Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Everyday Life in France

In the mornings, as light filters into the bedroom from the shutters that are tented open, I can feel the cool air. But I don't open the shutters, letting them continue to block the sun that beats against the window on the east side of the house.
Instead, I get dressed, usually in my running clothes, and walk out the front door, sometimes paying attention to my phone, starting my app and my music. I might or might not notice the other homes around with me with their shutters and their terraces.
Usually, it is not until I round the corner that I am struck dumb by the beauty of this place. The mountains covered by greenery, until they get near the top where golden rocks jut jaggedly toward the piercing blue of the sky. I stop often and remind myself that I live in this place.

This photo was taken on a recent drive toward Perpignan, France, closer to those golden craggly rocks

I took this photo while on a run. The horse came to pose for his closeup. 

Tuesday night, we returned to Quiz Night -- it's a British quiz night, but the site where we made our first Quillan friends a month ago. We paired up with those same friends we had met, knowing that our odds of winning were nil since we were all Americans and the questions were often geared toward Brits. We were proud to finish 3rd from the bottom, number 6 out of 9, due to the category "France," which gave us a fighting chance.
The bar that hosts the Quiz Night is also the place we have been going to watch soccer games in the World Cup. We don't have a television here, so we wander down to Le Terminus to watch England or France play their games.
Watching France play in the World Cup -- the bar included two men with mullets and three dogs. 

One of the well-behaved dogs watching soccer
This banner hangs above the bar -- tournament of goals (buts) but we don't hear the announcer yelling: "Buuuuuuuuuuts" like we would "goooooooooooal"

The first time we arrived to watch soccer, they handed out free packs of fries (I suppose they would call them "chips" since it was a British game). The second time we arrived, to watch a soccer game, the bartender reached across the bar and shook hands with both Earl and me. Now we felt like we were part of the community.
In France, people don't tip bartenders and waiters. They make a living wage, unlike in the States where their hourly rates are reduced and they make up the pay by receiving tips.
As I was waiting at the bar to order a drink, I saw a British man order a giant beer and then add, "And one for you, Cedric."
"Un panaché," Cedric, the bartender said, acknowledging what drink the man would pay for. So the British man paid for his drink and for the bartender's drink.
Cedric shrugged apologetically at me as he poured his drink before asking my order. "He bought it for me," he said as he mixed the beer and limonade drink.
So, now that I'm on a handshaking level with the bartender, I must remember to occasionally buy him a drink.
Truthfully, I was at the bar to get a drink for the Quiz host. We're hoping to convince him to ask more neutral questions so us Americans might stand a chance at winning someday.
Little by little, we're learning more about life in a foreign country, but trying to remember to enjoy the strange and wonderful aspects of everything we see.

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