Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Day 6 – Toulon, France – August 9th

Today was by far, our favorite day so far.  With all of the experiences we’ve had and places we’ve been so far, our hearts were glad but not yet full.  Today, our hearts were full.

A few days before we left for our trip we found out that a friend from about 16 years ago was in France with his family.  Interestingly enough, Sarah, Jerome’s wife and I have been chatting on Facebook for a number of years but have never met in person.  Shawn and I met Jerome when he briefly lived in San Jose and came to our church.  Jerome was pretty cool and quickly became a central part of our college church group. 

Shawn swears that we spent a lot of time together during his brief time in San Jose, and he still laughs about Jerome and I being very similar people in male/female form, respectively.  One of Shawn’s favorite stories is about walking into Jerome’s room for the first time – it was nearly the exact same room as mine at the time (same color on the walls, same central poster on the wall, and same desk)…. What are the odds?  He also notes that our personalities were pretty similar………to be honest, I don’t remember that our personalities were so similar, but I do remember that our rooms were almost identical upon seeing it for the first time.  I remember both Shawn and I getting along really well with Jerome, but then again he’s a pretty easy guy to get along with.  ;)  

Fast-forward until a couple of weeks ago when we found out we would be in France at the same time.  We chatted for a bit on FB about meeting up, and we were able to make it happen.  It’s funny because we live merely a few states away, but it took traveling halfway across the world to meet up.  

Jerome and Sarah’s cousin made reservations at a private beach so we could meet up.  They had to drive an hour to get there, and Shawn and I had to navigate our way around Toulon in order to meet up.  It was soooo worth it.  Sarah, Jerome’s wife is awesome, and so are their kids.  And I can’t forget his cousin Frederick – he’s amazingly patient, and has such a great spirit to him.  But enough gushing – you get the point.  They are all pretty cool. 

Back to the start of our day………

We got off the boat having not booked any form of transportation.  The cruise ship wanted around twenty euros per person to get from the place where we docked to the city center area.  I had talked to a person on the cruise ship earlier in the week and asked if we *needed* to book the cruise line’s private water taxi for a million dollars.  The woman we spoke with said no, but in order to get to the city center we would need some form of transportation.  I wanted to wing it, and talked to Shawn about taking a ground taxi if worse comes to worse. 

As we exited the boat we talked to an information center that gave us direction to a water taxi that costs merely two euros a piece – score!  So we walked about a mile to the water taxi stop and boarded a boat.  But not before meeting a very nice gentleman who is a member of the military in France (reserves) who was called back for a period of two years.  It’s been about a year and a half so far and he’s hoping he can move back to the United States where his 8 year old son is located.  He said that life in France is great, but he missed the US like crazy (my words, not his).  He worked along the Eastern Seaboard from New York to near Florida doing various sea-worthy things, and trying to find work in France was a bit difficult.  We also talked about the differences in our education systems and how he felt like the US was a bit more behind – I agreed.  Shawn agreed more.  But enough about that.

We exited the taxi and used our GPS to guide us the 2 kilometers to the beach where we were meeting our friends.  Since we hadn’t eaten that morning we stopped at a local bakery and grabbed a croissant.  It was crispy on the outside, and buttery and soft on the inside. So perfect.  We kept walking and passed by a supermarket, and walked in to grab a bottle of water.  Again, we continued on our way.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, the climate here is hot and humid.  But more humid than hot.  And guess what affects me more than anything (making me feel sick, and quickly dehydrates me)?  That’s right – humidity.  It’s always affected me poorly, but this is ridiculous.  So dang hot, and you sweat as soon as you walk outside.  

After grabbing our water we arrived at the location where we were meeting our friends.  We checked in and waited for a short time before our friends arrived.  They lathered up the kiddos with sunscreen, and off into the water they went.  Sarah, Jerome, Frederick, Shawn and I chatted for a while, trying to catch up after 16 years.  It was a bit difficult, especially since Shawn and I were a bit more reserved.  We were in another country, and I’ve been overly concerned with not offending anyone or being *that* loud American, so I’ve been a little held back on our trip.  I’m trying to be sensitive.  Perhaps overly sensitive, I guess.  But better to be overly sensitive than to be considered another loud and rude American.

We had a lovely lunch after playing in the water, then Shawn and I needed to find our way back to the water taxi so we could make it to the ship before it left us.  We parted ways, said our goodbyes and walked off.  Shawn and I immediately decided that we needed to go out to Colorado and visit Sarah, Jerome and kiddos because meeting in France for a few hours wasn’t nearly enough time to catch up.  So I sent Sarah a message and let her know that we wanted to come out there soon to visit for a long weekend.  She suggested an Air BnB, which we think is a fabulous idea.  We can’t wait to see them again.

By far, our favorite day so far on our trip.  Meeting up with old friends, their super awesome kids, and really cool cousin was a great experience.  Getting together stateside where we can be more of ourselves I think will be good…..and I can’t wait. 

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