The rest of my first day in Bayonne was spent bike riding to the beach closest to Bayonne and cooking delicious food all in a triage of languages. Audrey and I will switch off between Spanish and English (I can pretty much understand it all too!!) and Muhammed and she would speak French. I love French. I love the way it sounds. My new goal is to learn the basics in this language (and maybe Italian eventually too). Not to be fluent, but to be able to say basics like, where is this? I am cold. I want this. How do you say _____ in French? I've already learned a teensy bit from Muhammed when it was just him and me (because Audrey was at a Basque independence meeting while we went on a bike ride). Knowing Spanish certainly helps. French grammar is more difficult than Spanish, but the sentence structures are very similar. Language is so fascinating.
Later that night, I cooked them beer can chicken (where you stick a can of beer into the cavity of the chicken, and then put the entire thing into the oven. They hadn't seen anything like it before. Muhammed was a bit confused. I'm afraid it turned out not as delicious and moist as i'd been hoping, but it certainly wasn't bad. I blame the ovens of Europe, which are different than American ovens and hard to get the temperature right. I went to bed feeling quite pleased with life and these opportunities that keep popping up!
The next day, Sunday, we went for hike on one of the many mountains in the Basque countryside. We drove through fields after fields of Basque countryside with red and white houses to get to the hike. It reminded me a bit of the Maui upcountry side which I love so much. I could tell Audrey had the same feeling of pride and connection with the Basque countryside that I do for my Maui countryside. The hike was beautiful, with a lot of uphill, a lot of green, and a lot of fresh air. I think I needed it after all that Madrid city stale air I've been breathing for so long. Along the hike, we ran into some wild miniature basque horses called “pechukas,” and I would often hear the bells of a local flock of long haired sheep running along the mountainside. It was all quite cute and enjoyable.
I ended up staying with Audrey and Muhammed for one extra night, Monday night. I spent the day of Monday in Biarritz, a beach town close by. Biarritz is rather glam, and caters mostly to it's beach relaxing tourists. It's very different from the cobbled, old streets of Bayonne. I mainly spent the day walking along the coastline, and spent about an hour lying on the sand with my shoes off, enjoying the surprisingly good weather, still cold, but only needing a light jacket or so. It's the first time I've gotten to lie on a beach since I left Maui. I've missed that.
Both Audrey and Muhammed were such lovely people, sharing their time, their food, their cultures with me – often in a triage of languages. They went above and beyond as couch surfing hosts. I really appreciate the time I got to spend with them, and the peak I got into their lives. I did my best to be an excellent house guest and to share what I could of my cultures and experiences in return. I hope I succeeded.