It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. And, although I know it will not take me nearly that many words to explain the circumstances behind this picture, I can assure you that the way this picture came about has happened a thousand times or more to myself and other single, female travelers, particularly those who share my hue.
It was my first full day in Provence. I had decided to take an organized group tour of some lavender fields in the region. I’m not usually one for group tours packed with strangers who will, inevitably, wonder aloud why I’m traveling alone. But I chose to participate in an organized tour for the sole purpose of knowing where to come back to once I had my rental car and three days alone in the Luberon. So…I took an organized, half-day tour of lavender fields with a small group. The tour took us out of the city of Avignon, through the high hills and countryside to the picturesque town of Gordes and ended up in Sault where the view from the distance in the hills showcased dozens of fields of lavender. Some vibrant and in full bloom and others with just a violet haze as the buds just started to show themselves.
The field pictured above was one of the last fields we saw before heading back through the countryside to Avignon in our small motor coach. Since I’ve become accustomed to traveling alone, I’ve learned the art of the perfect selfie. I’ve also learned how to spot another tourist who seems to know their way around an Apple product and understands the importance of an iPhone photo-shoot. So in the midst of this field I was luxuriating in the smell of lavender floating on the mistral winds and the sound of the bees, busy with their own work. My only goal was to frolic and that’s exactly what I was doing. I turn to see who I could ask for yet another picture of me in yet another field, and I encounter a small Asian woman taking pictures of…me. Not the majestic purple field all around me. Not the bees busy about their work. Not the stark white cliffs of the Luberon above us. Nope. Just me. I smile at her and she says, “Ah, so beautiful.” To me. And continues to snap pictures…of me. Well I guess I’ve found my photog. Rather, she’s found me. She clearly speaks some English so I approach her (as she’s still taking pictures…of me) and say “yes, it is very beautiful”. I hand her my iPhone and ask if she wouldn’t mind taking some pictures of me in the fields. I frolic and face the wind and throw my hands up because, well, why not? That’s what I’m here to do after all, right? For a moment I truly lost myself. The color was so vibrant and the smell was so pleasant and the moment was so perfect. I truly lost myself. And I knew that my personal photog was snapping away. I turn around once again as she tells me in her little English that the pictures are good and hands me my phone. I take a look and the pictures are indeed good. This is one of them.
As I thank her and walk away to admire the beauty before me one last time, she grabs her camera and once again, begins taking pictures of me. Unbelievable. I’ve got about three or four pictures from her and she probably has about 15 or 20 of me in her personal collection. This kind of thing has happened to me before so I’m not too bothered by it. I’ve had these kinds of run-ins with people who are fascinated by dark skin in Athens, in Istanbul, in Hawaii, even Egypt! I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about black female travelers being treated like prostitutes, so I’m always happy when someone is merely fascinated or intrigued or curious.
I don’t know who that lady is or where she is but I hope she’s enjoying her pictures of me twirling in a lavender field. And I hope she can share the story with her own family and friends as I’m sharing it with you.