The orientating has begun. All 118 American students are now here, most of whom arrived on Saturday. I and 21 others have been here for 9 days however, participating in the Early Start program.
One might hope that having been here over a week, that I know where everything is and where to go. Well, yes and no. I’ve become a master of cardinal directions, but the streets run all over the place at various angles, so in many ways it’s like a maze. The larger streets are naturally more memorable, and I can find the best boulangeries and pâtisseries any time I need some baguettes.
Our group has had French classes every morning for 2 or 3 hours, followed by a different activity every day. On Thursday for example, we got on a bus and went to a vinyard called Château Lacoste. It was started by Irish mogul Paddy McKillen, and features contemporary art by a French artist. One of the artworks is a statue of a spider (which somehow is a representation of the artist’s mother) which stands (on its 8 legs) in a very shallow pool of water. Two others are a “meditation bell” (you pull a rope and the bell rings in a very low pitch), and a big silver oval shaped object that moves when you push it. After having the chance to explore, we were given a tour of the winery, after which there was a wine tasting lesson (look at the color, smell it, swish it around, smell it again, then drink it).
On Wednesday I got the chance to go with my host mother and a friend of hers to go rock climbing at Mount St. Victoire. We walked about ten minutes from where the cars are parkem and then they each showed me what to do, and then I got to go up. I didn’t have the right shoes for it, so on my third try I couldn’t make it since there weren’t enough good holds, at least for someone like me on his first time. At the top I got to take a couple minutes and have a look around. The view is fantastic. This side of the mountain doesn’t face the city, so I just saw trees, clouds, mountains, the trail, and the road. After it got dark we went back and ate dinner. The guy sitting next to me pointed out; “As you can see, we like to eat”.
Speaking of which, I need to go eat lunch. À la prochaine!