The summer I lived in France featured countless steamy afternoons walking down into the gulley of Briancon for a scoop of creamy glace in a waffle cone. My personal favorite was a decadent Snickers gelato, with thick swirls of hot caramel and giant, salty peanuts folded into chocolate and yogurt.
We’d walk through the parc, with cool ribbons of liquid sugar running down our hands as we watched the swans in the lake and the inevitable soccer game on the field.
There was one particular day, one of those bright blue jours d’ete, that during our walk through the winding sidewalks in the park, Gemma suddenly unleashed a panicked squeal, “watch out for Les Bourdons! They like the sugar!” She darted around me to avoid three tiny yellow bees, hovering harmlessly over the lake to our right.
“Buzz, buzz, buzz!” I teased, giving her a little pinch in the side. Never much of one to find humor in these situations, she shot me a look and told me, in no uncertain terms, not to laugh. “Once they sting you, it keeps hurting,” she said, solemnly. I consented that this was true.
“I hate bugs,” Gemma muttered, taking a giant slurp of her sweet cream gelato. Ten and surly, this was Gemma’s game. She will one day be a master of stormy passion and the femme-francaise pout.
The trick was to distract her or to get her to laugh.
“Even butterflies?” Noemie teased, “and the ladyladybugs.”
“Les Pupillions?” I guessed, appealing to Gemma’s love of being smarter than me when it came to French.
“PA-pillions,” she corrected, smirking despite herself.
“Do you like bugs, Shannon?” Noemie asked, blue smurf custard giving her a charmingly bizarre goatee.
“Yes!” Gemma said, her face lighting up before I could deny it. “You told Lucie you had TRAVEL bugs. Ew. I bet they’re in your suitcase.”
Well, the truth of it is, they were in my suitcase, and in my clothes, and whether they liked it or not, multiplying by the day all over my two little French girls as we spent our lazy summer afternoons together. I was dealing with a rather serious infestation of the travel bug, and we’ve all heard the rumor that there’s no getting rid of it.
When I was exiled back to Florida last year, I was so beaten down by the shitty economy and the special kind of hell that moving back home after being independent for five years brings to any functioning young adult that my travel bug went into hybernation to make room for the basic-survival bug that really needed to take over for a while.
Well, after about five months here at my new job, I’ve got to say that all of my basic life reqirements are being met (and then some). Last month, I was actually able to start tucking money away into a little tiered savings account I opened with ING Direct. One of the tiers is labelled “Globe Trotting,” and man, my blood has started to heat back up to a rolling boil to get my ass back on the road, if only for a week or two here and there.
I think I’ve pretty firmly set my sights on South America for cheap and satisfying scenery change within the very small allotted vacation time I’ve got to work with here at work. (at least for now)
I’m looking at a potential spring holiday in either Costa Rica or Guatemala. I’d love to splurge and hike the Inca Trail or go learn Tango in Buenos Aires, but I need to start with the cheapest possible options since saving is still the ultimate goal … and eventually living abroad again.
So, for now, I’m dreaming of jungles and volcanos, and possibly sunbathing in a hammock in Montezuma or Antigua, and I have no intention of attempting to stifle my wanderlust.
I guess that means I do like bugs.