Friday, April 29, 2011

Saying Goodbyes

Today is our last full day in our little apartment in Perigueux France. I am going to miss it. I will miss our two single beds smooshed together. I will miss my little toaster oven I baked everything in. I will miss hearing the highs chool students every night at 6 o'clock yelling in the hallway after they are done with school. I will miss running along the voire vert (the river). Today I went on my last run past the horse pastures. What a beautiful area we have lived in.

We've had a busy 2 1/2 weeks. My parents flew into Nice and we met them there 2 weeks ago. We had such a blast exploring the little villages along the Mediterranean Sea like St. Paul, Eze and St. Laurent. We rode bikes along the Promenade des Anglais. My bike was broken and I rode for forty five minutes before stopping and telling Kyle "I think something is wrong". Everybody else was just gliding along and there I was sweating and peddling fast to keep up. I counted it as my exercise for the day. We visited Monaco and ate a fabulous meal near the prince's palace. Don't tell anyone but he's pretty ugly looking. After 5 days in Nice we rented a car and drove 11 hours to Perigueux. And we laughed the whole way. They gave us a compact car (we even told them how much luggage we had) and we played tetris to get all our stuff in.  You couldn't see out the back window with all the luggage and my mom and I couldn't see each other in the back because we had another carryon in the middle. Memories. We visited Sarlat, Oradour, Bordeaux, St. Emilion, and of course Perigueux. We played golf and I got a par! We visited castles and drove through the beautiful French countryside. And don't forget the amazing food along the way including fois gras (duck liver pate). But before meeting my parents Kyle and I spent a few days in Aix-En-Provence. I fell in love. I love how each region of France is so different. I am so happy where we got put in the Dordogne but I wouldn't mind someday living in the French Provence. Such beautiful colors and smelly things they have there.
 Crazy windy up where Cezane did his famous painting of Mt. Victoria and Kyle looking like Alfalfa

My new favorite flower-it's everywhere here 


Us in a cool picture frame in Monaco


 Bordeaux, Place de la Bourse

Chateaux Hautfort--the castle where the movie Ever After was filmed. It's like 45 minutes from my house!

The members in Perigueux threw us a surprise going away party. I almost cried seeing everyone there to greet us. I went around to everyone in the circle giving the customary bisous to say hello. I'm going to miss that. I'm going to miss the sweet members here who have treated us like family. This is the first ward that we've really felt apart of. Members gave us fancy chocolate, I got some sweet green shoes, and we got a plaque with painted monuments in Perigueux. We ate good food and then danced til midnight to techno music. What an awesome branch we had


Me and Remi, my best bud in Primary

We've said a lot of goodbyes this week. We ate dinner with a family we are close to. We drank grapejuice with the kids we taught English to. We had a picnic in Brantome with our lovely friends from Britain. It doesn't seem real that we're leaving. It feels like home here.

My dad left last Monday to go back to work and my sweet mom stayed to help us pack and clean up the place. We are almost done. Hopefully we don't go over our luggage weight limits thanks to mom and pops helping out! We leave tomorrow by train to spend our last 6 days in Paris. We can't wait. Then it's goodbye to France (hopefully not for too long) and hello to America!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The List

Me rushing into H&M as it opens for the day, bright and early at 11 o'clock.

Things I will miss in France:
  • Fresh bread and pastries from the boulangerie
  • The old French Men telling me "bonjour"
  • Our friends we made at church and school
  • The architecture and cool fountains
  • Le fromage
  • The bisous
  • Speaking French 
  • Outdoor markets with all the fresh produce!
  • Creme Fraiche
  • Kebabs
  • Cars stopping at crosswalks for pedestrians!
  • 2 weeks vacation every 6 weeks

Things I won't miss in France:
  • Paperwork
  • The loud motorcycles (I think I'm loosing my hearing)
  • Those nice piles of dog poop on the sidewalk (I only stepped in it once!)
  • Stores closed on Monday 
  • Paying for a public toilet
  • 2 1/2 hour restaurant visits
  • Smoke in your face from cigarettes as you walk down the road
  • Not having a car
  • Hang dry our clothing
  • Tiny sidewalks

Things I am looking forward to/craving at home:
  • Mexican Food
  • A bigger wardrobe (12 shirts just doesn't cut it for me anymore)
  • My job as a Dental Hygienist
  • English!
  • Family 
  • Our friends and their new babies!
  • A burger from 5 Guys
  • Being able to shop until ten or eleven at night 
  • Things going on sale more than twice a year
  • Refillable drinks at restaurants, not to mention rootbeer
  • And ice (to keep the drinks cold please!)

This is definitely not a comprehensive list...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Le weekend. Did you know the French stole our phrase "the weekend"?

The weather over here has been extremely kind to us. It reached at least 70 degrees everyday. We're glad it's super nice outside because Kyle and I are trying to soak up Perigueux as much as we can. On Friday we took an afternoon walk along the voie verte. I wanted to show him the horses and the springtime goodness the trail has to offer. And it didn't disappoint. My favorite part--a momma duck and her nine ducklings swimming around the lily pads in the l'isle (the river here is called "the island"). Afterwards we went to the grocery store and bought some ice cream to celebrate Kyle's 171 on the practice LSAT he took that morning. I'm so proud of him! He's been studying everyday since December and the test is June 6th. I know all his hard work will surely pay off. After ice cream we had a karoke night. Isn't this awesome of us? We take turns choosing our favorite songs and then sing them together. It's my new favorite activity to do together. I love that no matter what I do with my best friend, it's so fun. Even if we're just singing songs and being silly.

Today we headed out to Samedi sports (sports Saturday) and played basketball and volleyball with the missionaries, some members and investigators. Sadly, this was our last Samedi sports because the next two weeks we'll be out of town with my parents. My favorite part about sports is when someone is picking the teams, they make sure to get Kyle and I on the same team because they think that we can't be apart. I love it! After sports, lunch and a quick shower we headed off to the Vesuna Museum--the last one on our list to visit in Perigueux. C'etait formidable! We practically had the place to ourselves. The Vesuna Museum is built around an excavation site where they found ruins from the Roman Gallo time period (1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries) of a "domus" which is like the equivalent of a modern day villa. Can you believe that? The 1st century was when Christ was on the Earth. It was incredible to look at all of the artifacts and stonework and think that Jesus Christ was around at the time these were made. It's cool because they have built a floor that is raised above the site so you can look down into the ruins and see the layout and what the different rooms were used for.

Safety pins. Didn't ever think they were that ancient.

Check out the date here. Between 20 before Christ (BC) and 80 after Christ (AD). 

Mosaics and murals they found on the walls after being covered up for almost 2000 years.

This giant rectangle was a fountain in a garden which was the center of the villa.

After exploring the Vesuna we headed back to chez nous, ate dinner and then prepared our lessons for church. I write mine out in French all by myself! But then Kyle goes over and makes some or a lot changes. 

Hope you all are having a fantastic weekend too!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stage 1= Denial

Our French adventure is almost over. Four weeks from today we will be in an airplane landing at the Salt Lake Airport. We will have to find new jobs. Kyle will have to go back to school. No more baguettes or fresh pastries. No more "bonjour monsieur madame". We are in denial. But what comes next? Will we go through the motions of the 5 stages of grief?  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then forced into acceptance? I think so.

Since it finally has warmed up here I took the chance this week to go running on the voi verte along the river. Pretty sure I have discovered Perigueux's secret. I wish I had found this earlier (anger)! Every morning I'm itching to hit the trail to discover more. French architecture, small charming houses with jardins filled with flowers, horses in pastures, old bridges, forests, cathedrals, ducks, swans, blossoms--everyday something new. And my favorite part: saying "bonjour" to the old French man wearing a beret, sitting on his bench. He was so surprised I even noticed him. How could I not on such a lovely day!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Château Puyguilhem in the Springtime

Last weekend Diane and Peter invited us over again for lunch and to visit some of the gems near their home. We are so lucky to have met them! Peter is hilarious and we find ourselves doubled over laughing at his stories. Diane is such a good hostess, always trying to make everyone comfortable. We always leave with big smiles on our faces. 

I had to post a picture of their neighbor's donkeys. I have never heard a donkey "hee-haw" before and I was quite surprised. It is so loud and obnoxious and you just laugh at them because they're making a fool of themselves with their nostrils flaring! They go crazy whenever there are strangers--I told Kyle they would be a good alarm system if someone was robbing you. Oh and here are some chickens too.

After a delicious lunch of vegetable soup and walnut bread, rosemary chicken, potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, something that resembled cooked spinach, and raspberry cheesecake we headed off to Château Puyguilhem. It was built around 1515

Our guide was very animated. You could tell he was passionate about what he does and it made the tour so much more exciting. He even took us to a restricted part of the castle (up in the attic parts) and told us not to tell anybody...oops. Something Kyle and I have realized here is that a lot of people don't enjoy their job. It's so sad. Sometimes they even act like it's a burden when you ask them a question or for help. They only do the bare minimum and don't care about pleasing the customers. Diane and Peter agreed. Anyway here are some pictures of the inside of Puyguilhem.

This sculpted decoration represents the labours of Hercules although only six out of twelve were carved. Hercules in these sculptures at the castle represents the king of France (Francois I) and since some of the labours of Hercules were minuscule (such as wiping down tables and cutting apples) they didn't want to portray the king as doing such tasks. Hence only six were made.

Man above door with ax in early renaissance  = do not enter, private.

Timbers in the restricted attic. Sadly, mold has started to grow on some of the wood around windows and it is of major concern now.

Castle grounds. This circular building is called a putlog hole. It is where they would raise pigeons and doves and then eat them. Our branch president does the same thing except he doesn't have a fancy putlog hole. He also makes his poor wife kill the pigeons.

Can you see the lizards sunbathing on this dude's head?

I don't know why but I absolutely love stone steps with moss growing in between the rocks.

House of the castle-keeper right next door. Lucky duck. I told Kyle when we retire we should move to the South of France and become guides for a beautiful castle. And then open up a little LDS visitor center next to it.

Next up we visited the ruins of an abbey built in the 1100's. It was like a maze and you could still enter most the rooms, some dark and some open to the sky. When I saw this rock archway with sunlight coming in I immediately pictured the Savior, the tomb, and His resurrection. Such a lovely moment especially so near to Easter.

It felt like those stones were going to break and fall at any moment. Watch your head.

Peter found a bird's nest in a crevice in one of the walls.

Kyle checking out a hole with about twenty of lizards. Then we reminisced about the early days of our lives camping with family and trying to catch lizards only to pull their tails off. Sad. But they grow back so it was okay.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kyle is legal!

Last week l'OFII  (Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration) finally called Kyle in for his medical exam. About freaking time. We leave in one month and this exam is supposed to happen within the first two months you are living in France. It is an absolute MUST to get the medical exam done and if you miss your appointment you're pretty much toast. I got called in back in January but wasn't able to go--long story--but I had legitimate proof and they let me reschedule but I still haven't been sent a letter telling me when to come in. I'm secretly hoping I can just fly under the radar because 1) we're leaving the country in 1 month and 2) my exam costs 350 euros plus a 20 euro train ticket. Cross your fingers! I tell you what, France is expensive. And the paperwork is so inefficient, it's a nightmare. If you want to get a taste of how it is, read this post. You can't help but cry and then laugh at the whole process of becoming legal here. Don't get me wrong though, I love France... Just not all of it.

The exam took about 20 minutes and Kyle left with a little souvenir...chest x-rays, yay! I'm kind of jealous now that I don't have any.

Since we had a mandatory appointment in Bordeaux (an hour and a half from Perigueux) we decided to take a mini vacation and explore the city. We went back in November to see the new Harry Potter film in Enlgish, but it was only a half day trip, not nearly enough time to soak it all up. Plus it's finally spring here and the weather was for-mi-dable (amazing in French). Get ready, here comes lots of pictures.

Mollat is a Librarie (bookstore) in Bordeaux that is huge. They have rooms dedicated to just one subject. It was super cool being a book-lover and all. I've fallen for these French recipe books and I think I just might have to splurge before leaving and buy a few...

This arch was part of the defense that surrounded the entire centre ville back in the day

Whoa, KFC made it into France

Trying to get creative with our pictures


Best part of our trip was almost getting locked in the Musee D'Aquitaine. We didn't realize the time and all of the sudden lights just started turning off. We then ran into a lady and she apologized saying everybody was gone...

I definitely have mixed feelings leaving in a little over a month. I'm looking forward to spending time with family and friends. I miss Mexican food. I miss my job. But I know I will miss France and all its charm too. I will miss the feeling of "did that just really come out of my mouth and they understood me?". So cool. I secretly hope that Kyle gets accepted to the International Law Program he wants so we'll be able to move back for another year. At least then I'll be prepared for all the paperwork and not stress about it.

Last night Kyle came down with a pretty bad sore throat so today I made him stay home from church. I was so proud of myself for going without him. I spoke French and managed everything on my own. Everyone kept telling me how much I've progressed in the language and it made me feel real good. I will miss our sweet little sometimes nonfunctional branch here in Perigueux. It has been the first real ward that we've felt apart of and I've learned so so much. 

Well mesdames and messieurs, I must get back to pampering my husband while he's sick and make him a cup of infusion.