I wrote more at the end of this entry, but I will just start with some captions. This family is amazingly nice and excited to share their world with me! We will have lots of tourist excursions, I think. We've already have three mini ones and I've only been here for five days! Very different from the people I lived with in Nice when I was 20 (they were 25 and 27 which seemed SO old to me at the time!) who gave me a key and turned me loose.
So, here are some pictures of our mini excursions in the French mini-van!
This is Saint Malo, about 20 kilometers from here. (Yeah, I can't tell you that in miles, sorry...you'll have to do the math.) This is a picture looking down the city walls.
Saint Malo is a fortified village next to the sea. This means that the old city has walls built around it- ramparts, I believe they are called.
Outside the city of walls of Saint Malo there is a harbor with all kinds of boats- didn't see any yachts but Saint Malo is a ferry port for ferries arriving from England.
The streets inside the city walls are labyrinthine, you might say. They are also quite narrow and it is not possible to drive on many of them.
This is me with the boys! The tide goes out really really far here and everyone walks on the beach on Sundays if it is nice. Apparently, this is a hot tourist spot in the summer but I guess when you have to wear a hat and gloves on the beach, it tends to keep people away. (Although, I guess people go to the beach all bundled up in Oregon- when I was there we almost blew away on the beach- I believe Katie and Dawn actually became human kites temporarily!)
More views of the beach in Saint Malo.
This is my town, Dol-de-Bretagne. It is pretty darn cute, I must say. In case I go crazy and have to have a People magazine, I found a store that has them. But, who wants a People without a pedicure???
Yesterday, we went to Vitré to see some friends of my French family. It also has a fortified old city with walls build around it. (There was a lot of attacking going on, apparently!) I thought this house TRULY looked like it belongs in Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.
The castle in Vitré. Apparently, there was one made of wood but the English burned it down so they had to build another bigger one out of stone! Not to give a history lesson or anything (and I think I learned this in high school) but Bretagne (Brittany) was its own country separate from France. There is even a separate language that is still spoken by some old people and they still have a very strong identity with being Britons. (Kinda like Texas???)
Part of the "new" castle in Vitré.
Inside the city walls in Vitré. It was very charming and the friends of my French family were very knowledgeable about everything and narrated our tour through the town in nice, slow French so I could understand everything!
This was taken out my bedroom window. It is a view of the Dol cathedral. Pretty cool.
This is the cathedral from close up. We didn't go in because it was Sunday and they still have mass there every week. Steven goes to a school directly across the street from the cathedral and gets to look at this out his classroom windows. I'd still rather see mountains, but this would do!
I have gotten to be a tourist this weekend while my brain is still close to exploding from trying to process French all of the time! We went to lunch at some people's house yesterday and trying to follow the conversation at the table was utterly exhausting! I get the general topic but the details escape me completely! But, even after just 5 days, I feel some improvement! That, to me, is a good sign that these few months will make a difference and I will graduate from being a French-speaking chimpanzee to maybe like...a human infant...maybe even a toddler! YAY!
The boys are hilarious and the younger one, Léo, is a full-on ball of energy. As soon as the car door opens, he just jumps out and starts running everywhere in a disjointed zig-zag pattern! He just runs and runs! Today he made a sand ball and carried it around for like 2 hours until it was just a tiny little ball. And, we had some hilarity when he was trying to say "I am asleep" but he was actually saying "I am a sheep!" Oh it is the little things, I tell you!
Steven is learning English at school every day and so I will be helping him with his homework. It is a real test of my French speaking to still be a teacher and not give the answer but give helpful clues and suggestions and try to make him figure out the answers without me. But, not surprisingly, my Mr. Sketch markers have been a huge hit for use on homework! Everyone loves Mr. Sketch markers!
We are trying to use as much English as possible at the dinner table and I made little cards with dining phrases like "Please pass the water." and "Thank you." and "Please put your dishes in the dishwasher before you leave the kitchen." Laurent, the dad, is so busy that it is hard for him to sit down and find the time to have lessons, per se, so we will be using meal times to have extra English lessons. Also, I have to think that they really need to learn British English vocabulary as their bed and breakfast guests are much more likely to be English than American. Good thing I've lived there so that I know trash can = bin and that trousers = pants and pants = underwear and other such translations! I get made fun of constantly in England for my word choices but it is hard to suddenly speak YOUR OWN language with different words, not to mention the spelling. When I was teaching genetics and doing Punnett Squares, the kids would always yell at me because I would write Mom instead of Mum on the side of the square.
The boys really want me to play Wii with them but I have a hard time explaining that I am useless at all video games because I was deprived of them as a child...thanks Mom and Dad....gosh, you made me read, take before school French and piano lessons instead, you horrible parents.
Anyway, I hope everyone has a great week. For those in Colorado, I am jealous of your giant snowfall and I have my fingers crossed for a snow day for you! I will continue to be a French chimp and if anyone knows any good websites with games for really basic English, send them my way. I found a few on scholastic but can always use more as I think these are great and we had "dueling laptops" with English games a few times this weekend.
À la prochaine...