I tell you of a “European Love Affair”. One in which I hint at a beauty that is indescribable, one in which I taunt you with the enamored feelings that I embrace, and one in which I still try to hide the whole truth so that many may never know. I see glimpses of the moments that I have had as I retrace my memory, and smile upon the fortuitous day that is bringing us back together. There is magic in the air as my foot is stone heavy upon the accelerator; racing for my final destination- racing for my new found love-racing for Annot.
A sublime drive that meanders along the Verdon River valley eventually delivers me to the entrance of my desire. Annot is a French village about an hour north of Nice; where one main street is lined with patisseries, cafes, and butcher shops. Whereas when I peer to the heavens I am interrupted with mountain ridgelines that intend to hide its true identity from the chaotic scrambles of the real world. Where old men sit around smoking cigarettes and offer a nod of respect as I stumble through cobblestone alleys that breathe a medieval life that is far beyond my comprehension. Warm smiles and welcoming conversations are handed out from the local merchants as I dream of an espresso and a bag of pastries saturated with the most delectable butter I have ever placed upon my tongue. However as much as I am enthralled with the quaint local lifestyle; I have truly come to be enlivened within a passion amongst the forested hillsides that are littered with magnificent sandstone boulders.
2 kilometers north of Annot; a dirt switch back road jostles its way through the depths of Mt. Argenton. I see small foot paths leading into the hidden cover of autumn painted trees as I peer through a dust covered windshield. As it is the off season for this mountain village; I seem to have the quieted wilderness all to myself. I ramble along kicking my bare feet in the eroded sandy trails keeping my eyes keen upon boulders that tower above me. As there are no exposed cliff bans or towering peaks within Mt. Argenton these stately stones seem to be a mystery as to how they have arrived throughout this hillside; clustered together with no real rhyme or reason. Some are still cloaked with velvety layers of green moss, and others have been dappled with white powder markings that a certain breed of individuals takes as a welcoming. I leave my mystical notions of creation behind as I ready myself for why I am truly here. Today; being my last and final farewell I have come to indulge within the natural beauty. I have come to climb. With my hands blanketed in chalk and my toes scrunched tightly within their shoes I can feel the sharp grip of my first hand hold. My muscles clench and strain as I work my way strategically along the rock faces, dancing upon my tip toes and finger tips. I am bewildered with distress as I fall to the ground below with a thud, but then I am met with an elated triumph as I stand atop each boulder hardened with accomplishment. It is a personal relationship that I encounter while in my natural surroundings; in the wilderness of choice. I am at peace and I can hear the clarity of my thoughts as my heart speaks. There are no judgments passed or fears formulated; it is a world that I embrace and become everything that I have always intended to be. I have been blessed to have found such an attraction, to have been able to open my heart, and to have been able to share a moment in time.
Even as I say Au revoir; I know that at some point I will return to bask in the beauty of Annot- my “European Love Affair”.
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All that lies between me and the realm of reality is to believe in my dreams. Over the years I have been trained as a chef, I have a lustful passion for travel, and it is unprecedented when the two can align themselves into one reality. A willingness to see an opportunity, being a chef for hire, and a passport in hand is all that was needed to accomplish this new journey.
I was startled awake as I felt the large rubber tires skipping off of the cracked asphalt that stretched out across the edge of the earth before it met with the warm Mediterranean waters. My ears tried to comprehend the language that rattled from the speakers above my seat, but in my dreary state I abandoned all hopes of truly understanding. I was herded down a long air conditioned corridor that was dressed with soothing printed carpets and smelled like the universal cleaning supplies of all governmental buildings. I smiled as I peered out across the unfamiliar land lying behind the tall translucent panes of glass that divided me from a new stamp in my passport. With a heavy handed thump from my French counterpart who sat stashed away behind a cold protective glass; a “bon jour” welcomed me into Nice.
My first steps onto the sun drenched pavers were met with hillsides that were littered with rust colored faded villas. The streets wrapped around aimlessly like awkward woven spider webs and were cluttered with rambunctious drivers of all sorts. As we followed the coastline 30 kilometers to Beaulieu Sur Mer I perched my chin on the cracked passenger side window, and gazed endlessly as silver ripples lapped against rocky beige beaches. The car scuttled into the harbor that is now being occupied by many small fishing vessels, sail boats, and private yachts. Is this is where my willingness of a new adventure has brought me? I took my first steps in awe onto what I would be calling home and work for the mean time. Amorazur II is a floating monstrosity consisting of 4 levels that are 50 meters long, furnished with fashionable living quarters, lounges, dining rooms, sun decks, and costing roughly $10 million. In consideration of overall space, and kitchen gadgets my galley more than rivals many of the professional kitchens that I have worked within. My “willingness” has tricked me once again. I have now become a chef on a private super yacht in the south of France. I say those words full of sarcasm for those of you that don’t know my humor.
My time here will allow a glimpse into an unfamiliar lifestyle of “yachties”, it will give me my first steps into a culinary pilgrimage that has been waiting since the purchase of my first cookbook, and it will continue to reinforce the idea that I can create my own reality on the breath of my dreams. I believe that an infinite amount of opportunities exist continually around us, and that daily the possibilities are left at our feet. With a set of open eyes and the willingness to believe; we can create far more than what we ever thought to be possible.