Wednesday, May 25, 2005

le Cote d'Azur

I’m in the south of France, in a small town on the Mediterranean, attending a seminar. The village of Golfe Juan is located right on the beach. I can walk 10 minutes from my hotel and be on the shore, walking past the marina packed with yachts and cruisers. A bit further down, I pass the public beach, where bathers of all ages turn crisp in the sun. Many women sunbathed topless and appeared very comfortable in their nudity. This included young woman as well as older women, whose breasts were just one more sagging fold that hung from their chests. Still further was a private beach, where swimmers pay 8 euro to lie on blue and white striped lounge chairs and enjoy a less crowded atmosphere.

I had fun walking down the streets of the small town, smelling the scent of the orange and lemons that hung from trees, from the obscenely sweet and beautiful roses outside a flower shop, the crusty French bread and the soft croissants from the boulangerie, and the homemade sweet delicacies from the chocolate shop. I liked seeing the separate small shops that specialized in meat, in fish, in water sports, or in pharmaceutical goods. I liked the little clinic where people could walk in for laboratory tests, enjoying a free cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate at the door. I liked the beauty of the fruit and vegetable stands – the fresh, firm green beans, the round baby potatoes, the stiff artichokes, the dewy strawberries.

And of course I like where our seminar is being held, on a hillside villa with an aquamarine pool, a view over the ocean, and endless servings of gourmet food unavailable in Kyrgyzstan – from grilled fresh fish, salmon, pork, lamb chops and spiced lamb sausages, to the Caesar salad, couscous, flan, chocolate mousse, and plate of assorted gourmet cheeses.

Tomorrow I’m planning to take a jog along the shoreline. I’m looking forward to the scenery, and to the ability to run around in shorts without attracting curious stares.

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