Saturday, June 12, 2010
Day 4: Meeting Garth
When I said yesterday that I found paradise, I didn't know what was in store for me today.
After the standard hostel motel, I walked around the old city for a little, waiting for 10:00 to open the doors to the fortress. After paying for being an American (Europeans under 25 get in free) I entered the fortress. Beating the impending crowd, I saw the video before anyone else, so I was able to see the rest before anyone too. The fortress was first built in the 6th century BCE, and has been built up and besieged over and over again since. It was restored beginning in 1844 according to a medieval plan of the city. I walked through the castle and along the fortifications, and then took a look around the basilica. After returning to the hostel and collecting my bag, I began the hike back to the station.
Garth recognized me by the tie-dye shirt I'd told him I'd be wearing. He's from London, looks younger than he is, and is a multi-talented artist. I spoke a lot in the car on the drive through gorgeous wine country. After driving up the foothills of the Pyrenees, we arrived at his house in the tiny village of Roqutaillade. The village was founded between the 11th and 13th century, when residents of the village below fled here to escape attack. The walls of the houses have been the same since. Part village, part archeological site, Roqutaillade is home primarily to wine families, most of whom have been here many, many generations. We spoke to a man whose grandfather grew up in the house this man lives in now; his accent thick with the "ng' and rolled "r" influenced by the Cathan people who used to live in this area, Aude. Deep green grape vines surround this village 360 degrees around.
Garth's home has left me speechless. He has been working on it for four years, and living in it for two. There are beautiful studio spaces with soft light and lofts, I'll be sleeping in one of them. A living room filled with his art has beautiful space and great air. Soon after arriving, we ate a delicious, very French lunch in his stunning garden space, with fountains he's made, flowers, herbs, and hammocks. After a siesta, we headed to his friend's house to mow the lawn. We couldn't find the lawn mower in Alvin's three conjoined houses, but I weedwacked most of the edge of the lawn with a scythe. Thirty minutes and lots of sweat later, we headed back to Garth's. We moved wood and did some organizing, and then Garth showed me how to use an angle cutter. I cut pieces off old bronze plows, sparks shooting behind me. Awesome.
We then prepared dinner, and sat in the chicken house-turned living space, and talked for a long time over a delicious dinner of grilled sausage, potatoes, tappenade, dressed tomatoes, sheep's milk cheese, and beer, watching the lightening flash. After dinner, I did the dishes in a stone sink with a bucket of water, and we watched "So You Think You Can Dance". Now, I think it's about bed time.