lundi 10 mai 2010

Memories of a Collective Past.. weekend in Normandie

We who are from the New World, with an easy going lifestyle and an outward friendliness, find ourselves so comfortable in other new world countries.. for e,g., I am an Australian and I find myself very comfortable in Argentina, there is some thing about the lack of a collective past (except in the consciousness of the Indios). So to stay at a Farm whose foundations go back to fortifications from the middle ages, whose borrowed english architectural syncretism of a pigeon tower is from the 13th century, the local church has been functioning since the time when the English came over to conquer normandie in the Hundred Years War.. it is a bit daunting. Stayed at a tower, which had once housed nobles resting on their journeys, now a Gites Rural, a rural Bed and Breakfast. This one in Gefosse-Fontenay, which used to be two separate villages until 1861. This place is known to have existed since Richard I the Duke of Normandy drove out a bunch of Danish Pirates in the 10th century! The Normandie countryside is full of historical gems such as this, chateaus, medieval farm houses and old churches..
Of course, Internet has helped out by putting these places on the map, otherwise these things would be out of the trodden path of tourists but now anyone with a computer can find these places and the roads being as good as they are in France, you could reach this farm within three hours of Paris. The name of the Manor was Manoir de La Riviere
The Interest to reach this part of Normandy is of course the Gigantic Military Operation which virtually put an end to the German Megalomania in World War II, the naval invasion of Normandy under the command of Gen Eisenhower. As General Omar Bradley said to have remarked, We Americans ask for nothing except for the Freedom of the French, and many a French are grateful for the 9400 young americans lying buried at the cemetery at Colville sur mer, for their freedom, from a brutal Nazi occupation of France..
an extra sense for me was the name of the beach: code named OMAHA.. the tribe I have been associated with for a while. The other beach was named UTAH, another living tribe of North American Indians..
Felt a sense of gratefulness to the Americans, had a taste of the glory of their generosity while visiting these parts. Stories are so touching and so moving, one cannot be but pay respects to the United States!
American Indian soldiers always fought in the wars of the Americans, I cannot think of a single tribe of Indians in the USA who do not proudly to this day volunteer to fight.. it is in their consciousness and it is their honour...
After a day of learning History and imagining such a a living history, it was time to indulge in Normandie cuisine and there was no disappointment. French regional cooking is never disappointing. I opted for fish, of course, scallops and langoustines... a mild white wine to accompany the sweet morsels.. watching the changing colours of the harbour as the night slowly enveloped the port village of Grandcamp de Maisy...

The drive from Paris to Omaha Beach can be done within three hours, the national highway goes right up to the location. It is a comfortable highway. You feel like an insignificant fly buzzing through layers of history as you drive along villages with typical norman churches and houses huddled as if to protect themselves against the fields all around them, this time of the year, bright with Colza flowers..

Before going back to the REAL UmonHon Indians of Nebraska, a few days by the sea at Quiberon in Bretagne.. along with the Welsh, Scots, Irish and other gaelic people, Bretons are perhaps the oldest of the tribal people who despite thei dislocation and defeat have maintained their identity to this day.. Bretons of France as their name implicate, came from what is now England perhaps in the 4th century before Common Era, to a land Armorica(thus later named) , a land which had been inhabited by a menhir and dolmen building people...