The kindness of strangers

Moving your family halfway round the world is a daunting undertaking, so friendliness goes a long way. I’ve always found people very welcoming when I’ve travelled – especially when you bring a positive attitude, a smile, and make an effort to speak some of the local language. But I have been really amazed by the universal friendliness of those we have met in Quillan. I haven’t struck a bad egg yet.

Here are just a few examples:

  • the neighbours upstairs vacated this apartment and moved to a smaller one to make way for us. OK, they’re Australian, not French but, if anything, this makes it more amazing 😉
  • the woman in the tourist office was genuinely friendly, interested and helpful when we visited on our first day in town. OK, so she’s paid to be welcoming, but still
  • the lone server in the local grocery store says hello to every customer, every time, without fail, as they enter the store. And it’s not just a throwaway line – she really means it
  • we live above a cafe. The owner of the cafe introduced himself warmly to me when I was passing, bade me welcome, and said if there was anything we ever needed, not to hesitate to ask. He explained that they sometimes have evenings with music – if it’s too loud, just let me know and I will turn it down a notch. He also apparently told the owner of our apartment that we could borrow a baby high chair. Pity we went out and bought one before we found this out…
  • the woman at the town hall was very accommodating when we did not have the paperwork she required  – instead of throwing bureaucracy in our face, she looked for achievable alternatives – and she’d already heard about us anyway from the school Principal
  • When the local goat farmer got the maths wrong and almost overcharged us for goat’s cheeses he threw one in free for compensation
  • I went to buy stamps to send postcards. I asked the guy behind the counter for 20 stamps for postcards to New Zealand. He looked me in the eye and said if I paid his airfare, he’d deliver the cards personally!
  • on trips to the supermarket or out for walks, we plan an extra half hour’s leeway into our schedule for all the ladies of a certain age who ‘goo and gaa’ over Nicholas.

I know there are more examples than this, but I can’t immediately think of them.

Tom’s teacher may yet prove to be an exception to the rule, but we’ll give it time.

On the whole, it’s a great town, and a great community.

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