioned in my first post, the trip was so special because of the people. It only makes sense to introduce a few folks who haven’t shown up yet in the previous posts.

The task of bringing the spirit of Margot’s family to France so it could be shared with Eloy and his family was what brought us there, and we didn’t expect a return. But we got one. Margot and I came home from the short trip feeling like we had been destined to take it so we could expand our family circle.

Margot and I don’t have children so our family is very much of the extended variety. We never know who we are going to meet that will end up becoming our family and we have occasionally found that members of our adopted family get on better with our blood relatives than us! But the enjoyment we get from building that family more than makes up for the challenges it might present.

The second day we were there I grabbed this group shot while we were out exploring.

( Eloy, Margot, Genvieve, Francoise, Gonzalo, Siomara, Marc, Antolin, Carla, Annabella, Felix, Jose )

Gonzalo, Siomara and Antolin are Eloy’s siblings. A lively “buenos dias” from each of them was a great joy each morning. They were in France for the first time as well so we shared their awe for many of the sights (in my next and last trip post) we took in on our various adventures.

Genevieve is one of Francoie’s friends (and neighbor) and was kind enough to provide transportation for a group of us several of the days we were there. She is spunky, funny and her generosity didn’t go unrecognized.

Jose-Rueben is Jose’s (Eloy’s brother still living in Cuba) son, Carla is Jose’s girlfriend and their daughter is Anabella. We absolutely loved spending time with the 3 of them. Carla and Margot hit it off very well and Anabella made Margot her “loca muchacha” for the week. I think my stock rose higher with Jose-Rueben when I swooped in and grabbed Anabella just before she went crashing to the concrete floor after struggling with a chair. I think everyone was in shock about how fast I moved right then!

Marc & Felix hail from Montreal and for us being lovers of that city we immediately gravitated towards them. For Margot meeting Marc was also special. Marc was a student of Eloy and her uncle Gerry and also worked with Gerry on youth ministry activities when he was younger. He was able to tell stories that Margot had never heard which helped keep her uncle firmly connected with a trip he sadly couldn’t make.

Did we laugh while we were there? You bet we did. Here’s one of the reasons why.

Eloy speaks Spanish, French and good English. Francoise speaks French, some Spanish and some English. Some of Eloy’s family members only speak Spanish and a little English and the majority of Francoise’s family members speak French, but not a lot of English. And Margot and I speak English and can barely eek out a little French and Spanish.

( Marc, Yvon, Margot, Me )

Yvon is a priest in New Brunswick and a longtime friend of Margot’s uncle Gerry. Margot said he reminded him of her uncle, a comment of which Yvon was openly honored to accept. He also shared stories of Gerry, with Margot and he talking many times of adventures Gerry has been on. He extended a warm invitation to visit New Brunswick.

If it weren’t for several of Eloy’s friends from Canada we would have had a much tougher time than we did. Much thanks go out to Mark, Felix and Yvon for helping us make friends in France. Carla (Eloy’s nephew’s girlfriend) skills with Spanish, French and English were essential in making sure we got to know Eloy’s family well during our time at the house. We have a working knowledge of many French words, but don’t have conversational confidence, an impediment we plan to remedy before our return trip in 2012.

( Sylan, Eloy, Francoise, a friend of Francoie’s that we didn’t meet )

We also had the pleasure to met Sylvan, Eloy’s best man, who also lives in New Brunswick. He and Eloy have been friends for years and while we knew of him, only got to meet him how. He and his family clearly enjoyed meeting us, extending an invitation to visit and stay with them in Moncton where they live. We’ve never been to New Brunswick before and with two invitations now, we will have to plan a trip.

We also met some of Francoise’s siblings, their children and their families. We met so many more friends before, during and after the wedding. Unfortunately my camera didn’t keep up. We have warm memories of Marie-Claude, Marc, Alain, Pierre, Nicole, Danielle, Xavier (and his family) and others whose names aren’t coming back as easily as I had hoped.
Family is something magical no matter how you define it, and this trip was powerful proof of that for us.



1 comment:

veggietestkitchen said...

What a wonderful time it looks like you had. I have a very similar feeling about family v. friends. Family you were born with, right. The extended ones that you don't see very often might be vastly different from you and you may not have any overlapping values. Friends however are more dear because they're people you've found you share values with. Values are everything. I would much rather spend time with my friends than most of the people I'm related to!! Thanks for sharing your wonderful pics from France. Cheers.