After almost 7 hours on the bus, the driver announced that we would soon be arriving in Nancy, in Eastern France (not the most direct route to Barcelona where I would be meeting my parents!), where I would have to change buses. The hour and a half break was busy and I was able to walk to the famous Stanislas Square, go through some beautiful gardens, and even have a cookie and a coffee before heading back to the bus stop, which was actually just a parking lot on the edge of town near the quai Sainte Catherine.
Upon arrival, I saw a girl who was on the bus from Lille and I headed over to where she was standing, talking with an older man, both under umbrellas. I put my larger backpack on the ground (as the rain cover was now on) and stood nearby, under the tree and my umbrella in an attempt to stay somewhat dry. Their openness was beautiful and they almost immediately invited me in to join their conversation. Arlene is an architect from Costa Rica, who was visiting some friends in France and was on her way to Madrid to teach a course before heading home. A (I didn’t catch his name but it starts with an A) was waiting for one of his sons who was coming back from Germany where he was visiting his twin brother. The conversation goes back and forth between French and English (with some Spanish thrown in every now and then) as not everyone is comfortable in the same language…and the bus that was supposed to arrive at 5:20 doesn’t…and it doesn’t matter. I couldn’t be in a better place. J
Arlene was explaining how she didn’t eat anything because someone told her it was too far to walk to the city center and so she just waited at the “stop”. I volunteered some fruit and crackers in my bag and before we knew it, A, who had mentioned a bakery around the corner, was off. Minutes later he appeared, delicately balancing and protecting a series of packages from the bakery under his umbrella.
The man I had met 15 minutes ago had gone to the bakery around the corner to get some local specialties for us to try so we wouldn’t be hungry on the bus. I said I had some things with me but that didn’t matter. He opened up his van, the one he used to drive to Tunisia where he has family, and we all sat inside, shielded from the rain, the “girls” in the back eating and A in the driver’s seat smoking a cigarette and telling us about his sons, one an engineering student on ERASMUS in Germany and the other a computer programmer. He just wanted to share some local culture with us, and wanted nothing in return, except that we do the same someday, and that we would remember Nancy.
Yes, I strayed from my 10-month vegetarian eating habits, by trying the “paté vosgien”. I was ok with the idea because of what it meant in this particular context, no guilt but just an immense gratitude for the reminder yet again that people are good, that Life is made of moments like this, and that it’s incredible to be traveling again! J
Thank you both for this incredible memory I will cherish forever (even without a picture)!