Thursday, June 6, 2013

Back in Nice

Return to Nice

Samedi 1 juin, 2013
Well, I’m heading back to Nice, France. Eileen dropped me off at O’Hare about 2:00 PM. The traffic heading in to Chicago was busy – the 35 miles through the construction zone was heavily traveled.
At the airport, I was reminded that no bag could be over 12 kilos, about 25 pounds. In order to manage that, I am carrying my computer separately. It was a little juggling act on the floor for about 5 minutes. But that worked and I got in line for security. They were very busy today, too. I reached the gate in plenty of time, so I’ve readjusted a bit more. The plane will be boarding about 4:30 – later than hoped, but at least there is no rushing.
Jeudi 6 juin 2013
Since I have been in Nice for five days already, it is a good time to review all that has happened.
The flight from Chicago to Amsterdam went well, but I could tell that my ears were filling up. Then on the shorter flight from there to Nice, I found that I couldn’t hear much at all. However it would only take two or three days for them to clear. That Sunday morning, Mariette met me at the airport. She has no car, so we got on the bus towards the train station that is very near her home. Soon I was settled into my room that is somewhat dimly lit. The window is a little difficult to open, and it opens to the next building anyway, so it is not very bright. However the front room, where we meet for lessons is sunny. The first evening I did my best to stay awake for several hours until dinnertime. 
Mariette is a wonderful cook and she prepares tasty and healthy meals for both dinner and lunches.  Breakfast is somewhat more casual, i.e. less structured and I am usually at the table by myself. I’m quite happy for this, because speaking in French is a taxing way to start the day. However, each day it is getting easier to say simple things.
By the time the first evening came, I knew that I had a head cold. Mariette let me use her saline syringe to clear my sinuses. I’m not sure it worked because I couldn’t get much to move out of my nose. Nonetheless, the salt water couldn’t hurt. Now that it is Thursday, the cold hangs on, but during the day I am not really bothered by it. I will have to watch it for a few days to be sure it doesn’t turn into a sinus infection or bronchitis, but so far so good.
I slept a long time the first night, from 9h 30 PM until 9h 15 AM. Ouau! (Wow!) Gratefully, Mariette understood and so we began our first lesson around 11 AM.  Normally our class is held from 9 until noon each day. Yesterday and today, we went for a walk around town to practice vocabulary and asking/answering questions. This continues to be a slow process for me, but I think I’m getting it. As I write this, some small French words come to me before the English, which I think is interesting.
On Sunday, Mariette introduced me to Pastelle, a retired lawyer from Washington, D.C. who is studying French at Azurlingua. Yesterday, Wednesday, Mariette took us on a bus to Eze-sur-la-mer to see the old town at the top of the hill. Pastelle’s new language friend Tonomi came along, too. I took a few pictures and will post them for you. It is really for tourists; most of the citadel has been transformed into shops. At the very top, where the old chateau was located, now there is a desert garden with cacti from around the world. The bees were quite happy there. We walked a lot – up and down the stairs and hills. Then we took the bus down the hill to Ville Franche. We were looking for the Institut de Français – a language school that Pastelle is interested in attending next summer. We walked along the wharf. There is a little chapel there for the local fishermen decorated by Jean Cocteau. The drawings are large (yet refined) for such a small space. No pictures were allowed, but there are many images on the Internet. C’est très jolie. The day was great. I slept quite well last night.
Mariette’s daughter Roxane is 17 years old. She is beautiful girl and has just finished school. She will take her university entrance exam in two weeks. She is spending most of her days and evenings studying with her boyfriend.  I haven't seen much of her because she has been sleeping in in the mornings and staying out later in the evenings. I hope she does well.

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