Monday, August 29, 2005
Jube's family visited this weekend, and we visited some nearby picturesque villages and one big Principality. We took a free tour of the Fragonard factory at Eze, where I got some perfume (a nice gift). We also ate at an Indian restaurant, which made me very happy, since I adore Indian food. Since Nice is a bigger city than Montpellier, there are lots more "ethnic" restaurants here, and I am getting excited to explore them all. Well, we're off to explore a new oriental supermarket to buy lunch for today.
Friday, August 19, 2005
After staying for one extra night in Gallargues, we are heading off to Nice tomorrow morning. Today we had a goodbye lunch with Jube's grandparents, and then went to see The War of the Worlds with le Pacha. Afterwards we headed into Montpellier, where I took tons of goodbye photos. We ran into my tutrice from my old job in Lunel--she hasn't heard anything about a new assistant coming this year, and said, "Even if we have a new one, she won't be as good as you!" Isn't that nice?
Anyway, tomorrow we are headed to Nice, Land of No Internet. Hopefully we will get it soon, so I can update this site. Wish me luck!
Thursday, August 18, 2005
We made it home safely from Nice. Our "villa" has all of our furniture in it. We are currently back in Gallargues because Jube has to pick up his passport from the mayor's office in Montpellier. We also left a few things here that we need to take back with us.
The reason I am posting right now is not to rant about our day of unloading. It is not to complain about the six hours on the road either. It's not about how at dinner tonight everyone got in a fight because the France Telecom worker who called Belle-maman asked for our new address in Nice. No, it's about something much more important than that.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Or, H2G2: le guide du voyageur galactique. It came out yesterday, August 15, in France. I know that it came out about 4 months ago in the US, that it's apparently "not that good," and that that fact is officially Old News. But I'd love to form my own opinion! After spending years and years obsessed with Douglas Adams, including crying when I found out he was dead, I really want to see this movie. Unfortunately for me, I want to see it in English.
This is evidently impossible in France.
Usually I can find the movies I want to see in English by going to the "artsy" movie theaters (don't you remember them? The ones in the US that show weird French movies like Etre et avoir on hard seats with yellow subtitles--the only English movies they show are Australian or "good" movies like Lost in Translation). The problem with this is that H2G2 is not artsy enough to be shown on hard seats. To see it at all you are forced to go to a big theater chain and sit in huge comfortable chairs and enjoy the air conditioning--and watch it in French.
Ahhhhhhh!!!! The choices we make!
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
It all has to do with the politics of the telephone here in France. For years and years all telephone service was provided by France Telecom, which even today still has the monopoly on landlines (it runs you 13€99 a month for a dial tone). Then they charge you by the minute to make any telephone call at all, something like 0€03 a minute for local, and running as high as 0€36 to call a cell phone. Recently the phone service was privatized, so you can get much cheaper deals by paying another company to handle your calls--while still paying 13€99 for your telephone line, of course. What does this have to do with DSL? France Telecom has its own DSL service, which is not the cheapest. It is, however, the most convenient. To get DSL at your house, you must have a technician come to your house. This technician is a France Telecom employee, no matter what company you use. Get it? They can make you wait as long as possible. It's not the fault of the company you're using, it's France Telecom's fault. And lots of people give up on the cheaper DSL just to get some internet action at the house. We'll see what happens this time around...
You mean I forgot to mention that we went to Nice again to look for apartments? Hmmm... I think that is because I was traumatized from our first visit. Whenever I thought about going to Nice, I never visualized the city. I knew it was in the South, that lots of people liked it, that it had a reputation for being one of the most beautiful cities in France. When we arrived the first time in Nice, I was very upset. Personally, I think Montpellier is a much more charming city than Nice. Whenever someone new finds out that I am moving to Nice, they ask the fatal question: "Aren't you happy?" This holds true for Americans and French alike. I answer that I prefer Montpellier, and then comes the follow up: "But come on, it's much better than being sent to the North where it rains all the time." But honestly, if Jube had been sent North I wouldn't have had such high expectations.
But this is not the point of my post. The point is that we finally found an apartment in Nice! Not only that, it is a "villa." It reminds me of a vacation condo on a smaller scale. There is a swimming pool, a small private yard, and a parking space. The parking space was the kicker. Even though the apartment was not the cheapest we looked at, it ended up being cheaper because we wouldn't have to rent a space in a garage. The downside is that we are about 15 minutes away from Nice centre, because we're up in the mountains. Nice is a very congested city, bordered as it is by the sea to the south and the mountains to the north. Our "villa" is located on the mountainous western side of the city, so the reason for the 15 minutes is that we have to ascend to ear-popping levels to reach the apartment.
Tomorrow is the move-in day. I have not yet decided whether I will be going or not. There are several important reasons to go, among them:
a) helping Jube and his father find the apartment again
b) choosing how to arrange the apartment, and
c) helping to unload the moving van.
There are also several reasons not to go, among them:
a) I would be completely stressed out (see This Post to find out why)
b) I would be crammed into the small cab of the moving van with Jube and Beau-père for 3 hours, and
c) I would have to help unload the moving van.
I will be sure to keep you updated as to my decision.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Beau-père and belle-mère were surprised three days ago to see, from the kitchen window, two pairs of buttocks wiggling right at their faces before disappearing behind the wall to the sound of a miniature tidal wave. They were even more surprised the next day to see first the backside--and then the frontside! "Don't the realize that our kitchen window looks right over the pool?" belle-mere asked the family.
Yesterday at lunch the two boys were back to their antics. Beau-père, belle-mère, Jube and I were all eating and talking about the boys in the pool. Belle-mère said, "If they show us their butts today, then I'll ask them to turn around and show us the other side like yesterday." We didn't have to wait for long. One of the boys climbed up the wall, pulled down his swim trunks, and wiggled his buttocks at the kitchen window. Belle-mère opened her mouth to ask him to turn around, when he did it of his own accord. We all started laughing, belle-mère applauded, and Beau-père slipped closer to the window and shouted, "Ô, les beaux kikis!"
The boy leaped immediately into the water to the sound of our laughter, and we didn't see another kiki all day.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
The above picture is a snapshot of Belle-mère's kitchen. As you can see, everything is color coordinated. Her appliances are green. The paint is green. The special tiles with French coqs on them have some green feathers. And I'm not saying I don't like it, because I think it's great. It really makes you want to cook--and what's even more important, it makes you want to keep things clean during and after the cooking process!
Today Jube and I wanted to give a little gift to Belle-mère, who was slightly stressed out because she was expecting guests. What better gift is there than a hearty, American lunch? We went to Netto, the discount supermarket "à la française," and bought all of the ingredients to make the most American meal of all: hamburgers and baked beans. Before we left, I described the beans to the family. Here is the conversation (I spoke in French, of course!):
Gem: "They're brown beans in a sweet sauce."
Jube: "Brown? You mean, red."
Gem: "No, I mean brown."
Jube: "You mean péteux?"
Gem: "I guess you could say that... yeah, they're farter beans."
To add some flair to the simple meal, I fried up some onions and mushrooms to put on our hamburgers. The entire family agreed that it was very tasty, although "now we understand why it's easy to be fat in America."
They even liked the farter beans!
Saturday, August 06, 2005
This past week, Jube, le Pacha and I all went to Villeneuve les Maguelone, a small island near
On the way home we stopped at Palavas to get some ice cream.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Beau-pere: "Yeah, her sister is totally gaga."
Le Parisien: "I thought her mother was gaga."
Belle-maman: "Her mother isn't gaga, just a little bit zinzin, she has Alzheimer's."
Beau-pere: "But her sister really is zinzin, no question about it."
How are you supposed to learn French?
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Last Saturday Jube and I headed to his hometown Mende for the wedding of two of his childhood friends. After our extremely stressful trip to Nice (we yelled at each other quite a lot, got lost, and didn't even find an apartment, which is why the last entry was pretty... brusque), I was very tired and not looking forward to the wedding. Nice and Mende are both about three hours away from Gallargues, so that meant another six hours on the road for me. Added to that was the fact that in Nice, I had (stupidly) only brought a pair of sandals--for three days of hard walking, yes--and they were also what I was planning on wearing for the wedding. On the bright side, I finally had the chance to wear my wonderful orange dress, and to see how a wedding works here in France. Oh, and I also forgot to mention--we also got to use Jube's new car, a Ford Ka. Don't worry if you've never heard of it. It's pretty French for an American car.
So we set off around 10:00, neither of us wearing the actual outfit because we didn't want to crease it before we arrived in Mende. We arrived about 1:30, after having to detour around the small town of Sommieres because of its village festival.
[My own detour: Oh wait, did I forget to mention that, although Nice and Mende are both about 3 hours away from Gallargues, Nice is about twice as far away in kilometers? That's because there are actual highways that go to Nice. Mende is nestled in a valley of the Cevennes, the central (and not very high) mountain range of France. Jube drove at amazingly high speeds throughout the dangerous ascents, grumbling every time he had to slow down (because you can't pass on a switchback road!!) for another car.]
We arrived about 1:30, and searched the small town for a bite to eat. We ended up at a kebab stand and chowed down. Then we switched parking lots for a free one, and happening to pass the mayor's office, we saw the wedding party! We were late!
......Stay tuned for the next installment! Did we make it to the wedding on time? Were the bride and groom angry that my dress was transparent? Did Gem manage to make a fool of herself in French in front of all of Jube's oldest and dearest friends and acquaintences? You'll find out all this and more............