France Part II

Ok, so more from France.

On our first morning in Hendaye, the ladies of the wedding party went to Biarritz for lunch and shopping. Biarritz is the high class part of southern France. I hung out with the groom and my dad for a walk on the beach and a 2hr kayak trip. The beach in Hendaye is very different from beaches here, like Ocean City. It is wide and flat, so the tides sweep way across it, keeping it compact and cool, great for walking and jogging. Despite it being a low season, come mid- to late day, the beach still fills up fairly well, perhaps high tide makes it appear more full than it would be otherwise. What is really striking, though, is how many people just walk along the surf. The groom, who spent his childhood summers in there, says that walking along the beach is favorite sport of that region, and it certainly appears that way. At pretty much all times, there are at least a hundred people out there strolling, usually more. Now, the beach is a couple kilometers long, so it doesn’t seem that crowded, but it gives a good hint as to what the popularity might be like in a month.
In kayaks, we paddled through the harbor, across to the Spanish boarder, and then inland, up a river, where we found a marsh, which we paddled through. There is something very calming about being alone in a small boat on the water, I guess given that the water is calm. I would have much preferred to row, but the rowing club in town was closed and there wasn’t really a way to rent shells… oh well. (On that note, the rivers all over France that we drove by were flat and gorgeous and made me long to be rowing on them.)
Once the ladies got back, we took another trip over to Spain for dinner at traditional sideraria (makes hard cider), which was crazy fabulous. The best dish was a whole grilled fish, with just oil and garlic, but it was perfectly cooked. Just amazing. They also served chorizo, salted cod omelet, hake pieces, steak, cheese, quintz, and walnuts. Interestingly, but sides of the soon to be formed family happens to have a number of socially boisterous members, so much of the meal was spent in song, especially once everyone got a little ways into their cups. The food was delicious, but this reminded me why parties weren’t hugely my thing. Staying up late, being boisterous (things that are certainly associated with drinking, while not required to go hand in hand) are not things I like to do night after night, which is where I could see this trip was going. For instance, singing songs in a public restaurant with lots of other people around, briefly fun, but I’m glad I was with the group, not also trying to enjoy a night out, separately.

The next morning was the day of the wedding in Hendaye which is done differently in France than it is in the US. They have a marriage as a civil union, so you go down to the mayors office, listen to the rules for being married (primarily that you’re expected to have kids and care for them well), sign a book (with space for 10 kids, don’t worry, you can get another book), exchange rings, and you’re good to go! Then we threw lavender at them.
Afterwards the couple had a wonderful reception with, of course, SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. The hors d’oeuvres were the real winners. Personal favorites were bacon-wrapped dates, so I’ll have to do that some time. Then, after eating for about 6 hours, there was a small game of flag football on the lawn. And after that, and changing clothes, we headed back to Spain (again) for tapas and drinks. (Side note: you should probably get excited to watch Rhythmic Gymnastics in the Olympics. It is extremely entertaining.
What I realized today, after being around the same people, pretty much continuously for three days, is that there are only a few people who I can do that with. Otherwise, I need breaks from people, preferably with other people, but by myself, or with the internet (access to these other people), or with a book, or with exercise work pretty well. Perhaps journaling can be come a sufficient way to give myself breaks from people when other people are not an option.

More to come later.

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