It’s hard to believe that one year ago today I arrived in France to pursue my dream. And that dream is unfolding in ways I had never imagined.
Uzerche is a charming picture postcard town with a fascinating history going back to the 2nd century BC. The town is full of wonderful architecture, full of the splendor of nature with the peaceful Vézère river flowing through it. I’m still in awe of the beauty that surrounds me and hope I never lose the wonder of this magnificent place.
On a previous visits to Uzerche there was a small grocery store, bakery and wine & gourmet shop on my street. So I had expected to have everything I needed close at hand. The bakery is still there but the grocery and specialty shops have both closed. But as I’ve found with most obstacles there is a solution. In this case it just requires more walking. If I just need a few items there’s a little grocery up near the Vieille Ville, old town; otherwise it’s the long trek to the supermarket on the outskirts of town.
To begin with, the majority of my time here was spent clearing my garden. I had anticipated this task to be secondary to working on making my little house habitable. Both the unforeseen obstacles at that house and an even greater unexpected opportunity of the house next door being for sale created a shift in priorities.
I rented a three bedroom fully furnished house for several months. While there my daughter came for a couple of weeks. During her stay we looked at the neighboring house together and shortly after I made an offer on it. Later two long term friends (I’m not saying how far back we go) came for a visit; we also did a bit of traveling together.
After the purchase of the second house was finalized I spent most of my time cleaning, which, although a lot of hard work, didn’t seem like such a chore because it was part work – part treasure hunt. Shortly after getting the first pass of cleaning done another friend from school came for a visit; although I could only offer minimal amenities there were at least no more heating or plumbing mishaps while she was here.
I have recently started some of the renovation tasks that are needed on the second house and this has already been an eye-opener. I described the process so far as one step forward on renovation and two steps backwards on cleaning. I’ve learned a lot and know that I have a lot more to learn along the way. I expect all the repairs and restoration to take several years to complete. Once I’ve finished this house I still hope to renovate the first house.
My French has progressed but not as well as I had hoped. This is partly because I have made a few English speaking friends, mostly from the UK, and partly because of all the work at my house and garden.
I’ve had a couple of French men show some interest which has absolutely floored me since they are considerably younger. (It seems the French have less concerns with age differences than most Americans.) At this time I’m more focused on establishing my life here and I’m in no hurry to complicate things. Nevertheless it has been interesting and very flattering.
I find the people here to be very friendly and welcoming. There are several people that I encounter regularly and we generally exchange a few pleasant words. I have recently started to get out and meet some of the local French residents in a social setting. Still I tend to be a bit quiet particularly when first meeting people, so I need to work on that.
Then I have my most recent friend, Princess, a little sparrow that I rescued (and spoiled in no time). I take her out to the garden so she can peck around and learn to feed herself. She’s not self-sufficient yet but the last few times she’s decided to fly off into the trees for a while. Each time I take her out I remain uncertain if she’ll be returning with me but it’s a risk I have to take if she’s to be released.
Last month I submitted all the paperwork for the renewal of my Visa de Long Séjour, Long Stay Visa. That was an ordeal ! The required documentation has been sent to Paris for review. If all goes well I will get my Carte de Séjour which enables me to stay for another year.
I’m hoping that everything goes smoothly because I really feel like this isn’t just where I live, rather that it truly is home.