Well I ended up taking a nap after squaring away my new living space, so I haven’t even left the house yet. My roommate won’t show up until next week. The room has a shower and sink, but I need to walk an entire 30 ft (a little over 9 meters for you metric system enthusiasts) to get to la toilette.
The first thing I ate in France was a baguette on the plane…fast forward a few hours, my first actual meal was chicken, potato, and salad with garlic dressing, followed by melon. I ate with my hostess and her boyfriend Pierre, both very nice people. We ate outside, and left the sliding door open. Meanwhile, wasps kept trying to join us. I’m finding understanding spoken French to be nearly impossible, but (thanks to Cliff’s French vocabulary picture book) at least I already knew that “guêpe” = wasp, en français.
So then I fell asleep…and while I was asleep my hostess and some friends did some gardening; removing unwanted plants for whatever reason. And then when I woke up there were about 15 new people right outside for a barbecue! So of course they were all speaking French to one another very quickly, and I tried to follow as well as I could. To eat there was pasta, something that looked like pizza (but tasted nothing like it), thin sausage, and later for dessert there was pie, bread with a “very French” kind of cheese (I forget what it’s called), and my favorite was the Andouillette. Pierre instructed me to try it, and after I told him that il est très bon, he said “Good, now we can tell you what it is!” The answer of course being pig intestines. I just shrugged, and helped myself to more. Les intestines de cochons sont déliciuex.
I played some tennis de table with a guy with a red shirt (whose name I forget). After we sat down to eat he was seated next to the container of le vin rosé (pink wine, a specialty of Provence), and at one point he turned around and I saw that his shirt said “tennis de table” on it…no wonder I lost.
Guests continued to arrive and depart throughout the evening, with the last leaving at around 1am. At one point a young couple with a 6 year-old or so daughter arrived, and the woman sat next to me. Her English wasn’t perfect, so it was fun trying to speak some French to her. She told me all these people knew each other from either “théâtre” or something to do with mountain climbing…She said she was from Paris, and that all the southerners had an accent (reminds me of how no one at German school could understand the Swiss guy).
During the evening, Pierre asked me “La vie est belle?” (Life is good?) several times. So I just responded with “La vie est belle”, and kept eating.
One thing I’ll need to get used to is when the French faire la bise (you know, that thing where you kiss each side of the other person’s cheek upon or saying bonjour or au revoir). So far I’ve only seen two men use it with each other a single time, but it looks as though it’s more common to simply shake hands. There were two times when someone came up to me to faire la bise, one young mother who had just arrived and later a 14 year-old or so girl going home (neither of whom I’d spoken to the whole time).
You also have to make the noise with your mouth to get it right, and I think so far I’ve messed it up, since I’m not used to it…