You know, there are times when you just can’t catch a break. It’s not particular to France, or to the US for that matter: sometimes things just don’t work out as planned. And then they don’t work out as hoped. And then they just plain don’t work out.
For example, this past weekend Victo and I planned an overnight trip to Lorient, the other big city in our département (read “county”). We thought we’d meet up with other language assistants, have fun visiting the city, maybe peek in on some Lorient nightlife. But alas, very few assistants responded to my initial email about hosting. Only Alex, a Canadian who fulfills all the wonderful stereotypes, invited us for dinner.
So Victo and I arrived by bus around noon on Saturday and visited the town. Lorient looks much different than Vannes, notably because the town was completely destroyed and completely rebuilt. So I didn’t stumble upon any ramparts or tiny medieval alleys, but I did find lots of boats and likely the biggest anchor I’ve ever seen:
As the afternoon sun faded, Victo and I headed for the youth hostel where we’d decided to stay, since none of the Lorient assistants had offered to house us. I knew that the hostel was not downtown, but as we walked, waited a half hour for a bus, and walked again, I realized just how inconvenient the location was. My opinion slipped lower when we were slapped with a subscription fee to this certain hostel association (FUAJ), an addition that almost doubled the cost of the stay. Then, looking at the bus schedule, I went from disappointed to disgruntled as I realized that the bus back came only once an hour, and that we had just missed it.
So dinner was late. Okay, manageable. After dinner, we had planned to go out and meet up with the other assistants. It was a good plan, but the evening soured quickly as we met more and more assistants who said, as if surprised, “Oh, you could have stayed with me. I live in a house just a couple blocks away and all my roommates leave on the weekend.” A nice offer, but too late.
Speaking of too late, we could only visit for an hour because the “night bus” service stopped at 11:30. Resigned, we got on the bus and got off at the stop closest to our hostel: still a 25 minute walk, through confusing suburban streets. Thank goodness we had a map!
The next day, although Alex had invited us to visit a few other neat sites in Lorient, Victo and I were too exhausted and depressed to think about anything but going home. We walked twenty minutes to the bus stop; on a Sunday morning, we were lucky to catch a bus at all. After an hour bus ride home, we both crashed and crawled into our separate corners for the rest of the day. Next time, Lorient.
And that was just the weekend! I don’t want to bog you down with complaints. But after that weekend, and one teacher who skipped my class, and the never-ending expectation that I know exactly how things work here, and the heat that broke last night, and the difficult students, and the rain…
If you didn’t know before, “my life in France” is not all baguettes and bonheur. Wish I had my dog.