Monday, July 13, 2009

"Je comprend plus que je parler."

Stephanie & I in playing in France

Back from the weekend in France! I was a little nervous to cross the border because I haven't received the card (like a little lisence) that says I'm allowed to live & work here for a year, my visa was only for a one-time entry (thankfully it wasn't stamped at the airport) and expires in three months, but we entered France through the woods, Anna made a joke about how sometimes the border patrol will run up to car on the backwoods road, but we arrived without interference. The house, in the town of L.C. right outside of the "larger" town of Le Morteau, was incredible. It's just what you would imagine a house (that was built in 1773 mind you) to be; dark, freezing, and full of rooms, closets, and lots of junk that I liked to look at. There were spiderwebs in every corner, dust on most things, and every movement resonated throughout the house--I can only imagine my friends from school there. They probably would have hated it (be serious M. you would have hated it... but at least they have electricity!) The house had a large kitchen, we sat 12 for dinner at the kitchen table, and a large dining room that seats 20--when Anna's family goes there they have 19 cousins that stay there! (I imagine in to be much like a "French Frat House"--not that Denison has frat houses...). Since the cousins have now married and procreated one aunt and one uncle bought houses close by so all the families could vacation there. (The houses are next door to one another and one is in France, the other in Switzerland). There were only two toilets and two sinks/showers that I could find, so when I go back the first week of August (with the kids only, and the rest of the French family) I don't think I'll be showering! Since there was no insulation and it was cold outside I was in a fleece, jeans, and wool socks (I am my mother's daughter) for the whole weekend!

The view from the porch

Will & Anna's friends who are French but live in Geneva came with their three children, all boys, Xavier, 9 (pronounced Sa-vee-aiy, sorry Jack not the way you'd say it but maybe you should marry a French woman so you can name your offspring that!), Justin, 7.5, and Raffael, 3. Raffael, being the smallest kid there often hung around me and since he didn't know English I got to practice my French (the three year old wasn't a harsh critic like the five year olds). He always wanted his picture taken and man did he love to pose!

Raffael--he was doing a "thug" impersonation

There were five children there, all who could fluently speak English and French, the parents who could all speak English and French (Will hadn't told me that he was essenitally fluent in French!), Mark & Stephanie's British grandmother, and then me. So I heard a lot of French, and understood a lot of conversations (mostly from the kid end of the table), but I didn't speak very often. The phrase, "Je comprene plus que je parler," (I understand more than I can speak) was said quite often.

Saturday I woke up, and since Anna told me that even though I am there I am not the au pair on the weeked (though I did babysit Saturday night) so I was free to do as I pleased, I went for a run. I decided to run through the woods and explore a little bit, a few minutes later I suddenly see two Swiss border partrolers running towards me. I thought quite a few explitives before I managed to say "I'm so sorry, I'm an au pair for a family and we are in Le Chauffaud," or at least that's what I thought I said. They nodded and smiled, so I nodded and smiled, and then one said, "American." Damn. I apologized again and ran back to France and decided to stay on the road from now on. I went through the tiny town and took in some incredible views of the French/Swiss countryside. Saturday afternoon we went into the town of Le Morteau and then went to do Achroplânge. Achroplânge is climbing and zip lining through the forest--it was very cool and I had some great views of the countryside again. The oldest boys, the two dads, and I went and Will & I decided to do the whole course--the boys were too small to complete it-- and one of the last things is the "Tarzan swing," you attach yourself (barely!) to a rope and then jump off, hold like hell onto the rope, and swing into a net, then you have to grab onto the net (which is a good 50 feet from the ground) and climb to the side. Will generously let me go first so he could film it, and I said, "Nothing like making a fool of yourself in front of your employer again & again!" That night I babysat and explored the house. And Sunday I ran through the countryside (away from the border) and enjoyed reading outside. I'm currently reading Eric Hansen's Stranger in the Forest (L.He.--he wrote Motoring with Mohammed that we read in Dr. Read's class) and it talks about his walking across the island of Borneo, so in comparisson to that, this country house was pretty state of the art.

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