I first met Mathilde while living on an organic farm in Ecuador. She arrived with freshly chopped, dusty blonde hair barely brushing the straps of the large backpack swung over her shoulders. She had brand new working boots, cleaner clothes than mine, and an openness about her that I was immediately drawn to.
I was in month number five at the farm, feeling a little beaten up by the struggles of South America, and she was refreshing. We swapped stories from Sweden and New Zealand, bonded over essential oils and played cards after dinner and into the nighttime.
About a month later, Mathilde left. She was just at the beginning of a six-month trip through South America. I later found a little note and an almost full bottle of citronella oil on my bed - for the mosquitos. Nos vemos, she wrote, we will see each other, maybe in Sweden.
We weren't in Sweden as planned, but instead in Lyon, France where she is three weeks and one long thesis shy of receiving her second masters.
She welcomed me into her quaint loft above a tiny theater in the Croix-Rousse neighborhood. This artsy area is above the busy city center of Lyon. Most tourists don't make it up the hill to explore the colorful shops, unique cafes and various parks with overlooking views of the city.
We picnicked in the park at sunset and caught up over local beers at Dikkenek Cafe. Coming from Madrid where you order a beer by size, not type, this extensive menu was a treat. It offers international beers, but also many bières brewed in Lyon.
The next morning, we visited the diverse outdoor food market that Croix-Rousse hosts every morning Tuesday through Sunday. We picked up brunch supplies, including these colorful treats from Dorodi Pastry and of course the traditional French baguette, for another picnic under the warm spring sun to fuel up for a day of exploring.
Cafés au lait at Librairie-Café Un Petit Noir
We stopped at Terre Adélice in the city center for an ice cream break. This place is special. It has around 100 different ice cream and sorbet flavors with about 50 organic options. I tried the organic lavender, organic white peach, and organic rhubarb. Délicieux.
Ending my final night with homemade crêpes, we talked about our uncertain futures and later visits. Mathilde may soon be in Africa and me, I'm not sure. Maybe I'll be hosting Mathilde next time in Spain or maybe we'll finally meet for WOOFing in Sweden. Who knows. But there is something very special and a little strange about meeting old friends in new places.. collecting contacts from across the world.
Merci, Mathilde. À la prochaine!