we stay in the house on the right
You know that song by Ingrid Michaelson, "You and I"? Oh, let's get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France..." Maybe let's buy them a summer home here, if we ever get rich and if Ian and I ever agree on anything again.
We arrived Thursday night by train to Montpellier and took a bus ride into the mountains of Pont d'Herault. Thankfully the bus driver alerted us that we had arrived because Ian was paying no attention, as usual, and I was shooting video of the record-breaking rainfall outside, as usual.
Due to the unbelievable amount of rain that fell, we were trapped inside making pumpkin soup, bagging flour for a special onion mix, and the like. The first night we slept in a honest to goodness Mongolian yurt that had been assembled, where else, but upstairs in the main house. Lest we be washed away on the street or the house slide off the mountain in a landslide, we didn't venture out much.
We are however now staying about 1km up the road, up a small hill, in the future house of our host family. They're living in a small, old house down the road while they fix up the place we're staying in. It will be so beautiful when it's finished!
Yesterday we cleared a tomato field, today I planted leeks with Elizabeth. The cat Freia and I are best friends now. While I was planting and singing along to myself, she hopped on my back (which I thought yesterday was an act of hostility for ceasing to pet her!) and rubbed her face against mine. She's lucky to be on this side of the river because...
There was this strange lady who lived across the street with twenty cats that became thirty cats and then one day they bought a single bag of cat food and left. The cats have obviously run out of food and are starving so they ventured into the road and today alone two were hit. When Paul came in he told us several of the cats had dragged a body into the shed and were eating it. He threw it over the bridge. Not long after, Elizabeth and I came down from picking leeks and found one of the cats had been hit but was still breathing and clearly in a lot of pain. When we came back with a pitchfork, one of the cats was already making a move to drag it off.
I feel really bad for the cats but Paul and Elizabeth certainly can't take on feeding them all. Like a champ, Elizabeth hit the cat on the head a few times to kill it before tossing it into the river. At first, she didn't want me to watch (or was relieving me of the task) but my feeling on these things is that it has to be done regardless and someday it may fall upon me to kill the cat, or whatever. I might as well try to learn from it.
It's really impressive how self-sufficient they are here. We use "dry" toilets, which is gross to explain for most people so look it up if you must know; drink filtered water from the mountain, wash clothes in washing machine that I suppose you could say is hooked to the mountain instead of the water line, compost, recycle, and turn off all of the lights when we leave. We also discovered their daughter Jesse was named for the same reason I was and she loves reading. How could you not?
I got my hands dirty today, woke up to the sun shining over the mountains, and did not fall in the dry toilet again this morning. I've decided I prefer living near mountains but not in them- you can't see the sun rise or set on the horizon and it's not warm enough up here. Everyone thinks I mis-convert my celsius to fahrenheit when I tell them my favourite temperatures coupled with the fact I love humidity.
Elizabeth is such an excellent cook. Every meal is scrumptious. More to come! When we have internet.