I’m progressing steadily, although today was a setback in terms of confidence. I was clearly told (although this is now denied) that I didn’t have to ask for the bus to stop in Pont de l’Isere, just La Roche de Glun. So I didn’t…and the bus didn’t stop and I ended up in another town. I asked for help at the high school in that town and someone came to pick me up, but it was really embarrassing and awful for my first day at Pont de l’Isere. This is the second time I’ve been really lost. The first was my very first morning in Valence, when I went for a walk and ended up in another town and was late for a rendez-vous with my “responsable.” She probably thinks I have some sort of mental disorder. Oh well. I don’t often make the same mistake twice. I just hate having to explain my mistake over and over again to everyone I’m working with.
Anyway, besides that, things are pretty good. The above building is La Manu, the foyer where I am living. I’ll take a picture of my room when I’m not drying my laundry everywhere. (The French dryers have low heat settings, alas. I guess I should rejoice in saving energy, though.) There are trompe l’oeils all over Valence, and this is the one on the windowless side of La Manu. Don’t worry, I have a window, and actually have the only railing like the one in front of the guitar player and snowboarder. I don’t really know what’s going on with the people dancing on the left, but they are evidentally in the walkway I photographed earlier.
I am getting along with most of the teachers, although there are a couple who are just accepting my presence and aren’t into the teaching of English. The first day of class is the hardest. Although I’m basically saying my name, age, where I come from, etc., I have to gauge how much English the class actually knows. The blank stares are usually a give away. My last round of first classes is tomorrow. And then I’m going to Geneva on Saturday!
Above is one of the more amazing things I’ve found. For only 1.80€, I bought this adorable and delicious pastry penguin. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but he had webbed feet, a beak, and eyes. I wanted to buy all ten of his friends, but the sugar contained in his rich chocolate filled head alone multiplied by 10 would have made me regret that. Usually, the animal pastries are disappointing, but this was an incredible exception. And it was a penguin! I think I have chosen my favorite patisserie in Valence. Plus, the woman there is always nice to me and smiles. A rarity sometimes in France. Not the niceness, the smiling. It’s not that they’re not happy, they just don’t show their teeth as much as us Americans.
Speaking of chocolate, I actually went to a chocolate factory yesterday: Valrhona. I was getting a ride from Connie, a woman from Connecticut who has lived in France for 18 years and teaches English here. On the way, she wanted to pick up some chocolate for her daughter’s wedding. The amazing thing about Valrhona is that in the chocolate store, you can sample as much as you want. And you can try everything! I ate too many truffles and then I tried some sort of liqueur filled chocolate and felt like I’d just taken a straight shot of alcohol. Which I covered up with another piece of chocolate. I felt so gluttonous, but it was free and delicious. I might be going back there. In the same town, Tain l’Hermitage, there is wine tasting. That would be a decadent day!