September 29, 2008
Delicatessens and Pardon my “French” :)I arrived in La Rochelle late Friday evening. It was a long sail in the sun from dusk to musk. My face was caked with salt and pink from baby sun screen. The customs agents were waiting at the dock for me as I pulled into my slip. Flying the American flag as you go about the world these days raises flags of other types . They were great, they asked me, “Obama, or McCain?” I said “Obama”. They said, “Se bon, enjoy your stay.” It seems to be on everyone’s mind. They are worried we won’t make change, and the World, from what I have seen is losing or has lost its endearment for America. We have an important role in the World, and our leader affects everyone and They realize it. But this journal is not a political forum, it’s just an observation. I am asked three times a day and even told I need to go home by November to vote for Obama. I found a pair of scissors in the shower and there went all my hair. Se bon.I get a lot of attention for being an American. Not a lot of us travel. The Canadians travel. The Australians and New Zealanders, they travel. Americans, we drive cross country, go to Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. There is so much to see without needing a passport. In the Marina here, there must be one thousand boats. There are three Canadian boats next to me. I have looked, and you know I am desperate for another American right now, because everyone here speaks French but me. No, the biggest marina in Europe and little Noche’s flag is the only stars and stripes I have seen. You guys owe me, I could be a big jerk right now and that would make you guys all big jerks too. At ease, please, I am rebuilding the faith in America over here. Today I took some friends sailing. It was sunny, warm with light winds and three Frenchies. One was Christian, one Atheist, one Muslim and me. We had a ball and we worked well as a team. Sailing is not accessible to all, but it is hugely dominant in the media and culture here. It was a treat for them. Anyway France has such a multi cultural history, I forgot beer, and the wind was slow so we had to touch on religion. We all connected in that little microcosm. At that moment we felt like we were all in the same boat; hey! We are all in the same boat.I am so amazed by the French demeanor. I used to think that they were rigid, stuck up and particular. Now they seem gentle and focused on the finer aspects of life. When you walk into a store they say “hello”. When you leave they “say good bye”. When you see someone you know, man or woman you kiss both cheeks. If you come across a group of your friends, look out, it can be very time consuming just doing the kiss greeting to each person can hold you up for a while, so you have to pick your route through town. The guys kiss each other too. I have never seen a gentler group of people. There is so much kissing going on all the time. Everyone is always kissing. A pub is more or less a kissing booth. If you are a bar tender you know a hundred people and those hundred people stop in everyday to say hi, and saying hi, means doing the double kiss thing. For us the bar tender might get the nod, or a high five which is my arm and your arms length away. Our greeting is two arms length away. What does that mean? For me, now, here, I have to shower, and maybe consider using soap now because my bubble is no longer two arms length away. But really, I see how close these people are and it blows me away. You ride in a little car and your shoulders are touching. How could you ever get into a fight when you were busy kissing everyone you were talking with. Laugh out loud, check this out, they really don’t understand why we say “Pardon my French” when we say a bad word. I guess I don’t either, besides the roots of our language, but they get a kick out of the idea that somewhere else in the world when un couth language, fesses or vulgar terms for the act of love are mentioned, it must be excused for being “French like”. How’s that supposed to go over? :)Can you spot Noche?