Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Nitty Gritty 3: Why Bouzigues?

This is a question Mike and I hear almost daily. The only question we hear more often is: Why did you move to France?

Let me start with Why did we move to France?

When Alex moved to Spokane, I was ready for a serious change. I did not want to stay in our Placer Street house in Santa Cruz if she wasn’t there, too. So, when Mike said one night in late April of 2006 (completely out of the blue): “Let’s move to some other country.” I thought about it for a few minutes, then I said, “Okay. Where?” Boy, was that easy or what?

Why did Mike have this bizarre idea?

First, it is simply too easy to spend your entire life doing the same thing every day: live in the same house, go to the same job, see the same people, eat the same foods, etc. He did not want to wake up in 10 years with all things being the same expect for one – the children would be off to college by then!

Second, we were very disenchanted with many of the residents of our neighborhood. Crappy neighbors are the worst!

So decided to experience life – to live a little! What better way to do that than to move to a foreign country with a different language, different customs, etc. It would challenge us in so many ways and teach us and the kids so many valuable things at the same time! We would all learn French and become world-travelers.

Thus, the idea of moving abroad was born. Our next steps were to:

  • Get another job, so I could make enough money to support this strange idea.
  • Decide where to live.

The Job & Santa Clara

I ended up with a fantastic contracting job at Cisco. Since I would be working in San Jose, we decided to move to Santa Clara for a year. All the better for me to be closer to work, right? We were moved into Machado Ave. in Santa Clara by July 23, 2006. (Yep, only 3 months after Mike’s original idea!)

Ugh. We should have stayed in Santa Cruz. Living in Santa Clara really didn’t teach us anything useful, and it’s not a pleasant place to live. I missed my friends & family terribly, and I also missed all things Santa Cruz (the views, the vibe, the stores, the gym!!). C’est la vie!

Two good things came from Santa Clara:

It put Mike closer to French classes. During our year in Santa Clara, he took 1 class during the Fall semester (Mission Valley College) and two classes during the Spring semester (Mission Valley and San Jose City College). He learned a ton, and he made two valuable friends in his professors. His Mission Valley prof was in Montpellier in August (her teenage son was taking French classes here), and we spent a great evening touring Montpellier with them. His profs have also provided invaluable help for us with translations, questions about France, etc. We thank them both!

We met the Woo family! Minji was in Max’s kindergarten class, and her parents, Sumi and Sung, are wonderful! We had so much fun spending time with their family. We hope they come to visit us in France. I miss them all a lot!

Deciding Where to Live

Here we are – job hunting, packing all of our possessions, renting our house, and turning our lives topsy turvy, and we have to make a decision on where to live. I honestly think the decision was based on The Merovingian. He is a character in one of the Matrix movies. Why The Merovingian? Well, we knew we wanted to live somewhere in Europe, but we weren’t sure which country. We didn’t know any of the languages (besides my 4 years of high school Spanish), so we were going to have to learn something. The Merovingian has an amazing soliloquy in French, and Mike has always wanted to know what he was saying. Voila! Let’s learn French! Thus, let’s move to France.

As I mentioned, I was just ready for a major change. I didn’t have any specific country in mind, so France sounded good to me. Am I easy or what?

Having decided on France, we now needed to decide where.

Mike would have decided based purely on where he could surf. However, there isn’t much surfing in France.

We aren’t city people (hmm . . . maybe that’s one of the reasons that Santa Clara was such a bummer!), so we definitely did not want to live in Paris, Lyon, Nice, or any of the other big cities.

D, Debb & Reed

Lucky for us, I decided to send an email to my friend Deanna (aka D). D used to work for us when we owned 3 Dog. I haven’t seen D in many, many years, but when I think of my friends, she’s always high on the list!

When D heard that we wanted to France, she said, “You have to talk to my sister!” And that’s how we met Debb.

Debb is D’s older sister, and Debb has lived in Bouzigues for 12 summers in a row. Debb and Reed also have an apartment in Paris, where they live the rest of the year.

When Debb heard that we wanted to move to France – but not to a big city like Paris – she instantly said, “You have to move to Bouzigues! It is the Santa Cruz of France!”

Debb has been wonderful since that first Skype call. She scouted rentals with the local immoblier to find us a place to live (you have to have a residence address to obtain a French visa, so this was a crucial task!), she communicated with us as often as our worries required (email and Skype), and she answered all the questions we had as well as all the questions we should have asked but didn’t know enough to ask!

Since our arrival in Bouzigues, Debb and Reed have been our saviors. They have fed us, entertained us and our children, taught us where to shop, toured us around Bouzigues and neighboring villages, provided invaluable advice on all things French, introduced us to many wonderful people – heck, they even let me work at their house for hours on end before we had our own Internet connection.

Their generosity continues to amaze us! Their latest act of largess: They have offered to let us use their apartment in Paris for my 40th birthday celebration. Woohoo!

Merci mille fois, Debb and Reed!

So that’s how we decided to move out of Santa Cruz and how we decided on Bouzigues, France. Someday soon I will post another blog entry on the French visa process. That’s a doozy!

Love to all!

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Loved that post! I didn't even know half of that, so it was so informative. You guys were so brave - are so brave - and truly inspiring. I must say, I REFUSE to raise children who have never learned to pick up their lives and move somewhere. I think that provides absolutely invaluable experience in life. And to give your kids the added bonus of new country, new culture, new language. It's just awesome - bravo!