Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In Southern France, a Home That is Safe

Olgica Chopra: 9/11 had a strong impact.
Shortly after the attacks of 9/11, Olgica Chopra's father-in-law, who had lived in New York for 30 years, decided he'd had enough. He wanted peace and quiet and he would not get it there. Olgica, an art consultant in New York at the time, and her academic husband were asked to find a suitable place for him in France, preferably the southern portion where it would be safe, warm, remote and relatively inexpensive.

View of the living room.
They landed him an apartment in Montpillier, a short distance from where Sonya and I spent the night last night with the lovely Olgica in the 400-resident medieval village of Durfort. Mr. Chopra apparently found what he wanted and Olgica (who is Czechoslovakian) ran into an irresistible project: a 14th Century apartment in what would have been a middle class section of a farming community.

The apartments are humble outside, striking when you pass the door, especially this one. Walls are nearly two feet thick and Oglica's is three stories tall. She lives on the first and second floors and we share the second (bathroom and our kitchen) and sleep on the third.

Olgica is a tall, lithe, athletic woman with a regal bearing and an easy smile that has been used much. She is a kick-boxer, a runner and an art expert. She talks of work-life balance and natural living. That was out of balance in New York, she says, and spending time with her young daughter became more of a priority. She is the very essence of Southern France, from what I've seen, and I feel fortunate to have met her.

I'm not as taken with the bricks and mortar of Europe as many are, I'm afraid, but the people encourage me with their openness, optimism and genuineness. We have much to learn from people like Olgica.


The patio is lovely, a serene place.
I spent almost all day (20 hours of it) in bed yesterday with this dang cold. Went to the doctor Monday and he pronounced it bronchitis, something I haven't had since I quit smoking more than 20 years ago. It has been draining and annoying and I have eaten but once in the past four days. I'm hoping for a better day today. Tomorrow, after a quick two-hour run down to Marseilles, flight to Saville and train to Cordoba, I get to see Maddie and the gang. I can't wait. It's been a looooooong slog in Europe and I'm ready for some family time.
Southern France, as you must know, is astonishingly beautiful.

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