The journey started early at 7 am.
It was another Saturday after a few weeks of the ending of the lockdown. Jean asked yesterday if I would like to go hiking and also to his (parents’) home, with other friends. Hiking in the Vosges with the group had really been so nice a few weeks before, after some two months of confinement (because of the Corona virus) inside the house. Walking in the forests is always one of my favorite hobbies. And I was also thinking once how a suburban or a village family environment and house would look like here in France.
Our international team – Jean, a European Deer (from around the Alps); Thomas, a (South) American Llama (from the Pampas); Wilfrid, an African Lion (from the Savannas) and me, a Mountain Goat (from the Asian Himalayas) started the trip towards some forest only Jean knew. Giving animal names to each other started when Tomas told me a ‘Mountain Goat’ when we hiked in the Vosges, as I would walk everywhere. So, today I gave him the name ‘American Llama’ and we named the remaining two as well ~ ‘European Deer’ and ‘African Lion’. But we still miss an ‘Australian Kangaroo’ and an ‘Antarctican Penguin’ in our team!😂
France is such a nice place that we can learn about nature and history in the same place, forests. Forests are rich not only in biodiversity but also in history. There are many historical places, fortresses, stone cravings in the forests that were created especially after the first World War and during the second World War. The places we went lie close to the German border, in the northeastern France, and those all things were created by the French to fight with the Germans during those two World Wars.
We first went to Nonnenfels; hiked in the forest. Next, we went to see the Natural reserve of Orchids (Réserve naturelle à orchidées) in Montenach . Unluckily the cherries in the hiking trail were not ripe so we could not eat a lot of them.
After walking for around four hours, we went to Jean’s home to eat lunch. I was the only one who could not speak French there! But still I did not feel any discomfort! Jean’s mother could understand well and speak a little bit of English too! And I had my translators 😛 (friends) anyway. The surrounding was not that very different than my village back in Nepal except that the house was made up of wood and some small hills could not be seen around. Jean’s room and his collections reminded me of my home and childhood collections ~ some toys, paper crafts, drawings that I had decorated in a sleeping room ~ and made me a little bit nostalgic. It has already been a decade since I left home after completing my secondary school in 2009. Ahh, life! When we start thinking, it feels like time flew so fast!
After eating lunch prepared by this lovely and cheerful family, we went to see the Malbrouck castle in Manderen. And then to Schengen, Luxembourg. This is the place where the Schengen agreement was signed on 14 June 1985 which now constitutes 26 countries that allow border free movement. But the Wikipedia states that the name of the ‘commune’ was changed from Remerchen to Schengen in 2006.
After Schengen, we went to see Rodemack (Cité médiévale de Rodemack), a medieval French town. Wherever we go, we see the wartime constructions. On the way back to Jean’s home again, to take some things to Nancy where we all are living, we saw the war time bunkers along the way. At home, we ate some snacks again which was prepared with the Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) flowers, which my grandfather used to offer to the gods while praying when I was a child. I never knew that it was edible 🙂 . But the fruits are not edible!
With a nice collection of stamps Jean presented me, mentha and some other herbal plants mom packed, we started out journey back to Nancy. Can anything feel nicer than travelling with good friends, playing some favourite music, after such a pleasant day and there’s nothing to worry about after reaching home in the evening?