30 August 2010

When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Gendarme

As summer comes to a close, so do things at EVP.  This week we hosted a packed-out camp of Chinese immigrants who live in the Marseille/Nice regions.  Our team had dwindled from 20-something to 4 (with the newly retired director and his wife joining us for dish-duty after each meal).  There were many interesting moments as Chinese culture couldn't be further from French culture!  But that analysis is for another day.

Since it had been a crazy few days and the four of us were leaving between Sunday and Wednesday, we were given Saturday off.  We decided to hit the beach.  Which meant I was driving.

29 August 2010

Driving Along in my Automobile

During my 18 months of 'prefield training' I tried to look ahead as much as possible and learn new skills that I would need in Niger.  I thought it would help make the transition a bit easier.  I went a summer without airconditioning, tried out recipes from More With Less, learned how to pluck a chicken, and had a few lessons in driving a manual car. 

My friend V. used to take me to a parkinglot in SouthPhilly and let me practice parking, reversing, and driving (very) slowly.  We even left from time to time to cruise the streets of the city . . . but with all the lights and pedestrians, I don't remember ever making it up past second gear.  And a few times in rural SouthAfrica I ran a few errands . . . on the left side of the road . . . but never had any great success reversing.

22 August 2010

This Just In

I just received an email from a colleague at Galmi.  Seems the water pump is broken again.  This happend earlier this year.  The hospital's well not only provides water for the compound, but for the village of Galmi too.  Here's the news I've received so far:
O. is the Galmi water man who is in charge of the town’s water supply. This morning he came to us saying the water pressure to the town is not what it normally is. We found that the hospital pump, which supplies the hospital and the town of Galmi, is not working.

15 August 2010

Sometimes the Only Thing to Say Is 'OOPS!'

So the other day, while eating lunch, I recommended a few good French films and books to a fellow EVP volunteer.  I suggested Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) which is an incredible true story of the fomer editor of Elle France.  Over the summer I read the book in French and have seen the film several times (in French, with and without subtitles).  As an OT I really enjoy the story, as it shows the perspective of the patient.

12 August 2010

Je Peux Te Comprendre

All of the guests from this session have gone.  We finished scrubbing down the whole of the camp in order to prepare for the next group which arrives on Monday.  Most of the other staff leave this weekend, among which are the only two native French speakers.  C. is a retired teacher who came with her cat for 15 days to help out.  She's fabulous.  Eccentric and unconventional, but with a heart of gold and great sense of humor!

This morning at breakfast, the conversation switched to English for a few minutes (due to limitations in vocabulary).  I appologized to the two Francophones, not wanting to exclude them.  C. smiled, assuring me it was no big deal, and said 'I understand best when you speak in English.'

Wanting to clarify, I asked 'You understand best when I speak, verses the others, or when I speak in English verses French?'  After a good laugh, she assured me it was the prior.  Apparently we Americans speak much slower than the Brits, Scots, or Irish.

08 August 2010

05 August 2010

A La Plage

So yesterday afternoon, the camp packed everyone up and we headed to the coast (~20 minutes drive) for some beach volleyball, swimming and a picknick dinner (I have some photos, but unfortunately my camera is back in my caravan . . . better planning next time).  Needless to say, it was TRES TRES BELLE!!

After about half an hour of reading in the sand the heat became pretty intense, so I hit the waves with a few other girls working here.  Accompanying us was a jolly-shaped madame who has to be in her early 70's with her gray hair pulled into a tiny ponytail at the back of her head.  She was short and round, and absolutely adorable!

02 August 2010

Les Fourmis

I arrived at l'Eau Vive without event.  I had dinner with the other staff (mostly college aged folks from England, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, Canada, and one other American).  The French came back as soon as I stopped being nervous.  I got unpacked in my own private caravan and layed back to read for a bit.  When I got tired I went up to the main building to brush my teeth.

Upon coming back, I pulled back the sheet to find a quarter sized (body, not leg-span) furry khaki colored spider.  Having been very pleased to not a roommate for the 4 weeks, you can imagine my 'disappointment' in finding him there.  Okay, truth be told, I'm just not a spider-lover . . . which he sensed as soon as my flip-flop came speeding for his head--at which time he took off and I shouted 'BUT I'M NOT EVEN IN AFRICA YET!'

01 August 2010

Last Minute Cold Feet

So I'm in Marseille.  Spent the night with some friends, and am supposed to take a 26 minute train up to a little town near Aix-en-Provence, called Ragnoc.  But I've been thinking . . . all French, all the time!

ALL FRENCH, ALL THE TIME!!!!

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?! 

Who told me this would be a good idea?  Who suggested this??  Well, if this isn't sink-or-swim I don't know what is.  Okay . . . I'm going to count to 5 and be done.  .

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 4 and a half . . . okay, this will be good for me.  It will.  I'm just going to keep telling myself that.  I can do this . . . I think I can . . . I think I can . . . I think I can . . . I . . . . . . .