Provence, France: Everything is different. Again.

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Fifteen months after our trip began with a 10-day stopover in Paris, the nation of France is again our cultural buffer between Third and First Worlds. Not that France is a developing nation, just that it’s different enough to keep things interesting,

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It is a strange, delectable week of wine, cheese, sunshine, music, cheese, laughter, stories, wine, and cheese; a cushioned, vin rougey transition from Africa to America if only because everything is still new and relatively unfamiliar — language, vegetation, length of the daylight, air temperature, smells (or lack thereof), etc. And something to eat besides rice, groundnuts, and Laughing Cow (the only cheese available in most of Africa and Asia and, up to now, a gourmet delicacy).

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Five days among family at the wedding of lifelong friends. The sand-colored south with its green fields, wide skies, and castles.

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This is our life — reuniting with my parents and their travel friends who were our original hosts and are now our final ones, this time en Provence.

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The mistral blows powerfully, especially in the afternoon, washing us with air from the Alps. It is strongest at the ceremony, the bride’s veil and train dancing when she appears at the top of the stairs and everybody gasps and smiles and clicks. The wind is dry, we are surrounded by high reeds and vineyards. The party goes until 4 a.m.

Then it’s Aer Lingus from Marseilles to Dublin, Shannon, JFK, and Coming-Home, where the real trip begins.

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