So, having left the big cities of Lyon and Paris behind us, we're still alive, and have arrived at a "gite" (guesthouse) David found through a new website, Helpx (as opposed to WWOOF, with which we were having zero luck). It's in a small village called Bédeilhac, outside the main town of Foix in the Ariège department, which is in the Pyrenees, very close to the Spanish border. It's most known for Neolithic caves, Cathar strongholds, and being on the Pyrenees leg of the Tour de France route.
Our hosts are a young (early 30ish) British couple, Jon and Deb, who met while working at a ski resort and decided to start a climber's gite here. They've been here for just over a year, and have just opened the gite for business, although it still needs renovation work (which is something we expect to be working on -- painting, plastering, etc.). They also have two little boys of 2 and 3, and there is another "Helpx helper", Joey, from the Boston area, who has been here almost a month. We are staying in the gite in a very cosy room -- DEFINITELY an improvement on the caravan we stayed in in Ireland! There is a nice common room with a wood-burning stove and a kitchenette upstairs, and Deb has already given David the go-ahead to make use of anything he finds in the main house, including the kitchen, so you know there will be plenty of kitchen activity in the days to come!
Just outside the gite and the main house/cottage where Jon and Deb themselves live is a huge precipice, going almost straight up. Apparently this is a prime location for rock-climbing, and it's easy to see why. There should also be some good leisure activities for those of us who don't scale sheer cliffs, like walking and biking, provided the weather lets up (it's been rainy for the past little bit, but apparently was glorious over the weekend, so fingers crossed). Beyond that, there is a small garden, some chickens and pigs, probably hanging out with the kiddies, and, as I mentioned, the renovation work. You can see the photos of the place and the area on the website, but I'm sure we'll have plenty of our own in no time!
I seem to have gotten over the homesickness and upset stomach that plagued me toward the end of our stay in Paris and arriving in Lyon. Corinne (my mother's cousin's sister-in-law, who lives in Lyon) took us out for a lovely dinner on last night in Lyon at one of her favourite restaurants, Olivier's, and we had a great time. It would have been a shame to miss out on Lyon gastronomie, one of it's main claims to fame, so I'm glad I had recovered in time to have a delicious fish dish. She also took some time to show us around the city a bit when we first arrived.
We are quite encouraged by the Helpx site, where people seem a bit more welcoming and flexible than those we encountered through the WWOOF website. Even better, membership at the site includes several countries/areas, as opposed to WWOOF, where each site and its membership was discrete. We are going to start looking for places in Italy ASAP, and ideally will have the remainder of our travels/timeline sketched out by the time we leave here.
In the meantime, my parents have started planning their own trip to Spain in a few weeks, and we will meet up with them to spend some time exploring the area around Malaga.
OK, I've been a bad girl, lounging in bed while David helps Deb take the older boy to daycare and go food shopping, and I should get myself some breakfast and get ready to earn my keep!