Weekly Summary: The Familiar Exotic

Weekly Summary: The Familiar Exotic

By Emily Benson-Scott


We arrived in France late Thursday night, hiking up to our rental in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, after a grueling day-long jet-lagged journey from Malpensa airport in Milan. I had originally intended to write a blog about how smart it was to save money by flying into a different country and taking cheap Italian trains to the border of France, but it turns out, that was a really stupid idea. So, I’m not going to write about that after all. Instead, what’s captivating me this year is the blend of the exotic and familiar. Living somewhere for three months and coming back after nine months makes a place feel at once foreign and comfortable. So, with the exception of the failed Milan Mission, everything has been going smoothly. Our neighbors were expecting us and and greeted us with big smiles, a basket of apricots and homemade orange marmalade. We are taking care of their cat while they go to Corsica, and they have already invited us over for Proseco. We speak a blend of English and French with them, and between that and body language, we manage to have fairly lucid conversations. It was nearly 10 pm when we got in from Milan so we quickly cooked up gnocchi and porcini truffle pesto we’d picked up in Italy and watched the moon lane streak across the Mediterranean.


On Friday, we went back to Italy to go to the Ventimiglia Market for fresh local eggplant, fennel, tomatoes, peppers, figs, artichokes, and a week’s worth of Parmesan cheese, lemon pasta and limoncello. Rob navigated flawlessly the whole way, having mastered the train and bus routes the previous year, and hauled a week’s worth of groceries in a giant suitcase from the bus stop in the medieval village of Roquebrune to our petit maison, nestled high in the cliffs. Another thing that made our lives easier this time around, was that we had already been through the exhausting process of learning how to hook up Internet last summer, so we were able to profit from the previous year’s detective work and generate a portable WiFi signal in time to meet deadlines for our online teaching. It all felt as familiar as an embrace from an old friend. And yet, walking around Roquebrune–looking down from the village precariously perched a thousand feet over the sea, inhaling the jasmine-infused dusk, and marveling at the magenta Bougainville overtaking every softly stuccoed wall–all felt thrillingly exotic. It was like being here for the first time, like falling in love all over again.


7 thoughts on “Weekly Summary: The Familiar Exotic

  1. Wow! What a remarkable commentary on the extraordinary niche you have discovered and created for yourselves. Welcome back to the strangely familiar and thank you for sharing it so vividly.

    1. Thank you Andrea! We are eagerly awaiting your arrival! I’m glad you got water shoes! The water should be perfect when you get here, especially appealing after long sweaty hikes:)

  2. Looks and sounds beautiful! Like our trip to Idaho and Oregon (on facebook). We arrive at our $5 a night campsite amongst 600 year old Redwood Giants. There is a BRIGHT blue & black Steller Jay entertaining us. During our 4 mile hike the air is so fresh, the flowers so different, the Banana Slug so yellow, we cross 3 bridges, one wrapping around two trees making us feel so small. Back at camp we share some wine and cheese with our neighbors that also has a camper van like ours. The Ranger talk in the woods (amphitheater) ended the evening perfectly. Looking forward to the 12 mile bike ride on a dirt road threw the Redwoods. Giving thanks to the persons who in 1918 realized they needed to be saved.
    Love you guys. 🙂 🙂

    1. Hi Cindy! Thanks for your comment and sharing such great details from your trip. You guys are so adventurous!!Just saw FB photos now of your trip, probably because we’ve been in transit. Biking and camping in the Redwoods sounds glorious! I loved our last trip out there on the Pacific Highway to Big Sur. We send lots of love!!

  3. Breathtakingly sheer drop–brilliant bloom, luxuriant foliage–to breathtakingly blue sea. Even if the author of this blog has faked the colors, Roque-Brune-Cap-Martin should shut down its tourism office and hire Benson on her privileged perch!

    1. Nice! You blurbed my blog 🙂 and very poetically at that!
      Not much tourism in the medieval village of Roquebrune, not even a single tabac or boulangerie. But we love the classical concerts at the 10th century Carolingian castle and we love, as you eloquently say–the “sheer drop” and “luxuriant foliage” from this “privileged perch!”
      Thanks for commenting Holly!

  4. Beautiful; especially the moon lane across the Mediterranean pic. Thanks for sharing. Love Mary & Ray. We enjoy being Extreme Vicarious Travelers! 🙂

    visit me at cozycottagefarm.com

    On Jun 15, 2014, at 5:12 AM, Extreme Telecommuters wrote:

    WordPress.com Emily Benson posted: “By Emily Benson-Scott We arrived in France late Thursday night, hiking up to our rental in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, after a grueling day-long jet-lagged journey from Malpensa airport in Milan. I had originally intended to write a blog about how smart”

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