All the stuff you never knew you needed to know about life in rural France.....and all the stuff the books and magazines won't tell you.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

I'm outta here....

(If You're Not in It for Love) I'm Outta Here!Image via Wikipedia
With apologies for the misuse of the lyrics..

If I'm not in it for life.....

If I'm not in it for love......

If I'm not in it for all I've got.....

I'm outta here.

And over the last few years, with my friends dying off, my husband exploited as a guinea pig in the hospital where he had been treated for years, the scandal of water pollution and the unpleasantness of some in the expat community then I am clearly no longer into France for life, nor for love and I'm giving it nothing more.

I'm not alone in this....I was lucky enough to have known the rural France where people helped each other from sheer necessity....where Republican values still counted...where the winter evenings were spent among neighbours instead of being isolated in front of the television...not idyllic, not ' A Year in Provence', but a real life in a real community.

As the years passed and life became easier, so did the sense of solidarity weaken....'chacun tire la couverture a soi'...everyone pulls the blanket over themselves and to hell with the more and more people can afford the blankets.
Everyone who earns two sous more than did his parents thinks he is rich..and assimilates his interests to those of the real rich, who give their payments to the political parties in brown envelopes.
Jealousy, that bane of French life, is given free rein as there is less and less need of co operation.

Didier complains that no one in his hamlet wants to continue the little 'fetes'..the ball trap, the pique nique, the feu d'artifice du 14 juillet...they go off to things organised and paid for by the local authorities. All automony, all sense of comradeship, is lost.
He feels the difference and so do I.

And the physical climate is not what it was either.
When I was first in France I could place a pretty sure bet on being able to have Christmas lunch outside....and now we have temperatures below freezing in November. The summers would be warm...not so hot as to drive me indoors behind the shutters or, alternatively, so wet as to make me buy an umbrella.

So I'm outta here..and into there...or outta there and into here.....

Costa Rica....

Where we have had a holiday home for a few years..have begun to make friends...where the climate suits us...the original banana republic upon which France seems to be modelling itself...

The best way I can think of to show you Costa Rica is in the following video from the best known Costa Rican group, Malpais

I shall be nattering about life in Costa Rica (here), but will be carrying on on this blog too for a while as I can no more leave France behind without a backward glance than I could the U.K.which I left so many years ago.

And I still haven't sold the house!

So ..ce n'est qu'un au revoir mes freres...

The old crone will be here for a while yet, casting the bones....


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  1. Bonne chance in Costa Rica, I look forward to hearing the tales of your life there.

  2. Good luck in Coasta Rica! A change is as good as a rest, it is said.

  3. Another Day of Crazy, well, we're ripe for a change...I'm blogging about it on Costa Rica Calling..and thank you for your kind wishes.

    Dumdad, I don't think rest is what Mr. Fly has in mind....somehow! Thank you!

  4. Good luck in Costa Rica, I hope you find the happiness that has been missing for you in France lately.

    (We are still at the stage where life in rural France is so much less aggravation than it is in our part of the UK.)

  5. I hope that you enjoy Costa Rica. I have to say I live in rural France and I have the most amazing neighbbours. If I want company I always have it, sometimes when I am happy with my own company I still have neighbours on my door step. I love it in France and something very serious would have to happen to make me get out. Diane

  6. Diane, neighbours make a great deal of difference to life, that's sure.
    I've lived in rural France for over twenty years and most of them have been good years....but things change and we want to try something new while we still have the energy.
    Glad you're enjoying it all!

  7. Jean, thank you so much.
    There are always ups and downs...but the business with the hospital was a major down and it crystallised what had been up to then vague misgivings.
    We'll have to be newbies all over again...I hope we haven't forgotten how...

  8. You are as brave and courageous as you are wise and savvy - I wish you well and shall follow you via your blog with interest and pleasure!

  9. Wow: I'm surprised. But going to Costa Rica sounds amazing. What a beautiful place. Enjoy. :-)

  10. Steve, it will be different, that's for sure!Thank you for your kind remarks!

    Clippy Mat, well we've had a holiday house there for yonks, so it's not like stepping entirely into the unknown...

  11. Oh Dear Fly.... I/we wish you well (as you know). Please, please keep us up to date with your experiences there... We wait with baited breath
    And yes, here it has changed, even in the last 9 years since we arrived. The sense of community has departed but with our lovely French friends we are clinging onto what is 'good'.
    I do despair of the 'new' English that we have had occasion to meet. I am not sure that we will develop a 'lasting' friendship with some of them as I am sure that they will depart within the next couple of years, full of disappointment because 'being here' is not as portrayed on the TV...

    But am looking forward to the 'gen' on Costa Rica though!!

  12. Trisha, it will all be on Costa Rica Calling....
    Yes you have great French friends, as we do....but the general ambiance is not encouraging and if things get hard the North Africans won't be the only foreigners feeling the backlash...
    Pity about the 'new' English...but I know what you mean...though just try telling them about the facts of life and they get the hump!

  13. This move is long overdue isn't it? I'm so pleased that you have finally managed to make the move and I wish you and Mr Fly good health and happiness in your new life. xxx

  14. I'm looking forward to the Costa Rican bone casting!

    I loved your last one - "can you imagine France standing by, arms folded..." well, er, yes actually. Like you, I can just imagine them sending the Charles de Gaulle into the metal/heat-seeking zone of a bunch of exocets. Not.

    I've got to say, I'm still enjoying it here, so I'm staying put at least for the near future. Time will tell. I'm waiting for either another revolution or the French Thatcher Years.

  15. Ayak, yes, it thing after another!
    Thank you very much for your kind wishes...but don't think I won't be shouting for IT help from the other side of the on earth am I going to cope with a computer which gives orders in Spanish when I don't understand the orders in English!

  16. Mark, sorry Blogger swallowed you there...
    No I couldn't see them putting their own ships into harm's way somehow...even when they manage to get them to sea...

    I don't see either happening, but I do see a rise in xenophobia in hard times...

    Not that Costa Rica is exempt from xenophobia...glad I'm not a Nicaraguan trying to live there.
    Especially as Nicaragua is busy blasting a new way to the sea through Costa Rican territory at the moment and...this is brilliant...claiming that the land is question belongs to Nicaragua because that's where Google Earth drew the boundary!

  17. What will I do without your scathing comments about French politics and life in general?
    I hope you have a fantastic life in the tropical climate of Costa Rica.
    I'm subscribing to your new blog right now.

  18. Dedene, while current life may pass me by...though not if I know my friends in France...its politics certainly won't...I'll still be on this blog for a while yet, I think!

  19. Srangely, I feel quite sad that you won't be in Europe any more even though distance makes no difference on the internet. But that's purely selfish - for you and Mr. Fly, I'm sincerely happy. I shall go and look at your new blog now, and look forward to hearing about Costa Rica through your eyes.

    Oh, and what a way to go! An embedded video no less!

  20. Pueblo girl, yes, I know what you mean...even though the internet makes contact as easy as ever, the physical move makes changes to what is observed and commented upon.
    Thank you so much for your kind wishes...Costa Rica is no paradise and at the moment its whole infrastructure has fallen apart under the heavy rains ...they should never have let me in...but we're both looking forward to trying a new way of living.

    As to the video...without Ayak I would never have had the confidence to even try to put it up.

    Did you like it?

  21. It started me thinking about South America all over again...I presume you don't have to cut wood for the winter?

  22. Fly, France's loss is Costa Rica's gain me luvver. Nothing I can say about the expat scene that hasn't already been said. I had fabulous neighbours too but in the end, that wasn't enough to make up for the few months of decent weather and the long, dark miserable months of winter. When we first bought in France we were given the 'shorts on Christmas day' story but hey forgot to mention it was 20 years ago. Bon chance.

  23. Pueblo girl, we have to cut wood for the smoker..but that's all.
    Our poor neighbours run a trapiche...turning sugar cane into unrefined sugar....and they are busy all the year round bringing up the cane with their oxen.

    P(V)LiF, well we had good years in France and when it started to turn down it was time to go...I like life in Costa Rica...but Nicaragua is even better..those ladies can cook!

    We have time to consider what to do...but a return to Europe is not on the cards.

    Our main interest is Mr. Fly's far much better with a superb NHS system which puts France to a developing country!

  24. Bon Chance, Madame, and if you need help with Spanish, send an e-mail...

    I am off to the Land of Nod...

  25. Very best of luck Fly. Eagerly anticipating blogs on Costa Rica (which I have had to look up on the Atlas to my shame).
    PS Not all newcomers to France are the same ;-)

  26. Are you sure about this? Volcanos, raging torrents and hurricane force winds?

    Actually, sounds a bit like here.

    Except the volcanos.

    Have fun - and I hope Mr Fly's health benefits from the change. I shall follow your new blog with great interest.

  27. It's been an education following your blog, Fly - a real pleasure meeting you on here. Made me feel less alone, isn't that one of the thing's good writing's meant to do? I'll miss your sharp eye on France but will keep up with you at your new spot!

  28. Hi Fly, I commented yesterday from my phone but it hasn't appeared so I guess the internet has gobbled it up :(

    I'm saddened to read that you're leaving France but only from a purely egotistical point of view as I will miss your excellent posts which I have come to appreciate albeit during the short time I have known your blog (I have plenty of catching up to do!).

    It is a pleasure to read someone else who shares similar views and experiences in France and who doesn't see it through rosy tinted glasses living the dream!

    I will look forward to following your adventure to Costa Rica and reading about your experiences and how you settle there.

    I am sure that it wasn't an easy decision to make and I wish you and Mr Fly all the very best, good health and lots and lots of happiness.

  29. The very best of luck. When do you actually leave I wonder?

    And I pity the poor Costa Ricans if they ever get you gander up - In the meantime I shall miss your take on the Anglo-French lifestyle.

  30. rash devil! Ayak can tell you what happens when you offer me help!

    Rosie, any newcomer who has Lady Fortescue's books is on the side of the angels! And I still consider that she is one of the best guides to understanding how the French think.

    Jon, nice to hear from you and thank you for your kind wishes.
    So far....holidays included...we have had earthquakes, floods, landslides, crevasses opening up in the road in front of our bus (which tried to jump it and failed)and we are currently in the constitutional court against the local authority, in the family court - together with half the vicinity - against a neighbour and applying to the appropriate ministry - together with the same half of the vicinity - for a legal water concession against a mad American who doesn't want anyone on his land in case they see the dope farm we all know about anyway.
    And Mr. Fly has been engulfed by the local NHS...he has never had so many tests in all his life! That'll learn him!
    Let no one say life is dull.

    Amy, and your blog opened my eyes to a whole new world!
    I don't know if the Malpais video is your sort of thing...but the pics strike me as being so expressive of Costa Rica.

    PigletinFrance, thank you! I wish I'd found your blog earlier as you paint such an accurate picture of urban life in France and your experiences ring so true!
    Health was a major factor in moving...and he's now moaning at all the attention he is attracting from the health service!
    Something I like particularly is the idea of having special queues for pregnant ladies, ladies with small children, people with handicaps and the plain decrepit like me...wonderful to be ushered past the long queues and placed in a chair!
    Credit Agricole was never like this!

    Mark, we are here, happy in the knowledge that while the new motorway to the coast has collapsed our dirt road is still holding up under the heavy rains...
    We are, as you will gather from my reply to Jon, already in court....

  31. Are you in Costa Rica now? wow! My friend Chas will be at his house in Panama again this winter. Maybe you can meet up (I will also have to look up Costa Rica on the map and see how far it is from Panama). I do have friends that go there with kids from their school.It sounds amazing but I don't think the tropics are for us.
    The mountains here already have snow. Time for a long winter nap!

  32. Zuleme, we are indeed.Just as the country is coming to terms with the natural disaster caused by the storm.

  33. How exciting - I can't wait for the next thrilling installment. Good luck, I sincerely hope you find everything for which you search xx

  34. Roz, well, what we got was a natural disaster...heavy rains for a month had saturated the ground...and then a tropical storm arrived and the landslides started. At least twenty dead in a slide that engulfed a village, other villages swallowed up..towns flooded and the south of the country cut off to road transport thanks to bridges down and roads washed out.
    Yesterday, in our town which has luckily only had slight road damage, the banks were full of people making donations and the Red Cross station full of people leaving food and clothing.

    But apart from that....!

  35. Oh Fly, I was at first bereft when I read you had gone (in what must have been the smoothest transition in living memory!). Isn't it strange how you can form a relationship with somebody you have never met, and wouldn't recognise even if they were standing right next to you? But I counted you as a friend, and have so enjoyed your blog. However, thanks to the Internet, you are really no further away now than you were previously.

    Like you, we have seen huge changes in France in the 15 years we have lived here, and although we still love it, it bears no resemblance to what it was when we first arrived. But no doubt the march of progress finds every corner of the world eventually, and those who arrive later will not miss what they never knew. We used to think of it as The Land That Time Forgot. Now it feels as if somebody found the missing winder and has wound it up a double-speed.

    Of course Mr Fly's health must be your major concern, and I'm sorry he was poorly treated by the French medical profession, which we have, so far, touch bonce, found to be excellent.

    I have such admiration (and a certain amount of envy) for you and Mr Fly embarking on such an adventure, and wish you long years of health and happiness in your new home.

    May you find the same good neighbours there as you had here, and just a few grotesque compatriots to keep us amused.

    Please, please write that book about the Real France.

    Can't wait to begin following your new life.

  36. And one more thing. No matter what the experts or anybody else may say about climate change, our neighbours, who are in their late 70s, say they have never experienced such strange weather as we are seeing now. Once winters were cold, summers were warm, and geraniums went out on 1st May. Now, we don't know from one day to the next what to expect. It's definitely changed quite dramatically since we arrived.

  37. nodamnblog, the book is in's horrifying how much 'stuff' there is, and now we are settled I'll have to organise it, once I tame the computer to my will....imagine smart work with whip and chair.

    As to the climate in France, Guy has kept weather measurements in his diary since he was a boy before the war and he says the same thing as your neighbours.

    The French health service is generally fine, but this particular event was unforgiveable.
    A doctor out to make a name for himself in the world of research into rare diseases deliberately did not follow the one and only treatment when Mr. Fly had an attack...leaving the quality of his life much diminished as a result.
    I have not forgotten flying round that hospital trying to find someone to help....nor have I forgotten the lack of interest in the consequences.....not to speak of the lies.

    The move was easy...our little house in Costa Rica is furnished, so we locked up in France and unlocked on the other side of the Atlantic.

    We have some super neighbours and pestiferous neighbour who seems to be Public Enemy Number One in the area generally...and some 'interesting' foreigners.
    I will in due course introduce you to the Human Mosquitoes...and others.

    France has indeed changed and we are looking for something rather more laid back...experience will show whether Costa Rica is it but for now it gives us the breathing space we want.

    Your words on friendship echoed my own feelings...I think of you and a number of other bloggers as friends though, as you say, the only image we have of each other is through the words and pictures on the internet.
    The existence of the net makes leaving so much easier...our friends are mostly on the net and those that aren't have family who are so we can keep contact.

    I just wish someone could work out how to send wine over the internet.....