Kirstin drove me to the airport – I find goodbyes hard – I almost become another person, very stiff and formal like it’s taking all my effort to hold the emotions inside. When I made it to my seat I had withdrawn inside myself as a way of coping with the goodbye. The woman next to me was not going to let me stay there. Initially, I was reluctantly drawn into her story but I ended up captivated. She was born in France but her dad had come to France from either Poland or Russia (my mind isn’t good with the finer details) after or during world war 2.
He never returned to his homeland. It was tough for him in France and he made many sacrifices for his children to have better lives than him. He never talked about his family back home and they never learned the language or anything about the culture. He wanted things to be easier for them and he felt the best way was total absorption into French culture.
It wasn’t until he was much older that she convinced him to go back with her. He died before they left but she still went. She met her cousins and some other family for the first time. They had all thought her father was dead. She was given a photo of her grandmother. She got emotional as remembered how important that photo was to her. This photo made her realise she had never felt complete– she had a deep-seated need to understand the culture and family her father was born into. The trip back to her father’s country had been healing for her and opened a need to understand more about her heritage.
My mind was still engrossed in her story when I arrived in Bordeaux. As I was leaving the airport I noticed a huge Starbucks (sad face) and two military men walking towards me with massive machine guns with the finger poised on the trigger. It was frightening. This is how we deal with the treat of terrorists – more terror! I gulped back my fear and boarded the bus to my air b and b. My fear quickly dissolved as I looked out of the window and saw – and I’m not exaggerating almost every person carrying a baguette. My mouth salivated – I could not wait to start eating in France!