I’ve been trying to remember… Autrefois, j’etais…

May 24, 2010 at 11:02 AM (Uncategorized) (, , )

And my journal from my studying in France was lost between JFK and Cleveland back in 1983.

There are gaps.  Things I don’t remember anymore.  So I’d best get them down before I forget.

First, in the Brussels airport.  Learning that the French word for wheelchair was “chariot”

Second, feeling stinky and exhausted upon arrival at the youth hostel in Paris, only to discover that it was *ice cold.*  I don’t mean cool, or even chilly,,,the water felt like just melted ice.

The next day was a big day,,,but I’m not sure of what we saw…it could have been Notre Dame, or the Louvre, or the Hotel DeVille,  We saw these things. I’m just no longer sure of the order.

Then there was the fact that my wheel on my wheelchair lost it’s restraining nut (and no I don’t mean *me* LOL. ) so every twenty minutes or so for the rest of our time in Paris…the group developed a question regarding how often they should manually tighten the wheel.

“Is it time to screw yet?”

I know I missed the Eiffel tower and Sacre Coeur on that Friday.  Because I was just too freakin tired.  I slept that afternoon.

Again I don’t remember the order. Versailles, when the cobblestones threatened to decimate my kidneys as the wheelchair went over them.  Les Invalides a military museum with all sorts of weaponry. (Big bunches of Napoleonic stuff.)

The tomb of some of the French Kings.  I wasn’t spooked at all.  It was sunny that day, and even with the thin high windows enough light got in.  It was a peaceful  quiet.

Taking an elevator up the Arc De Triomphe…and having to walk down the whole thing…

Shopping.  Just a bit.  That got me a wonderful dark cloak that went missing between moves in Colorado in 1998.

Swiss chocolate (or Toblerone’s) and Orangina.

Bookstalls in the Quartier Latin.

Montmartre.

Sitting outside Saint Germain-des-Pres in my wheelchair and being mistaken for a beggar,  trying to decline the coins dropped into my hands.  Some asked our professor, “Ou est la temple Protestant?”  and he laughed at the thought that apparently he should know everything. “Monsieur Sait-Tout.”

Some parks in Paris.  Other museums.  (What is the name of that one close to La Petite Triannon?) Wait Wait, Jeu de Paume?  I’m misspelling it dreadfully.

Being silent and intimidated in Notre Dame, and wondering about the completely different vibe in La Madelaine.  (Felt more like social climbers go to Mass…)

The students from Paris that spoke with us. (One had a distinctly Southern accented English, because she’d been an exchange student to one of the Southern states.)

Eating a bit of horsemeat until I learned it was horsemeat ( “C’est du cheval.”)

The cool hostel in the Loire Valley.

Thank goodness for the owner of the bicycle shop in Blere (sorry no way to place the correct accent marks)

He fixed my wheelchair, so the rest of the trip, when I needed it, things proceeded without incident.

Watching US TV with French subtitles, mostly Star Trek episodes and the 1950’s Phantom of the Opera film with Claude Rains.

I loved most of the food, but tripe and squid passed up my tolerance level.

Chenonceaux, and other chateaus. I’ve talked about the long cold walk back from Chenonceaux before so I won’t rehash it here.  (forget the names, but I remember loving Chenonceaux and another one originally built bv Francois I, and really disliking one owned by one of the Ducs d’Orleans.)  I seem to remember we did a bit more studying on this leg of the trip and a bit less rambling about…that was actually fine by me.

Everyone crying a bit after they came out of the phone…had decided on the time to call home….

And then the TGV to the south of France and another hostel in Boulouris.

The staff told jokes.

And taught us drinking songs.

and some drink made of kirsch liqueur and white or rose wine.  Favorite drink ever.

The food was awesome…amazing fish, and tartes. Also fresh bread, fruit and cheese brought from the farmer’s marked by the more able bodied.  A simple kind of meal, but it was often our lunch. Studying in the morning, the beach in the afternoon 🙂

Seeing a part of the US naval presence in the Mediterranean at midday, when I and our professor had a day to ourselves.

The one morning that one of our number suddenly decided he had to call home to check on his twin brother…something had happened, but it wasn’t serious…

“Ce sont des jumeaux,” the idea that connection between twins happens all the time.

The last night in the south…when I saw a great sunset  and fell down a flight of stairs.

(Unfortunately it has turned out that some tissue or my back was damaged by that. A little painful all the time)  But my  docs have never investigated this, (snark to follow)  because after all, I’m fat, and all injury will be cured by weight loss. (end of snark)

That, and my pictures, is most of what I remember.

Why now?  Because yesterday I was struck by the thought that I’ll quite probably never be able to travel abroad again.

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