Where Americans are loved By Jessica...


January 27, 2002|By Special to the Sun


Where Americans are loved

By Jessica Heriot

Last summer, I hiked in Brittany, France, with two friends, stopping at a different town each night. On our third day, we hiked around Cape Frehel, through hills of ground-hugging greenery dotted with patches of yellow Scotch broom and blood-red poppies. A steady rain was falling as we pondered how to get to the town of Frehel, where we hoped to find a taxi to St. Cast, our next destination.

We decided to find a ride and approached an older man, about 75, and his wife, sitting in their car.

"Allez vous au Frehel?" we asked.

"Americain?" he replied.


"No problem," he said.

Gratefully, we piled into his warm car. His meager English and our high school French made communication difficult, but we learned that he and his wife were on vacation, touring Brittany.

When we got to Frehel, he said, "I take you to St. Cast."

"Non, non," we replied. "Nous allons by taxi," we said, almost in unison.

But the man insisted, and finally we accepted.

Up, down and around the French countryside we drove. An expert driver, the man hugged the curves, sped the straightaways and smoothly navigated the town roundabouts.

I asked him if he spoke only French.

"Only Francais," he said, explaining that he lived on the border with Germany but had no interest in German.

His statement supported my observation that World War II is still very much a presence here. From a bunker left on the beach, to a key displayed at our hotel in St. Malo that was used by the Germans to lock citizens of the walled city in at night, every village has some marker remembering those dark years.

Our driver began talking about his experience during the war. The Germans occupied his town. It was terrible. He was a young boy. Our French could not further the conversation, and we grew quiet until we reached our destination.

Pulling in to St. Cast, our good Samaritan driver asked, "Le nom d'hotel? I take you."

"Non, non," we protested.

We were strapping on our packs and saying our good-byes when the man got out of the car and rushed toward my friend Trish, who was the closest to him. He hugged her, and planted a kiss on each cheek, then held her at arm's length.

"Les Americains liberated our town," he said, his voice intense, his eyes moist. "J'aime toujour les Americains. I love always the Americains."

I understood. Our ride was payment on an old debt, an expression of gratitude bestowed 58 years later on three tired American women who needed a ride to St. Cast.

Jessica Heriot lives in Baltimore.


Peaceful time in Venice

By Carmen Wessel Zavorotny, Belcamp

On our honeymoon in Italy recently, my husband and I spent hours walking through the streets of Venice. The canals were bustling with activity during the day, but as the other tourists left the area, we discovered the charm and romance of the quiet city.


DuBois, Wyo.

Louisa Lavelle, Baltimore

"I attended an Elderhostel program for painting in DuBois, Wyo. It wasn't far from Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and we did a lot of outdoor painting in pastels, watercolor and oils. I took many photographs that I continue to use as references for my paintings, including this view of the Continental Divide with a glacial stream running east to the Wind River."

New Brunswick

Clarence Ey, Bel Air

"During a September visit to the Roosevelt Campobello International Park on Campobello Island, New Brunswick, we saw the summer estate of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The 34-room 'cottage,' occupied from 1905 to 1921 by the soon-to-be president, contains furniture, photographs, toys and other items belonging to the Roosevelt family. The 2,965-acre park also has scenic hiking trails along its coves, bogs, beaches and cliffs."


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