Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Other Side of the Guide/Climber Life

The glory of the past few months, the accomplishments, the travels, the summits, alpine days, suffering, Guide Exam Completion, becoming a home owner (sorry I know, I'm dropping a half a dozen stories that I left untold due to slow internet, too many travel days, and too little computer time, but maybe I'll work both backwards and forwards), have metamorphosed into plain old blue collar hard work.

I'm a home owner! YAY, the American Dream, only it's in France, in Chamonix, and I managed to convince French authorities I was a good person to trust a loan to....he he he. Sometimes the arbitrary nature of the French culture works in my favor, and m I be bold enough to say the cultural massogeny?

Can I have thousands of Euros please? I begged with my sparkles and cutest Patagonia water girl skirt I could find.
Oh what do I do for a living I'm a Guide de La Haute Montagne.
Bah Non! Une Femme Guide!
Bah OUI!!
What do I make annually? How much money do I want?
Hmm they don't seem to balance out but heck why not....

So that was it. Between the help of my fantastic mother, who opens my mail, deposits my checks....basically cleans up all i leave behind. After almost 10 years of trying to separate myself from my family, and become INDEPENDENT, I have digressed, I am on my mom's family plan for a cell phone, cheapest option when living out of the country most of the year. I have given her access, check books, bank cards to my meager bank account, and asked numerous favors of her in the process of procuring a home. Then there are my friends Miles and Lisa, the savy business peeps.

It started on a whim on a weekly run in the mountains, it proceeded with begging for my family to invest in the property, it continued with sweat, concrete, and tiling my step dad's chalet floor in hopes of helping him sell and convince him to support my blind ambition.

And it ended in January, with me running around Ouray inbetween ice climbing competitions, teaching clinics, unpacking from a month of climbing in Patagonia Argentina, and a day before leaving for Nepal and Oman for a month.

Papers were signed, notariezed, fed-exed to France (again by another integral friend Tony Brent), and a few days later, in the Khumbu Reigon of Nepal, in Namche Bazzar, I recieved an email saying I was a homeowner, with my new address!

A month later I stumbled back to Chamonix, my home base for the past 8 years, and found a set of skeleton keys with my name on it. The apartment 40 square meters, around 400 square feet, is small by American standards, but reasonable by European, especially Chamonix.

The work that I remembered as being aesthetic mostly as it turns out is now a complete gutting, removing a structural wall, trenching the house to dry the concrete walls that are home to dozens and dozens of earth worms.

I looked at my skeleton of a home, that is now a meager 4 concrete walls! The electric and plumbing removed too...and realized that I had devalued my home about 50,000 Euros. A brief panic attack, hyperventillation, and the commitment of my amazing boyfriend Maxime, a set of amazing and knowledgable hands, and I began wrapping my head around the idea of a mortgage, and a "working space".

To follow you will see the progress of our small home as it unfolds the challenges of working in another country, language, metric system, etc.

Ahh an adventure to begin.