Today exactly a year ago I had the great opportunity to head to one of the most inspiring places I´ve ever been to. My man turned 30 on the same date as his mom, just 40 years later. Damn right, mother and son, same day, same month, 40 years apart from each other, 100 years altogether. Who actually can say that about themselves?
Anyway, Se Mamie, how we fondly call her, is the best mom on earth you could possibly imagine. She´s a lovely French lady, young at heart, loves gardening and is crazily skilled in creating the most prettiest and unique greeting cards for any kind of events. Every year I receive one each for my birthday and christmas, perfectly themed and decorated with so much attention to detail that makes me grin from one ear to the other and feel loved. Having said that, I am counting down the days until christmas to see what she has in mind for this year´s merry season. And as a perfect mom she is of course always curious to hear about our adventures from all of our travels which leads to the essence of this story.
An exceptional occasion of a precious soul demands a special treatment.
Instead of telling her about another one, we were absolutely determined to send her off on her own enthralling and unforgettable adventure. Needless to say, with us in the pocket as her personal travel guides. And as a cherry on top of this anniversary cake, we decided to keep it a secret and not to let her know.
We brainstormed for quite a little while.
First of all, we wanted to go somewhere warm. As it was frosty winter we had to go far beyond the European borders, which was handy in a way as we wanted it to be an exotic venture.
But at the same time we aimed for familiarity so that she would feel comfortable enough to explore the destination on her own, which made a French-speaking country crucial. We thought it was easier for her in the sense that she would not have to hassle with a language barrier. Even though, she took English online lessons at that time (and still does!) to be able to communicate with me. Can you imagine, your potential mother-in-law-to-be picking up a foreign language at this age?!! Come on, that´s awesome, people! Long story short, we made up our minds and the idea of the 10-day expedition to Guadeloupe was born!
We came up with a wild story. Since she moved from Paris to Bordeaux in the South of France, the region which is home to the finest wines ever by the way, my man resided in Brussels and I lived in Amsterdam, we picked Paris to be a fair point of departure. With the help of the surprise committee which meanwhile had come to life and consisted of the closest family members we tried to make it happen.
The airport we had to get her to was Paris Orly, an unusual meeting point as our regular transportation coming to Paris for a visit was the train. We convinced her that for whatever biblical reason the flight from Amsterdam was cheaper than to travel there by train. Imagine a map, Amsterdam is situated in the North of Brussels, and then comes Paris further down South. Common sense speaking, it totally didn´t make sense for us to leave from Amsterdam at all. To explain why Paris Orly we had to broaden our fairytale just a little wider as there were no flights from Brussels, just in case she would get stung by the glorious idea to look it up… I know, this is the part where you can roll your eyes biiig times.
We just wanted to play safe and not spoil the surprise, that´s it. That was the catch with Paris Orly. Anyhow, our most visionary story went on to us heading towards Germany in order to celebrate my sister´s graduation for the weekend at an indoor pool party where our protagonist would meet my parents also for the very first time.
The pool party. A desperate attempt to get her to pack her swimwear. Better safe than sorry with a sunny holiday of 30 degrees and marvelous beaches ahead of you. Go ahead, time to roll your eyes to the power of infinity!
So came that special day, we met at the airport to which we evidently arrived by train.
We pardoned our huge luggage with the argument of a horrendous winter that was awaiting us in good cold Germany. We decided to have a coffee at a bistro before continuing to hit the road again. We spoke about how much she was looking forward to finally meeting my parents and she even brought bordelais specialties.
While she was sharing her excitements about this family gathering thing, the only thing that crossed my mind was my constantly decelerating motion and the giant alerting capital letters in red on my forehead, growing monstrously with every second that passed whereas I was lying. It tingled all over my body and I had trouble looking straight into her eyes.
In my head, the sound of the disturbing suspense scene of Hitchcock´s Psycho increased heavily. You know, the one before the shower curtain is about to be pulled aside and the shadow of the mother appears with the deadly knife. Still, I was hoping to cover my bad story and to prevent its death penalty just in time. I wasn´t ready and yet I couldn´t wait any longer. I guess that´s the typical controversy bug women are blessed with. All insiders seemed super nervous knowing that the secret we kept from her was just about to be aired. It felt somewhat like a millenium in that moment. But no. At that point, she still didn´t read, see or sense anything at all. Lucky us.
I positioned the camera without her noticing it, ready to capture the mesmerizing moment of truth that was about to come to light. My man handed over a package with a card, which I proudly call my little contribution to this project, saying: Change of plans! We´re not going to Germany…
Suddenly, the capital letters on my forehead reshaped themselves into one big question mark above the steaming head of this sweet woman, still bending over the package she was holding in her shivering hands. We encouraged her to open the package, cause at the end of the day we still had a plane to catch. She did, and found a travel guide for Guadeloupe in it.
In less than a fracture of a second her confidence disappeared, turned into a light version of uncertainty in order to just unfold itself into a rollercoaster of question marks, joy, exclamation marks and love. Surpriiise!
Not having clearly understood what just happened to her, the very first words she mumbled were: “I´ve packed only two trousers”, making her even more adorable. And along with that a few big tear drops rolled down her cheeks which had been hugged away tenderly by my man. Yes. Emotions. Loads of ´em. Beautiful.
As a lady of style, Se Mamie wisely didn´t bring any summer wardrobe. Why should she have?
Actually, this is another genius idea for a magnificent experience of its kind which is most likely also the dream of any women. Going on an adventure and buying your clothes along the trip – no worries, I already added it thoroughly to the neverending bucket list a very long time ago. Same as the idea of throwing nothing else but some summer clothes in my luggage, heading towards Schiphol and spontaneously choosing my plane to the next escape just à la minute.
In retrospect, I´d have rather chosen some liquors over a coffee to digest this story. But back then, we were way too busy with enjoying that moment of pure excitement and happiness. I still have to laugh so hard when I recall the entire scenario of last year. A story, far away from true and only a person with a wonderful mind and vivid imagination could believe. And she bought it, like literally all of it. Ready or not, we were just about to take off to celebrate the 100 years anniversary in the French Antilles. About the trip itself, I promise to report another time. Just one thing, it was the best birthday party I´ve ever been to, by far.
Stay tuned and be part of my little adventures and share the love to travel! To be continued…