Normal is not here. Normal is where you are.
What? That makes no sense, right?
But that’s what I heard and yes, my good neighbour, I heard it correctly.
It was Tuesday. We were in Paris, France.
I got up early and while I was sitting in the breakfast area of our hotel, the lovely boutique hotel Villa Pantheon, having a coffee waiting for my wife. I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two couples at another table. That comment was what caught my attention and it was just the tip of the iceberg.
Yeah, I know, but I just can’t help myself.
We are now in Montferrat in the south of France. We started the first leg of our trip with a couple of days in central Paris. On Tuesday afternoon we flew to Nice, rented a car and got on the road. It has been an interesting trip so far, somewhat surreal. It took a bit of time to get acclimatized to the time zone, the language and the roads. I think we spent a day literally dazed and confused and on Wednesday we drove around in circles a hundred times trying to find our way back to Montferrat after dark.
Normal is not here.
Not any normal that we are used to anyway.
Normal is driving a standard shift mini Renault on roads that have no more straight sections than a Parisian goddess.
Normal is seeing a Mastiff walk down the middle of the street in front of your car as you wait for it to turn left on the next side street. That’s considered traffic in Montferrat. Where was he going?
Normal is going to the town square and buying locally grown vegetables and fresh meat out of the back of a food truck.
Normal is feeling like you fit in because everyone is so friendly even if you can’t speak their language.
There really is no value in going back to the moaning that I listened to on Tuesday morning other than to say that I was astounded that people go on vacation and then expect things to be the same as they are at home. You are in another country for heaven’s sake!
Embrace the local normal.
That should really go for anywhere you are shouldn’t it?