The summer has arrived, so what to do during summer? Travel!
For a while, I wanted to visit my dear Italian friend, Irene who works as an EVS volunteer at a Montessori school in Die (you can read more about her here). Die (no, don’t read it in the “English way”, but: Dee) is a lovely small town lost in the mountains right next to the Alps. The last time when I hitchhiked through the region, I crossed a beautiful village called Sisteron and I knew I needed to visit it. So once going to Die, why not to stop there for a few hours.
As usual, I left in the morning with my backpack and paperboard signs. On the road, I had a few interesting conversations with a commercial who was happy for the constant strikes (it was hard to buy petrol because of the strikes and since she sold it, she got suddenly really popular), a plumber who insisted on speaking English even he didn’t really succeed (but I always appreciate the effort since it’s really rare among the French that they actually want to speak English), a 50-year-old DJ with his forever young spirit, and a 70-year-old pensioner who was sportier and in a better health than most of my peers.
By lunchtime, I arrived to Sisteron which was – as expected – simply beautiful.
After 2 hours of sightseeing, I knew every corner of the village so I headed to this undiscovered place so far from the civilization. So far that there were hardly any cars on the road and a village every 20 km. But at least, whenever by some miracle, there was somebody passing by, for sure he stopped. And I got in, even if it was a really old car with a man and an axe (true story).
In Die, I got impressed immediately by the special atmosphere of the town. This small town with its 4000 inhabitants is situated in a valley, surrounded by mountains and has a nice river, the Drôme.
Many of the inhabitants though, are not originally from Die but came to live there because of this special atmosphere: the people in Die has an alternative lifestyle. Many of the Diois (the people from Die) live in a very close contact with the nature and each other: they recycle everything, create even the jewellery out of things that can be found in the nature or were thrown away and they buy everything at the market or from local farmers. They enjoy the life in a way that with the development of technology, many of us forgot: everybody talks to everyone, on a Saturday, they go to a park with the family and friends or have a picnic next to the river, and spend their free time with hobbies such as gardening, DIY, singing in a choir or taking salsa lessons. The level of solidarity is also unbelievable: if you have a problem or need something, they make sure to ask all of their friends to find a solution.
There are some other characteristics that come along with this lifestyle: most people don’t wear any make-up, the women don’t dye their hair and don’t wear a bra, and also, if there’s a good weather, you can see many people barefoot in the streets. And the secondhand loose clothes are the basics in every closet.
And how did I spend my days in this community? Well, I integrated: I visited the local market, we had a picnic next to the river, went hiking, we went to a typical village ball, and spent a lot of quality time talking, eating and walking around.
Since the weather turned very bad with lots of rain, I cancelled the rest of my trip to the Alps and spent a bit more time in Die. Thanks to the rain, I had the opportunity to attend the performance of Irene’s choir after which there was, of course, an apéro (special edition: everything local and home-made food, lot of hummus and vegetable) and we continued with some unexpected dancing in the street.
After a weekend spent at this magical place, I couldn’t avoid thinking about what the world would look like with no smartphones, more solidarity and more dancing in the street.
What the people have in Die is something really special and enviable, but since they live in their own bubble, they don’t see what is going on in their country or in the world. They live for the moment, working or unemployed, ignoring the ongoing strikes in France, the political debates or the civil wars in other countries… Everybody can judge if it is a lifestyle worth following or not, but for sure is better than being slaves of technology.