Normally, I am writing in German. However, sometimes it needs another language to express some feelings. And somehow it just feels right to write this particular article in English. Maybe – due to the situation - it would be more appropriate to write in French. But since the being which this article is devoted to understands me no matter which language I use, it makes no difference at all.
Coming to a foreign country is always difficult. New language, new country, new people. Everything has to be explored. Everything isn't as it used to be at home.
When I arrived in September in Thonon-les-Bains, I was completely overstrained. I got there together with my fellow volunteer and flatmate-to-be. I was nervous when we drove down the road. “You reached your final destination” declared the route guidance system. I risked a look. The village where we were in this particular moment wasn't quite big. What I didn't know: I was surrounded by animals. A lot of animals.
Talking about animals... We got out of the car and walked around. Due to the fact that our boss-to-be couldn't come in the next two hours, we got a “sightseeing-tour” by A.-M., the woman who owned our flat.
Talking about sightseeing tours... I did a lot of them in the following weeks. But not the normal ones. Of course sightseeing is interesting. But where I was at the moment, there weren't so many sights to see. Except for the huge mountains, the wonderful view on the Lake Geneva and the city lights in the sunset. Since I am a person who needs to move a lot, to explore every place, I walked a lot around. First I stayed just some minutes away from the house. But with every day I enlarged my walking-radius. After four days I got very brave and went jogging. I love going jogging. The feeling when you lose the ground under your feet. The feeling of being in the nature, listening to the birds. The feeling of the tiredness coming home after half an hour of running. But on this fourth day I really got lost. I got lost in the forest. Normally, that wouldn't be any problem. You simply ask the person that crosses your way for the right way. The only problem: I was in France and not in Germany. My French wasn't that good. And I had forgotten my phone with the dictionary at home. Somehow - with the help of very friendly people who brought me nearly at my door - I managed to return home. When I told A.-M. Of my forest-adventure, she let me promise that I wouldn't go ever again all alone in the forest. Since that day, I had three wonderful four-legged animals with me when I went for a walk. Blanca, Gina and Jacques. Three dogs.
When I was younger, I used to have the deep desire to own a dog. However, my parents never allowed my brother and me to have one. Not enough time, not enough space... But now, I suddenly saw my wish three times fulfilled.
When I opened my door in the morning, all the three of them ran to me. Jacques ahead, followed by Gina. And Blanca in the end of the line. They were an amazing trio.
Despite of all, there were also times when I just took Jacques. We came up with a walking tour. Our walking tour. When I shouted for him, he came. When I whistled, he came. He always returned when I wanted him to. And I felt safe with him. It wasn't as if it was dangerous in our forest, but there hardly was someone. So, it definitely was better to be accompanied by him. Jacques never moaned when I didn't strike the right notes interpreting Adele's “Hello”. He said nothing. Just listened. He helped me to find my way. My way through the forest, my way to handle all the new experiences I made. Living alone. Being abroad. Speaking French. Working the first time. Meeting new people. I could tell him everything no matter in which language. German, French, English; He simply understood everything. I've never imagined that you can build up so fast a relationship to an animal. But somehow we did. When I was with him, he gave me strength. He gave me optimism. He gave me the healthy portion of curiosity.
Nearly one month ago, Jacques was found dead on the street. Although he used to pay so much attention by caring for me attentively, he had no opportunity to escape the car which hit road far too fast. I've never imagined that you can build up so fast a relationship to an animal. But somehow we did. When I was with him, he gave me strength. He gave me optimism. He gave me the healthy portion of curiosity. And although he can't be with me now, I will try to keep what he gave to me: Strength, Optimism, Curiosity.