Café Oc: A Nomad's Tales of Magic, Mystery, and Finding Home in the Dordogne of Southwestern France
by Beebe Bahrami
Writer, anthropologist, and self-professing nomad Beebe Bahrami knows that walking and exploring are paramount to her sense of connection to the earth. One of her explorations took her to a small fishing village in northwestern Spain and a much-anticipated chance to walk once again but on new tributaries the pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago. But it was a side trip to Sarlat in southwestern France, a place called “the Frenchman's paradise” by author Henry Miller, that unexpectedly gave Bahrami much to explore and enjoy as the region worked its way into the author's heart. A travel narrative and memoir, Café Oc will delight readers with its tantalizing descriptions of French foods and wines, walks through the countryside, visits to the prehistoric painted and engraved caves, and the warm and welcoming people in the Dordogne region of France. It will also take them along a path of serendipity and magic, and a meditation into how we are pulled by the desire for home. Accompanied by photographs taken by the author, Café Oc is also a pictorial record of places, people, and events. Over time and several lengthy visits, Bahrami found a surprising desire to settle down, to leave her “tent poles anchored in place to that precious earth.”
BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs
ISBN: 978-1-941830-41-3 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
336 pages; 81 photographs
Born and raised in the Colorado Rockies while traveling across three continents as a child to visit relatives in Iran, travel writer Beebe Bahrami was drawn to anthropology as an adult. This training immersed her deeply into the cultures, languages, peoples, prehistories, and histories of the Mediterranean world. It is in these geographies, especially of France and Spain, that she writes most, especially on travel, food and wine, the outdoors and nature, spirituality, archaeology, and cross-cultural themes. Passionate for trekking, for over two decades she also has walked and written extensively on numerous routes of the pilgrimage road, the Camino, through southern France and northern Spain.
Author of other travel books — The Spiritual Traveler Spain: A Guide to Sacred Sites and Pilgrim Routes, Historic Walking Guides Madrid, and Café Neandertal: Excavating Our Past in One of Europe’s Most Ancient Places — Beebe also has written for Wine Enthusiast, Archaeology, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Perceptive Traveler, Expedition, The Bark, Michelin Green Guides, and National Geographic books. Several of her essays have won awards in Travelers’ Tales’ annual travel writing contest.
Nomadic in temperament, it was nonetheless the southwest of France, with Sarlat and the Dordogne at the center, that called to Beebe to make it home. This journey is captured here, in Café Oc, and though she still is dedicated to exploring the world at the pace of the spirit, on foot, this is something delightfully supported by life in France.
“Beebe Bahrami gives eloquent voice to a mystical search for belonging. Her rich storytelling, as an observant cultural anthropologist, opens windows into conscious living. Her sense of discovery and wonder, anchored in her life in the Dordogne, is joy made manifest. Follow her writings wherever they lead, as her journey aids in our unfoldment.”
“Long-time readers of Perceptive Travel will recognize the name behind this book as she has penned multiple stories here from her travels. Café Oc is her latest book [about] the town in France she called home on several occasions.
“Much of the story of her time in the town of Sarlat revolves around fate, luck, and an unseen driving force. She chooses the destination based on a comment in an academic journal, without reading travel stories about it or looking at photos. Her affordable apartment ends up being full of character and right in the center of town. Her landlord takes her on exploration trips and teaches her badminton. Other chance encounters in the market develop into friendships as she works on her French.
“The title refers to a gathering dedicated to a different language, however. The Occitane language pre-dates French and a group of the locals gather to speak it and keep it alive. Bahrami takes every invitation she gets after arrival in order to try to integrate and one of the first ones places her in this welcoming club.
“The Dordogne region of France is a place of stories and unexplained forces already, praised by poets and foodies, covered by authors Henry Miller and Robert Louis Stephenson. The region is also home to some of the oldest cave paintings on the planet, a region where Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons may have shared the same hills. Beebe Bahrami takes a place of legend and applies its character to her own memoir. She writes beautifully and openly about finding a place that feels right and finding people just as enthusiastic about it—and their life there—and delight in sharing it all. There’s a bit of magic realism threaded in and yes there’s a bit of new age woo-woo too (for lack of a better term). But it’s grounded by great descriptions of place and encounters with interesting characters in an area with plenty of stories to tell. The locals would probably agree that there is indeed a lot of magic in this ancient region now best known for truffles and foie gras. So it’s only natural that this creeps into an in-depth personal story of a storied land.” (published in Perceptive Travel, March 2017)
Carla Woody, Book Review – Café Oc, The Lifepath Dialogues, November 29, 2017
Self-Proclaimed Nomad Finds Home in the Dordogne of Southwestern France (press release; 11-1-2016)
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