Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quiz Bowl!

Tonight I participated in the Anglo-American Group of Provence's annual quizbowl on a team with my friends Caroline and Denis and their friend Nick and our voluteer team-mate Bill.  The goal is to have an internationally diverse team...Caroline is Scottish, and her husband Denis is French.  Nick is Canadian/English, but now calls himself Luyne-ais, Luyn-ish, Luyn-esque??  (Luynes is a town south of Aix where Josie goes to school and where Nick and his family live...he's been their long enough that he calls it home).  Bill is american from San Francisco.

We didn't place spectacularly in the quizbowl (12th out of about 20 teams-ish?), but we had a wonderful time!  The questions ranges from about 5 pages of 11x17 (the european version A3) of photographs of famous people in their youth...for example Bill and Hillary Clinton's wedding picture...anyone remember that one? (that was an easy one!)...and you have to identify who's in the picture.  Or another example...Audry Hepburn at the age of about 8.  Hmm. was bloody difficult!  Then, there were 100 trivia questions ranging from the oscars, to french foreign affairs ministers, to football (soccer) stars, math problems, algebra, logic puzzles, sciences, etc.  THEN...there were 48 song clips that were played to us and we had to identify the song name and the artists (either composer or performer).  Yowz. and Pshew!

Dinner was excellent and the wine flowed freely and we had an excellent time!

Hmmm...where is Josie?  She went to the Hunger Games, which is playing in English, with 10 girlfriends (yes, 10) and then having a sleepover near Luynes with one of the american girls at her school who is from Alaska.  Josie has a very full social life here in France!  The ease with which young people can get around and gather without cars is truly wonderful.  Last night she was out having a fantastic time whilst I was home...alone...sniff...I need a life!  ;-)  Naah...It's all good.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hotel de Police...again

After taking my first art history test in FRENCH, shopping at the grand marché (amazing veggie farmers market) and spending the afternoon getting some work done (I finally received the GIS files I've been waiting for!)...I headed to the Hotel de Police (the police station) to present the list of phone numbers that the thieves called from my cell phone.

There were a lot more people at the Hotel de Police on a thursday afternoon at 5pm then there were at 11 pm on Sat night.  As a result, I waited for over an hour to finally hand over the print-out from my mobile account listing all the phone numbers they called (country codes 43 - Austria and 21 - Tunisia or Libya).  I had to give another report that was attached to my first report both typed by very kind policemen who typed the entire report with two fingers!  They were the fastest two-finger typers I've ever seen. Both spoke a little english and after the interview I was presented with several officially "stamped"  forms.  Stamped forms are very popular here!  And, a stamp is called  tampon, which makes both Josie and I giggle because stamp stores advertise that in big bold letters.

On the way home I made a few stops trying to find Josie's contact lens solution...she has very sensitive eyes and can't use the usual stuff (which you can't just buy at the grocery store must go to a pharmacie, which are wonderful experiences!).  I love how helpful people are here!  I looked up the french words I would need before I left and brought the near-empty bottle of old solution with me to show them.   I spoke with two different pharmacies and finally found the right solution at an optician's for only 17 euros (gasp!) a bottle.

I love how little things that would be simple errands in Colorado become new adventures in language and culture!  

post script...I should have titled this post two-fingered typing and tampons, but until you read the post that really wouldn't make any sense at all!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Exams and student life...

I just discovered that I haven't really blogged in a month!  How did that happen?  Time is flying by.  I'll work on catching up on posts for the last month.

Josie's friend Cohen just left yesterday. We had to wake up at 3:45 am to catch the bus to the airport. Yikes.  Her visit was excellent.  Cohen is the easiest house guest I've ever had.  She's super-easygoing and pitches-in to help with anything.

I have a test in my art history class tomorrow.  It covers ancient Greek sculpture through the french of course!  I had a bit of a discussion with my french language teacher today.  Being a student again is challenging and I am learning a great deal that I think will help to improve my teaching.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cohen's last day...

Cohen leaves tomorrow morning bright and early!  Yikes...we have to get up before 4am to get the bus to the airport.  ouch.  We're sad to see her go.  It's been a really fun visit...castles, bridges, cathedrals, the sea, crepes, nutella, pineapples, and more nutella and more pineapples.

I think Josie and Cohen spent the day today eating crepes and Nutella.  They consumed about 1.5 kilograms of Nutella in the last two weeks!  Seriously.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Les Calanques!

Finally we made it to the Calanques!  The Calanques are beautiful coves along the coast east and west of Marseille.  The forecast today was for rain, but we braved the elements for a wee coastal adventure...

Today we took the bus to Marseille, then the metro, then we met a nice gentleman from the AAGP who drove us to Callelongue where we started our hike with a coffee at the little (and very bizarre) cafe in Callelongue.  We hiked up and over a couple of ridges...for about an hour and a half...
The clouds were rolling in over the hills...the rain was on its way...
 A view toward the sea from the ridge we were following.
 We dropped down one of the Calanques and hikes down to the sea in the Calanque de Marseilleveyre.  There was a house and a little cafe!  The Calanque is not accessible by car...just boat or foot.  We decided to site on the rocky beach and eat our lunch leaning against the wall to shelter a little from the wind.

 The supplies for the cafe at Calanque de Marseilleveyre have to be delivered by boat and they were getting a delivery while we were there.  We watched a box of pomme-de-terre go by for the frites at the cafe.

The view from our lunch spot.

 We hiked back to Callelongue along the coast and got a nice view back to our lunch spot.

 The landscape in the Calanque is striking...steep rocky cliffs jutting straight out of the sea.

Josie and Cohen...the photographers. They were having fun collecting photos for art projects as we hiked back.  The trails was really rocky and very steep and rough.

 We all slept on the bus back to Aix and were anxious to make crepes when we got home.  The rains was still chasing us and it was pretty chilly.  We arrived back in Aix to discovered the streets and la Rotonde blocked for a bike race...

Wouldn't you think they'd move the barricade for the winner with his trophy?!

The rain finally caught up with us, but we were thankfully home and warm.
A snuggly afternoon was had by all listening to the rain pour down on the clay tile roofs outside....tummies full of crepes guessed it...Nutella!

Update on my stolen purse...this morning at 7am I checked my account for my mobile phone and discovered that the thief used my phone to call country codes 21 and 43.  Country code 43 is Austria, and country code 21 can be Libya (!!), Tunisia or others.  I got through to Free (the mobile company) and had the SIM card blocked, but they won't waive the charges for the 18 euros incurred by the nocturnal calls.  I suppose it could've been worse!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pont du Gard!

Josie and Cohen seem to erupt into skipping in surprising places...
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