New school, new family, new home, new phone

6 Sep

That’s a lot of new.

Things have been crazy busy in the last few days, but I’m finally getting settled in and once classes start next week, I’ll be in my new routine.  It’s been a while since my last update, but I’ll try to go over things quickly and not bore you!

Friday night, we went to visit a ranch near Le Grau du Roi (where we stayed for the weekend) that raised bulls for racing and fighting.  Just the drive there was a treat to see the Mediterranean, vineyard after vineyard, and the flamingos?  Yep, flamingos.  In France.  No one told us about that, but apparently they’re everywhere down here.  In fact, the shops around here all had these souvenirs with horses, bulls, and flamingos.

But once we arrived at La Manade, it turned even more into a “wait, I thought we were in France” moment as it looked like a true ranch with the barn-like buildings and cowboys riding around on horses–but with a French twist, of course.  The cowboys, while totally legit, wore fedoras.  But hey, which came first and which is the “real” farm hat–the fedora or the American cowboy hat??  Regardless though, it was amusing.

We rode on a tractor/wagon and went on a tour of their land and their bulls while the cowboys rode around us and herded the bulls, and we got to see their race track and when we got back we watched as some of the farm hands played/taunted/ticked off the bulls in a ring arena and tried not to get stabbed in the butt.

Afterward, we had a traditional French meal with all of the courses, including a basket of fresh vegetables and the main dish of bull, of course.  It was all really good, and then to top it off, we were invited over to the barn where the farm hands and friends (young and old) were dancing and partying.  We joined in, and it was a lot of fun to see how different the music and the dancing was–it was just fun, everyone just did what they wanted, and even our program directors joined in.  And of course, techno and house (still unsure exactly what house is) without lyrics usually, OR as a remix of an eighties song.  Every now and then, I was pulled by the hand and I danced salsa/swing with some of the farm hands (one a 16 year-old who was especially thrilled to have all of these college girls there I’m sure), and by the end of it, I was given the title of Dancer of the Night.  So, thank you Mom for the cotillion and dance classes!

Saturday, we had a nice boat ride on a great big catamaran on the Mediterranean, but we really only just went around the bay area.  But it was really nice being out on the water–it was so pretty, and there were a lot of other boats out (sail boats, yachts, jet skis).  Afterward, we laid out on the beach and threw the Frisbee around in the water.  I was stupid and didn’t put any sunscreen on and got quite a nice rouge.

Sunday, we went to Arles briefly and visited the Museum of Antique Arts.  It was very cool and definitely a test for my French.  It was all about the Roman ruins and artifacts discovered in the city and in the Rhône River in Arles.  They had a lot of cool things and so much of it was in really good shape.  Their prized possession was a bust/head of Julius Caesar, which was also in amazing shape.  It’s important for two reasons: it’s the only bust of JC in France, and it is one of the only made during his lifetime, so it’s a very true likeness.

After Arles, we went to Aigues-Mortes, which is a completely walled-in city from the time of St Louis (Louis IX) in the 13th century.  The walls are filled in to the brim with little streets full of shops, restaurants, and houses.  It was so pretty, and we ended up walking around for a long time just looking at all of the houses.  We took a tour of the tower, which imprisoned women (the original sinners) of the Protestant Reformation (Huguenots).

Then, it was back to the office to meet our family!  We were all so nervous and the families were so excited, and we all kind of lined up one group facing the other, and we joked that it was like a game of dodgeball.  And once one of the directors started calling out our names to match up, it felt like she was picking teams and the last few of us joked that we were the losers who nobody wanted on their team haha.  My family is great!  The parents are very nice and are so helpful for improving my French, and the little 10-year old boy Matteo is so sweet and cute!  The house is very cool too.  They have a pool (I had no idea) and a faux-lawn with lounge chairs and a bar up above, then a level down they have their house and the dad’s office, and then stairs down to the street (they are kind of built up against a tall bank/cliff).  We are in the old (very old) part of town, they say they’re in a separate village than the rest of the suburb, and it has the typical tiny French streets winding around, and the beautiful windows and houses, and a church from the 12th century (I think).  My room is very cool too; I have a loft where my bed is and a ladder/stairs up to it.  It’s so cool and everything is so French!  I love it.

Anyway, I should go, but I will write more about the French culture and lifestyle more later, I’ll try not to be so boring with just reports on what I’ve done each day!  I miss you all and hope everything’s great stateside!



5 Responses to “New school, new family, new home, new phone”

  1. nancy September 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    Is that a photo of your house or he neighborhood that you are in??

    • clukens34 September 7, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

      That’s the view from my window looking down the street.

  2. todd September 7, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    that sounds wild and crazy Coo! have fun. I once “played/taunted/ticked off the bulls in a ring arena and tried not to get stabbed in the butt.” in Costa Rica…good/ill-advised times…

    love ya

  3. Cory September 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    if you happen to have extra room in a duffel bag when you return and a pension for a little bit of excitement, what do you think the chances are of you returning with a said flamingo in your possession? would love to see that conversation at immigration, I’m just saying, could be a good time and a stuffed one would look kick ass in my apartment…

    • clukens34 September 9, 2010 at 9:22 am #

      I’ll work on it. I may go to the beach this weekend, so I’ll see what I can do.

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