Okay, I've got to ask, how did you end
up moving into a cave? It 's all Aprille's
fault. She is a sculptor and wasn't that interested in giving
up her studio to come eat in France with me. She sculpts in stone
and we went to see our cave originally on a lark; just to see
what a cave looked like inside. I walked in. It was dark because
the electricity had been disconnected and the fireplace looked
filthy and the garden worse. I was ready to leave immediately.
She stood in the middle of the room and said "Here or nowhere."
I thought about a good Bordeaux and fresh brie after salmon with
beurre blanc, and said "Sure Dear." It is a good thing
the real estate agent couldn't speak English.
You are not putting us on are you? It's
really a cave, like a bear cave? Yup,
it's a real cave. Some of my own family didn't believe it was
a real cave either until they came to visit the first time. Seeing
Can readers see pictures of the cave so
they can get a better mental image?
Sure, My web site www.cavelife.net will have a virtual
cave tour with pictures.
What is your favorite part of living in
a cave? To tell you the truth my favorite
part is how it helped me break the ice with my neighbors. We
have American and English friends who have lived in France for
years and speak perfect French but have less interaction with
their neighbors. Cave dwellers tend to be sociable and gregarious.
Just living in a cave has the collateral benefit of helping you
fit into the fabric of village life. Even in France, living in
a cave is unusual enough that it gives me something to talk about
after the weather.
Are there any windows? Yes, like some brownstones or condos all the windows
are on the front wall. What a view though. I can look out at
a ruined Chateau while I wash dishes.
How about creature comforts, I mean isn't it uncomfortable and damp? Surprisingly no. We are as snug as hobbits in a hole. Our cave is high on a cliff face so it's dry year round. Our neighbors think we keep our cave way too hot in the winter We have city water and sewage. Everything you would have in a regular home. Telephone. The Internet. Electricity. We are even cable ready if we had a TV..
This is a pretty unusual combination, most
of your book is a typical travelogue about France but then midway
we discover your wife who seems so energetic has AIDS? What gives? The book started out as email to friends. My wife
is very open about her HIV status so it isn't a daily issue for
us. Then friends began forwarding it to other people. Pretty
soon strangers were writing me to get on the list directly. The
book came to life very naturally. After I finished I thought
of putting more about her illness up front but it felt forced.
Anyone who has met my wife knows how easy it is to forget her
How has AIDS affected your life? It rewrote my life story so completely I can't imagine
any part of my life it hasn't affected. It's always lurking
there in the background. Yet I certainly would never have moved
out of my comfort zone and done something like writing a book
or moving if I hadn't married Aprille. I've always had the fantasy
to move to France but I never did anything about it. It was daydream
over the Sunday travel section. After my wife recovered from
a particularly serious bout with the disease, she lost her patience
with me. She told me either make a decision or stop talking about
it all the time.
Are you HIV-positive?
Can you give advise to a American traveler
in France? First of all remember to
smile a lot and very widely. The French don't smile as often
but they know friendly Americans do. Also throw away all
your preconceived ideas about the French. The French are no more
rude than we Americans and they are certainly less rude than
American TV. Get out of tourist traps as quickly as possible.
No one who works at the Eiffel Tower has much patience left,
so take a left on a side street and get lost for a while. Better
yet take a left out of Paris and get lost in the countryside.
Would you still prefer that quite farmhouse
you went looking for originally? No
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