Friday, January 8, 2021

Life Balance

Aside from the who-knows-when-it-will-end-we-could-die-anytime pandemic and the inability to travel so see family/friends or eat in restaurants, we are fortunate to have pretty much everything we need in life.

We live in two amazing and quite different places: the very international mid-size city of Geneva, Switzerland and the very quaint small village of Argelès sur Mer in the far south of France. Both feature an array of postcard scenery, mountains (Alps, Jura, Pyrenees), water (Lac Leman, the Med) and plains/plateau (sufficient for a few golf courses). In Geneva, we're about a 2-minute walk (4 or 5 with Sherlock) to the lakeshore; in Argeles, perhaps 20-30 minutes to the longest sand beach on the French Med coastline.

The weather in either place is rarely oppressively hot nor bitterly cold. No hurricanes, tornados or earthquakes, and very little snow.

Geneva has a highly efficient public transportation system, and just about anywhere in Switzerland can be reached via clean, on-time trains. In Argelès, we can walk to most everything we need: grocery, multiple bakeries and butchers, even the vet and doctor. There's a regional train station about a 5-minute walk from our home and a one-euro bus to many of the other small villages.

For what little we drive - mostly back and forth between the two places - we have reliable garages within reasonable distance.

Both places offer superb healthcare with major teaching hospitals no more than 20-25 minutes away (10 minutes when Donna-Lane took a helicopter from ASM to Perpignan). In both places we have excellent doctors and specialists with whom we can communicate in a mix of anglais, francais and franglais. And both locales have reliable vets for the pup, including 24/7 emergency care if needed.

Our two sets of landlords are superb ... and nice people to share an apero with. Our apartments are spacious enough to be comfortable, and over the years we've been able to incorporate our own unique touches. We have phone and internet connectivity which has been improving, and promises even better in ASM with the advent of 20th century fibre optics.

We are blessed with an array of international friends, in the city as well as the village, from all over Europe and North America, as well as the Middle East, Russia, India, Africa, Australia, South America ... Their varied backgrounds and professions (medicine, film, IT, aviation, diplomacy, teaching, art ... and writing, of course), together with their intelligence and wit, make for stimulating conversations on an endless stream of social, political and personal topics.

Geneva is often rated one of the most expensive places to live anywhere in the world, though we notice it mostly in the cost of groceries. The region around Argeles suffers nearly the highest unemployment rate in France, almost 10%, in part because they rely largely on seasonal tourism with the major industrial centre around Toulouse (Airbus), a two-hour drive from ASM.

Did I mention the food in both places is indescribably excellent, including a Michelin-rated restaurant in the centre of the village (currently serving special occasion takeout)? Our own cooking ain't bad either.

The infrastructure, the convenience, the quality, the ebb and flow of daily life all create a very pleasant balance which enable us to be relatively stress-free, focused on things we enjoy writing (and trying to improve the world where we can).

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