08 November 2009

Just When Things Settle Down...

Having just returned from exhausting travels, I planned nothing for this weekend. And having planned nothing, I had many things crop up for me to do.

Let’s start with Thursday: I fortunately spent most of the day out of the house while our heater was noisily replaced. I left at 8:30am and violĂ , returning at 6pm found the old unit gone, the pipes newly soldered and attached to our brand new heater. I’m tempted to post a picture of it. Let’s disregard for the moment the fact that it has quit twice, since Thursday, for no apparent reason. This leads me to reflect on my elusive handiness and think about becoming better at fixing my own possessions.

Thursday nights are dance nights. Victo and I are taking an African dance class that brings to our attention our inherent awkwardness and self-consciousness. Over the course of an hour and a half, we and several other women learn to dance to the beat of the djembe drums, moving every possible body part in every possible direction. This being the second week, I did notice a slight improvement in certain steps, which I can only describe to you with cryptic titles like “bird/raptor-like lunge” and “drunken sidestepping meets wall.” I like it.

A two-class Friday turned into a semi-class day, as one of my teachers had failed to notify me of an in-class exam and the other hasn’t quite figured out how to utilize me. I used the time to review the information packet for my application to the Masters program in Linguistics at McGill University; did I mention the acceptance rate is fifteen percent? To give myself a confidence boost, I stopped by my (French) bank and opened a (French) savings account, then a second one (also French) just for good measure. I don’t know how proving myself in French will help my application to McGill, but it had the desired effect!

Friday night was marked by two momentous events, both quasi-celebrations of my first month’s salary. First, Victo and I replenished our larders with a big “no more pasta!” grocery run. Slightly more exciting was the dinner out we had later on with Susi, the German assistant, at a neighborhood creperie. Creperies are uniquely Breton, and the meal consists of a galette, a thin pancake made from buckwheat flour and stuffed with goodies like egg, cheese, tomatoes, and nuts. This is followed by a crepe, eaten with a variety of toppings like butter, caramel, chocolate, jam, sugar, and fruits. All this you eat with the typical hard cider that Brittany is famous for.

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day, so Susi and I went for a bike ride along the canal. Just when I don’t think life can get more picturesque:

Upon our return to town, we ran into the large Breton festival that took over Pontivy this weekend, and we sat in on a bagpipe competition. We returned later in the evening for the fest noz, night festival, which includes traditional Breton music and dancing. The Bretons have Celtic origins, and the cultural ties become evident when you see the bagpipes, “Irish” dancing, and even kilts! This was my first fest noz, and I would say that while I liked the music, the dancing was not inspiring. Although I saw it danced by professionals, I myself participated with the general public in the pinky-holding lines you see here:

We left a little after midnight, and the bagpipes and pinkies showed no signs of winding down!

Then today, in another show of hospitality, we were invited to lunch with one of the Spanish teachers and another of the German teachers in Hennebont, close to Lorient and the seaside. The meal was long, delicious, filling, and soaked. And after all this, the idea was to go horseback riding! Luckily I landed a docile and attentive horse, and easily got my “riding legs” back. We rode around Hennebont and through fields: a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Now back to a full week of work.

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