Who would have guessed that the line to rent a car at the Bordeaux airport would take 2 1/2 hours? Or that not one of the three agents would adjust their customary style to – at the very least – shorten the conversations they usually enjoy with each customer? Imagine how exciting the story of our journey from California would have been. Arnaud at Avis was particularly skilled at drawing out his clients’ stories, but I kept looking over my shoulder at the dozens of families with small children behind us: a sea of impatient grimaces, hungry whines, and tapping feet. I’m not sure it made any difference.
It took us close to three hours to get onto the road.
Outside, it was 38C, record-breaking heat, but the thoughtful GPS took us along the back roads, so we enjoyed the ride –
– even the muddy track through the cornfields that saved us a good two minutes over the more conventional route.
Eventually we arrived at the office of M. duMartin, the notaire (real estate lawyer), in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, where the couple from whom we bought the house and our real estate agent were waiting.
I will be eternally grateful that Tom is fluent in French! M. duMartin, jowls and chins indistinguishable, thick steel-colored hair brushed back and plastered to his head, melted into his ornate chair behind the expanse of his ancient desk, and read aloud document after document after document. Do we understand that there can be no changes to the outside of the house, not even to the paint on the blue voleurs (shutters)? And here, this is very important, you see where the back of the house goes under the one on the street above? The well is in your house, but a shaft goes up into the house above…
Periodically a young assistant in short shorts, long legs, and assorted tattoos brought more documents, or copies for us all the sign. M. DuMartin’s wife, gray hair in braids circling her head, appeared behind him from time to time, ghostlike.
It was stiflingly hot in the room. I struggled to follow, using all the skills I’ve acquired from years of hearing loss: catching enough words to get the gist, applying what I know from similar situations, and watching everyone else’s responses very carefully. Still. French legalese!
We signed the papers at last and went to the house with the agent and the sellers for a few lessons in house’s quirks.
And now we are here!
We woke to a gentle breeze coming through the wide open window.
Such a view! Come see us!