Saturday, April 29, 2006

Catch up time!

Well, it's almost been 3 weeks since I have written. I guess I have been busy for the most part minus this past week. Well, where to begin?! I finished up classes on the 15th. Had one class that didn't show up because their teacher was away so why should one half of the class have to have class right?!! I was a little disappointed seeing as it was going to be my last class with them and I had brought some treats for them. Now I am stuck with them and I really dont need them (thanks dad ...just kidding). My last week here was good. One of the cooks from the cafeteria, my favorite one, is part of an association for amature brewers, and he gave me a couple bottles of their beer to try. It was really sweet of him. It's nice to see some people who are so genuinely nice.
My dad arrived here in La Châtre on the 15th. We did a little walk around town I showed him the school and where I live. We went to the grocery store to grab a bottle of wine to take to Sophals for dinner and also got ourselves a bottle to enjoy on the terrace of dads hotel room. It was a beautiful afternoon for it. Bernard picked us up and we all went to Sophal and Davids for dinner. It was a great night with wonderful Cambodian food (yes dad, i'll try not to forget to get recipes for mom).
Saturday morning dad and I headed to Chateauroux to pickup a rental car. It was quite the trek because the stupid rental place at the station was closed so we had to take a city bus all the way to the outskirts of the city. We got our car and off we went, headed to the coast! First stop La Rochelle and the Ile de Ré. We spent two nights there, toured the city and the island. Nice place, quite busy seeing as it was Easter weekend. From there we headed to a town called Saintes where there are some roman ruins then to Cognac. We were able to tour a couple of the (not sure what you call them) breweries??, as well as taste them. Not really my thing. From there we worked our way to Bordeaux. We did some wine tours of the "sauternes" wineries, which is a sweet wine. I enjoyed it. Interesting how it is made....let the grapes rot, after a 'mushroom' has eaten all the juice out of them. We met some really nice people visiting the cellars there. After we headed off to the coast again, this time at Arcachon. We had great weather for our entire stay which was nice too. In Arcachon they have the biggest sand dune in Europe which measure 110m high. Dad and I did venture up and climb it. Great at the top!! though we did not venture down the other side because we knew we would have to climb back up, hehe!
We headed from there to the cute town of Saint Emilion and also visited 2 wine cellars/caves. Then on to Bergerac(yes, there was a statue of Cyrano for all those french buffs out there) and then the to Perigueux and saw an beautiful castle, chateau d'Hautefort. We ended the week back in La Châtre last Sunday. And what better way to send dad off then a Satuday night out. With a little booze of course. We started the evening off with a few drinks here, enjoyed a bottle of red under the sun. Eventually made it to a restaurant for dinner, enjoyed some more red then off to a pub for a beer. It was a great night, and Im glad that I got to share it with my dad! I had a great time with him here! Thanks Dad!!!
For those who dont know, I have changed my flight home. I am flying home on the 20th now. A few things I need to do and a few people I want to see and spend time with before I head home.
This past week has been alrright..didnt get upto too much. Monday lunch with Stephaine, Bernards birthday Tuesday, a few people over for cocktails which turned into dinner, visited Sophal a couple times and out for a drinks with Stephanie Wednesday, then dinner on Thursday for her birthday and drinks with her and Bernard after to celebrate her bday. Other than that it has been quite quiet. I have been up and down. It's hard going from being constantly busy to doing nothing. Tonight I will meet up with Stephanie and tomorrow we are going to head to Bourges for the afternoon to check out Printemps de Bourges, a big festival. Though we would have preferred to go at night, its hard with public transport when you cant find someone to drive you(...another story). Oh well, we will manage to check out a bit of it, that's what matters.
School starts back here on Tuesday. It will be nice to see some life around here. I will probably move out of the school next weekend, which will kind of be a nice change though it's a pain to pack up all my crap.
Well, now that this is a novel, I really am sorry, ok, not really, I will stop here. That's what happens when I wait almost 3 weeks. Oh well, take care everyone, look forward to seeing you all when i get home!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Its getting sad

Well, I can't believe it is almost that time. Where has the time gone?? It feels like just last week that I was arriving here. I am getting more sad with each day that passes. I have been having a blast here. I'M SO SAD TO LEAVE!!!!!
I have gotten chummy with some of the students here which has been really nice. Everyone is super friendly which most have been from the start, but we just know each other better now.
Friday night I went to the London with Steffi around 10. Yes we have known each other from the start but I wish that we had really started to go out more from the start. For the last 3 weeks we have gone out once in the weekend. Anyway, it wasnt as busy as usual, a bunch of students were out which was fun. One of them started hitting on Steffi. Chatted with a bunch of them alot of the night. Bernard and Laurent showed up later on, played some darts, nothing really to write home about. One of my students that I chat with fairly regularily ended up being sick as a dog. Its funny, these guys reminded me of those days when you would just drink anything as long as you were getting drunk and for the sole purpose of getting drunk. One was drinking some shot that consisted of 2parts tequilla and one part coffee liqueur. Sure there are times with my friends that we drink to get drunk, but I drink what I enjoy and doesnt taste horrible. Ok, so I havent tried this drink, but it does NOT sound good.
Saturday morning I headed to Chateauroux. I met up with Lucy and Neha and we headed out to Tours for a little shopping then to Poitiers for a little party. This time we did not forget to bring music for the room like the last couple times. We didnt end up arriving in Poitiers till about 20h30 which was a lot later than planned. Oh well! get the showers started and the bottle opened. I had told Neha I would NOT get drunk until she was seeing as 1) the last time we were there she was sober and 2) she had yet to be drunk in France and is leaving Saturday! So Kim came over around 22h30 or 23h00. We still had not left and still had the music playing. Finally the hotel man came and knocked on our door and told us to be quiet. OOPS! About 3 minutes later he knocked again and we told him we were leaving. We had some good laughs after. We had tasks/goals for the evening. We headed out stopped at one bar to meet up with a couple people before heading to the bar we wanted to go to. We made it to the Pilori and the girls started on their tasks. I decided not to. So after about 5 minutes of being there Neha had chatted up some guy and got us each a free demi pêche (beer with peach syrop for those that dont know). We did a little dancing on the dance floor (very small as it is more of a pub) and then Lucy got to work on her task. She got us each a free drink which was nice. This guy she was chatting to was quite old and a little creepy. Got another free demi pêche from someone, thanks to the girls. After awhile I hadnt seen Lucy so I went upstairs to find her. She was in the toilets. She sounded fine told me she'd be down in a minute so off I went back downstairs. Neha decided to reach over the bar and pull out the bar towel from under a bunch of glasses then run and hide. The barman tracked her down and told her it was the first and last time he was going to warn her. Off she went back chattin up people. I headed back upstairs because Lucy had not returned. I got her to let me in. She was sick as a dog. I pulled back her hair and chilled in there with her. Poor thing! Finally someone knocked on the door asking if everything was alright and I replied with a yes of course. Didn't just get asked once so Lucy got a little agitated and told him to F off. Finally Kim came to the door and we changed places. I went back downstairs until Kim came and got Neha and I and told us that we had to take Lucy home. So off we went. Outside, there was Lucy. We all started walking home though Neha was busy chatting up some guy. Kim ended up going ahead with Lucy and I hung back with Neha. Kim ended up back at the hotel with Lucy making sure she was alright while I stayed with Neha to keep an eye on her. I got to chat with a bunch of new SUPER friendly people, friends of the dude. It was definitely a great night, minus Lucy getting sick and us not making it to the club. Oh well!
Oh I forgot!!!! Last weekend I tried driving stick for the first time and I didnt even stall!!! YEAH ME!!! Bernard took me for a little tour of the region. Got to see a lot that I wouldn't have seen with out a car. On our way back we stopped at the grocery store (which was closed) and I tried driving around the lot! I was so nervous of making a fool of myself that I didnt really want to do it because I thought I would embarrass myself, but Bernard made me. Im glad that I did. I had a good teacher.
Yesterday morning I went to the primary school again with Denis. I sang a little bit with them and then told them a bit about Easter in Canada. Seeing as they dont have the Easter bunny and it is the "cloche" (bell) that returns from Rome that hides the easter eggs in the garden. hahah!
They were all really sweet and a bunch of them had brought there cameras to take pictures of me and pics with me and them. As well, they all asked me for autographs, so I signed all of their English notebooks. hehe! Lastly, they had prepared me a little book where everyone either brought a picture of themselves or drew one and each person wrote a little note. It was so sweet and I was soooo touched that I wanted to cry.
As I have seen a lot of my classes for the last time, and continue seeing others for the last, I usually bring in some sweets for them and for a couple classes they even get drinks. Today I had one class that really pissed me off a lot because they talked WAY TOO much but I liked them anyway. It took like 20 minutes to explain what we were going to do. I was so frusterated and a little angry that I told them I was pissed off. One kid dared to ask right at the start if they were getting treats. I said at the rate they were going it was a NO! Finally we got through what I wanted to do and it wasnt much. It probably was only about 10 or 15 minutes and it took like 35. We played a quick round of hangman but with sentences not words, and one boy writes "Do you want to sleep with me?" as his sentence. haha, nice! Mine was "Some people are so annoying". - aka some of them. Finally they were all really sweet and appreciated that I had brought in treats for them. Some took my email and I got a few of theirs. The bell rang and everyone started heading out saying thank you and some of even said "bisous". Then some of them decided to come in and give me the bises, it was led my one of my favourites! :)
Oh what a day. A few of the girls invited me to go out with the to have a drink (im going to assume coke) with them at 14h00, so I guess I better get my stuff together seeing as it is now 13h31.
This was quite a lengthy post....sorry guys! Hope you are all well

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

France...not the sugarcoated image you have

Well, last night I was watching TV with Bernard, there was a show on called 'Le droit de savoir" (the right to know). Yesterdays show talked about the living conditions of some people here in France. It is really unbelievealbe how some people live here and it is not because they do not have a job. This is because of the French system. To think that they cannot get an apartment even when they are earning 1000€/month(about 1400$CAD) because in some places they require you to be making atleast double the rent. To think that these families are stuck living in moblie homes and trailers or paying extraordinary rent for an apartment that I would not even want to step foot in(two words: disgusting and mold). In some cities there are vacant apartments but these people can't move into them. They have to go through this tedious process to get an apartment that sometimes can take years. I made the comment to Bernard that 'France is not really the same as the image all of us foreigners have in our mind' and he was happy that it was me that said it and not him. He didnt want to be the one to say it thinking that I would say he's wrong. I always had the impression that France was such a great country, ok dont get me wrong I still think that it is a great country, but I guess I was naive in thinking that there were not situations to this extent here. Or not realising how bad it can be. It is not just romantic Paris and the Eiffel Tour, YES I knew that it wasnt just that but what I didnt realise was all the ins and outs of life here. We got talking about salaries also. It was surprising to hear how little the fonctionnaires (civil/public servants) makes in this country. I mean, I will be making almost as much as some of them next year and working half as much. Sure, they have job security and great benefits but to think about the amount these people are making, I would have thought it would be more as a fonctionnaire. Well, my rant on the french for the day...