Don't get in the car with just anyone...wait until they pull over first.

FRANCE | Saturday, 5 April 2008 | Views [251]

Today was another one of the most beautiful days since I've been here.  I woke up early and went for a run in the park.  It smelled so good--very fresh and a little flowery.  
I made plans with my friend Kaia from school to paint at Mt. St-Victoire today.  Our art teachers are going to Venice next week, and so each of us classmates has to make up the days of class that we won't have.  So, Kaia and I decided to go for one long day and pack a lunch, instead of two three-hour sessions of class, and then we wouldn't have to waste time on clean-up and set-up.
So I met her in the market yesterday morning so we could buy some fruits and vegetables and bread for our day out.  We have these huge WWII army backpacks (really) in which we keep our palattes and paints and easels, and trying to snake through the little aisles of the market was nearly impossible with those things.  I just wanted to get a yellow pepper and an apple and some bread, but when I saw all the fresh fruits, then I wanted kiwis and oranges and bananas and strawberries too.  She wanted to get a bottle of wine to have during our picnic, so we bought something mid-range (about 3 is so cheap here) and we caught the bus to the mountain.  
We set up our art supplies next to a flower field and painted for the day.  It was nothing like if Bradie had been there, but she refused to go on account of her frustration with painting.  We found that little hidden spot and stayed there until we had to catch the bus back.  It was a beautiful day, and I painted in my bathing suit top, enjoying the sunshine and the scenery to the fullest.
But we missed the bus to go back home.  There was another woman waiting at the stop, too.  And when the bus was a half hour late, she explained to me that she was going to find someone who was headed to Aix to ride with them.  She told us if we were going to do the same to make sure we didn't get into the car with just anyone!  On that parting advice, Kaia told her we were going to walk back and we began to head back towards town.  17 kilometers.  I don't know if her backpack didn't feel just like a piece of bulky furniture strapped to her back like mine did.  And I don't know if she noticed how long it took to get here by bus (and that walking is a much longer process).  So we started to walk.  She said "atleast it's not raining!" all cheerful like and I said "at least we don't have to carry our art backpacks, that would suck!" and the more I thought obout hitchhiking, the more appealing it sounded.  I'd never done it before.  "How would you feel about hitchhiking?" I asked after twenty minutes of miserable walking silence.  I already knew her answer, but I really wanted an adventure.  In fact, though, she didn't refuse like I expected her to.  But she also made it hard to hitchhike with her not holding out her thumb and with her going down small roads.  So I headed us towards the main road to town and started holding out my thumb.  No cars would stop.  They'd go around us and some of them even seemed to be laughing at us, but maybe that was just my imagination.  Finally I saw the car that would stop and I said so to Kaia.  "This is the one," I told her, "get ready".  It hadn't gotten close enough to start slowing down yet, but it wasn't hard to guess that this lime-green volkswagon van with handpainted designs would give us a ride.  And sure enough, they pull off to the side in front of us.  "Come on, Kaia, they've stopped for us!" I told her.  She seemed confused, and though I'd never hitchiked before, the concept seemed quite simple.  A woman jumped out of the passenger seat and helped us in.  The van was probably only a little bigger than my sister's car, but it still had a kitchen and a bed.  There were bongo drums in the corner and there were pictures all over the walls.  "Are these places you've been?" I asked her and she started telling us about them.  She said next they were heading to Cassis and would we like to go?  If Bradie had been in the van, I would have given her a look and we would have said "Yes" because I already had my bathing suit and because I thought that would be a great spontaneous adventure.  But I know Kaia is more cautious, so I said no thank you.  She asked if we were painters and wanted to see our paintings.  When they let us out in a parking lot near town, I didn't know the etiquette of thanking someone for giving you a ride.  You don't give them money, I don't think.  So I gave them my fruit from the market-three apples and a couple of oranges.
Bradie, meanwhile was passing the entrance of the parking lot, noticing a woman in a hippie van eating an apple, and that's when I saw her.  I ran across the street with Kaia and we all walked together for a while.  I had missed spending that day with Bradie, and as school's coming to an end and Spring Break will be interrupting it too, I really want to spend as much time with her as possible.
Later that night she said the same thing when we went out for a glass of wine.  She said even when we visit each other at home in Illinois and Colorado it won't be the same because we will be in HER Colorado or MY Illinois, and not in Aix, the place that's a strange familiar friend to us both.

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