(Je ne suis pas means I don’t know in English. Pretty much sums up how I feel hearing this much French)
It has been a few days since my last post and a lot has happened since then! Thursday we went on a trip to Bordeaux to visit two wineries and a farm that grafts vines. I didn’t know grafting could be used for vines, but it’s done with an American root and European top so that the quality is that of a European wine, but the American root is resistant to a harmful disease to the grapes. We did a wine tasting in Bordeaux, all of which were delicious. Also, we visited a mass production winery while in Bordeaux. The equipment was unbelievably big, pictures don’t even do it justice.
Friday was my final day of school and we did a wine tasting for class and took our final examination later in the day. Friday was also the day of graduation for the students at Purpan, including our program assistants. The school throws a huge party for this. It’s unlike anything you would see in the states, they provided alcohol and the party lasted until atleast 3 am if not later (I left before then). It was our last night with all of us together which was kind of bittersweet.
Saturday I finally got time to go out and eat crepes for breakfast! The enormous nutella and banana crepe I got was definitely worth the wait. Darcie and I did some shopping that day since there is a huge two week sale throughout France that was going on. The rest of the day involved packing for my internship that I left for Sunday afternoon!
Beginning of my internship at Clos Bastè
Sunday I checked out of my home for the last month and went on my way to the train station to get to Tarbes where I would meet my host family for the first time! Toulouse is the fourth biggest city in France, but still isn’t very much of a touristy area so I was really surprised to have ran into a guy wearing a Notre Dame football shirt. I stopped him and we talked for a second while I was skyping with Kyler. As soon as he walked away I told Kyler I should’ve asked him what train he was on to see if by any chance he was going to the same place. He walked by again and it turns out we were on the same train! Turns out he graduated from Notre Dame and was on his way to Lourdes which was a few stops passed mine, but we talked the whole way.
I got off the train and walked a little ways to hear people calling my name behind me…that’s when I met my host dad and oldest sister, Phillipe and Claire! Phillipe’s English is pretty good and Claire’s is too to my relief. I still must speak differently than I would to a fluent English speaker of course, but I can get my point across to them and understand them on most things. They drove me to their home and my home for the next few weeks in Moncaup which is in the middle of nowhere but is absolutely beautiful. There’s a lot of corn, it’s almost like being in Indiana but a million times prettier. I met my host mom, Chantal and then my two other sisters Manon and Amelie. They have two dogs, Blackie and Belle as well as three cats that all look the same so I’m not sure if they have names. Chantal speaks 0 English which is a challenge but if she speaks slowly enough I can try to get the gist of what she is saying. Manon is also learning English at school and is very good. Amelie is only five, but she is learning too. She mostly teaches me French…and then laughs hysterically at my pronunciation. She will repeat herself ten times until I get it right…can’t tell if it’s because she has a lot of patience for a five year old or if she just likes to laugh at me. Regardless, the whole family is very nice and so welcoming despite the language barrier. They also feed me like a queen, I’m never going to want to eat an American style lunch again after eating lunch like the French. You start with salad, some vegetables, ham, and bread. Then you have some more sides to go with your main course which is some variation of meat that’s always delicious, then you always get dessert. And wine of course. It’s very extravagant, much more extravagant than dinners in The U.S. The first night I got here we had dinner and watched some of the women’s French basketball team play in the finals… Unfortunately they lost to Serbia I believe. Monday I didn’t work because Phillipe was off doing something and the girls were all at school so I hung out and read in the hammock, took a nap, and picked up the girls from school with Chantal and her nephew François. Today, Tuesday, we went to the vineyard at 7:30 am to prune the vines so that wind could get to them to prevent mildew from the morning dew. We worked until about 12:15 and then came home to have lunch and go swimming! The vines we worked on today were for Merlot and Tannat varieties. (Tannat is local to this region of France)
That’s all I’ve got for now, hopefully this posts because the wifi isn’t very strong out here in the boonies.