Friday, June 21, 2013

The Last Day

Today is my last day in Nice. The week has been filled by Mariette’s guidance. The weather has turned quite warm, but I continued to take long walks.
Tuesday afternoon, Vesna was not home, I had forgotten that she was having surgery for carpal tunnel that day. So I went to the Music of Contemporary Art. There were plenty of new things to see and the rooms were air-conditioned.
Wednesday, I was able to meet with Xu Fang in the afternoon. She has a car, so we drove to the galeria (the mall) Cap 3000, just past the airport. She likes Starbucks, and they have a small store there. Xu speaks French quite well, and rapidly, her English is as strong; I am the opposite. Between us we were able to communicate what has been happening for the last two years. She wants to teach singing in a Chinese university some day. She has at least one more year, probably two to complete her diploma in France with a Master’s degree.
On Thursday, I met with Vesna. We had hoped to meet at 2:00, but she was not yet home. I did not know this, but thought perhaps she was needing to sleep after her surgery. So I decided to go to Nuit d’Etoiles (the mall of Nice Centre) to cool off and “shop.” There are so many pretty things here, but very little that is attractive to me because of the prices. The dollar is not doing well against the euro. Each time I withdrew money, it lost ground. (However, TODAY, it is doing a little better.) After an hour of looking around, I returned to Vesna’s house. She was home and a little worried about me, I suppose. I listened to her story about how the she had to pay in advance for the surgery, but it will be repaid, but not for three weeks. Not easy for someone on a set income. I hope it all works out. We went for a walk – more window shopping for me – until after 6:00. I headed back to Chez Mariette about 6:35. We were going to Murielle’s house for an apertif typical of the southern region of France. We took the bus there.
Murielle lives near the airport in a little villa. Her garden is her pride with lots of flowers and fruit trees. The house belonged to her grandparents, since the 1940’s. The furniture inside is theirs also. She has a fat cat named “Squat” who is quite calm. There was a little salamander on the ceiling who was eating insects, but was calmly resting while we were eating below.
Murielle served us a least 4 different kinds of wine or homemade liqueurs. I always forget that an apertif includes multiple stages of food. We had dried ham with cantaloupe, then stuffed courgette (zuchinni special to the region), then both goat and sheep cheese (I prefer the chevre-goat cheese), we passed on the salad (lettuce), then finished with strawberries and a choice of Häagen-Daas ice cream. It was a lot of food! A lovely evening. Afterwards, Murielle drove us home in her little car, so we arrived back about 11:00 PM.
Gratefully, this morning, I did not have to get up too early. Mariette and I took the train to Antibes. What a beautiful little town. We walked all over. Mariette is arranging activities for the students that she will have the next three weeks there. They will have a good time. We even stopped at the school site – it was formerly a Catholic school that is now being used only for special events, like the International School for Language for which Mariette will be teaching.
After walking along the beach and stopping to ask about a possible boating afternoon for the students-to-come, we walked up the rocky path – le chemin de calvier – the way of Calvary. It was quite warm, even walking in the shade as much as possible. There were outdoor stations erected regularly along the hill. Near the top, I needed to sit on a bench for a little while to cool off. Once at the top, the view was perfect. It had a very old church, first built by Constantine in the 4th century. It is dedicated to Helen of the Cross. It was closed when we arrived, but there was some activity on the grounds because on Sunday, the feast of St. Peter, the guardian of fishermen, would be celebrated with a procession and mass.
We ate a sandwich under the trees before descending along the same path – it felt much cooler now. We passed along the beach towards the old town. There we stopped at the school so Mariette could prepare the classrooms she would be using the next three weeks. Then we stopped for some ice cream – I had both fig and black cherry flavors of sorbet. It was very good. Next we walked around to another plaza where there was a café with a garden. Here we had something to drink. The theme of the garden was frogs. There was a sign in English (because it would only work in English): Parking for Frogs only, all others will be Toad. It took a little explaining for this to make sense to Mariette; she did appreciate it. They had a fish tank with an albino frog in it – a little surprising.
Just after ordering our drinks, Mariette remembered to check for her school keys, but they weren’t in her purse, so she ran back to try to find them, which she did. She returned just after our drinks arrived. After this, we made our way back to the train station. It was a lovely day.
Tonight a few friends are gathering for an apertif at Chez Mariette. Then we will attend the first evening of the Festival of Musicians. If I understand correctly, there will be multiple stages around town with music of every kind from around the world. It will be fun to be in the crowd for this.
After a short night of sleep, I will take a taxi at 4:30 AM to the airport and be on my way again, back to home. The time has passed quickly, for sure. We have shared much about our two countries and our lives, Mariette and I. It was a very different experience from my first time here. I feel that I’ve gained much being encouraged to speak about so many things via French.
Where to next, dear Readers?
Au revoir, la France!

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