We stay in Perpignan for four days. My parents are in Europe and are coming down to say hello, making sure that we don't slack off on the last leg across the Pyrenees.
It is not the first time for my mother - she made the pilgrimage to Rishikesh in India while we were staying there to get my thesis finished. She came laden with goodies from Australia...vegemite, lettuce, wine...and a laptop computer so that I could do my work overlooking the Ganges. One of my most beautiful memories of India is sitting on the terrace of the hotel working on that computer while the light faded, changing the colour of the water to a deeper grey, the sound of chanting starting up on the far bank, ever watchful for the monkeys which used the terrace as a major thoroughfare.
While I was working in Rishikesh, Angel and my mother went out God-hunting in temples full of devout Indian tourists, and sought out their inner hemisphere in the ashram which the Beatles made famous. My mother also found the time to do a course in reiki and, unlike other Western tourists who go to India to find a guru, she reversed the roles and became a guru to her young Indian reiki teacher instead!
But Perpignan could not be further from those Indian memories of cows and chaos. My parents treat us to luxury - we stay in a very comfortable modern hotel, and sleep for two nights on a bed in a temperature-controlled room. It is so wonderfully comfortable that we toss and turn all night accustomed as we are to sleeping in our tiny tent, not being able to move because our sleeping bags are zipped together for warmth, both pairs of feet in the boot of Angel's sleeping bag.
We also get treated to dinner in a traditional French restaurant which is such a pleasure that we all troop back the following night. Frogs legs are on the menu as proof of authenticity. On Saturday we take a walk to the old Perpignan citadel completed in 1309 by King James II of Mallorca. The citadel was effectively the front line between the kingdoms of Aragon and France but, finally, France (formally) nabbed Perpignan from the Spanish in 1649.
On Sunday morning my parents leave early to take the long train trip back to Paris. Seeing them was really wonderful...the next time we see them will hopefully be 500kms away from Perpignan, just across the Pyrenees in (modern day) Aragon...At 11am, after dallying in our comfortable hotel room for as long as possible, we set off towards Zaragoza.