…actually I’ve been back for almost a month, but, as usual, time escaped me. I started to write this post a week or so after I moved into the new apartment, then other things battled for my attention– unpacking, an article to write and the vendange–more about that in future posts. Now, although it seems almost as though I never left, there are still almost daily reminders of how much I have yet to learn about living in France.
So, picking up on the subject of this post– I knew I was back when the automatic teller machine at the Credite Agricole in Pezenas ate my debit card. I went inside the bank and in French, rusty from four months of disuse, tried to explain to the teller. Come back tomorrow she told me (at least I think that’s what she told me, my comprehension had also suffered) and bring your passport. Since I already had identification, I wanted to ask why I couldn’t just have the card back maintenant, but I was already exhausted from the exchange plus I know a little more now about how French bureaucracy works.
So that was a Thursday. Friday, I thought about driving back to Pezenas, about 25 minutes away, but spent the day unpacking and shopping for groceries at my old friend the Super U. Love the wine and cheese, hate the financial transaction–I gave the clerk my American credit card which is supposed to work in France but doesn’t always–if it’s raining in Belgium, for example, a black cat crossed my path the night before, or Hollande wears a blue tie. I think it was Holland’e fault this time, it usually is. The clerk shrugged, shook her head and handed back the card. I gave her cash, the last euros I had in my billfold. Saturday, I thought again about going into Pezenas but it was market day and the place would be a zoo–also I wasn’t sure whether Credite Agricole would be open.
Monday, as I drove to Pezenas I rehearsed what I would say to the teller–I had it all written down in my notebook which I carry everywhere. But Monday, et voila, the bank is closed. As I walked back to my car, I met up with someone I know–French. He shrugged when I told him the bank was closed. Perhaps because it was open Saturday, was his best explanation. I think it might have been Hollande’s tie. Tuesday, the bank was open and I got my card back.
Lessons about living in France that I’ve learned the hard way and should actually write up and post on the fridge:
•DO NOT drive long distances on Sunday or at night when low on gas: 24 hour stations only take French credit cards and since there is no cashier on duty money won’t work. I discovered this ages ago, but apparently it hasn’t quite sunk in. Running on fumes, I found an Intermarché but, while everyone else was pumping away, I was stuck until the woman at the next pump took pity on me, accepted my 20 euros and paid for my fuel on her credit card.
•DO NOT run low on food or wine, especially wine, on Saturday then wait until Sunday afternoon to buy more. Nothing is open after noon on Sundays . . . well except for Jardinland, a chain of nursery supply stores because of course you never know when you absolutely have to have a geranium or a bag of potting soil. Just don’t try making a meal out of it.
•DO have cash on hand when shopping, just in case it’s one of those days — black cats, rain in Belgium, etc.
•DO NOT spend too much time wondering why things work the way they do in France. Just shrug. C’est la vie.
MY NEW DIGS
And, ta da, some pictures of my dwelling–I’m up with the pigeons on the third floor.
CATCHING UP ON THE PAST MONTH–
Waiting here at JFK
Oh man, I hate to fly.
So many brats, obnoxious and loud
A wailing, screaming fighting crowd
Please god they don’t sit next to me.
But security will open in an hour or two,
Cross my fingers they’ll let me through,
Then I’ll be on my way.
I’m leaving on a jet plane
Tomorrow morning I’ll be in Spain,
Oh man I need a drink….
That’s it for now, much more to write about, but I’ll save it for future posts. à la prochaine fois.