Status update. Tomorrow we will have been here four weeks. It seems a lot longer.
According to friends who have lived in developing countries, France is worse. I don’t know if I mentioned that our apartment doesn’t exist. We rented number nine, but there is no number nine, so our apartment must be number ten. It’s even more complicated because the street diverts into a little alleyway, and that’s where our door is. It’s called an “impasse” here. Most of our mail has had no problem getting here, no matter what number it is addressed to. However, important packages don’t seem to make it. Yesterday we got a letter from home mailed last Wednesday. It made it here in three business days. We’re still waiting for an envelope that was overnighted two days before that. And we’re also still waiting for our internet router package, the infamous “neufbox.” “Neuf” is French for nine, so we’ve started asking, Q: “what time will our neufbox get here?” A: “Neuf heurs” (9:00, pronounced “neuv-eur” = never). We ordered it over a month ago, but it takes up to ten days for the company to ship it to you. Apparently ours was undeliverable for some reason, so it sat in the post office, and was then shipped back. We can’t order a new one until our phone service, which was cut off for some reason, is reinstated. We can’t call to get our phone service reinstated because you can’t call official numbers from phone booths here. I’m wondering if I should have seen it as ominous when we moved to an impasse, because that’s where we’re at.
But we agreed last night that we need an attitude adjustment. There are wonderful things to see and do here, and if no human efforts will possibly get us internet chez nous any sooner than next week, we may as well go have fun. This weekend we might try to go hike Mount Sainte-Victoire, or go to the beach. Something to get out of the city and smell trees again!
In the mean time, we both like our classes reasonably well, and are settling into our jobs fairly easily. I’ll report back about those topics once I have some time to digest them. But here is an update on how my French is coming. I have almost successfully made it through a phone call with the electric company (that was the day our electricity was accidentally cut off). I was also able to have a full conversation with the woman in the post office. However, when I tried to tell her “I don’t understand how the postal system works here because I’m a foreigner,” I instead informed her that, “I don’t understand how the postal system works here because I’m strange.” I can’t even begin to ennumerate all the other ridiculous things I have said while thinking I was communicating in a clear and dignified manner. But, it’s all part of learning a new language!
And now, more important than a status update, a yogurt/prepackaged dessert cup update: On Saturday, we realized that the cheap yogurts that were “just passable” only cost about 17 American cents a yogurt, so perhaps you get what you pay for. We doubled our yogurt expenditure this week and spent about 35 American cents per yogurt, and were once more met with dairy bliss. Coconut flavor is totally the way to go. Along with the yogurts we got coffee custard and “apple dessert,” applesauce that makes Mott’s look like child’s play. We got raspberry (good) and “tarte tatin” (interesting). Tarte tatin is a carmelized apple pastry, so this was basically apple sauce with carmel in it. Carmel flavor here isn’t like the sweet, sticky American stuff. It has a deep, burnt tone to it, like homemade caramel (at least the stuff I make—is there anyone out there that can make caramel without burning it? ). It took some getting used to but of course, now I’m addicted. We haven’t eaten the coffee custard yet, because we made a rule that we’ll only have dessert on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and once a weekend. We’re sticking to it really well, as long as you don’t count desserts eaten before dinner.