We are staying in a very fancy hotel. All plush carpets and hushed corridors. Swathes of purple orchids. Concierges with low chignons and perfect makeup. A Michelin-starred chef.
Arriving – that first afternoon – our Uber driver turned up the hill, away from the port, and the hotel came into view.
I sucked in air. Swore, stretching out vowels.
This week, he is working.
The firm is paying.
I am a stow away.
G will spend long days inside conference facilities.
This city? Just mine to unravel.
That first morning I pack maps, water, phone, portable charger, cables, multiple forms of payment, sunscreen, snacks, notebook, blister pads, pain-relief. Antihistamines.
(My bag is quite heavy).
On my own.
This is new.
Yes. Fairly terrified.
I triple check routes, load Google Translate. Recite shaky mantra: Unlikely-to-die.
I will not. I will not spend a week alone in this room.
So. Down to the lobby. (Why mirrored elevators?) Past orchids and tiles and blue-grey velvet sofas. The doorman discharges me.
To the sun.
To that light.
To a view requiring celestial chord.
I walk to the port.
Fishmongers, tourists, sea urchins, turbot. Two men in wet yellow waders. They sit on a boat. Unwind small silver fish from green nets.
I make lists of yachts’ names. The Walrus. Sun Odyssey. Mathilde. Noctilio.
I buy Avignon cheese, baguette, slices of saucisson, and a small sweet yellow pear.
At the top of a hill, a cathedral. On the ground, in her shade, I get covered in pear juice.
To my left, pots spilling rosemary. Spilling lemon verbena.
A black butterfly. Orange and red.