Destination Unknown

Lady in a van

Well perhaps you’ve seen the film, perhaps not, but for the past 6 months I have resided in this lovely little City of Narbonne. With its Roman beginnings, 12th century Cathedral and its picturesque canal system.

Rainbows are a delight
Like most southern French cities it boasts a beautiful climate year round, for someone who has been traveling solo throughout Western Europe I felt I’d found somewhere with a (heart).
Go figure there’s a heart in their logo
With my French roots I had a desire test the water, see how French I really am? Growing up with a fiercely proud French mother much of her behaviours, customs even biases were adopted by myself. It also provided me with a more positive sense of self growing up when I was taking so much slack for my obvious visual Indian heritage.
Time for a touch up
Sadly the French language was not one of the skills she passed down, which obviously in terms of immersing into a culture is the most crucial asset. Suffice it to say I do speak French ‘comme une vache d’espagnol ‘, like a Spanish cow ! Thankfully to high school French it’s coming along nicely, six more months and I’d be bilingual.As in most southern French cities the local Mairie post signs forbidding camping cars. Firstly I’m not driving a camping car, I’m driving a commercial van and it’s my one and only home. It does not have a toilet or shower or for that matter nor a table, I am reliant on the services of most town centres like any other person travelling in a vehicle with 4 wheels. Therefore I choose to ignore signs that I consider do not apply to me. In two years of traveling, living I have only been asked to move on twice.Having no heat or light in my van I wanted to find parking that would not be too visible to law enforcement but would also provide me with some opportunity to relate to the members of the community.Well I found the perfect little balance. I found the one and only car park just beyond the sign that forbids camping cars, so no police issue at all. Shade and a small sense of privacy from under the boughs of a massive Kaki tree. I’m situated next to the canal, unlimited access to drinking water, thanks to a friendly French péniche owner. I’m only a 10 minute lighted walk into the town centre and have an apartment building next to my van giving me a sense of friendship and security that I’ve never had in all my years of living in England.I’ve made several friends out of the occupants of the neighbouring building, initially it started with a simple curiosity at my presence, a few timely appearances by myself when Rover needed his daily walks, one by one the information got out and perceptions were squashed and language barriers were broken.
River Gypsies
I never really intended to ‘live’ in my van for fear of discrimination based on people’s perceptions of ‘who’ and ‘what’ I was. Yes I seem to fit the stereotype of gypsy, hippie, traveller due to my style of dress, my love of bold bright colours and of course my skin colour. I certainly don’t look English or ‘German’ as my registration plate likes to fool people into believing.But in all sincerity I’ve really enjoyed living here in Narbonne, even in my tin can of van, where of late I’ve started to leave my doors wide open at night. Fear of nothing. That’s freedom
The hood!

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