Erstein is a small french town that is just across the river from Offenburg, Germany. Even closer to Lahr, Germany where my first son was born. For twenty years I have wanted to come back. The area has changed a lot, but that is to be expected in some cases. Unfortunately for me, I feel that it is changing the wrong way. It is losing its old world charm and becoming more like North America. That is not what I want.
Erstein itself has its own identity problem. It has changed hands between the French and Germans that it is more German in some cases than French. It also has its own dialect. Listening to people speak on the train I can hear the german but also french. It is interesting.
We came to Erstein for a housesit from Paris. We are looking after two very adorable cats. We stay here a month and for the two weeks that we are housesitting the weather is rainy most of the time. Magpie was starting to get stir crazy even with all the parks around the apartment. We had a lovely little market to walk too for our groceries that got use to Magpie choosing the fruits and vegetables. I was able to find a mould for our cheese to travel with from a German woman in the town. Of course she asked if I could speak german and it flew – what little I knew and remembered – right out and I was lost. Yes I am still answering in spanish.
Magpie asked to have his birthday celebration here in Erstein and our wonderful hosts were all for it as they would be back in time. I made him his favourite cake – raw cashew cheesecake with blackberries. It also turns out that there was a festival going on the same weekend and Magpie was able to go on some rides and we listened to some karaoke. Our hosts even gave him some lego with a trick to getting the present. It was a fun day.
Our hosts are very interesting people and I love hearing how people met. For these two, he is french, she is german, they met in Scotland and their common bond is english. They are both english teachers in their respective countries and also speak and write in english to each other. So cool!
At one point in our stay we are walking to the grocery store for coconut milk and get stopped by a young boy asking for direction help in french. I understand what he is asking and also realize that he is english. I respond in english and explain what they need to know for the bus to Strasbourg, as we had just done this. We had a great little chat with their family about travelling and the change in Europe.
It is fun when we are able to provide directions in a different country. I have now been asked on 4 continents and have been able to help. That in my mind is a score.