Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Random thoughts

French McDonald's – sell beer, sell chocolate mousse, are expensive
I keep seeing people who look like my people back home, maybe its because I miss them.
I see a lot more men around then women?

Funny moments

My grandmother asked Richard if he wanted an umbrella (apparently he didn't realize we were all getting ready to go for a walk in the rain) and he said no. After a few minutes of walking the rain got a little harder so he said "gee it would be nice to have an umbrella" and my grandmother started yelling that she asked him if he wanted one and he said "well I didn't want one when we were inside" Hilarious!
After walking all day my mom and I were playing cards and when she plays she jumps all around and I said "well that's good for your metabolism" and she "I am done with that metabolism stuff"
I sat with my great aunt Josiane and she was reading my how to survive france French book and every now and then she would say something in English. She always says English words in a deeper voice. It is super cute/funny. At dinner my mom was talking about the fromage (cheese) and she looked at Josiane and said "fromage" to ask if there was going to be any and Josiane looked at her and said "Please" in her deeper English voice.
Because my grandmother is the translator there are often 2 conversations going on at once. My mom was asking about the sausage we had for lunch and Josiane was talking about mayred (not nice word for poo) and Josiane said crotte de bique (poo of a female goat) My mom's face dropped because she thought Josiane was saying that was what the sausage was!
Richard wears hearing aids. At dinner my grandmother was telling my mom to be quiet, a normal thing, and my mom said "O I am not being loud Richard probably doesn't even have his ears on" She looked at him and said "can you hear me?" and he said "If I were downtown I could hear you" point Richard!


We all got up and got ready and my mom and I went walking around. We finally found the real center of town and got to see some neat shops. Everything is super expensive but it was fun to see. We met up with my grandparents at Josiane's and got our things packed up. Josiane's son John Micheal (michelle) and his wife came over and transported out luggage to our hotel room and took us to their house/masion. They renovated an old barn and it was super nice. It was a mix of Ikea catalog and old French decore. They had hanging lantern lights…can you believe it? That whole side of the family is pretty musically inclined but he had a whole recording studio. They are trying to sell the place, I told them I would live there forever! My mom and I went and got some dinner and headed in for the night.


We walked around all day. My mom and I went together and Richard and my grandmother went together. He wanted to find somewhere with wifi. My mom and I went to a neat little café for lunch and had delicious food. We just got the entrée and plat dejur (salad and plate of the day) The salad was good but the plat not so much. It was some sort of sausage. The desert was good of course. We walked around a while longer and then headed back to Josiane's.
Josiane showed me some photos of her family and was telling me about them. She showed me a bunch of pictures of Yann playing in different bands and apparently Dani's niece, Yann's cousin married Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance!
Everyone was resting and Josiane and I were sitting together in her kitchen. I cant understand everything she says but we usually get the gist of what the other is trying to get across. Sometimes we just look at each other and start laughing because we have no idea what the other is talking about. She asked me if I wanted to go to the supermarket to get some raisins and pan (grapes and bread). I said sure so we went and got back and got everyone up.
We all had dinner and then got ready for bed. It is a simple life around here but it is nice.


We got up early and took the train to the island. I had a really bad headache and the hour winding bus ride did not help. We walked through this neat little outdoor market and I thought "o good I can get some gifts after lunch" We went and had lunch and by the time we got out the market was completely gone and everything was closed. Apparently until the tourists come the town shuts down around 2. So we walked to the beach and looked around a bit and then walked in and out of little shops to wait for the bus. Then we sat at a little bar and ate a bagette and waited for the train. The train ride home was really fun. I really saw how similar my mom and grandmother are when my grandmother was laughing really loud. All three of us were playing cards and laughing. It was great.


It was a rainy day. We got up and felt pretty bad about Josiane waiting for us in the rain and wanted to give her some time alone at her house to rest and such so we decided to go out regardless of the rain and get some lunch. It was super cold and we had no idea where we were. Luckily a really nice man gave us a ride to a McDonald's where we had a $50 lunch.
While we were there my grandmother asked a guy if he could give us directions to the road Josiane lives on. When he realized we were going to walk he said he would give us a ride! That was a life saver! He was with his teenage daughter so she waited at McD's and he took us back. He told us that he has a friend in Canada who just told him that she was lost and someone helped her out by giving her a ride so he felt like he should help us. Amazing.
Later when the rain lessened Josiane walked with us to the train station and we got tickets to go to Ile de Ray, the island my grandmother grew up on for monday. We just dethawed (that's for you cindy) the rest of the day and had dinner with Josiane.


We got up and got ready to go to the train station to take the train from Toulon to Paris where we would have about an hour to get from one train station to the other. We thought we would take a taxi but they are super expensive and since my mother and I are overpackers we would have to pay extra for luggage and maybe even take two. Plus we would have to find one, which proved to be harder than we thought before. While we waited for our train Richard and I walked to McDonald's to use the internet. Apparently McD's has been providing free wi-fi for a while. We went in and got connected right away. We did some "business" as my grandmother calls it and walked back to the station. On the way to Paris we decided we would brave the metro with all our bags since it would save us more than $100. So I was the official navigator and leader through the metro. I know what you are thinking…if she was the leader they must have been in a big mess! But we did it! We got through all the changes (just 2) and made it to the station with plenty of time. I even had time to pick up dinner. Just imagine the 4 of us with our big suitcases in the metro in the middle of Paris! Oye
Once on the train to Niort we thought our craziness would be over for the night…wrong. When we got to Niort we quickly realized there isn't a lot of nightlife. The train station was deserted besides us and a family waiting for their daughter to pick them up. We assumed we would get a taxi, you know what happens when you assume. We stood around for a bit and I remembered back when I was coming home from Africa and I thought I was going to have to sleep in the airport in Atlanta because I thought we were going to be sleeping in the train station. Then my grandmother noticed a bar open across the road so we walked to it to see if we could find a number for a taxi. The people in Niort are 100 times nicer than in Paris. There was a police officer at the bar and he called a taxi driver who was home and he came to get us. The bartender said that if we couldn't find a ride she would take us. So nice. When we finally arrived at Josiane's it had been raining all night and was pretty cold and she had been waiting for us outside. She is also a tiny little French lady. She had food for us to eat and then we went to bed.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Random thoughts

Lauren would love France because it is tons of bread and NO spicy anything.
Cindy would love France because they eat everything one food at a time and there are tons of round abouts.
Every time I enter an airport I am overwhelmed with memories of traveling with my Gulu family. I hope that never changes because those memories are some of my all time favorites!
It has been really neat to meet people I am related to.
The commercials in France are super sketch.
Darby - all the cars here are super small...your truck would be so huge here...and gas is like $9.00 a gallon!
My grandmother records everything in a black book...the time we do things..what they much stuff costs. i guess its a good thing (:


We got up and went to the beach. It was amazingly beautiful! The water was blue and the sun was shining. We had lunch and had a really funny waiter. We had muscles and fries. Apparently that is Brazilian. It was good. Christian went as well and I rode with her. It was fun to try to talk to her. It reminded me of Amy trying to talk to our taxi driver in Dubai. We drove around for a while and then headed back to the house. My grandparents took a nap and my mom and I went to the town to walk around. We went in a few shops and then had a coffee and some pastry called pinaud, I think it is a liquor. The waiter said it was their specialty. It was pretty good. Then we headed back and my mom took a nap and I went on another run, great for the stress and the stomach (: ahh traveling (: When I got back we had dinner and just hung out.


We got up pretty early and went to the train station to ride to Cannes and Nice. It was overcast the whole day so it was a good day to travel. We walked around, Cannes is much nicer than Nice. We had coffee in Cannes and lunch and crepes in Nice. The value of a dollar is very low so things are pretty expensive. I decided to go on another run before dinner and got a little lost. I know what you are thinking "you got lost?" I got a little big for my britches because I had successfully navigated the two cities we visited and thought I would venture a little farther from the house than I had the day before. I had been running about and hour when I realized I was not where I thought I would end up. I talked to a lady who gave me directions that ended up taking me away from the train station instead of towards it. (if someone is lost it is better to not give them directions than to give them bad directions) I asked another lady who gave me pretty good directions and I had them validated by a police officer. I was praying so hard that I would find my way back and then I saw a young girl and asked her directions. She didn't know English very well so she decided she would walk me to the station. Praise the Lord for Marianne! She ended up being 14 and was more than happy to help me. We chatted a little and when I could see the station I thanked her and ran the rest of the way home because I knew my mom would be worried. She was but it was ok. Christian, Nicole's friend, had dinner with us and we did some puzzles.


We left the hotel at 5am and arrived in Toulon around 10am. It was a fun ride with great scenery. Nicole, my grandmother's sister picked us up. It took two trips from the station because her car is small and we have a lot of luggage. She lives on the corner of a little street not far from the station. She had a great lunch prepared for us of roasted duck and ratatouille (veggies). It was great. We sat around and chatted (Nan translated). I can understand about 50% of what Nicole says so it is interesting to try to communicate. She is a very small spunky French lady just like my grandmother. When ever I don't know what to say to her I just say voila, it makes her laugh. We went to the train station after dinner and bought train tickets to go to Cannes and Nice the next day. I went for a little run and got to see a lot of the town.


We got up and had breakfast at the hotel. Croissants and coffee, there is a lot of that around here. It was good and we were off to walk around Paris and then meet up with Dani and Yonn (my grandma's sister's daughter and her son). They are from Ireland, Dublin to be exact. She is a French teacher and he is a musician. He plays at a bar regularly where celebs come a lot. he has played while bono had a beer! They were GREAT they took us to this great little pancake place and treated us to lunch (the big meal in Europe) and cideria (apple cider sangria). Cindy it was delicious! We have to try to make it. Then they took us on a boat tour of Paris and we got to see a lot of the famous sites. Then we made our way back to the hotel and my mom and I had a little dinner and went to bed because we had to get up very early to catch the train to Toulon.

I'm in France!

So Europe is not Africa but it is definitely not America. We arrived Monday morning and right away I realized that it was going to be more difficult to pick up French than I thought. Luckily my grandmother is fluent and does not mind translating. Apparently our hotel was not booked until my mom and grandparents were on their way to my house Sunday morning so I was not surprised when we had no idea how we were going to get from the airport to the hotel. We took a bus and a taxi and checked in sometime in the afternoon. I thought the hotel was nice but my mom thought differently. The people were really nice so that made it better. The concierge was very helpful and gave us a coupon for a little restaurant around the corner. It was great. We got dinner and desert and went back to the hotel. I slept a lot and got myself pretty well acclimated to the time change.

Friday, April 4, 2008

remembering the past and looking forward to the future

So the countdown to Gulu is underway. I read a few of my blog entries from last summer and was overwhelmed again with the whole experience. I cant wait to see what God has in store for this summer. I am going to try to blog more regularly when I get back from France. So please keep checking in with me.