Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Paris was amazing. I took the TGV train from Nice. It was only a 6 hour trip and it was nice to see some of the countryside. Unfortunately I have developed some sort of reverse motion sickness. I now do better in those busses I normally take with shitty seats, bad roads and no shocks. Something about the spaciousness and smooth riding makes me horribly sick now.
Alison and I outside the Catacombs
It was great to see my two friends from GW Alison and Esther. I lived with both of them my last year at GW and with Alison years before that. Shout out to the Devenny Fam! It was nice seeing familiar faces and hanging out with people from what seems like my former life. We spent a good time laughing about old stories, most of mine included the library or some horrible sleeping or studying habit. Randomly another friend Eleanor from our first year at GW was in Paris for the weekend and we got to catch up and go out with her which was really great.
Esther and I on a boat tour of the Seine
Highlights of Paris include:
- When I first arrived, I walked around for 2 hours hungry because I couldn't decide on a place to eat. Everything looked that good.
-People watching was an activity by itself.
- We ate at this one crepe place 5 times! It was amazing. They used the same amount of cheese and meat we would use in Cameroon for six people but this time it was all for me. Chorizo, Chevre lettuce tomato onion or feta tarama olives lettuce and tomato were my two favorite.
- Shiny, clean and efficient. Ann-Marie likes to say that the developed world is shiny, and it was. Partly because it’s incredibly clean. Really clean. And nothing is better than efficiency. It was almost too efficient for me to handle. Forming lines, menus to order off from, functioning transportation systems, never waiting more than 5 minutes for anything!
-I went into the Sephora flagship store on Champs Elyse - the 5th Avenue of Paris. It was a total blur, I was overwhelmed. I walked out and didn't even know what happened. We went back a couple days later to put on lip gloss, Chanel perfume and my favorite Nars blush and repeated that same exact step every time we passed a Sephora.
- Wine, Wine, Wine. It was delicious and ridiculously cheap, especially if it came from the store around the corner instead of a restaurant/bar. A decent champagne was also only a few dollars. Got a little too excited about that and accidentally shot off one cork towards the apartments across the street from our hotel. No windows broken.
- I bought two tennis rackets for $25 dollars and brought them back with me so my Cameroonian friend Charles and I can try and play tennis. That wil be funny
-I spent hours just looking around in a grocery store. And I took pictures.
-There were times that my French came in handy, especially in Nice were fewer people spoke English. I feel like it’s more respectful to at least start off speaking the language. Sometimes I would speak in french and people would speak back to me in english. Apparently my french isn't that good and its definitely not parisenne French. I'm hitting to books when I get back home to improve. Little french children were ADORABLE and I'm determined to raise my kids speaking French as well.
-We saw the most famous works in several gorgeous museums. We did the church scene like Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame. We did just about everything you could do in Paris, boat ride on the Seine, Catacombs, Eiffel tower, Bastille, Victor Hugo's hangout spots, Versailles, the list goes on. But probably some of the best times I had were chilling in one of the parks with a bottle of wine and delicious french snacks. Or just walking around into all of the little boutiques, books shops, and gourmet food stores.
- No one gave a shit what "the white girl" was doing. I was completely anonymous and it was amazing.
-Did I already mention the dogs? Everyone has a little dog and they are allowed to go everywhere. Even homeless people had a dog. Even the homeless people were clean too. I had a hard time not laughing when they asked me for money (all of 3 of them I saw). If they're asking for money while drinking a bottle of french wine, I'm pretty sure they should be giving me money.
The only thing that would have made the trip better:
- If I could have met up with my family.
- If it was a bit warmer. (Never thought I would say that) Paris was between 55 and 65 degrees and I was freezing.
- If Matt Damon was there. The "city of lights'" is also the city of love, tres romantique!
I'm trying to put up pictures but since my camera broke (no surprise there) before I left for France, I'm now relying on other people to send them to me. I'm uploading tons of photos right now, it just takes forever here. Until then, if you want check out this link http://alumni.gwu.edu/news/2009_05/aprofile.html Since the three of us are all successful GW grads living in different parts of the world, the Alumni Association at GW profiled us for the newsletter.
I did miss Cameroon a bit. It was weird that no one wanted to have a random conversation with me. I felt like I should have asked the guy at the hotel reception desk where he was from or how his family is doing. I missed the amazing network of support and friends that I have made in Peace Corps. Especially other volunteers, they make living here great. Surprisingly it wasn't that hard to come back to Cameroon. Yeah all of that extra stuff is great, the cheese, the perfume, being able to drive a car, the clothes but really I guess I don't miss it that much. I've lived long enough without extravagance to realize it’s not necessary and in some ways I'm better off without it.
The plane ride back was amazing of course. I watched a bunch of movies that I thought were brand new, but apparently came out last year. I sat between some Cameroonian women and explained to them what the plane food was and how to use their TV screens. The grandmother wasn't interested in the movies but we both enjoyed getting refills on the refreshments. Her gout of choice was Heineken, and the stewardess kept them coming. I knew I was on my way back. Half way through the flight the plane started smelling like B.O. and a latrine and Cameroonian businessmen were gathered around the steward drink stations like it was a free happy hour. Yup, I was almost in Cameroon alright.
I'm currently writing this at our transit house in Yaoundé and by the time I post it, I'll probably already be in Bertoua. Over the past 2 days since I arrived in country the mosquito bites have reappeared everywhere, including on my face! I've already fallen back into the habit of arguing about prices of taxis, beans, bananas etc. And the rat problem at the house right now is something I'm trying to not think about.... Home sweet home.