Sunday, 23 March 2008

underdressed for the deceivingly pretty French sun. Again.

This week feels like nothing has happened. That's probably true to some extent - I've been stressed out about not finding a job and I've forgotten to pay attention to what's actually happening now. Mental note - don't do that again.

On Monday I bought some chocolate to send home. The chocolate here for Easter is amazing! Even the lame supermarket chocolate is impressive - life sized chickens, Noddy ('Oui-Oui') statuettes and every other kind of thing under the sun. So you can imagine what the proper chocolate shops are like! The window displays are gorgeous - which is something the chocolate shops have in common with all the other shops. Quite often you'll see a window with a sign apologising for the lack of a display, and telling you that the new incarnation is in the process of being 'realised'. All of this explains why the French phrase for window-shopping translates directly as 'licking the windows'. When they're full of chocolate, yes please! Anyway, I made it to my chosen chocolate shop bought a couple of little treats and it turned out to be the mecca. Not of chocolate though - of bubble wrap! When I saw that the lady had a big roll, I thought 'aha! She must know where to buy it'. So I asked, and she gave me the same line as everyone else...'ooooh. It's very specialised....' but then she gave me a big wad for free. Yippee! I thought this trip would be a good exercise in teaching me not to hoard unnecessary things, but it's actually doing the opposite. I'm collecting all sorts of rubbish (notably Australian postpaks and bubble wrap) because it's very odd the things that are difficult to find here.

On Tuesday I had a bit of a mishap because I was sitting around at home at 7:30 waiting for the family to arrive home, when I got a call from one of my (Adelaide) French teacher's friends who had invited me to the theatre on Thursday. It turned out that the play was actually Tuesday and there'd been a mixup so I had to sprint for the tram! The play was an English one which had been translated into French (I've forgotten what... not one I knew) and it illustrated that if you want to write a weird wacky performance art type thing, a good place to start would be to put it into a language that the audience doesn't understand. As far as I'm concerned the play was about 3 people arguing about where to put a chair, and one of them was wearing a coat with spoons sewed onto it. Fortunately it was only an hour long! (Actually I'm exaggerating - it was quite interesting, but I'm obviously not at the level yet where I can appreciate French theatre). The lady who invited me was very nice, and after the play we (and her three children) went for a kebab (yiros). It was very tasty and just like the ones at home except it tasted a bit fresher, they put chips in (which makes it a bit like an AB I suppose) and they use mayo instead of garlic sauce (not sure if this is standard or just this place). Walking home from the tram, a little animal dashed across the quiet street in front of me. It froze when it saw me, and what do you think it was? A hedgehog! If only it had been day and I could've gotten a better look at it.

Actually this week has really been animal week here. Apart from the hedgehog and the chocolate, there's also been a mouse loose in the house. The family's having a pool built so all sorts of things are coming out of the woodwork. My hostmother is quite afraid of this mouse (which I gather is very small) and walks around with big boots on and makes sure all the doors are closed. There numerous measures in place to trap the blighter, none of which have been successful as yet. I also found a massive huntsman in my little ensuite toilet late one night. I thought about letting it do it's own thing, and then realised that I would have to wonder where it was every time I needed to go, so I trapped it under a glass and saved it for the morning. I waited until the little boy was up as I thought he might be interested. As it turns out, he was not, and I had to put it outside tout de suite! (Which btw, 20 years later explains that Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang song about the 'toot sweets'). Despite me talking about how pretty it was, and 'Look! It's got eyes on it's arms!' and 'Look! How many legs does it have?' he was most unimpressed and a little afraid I think. I also showed him the photos of me with the giraffes at Elsie's wedding. 'Weren't you SCARED???' The upshot of this is that I am now considered superwoman because I'm not afraid of spiders or mice or giraffes. I haven't got the heart to tell him that's it's only because we have spiders that will KILL you at home, and the wussy French ones pale in comparison. Or that I'm more afraid of the dogs here because they might have rabies.

On Wednesday I did my best to do Nhan out of her 'bargain-queen' title, by buying a new pair of shoes for only 2.5 coffees. That's even cheap in dollars! They're canvas flats with a white rubber toe (like Converse's) and a velcro strap and they're black with cherries. Unfortunately it's been stupid and raining and I haven't been able to wear them much. I tried on Thursday and it was a very good exercise in biting off my nose to spite my face. The weather does not care that I'm wearing inappropriate footwear just because I'm cross with it. On bargain day I also bought some more TinTin dvds, and these ones actually seem to work in English. On Thursday I met a friend of a friend of a friend, who was a nice old lady and we had a cup of coffee and then she showed me around the old town a bit.

Friday was a nothing day as far as I can remember because it rained, it rained, it rained and Saturday was rainy too (even hail!) but I went out in it anyway. I had my habitual coffee/internet time, and then I did a little shopping now that I've finally found the funky (if expensive) shopping area. I bought a bunch of fun jewellery (cheap, but not in the end because I bought a bit much) and some reusable plastic straws. I met Kara and we picked up some rose macarons (and Andrew along the way) and went and had more Moroccan mint tea. In the evening I babysat the kids again and it went perfectly. No more tears about 'where's Mummy' and I even translated 'Spot' into French for the evening story. We watched an American kids movie ('Raymond') and it was completely bizarre to watch Tim Allen with a different voice. Often the French actors doing the dubbing sound pretty similar, but this guy's was completely different and it made it really really odd.

Today is Sunday, Easter Sunday and I'm in the city checking my email and hoping the nice weather holds. The family has given me a big chocolate chicken, which is very nice of them, but is making the teeny (chocolate!) puppy dogs I bought for the kids look a bit lame...

I've been applying for au pair jobs, but no luck so far. Fingers crossed. I've decided if nothing comes up by the end of the long weekend, I'm going to book in to do another month of classes, but maybe in Lyon so I can see another city.

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