So, the three things I was supposed to do this week? Didn't end up doing any of them! Haha. Well I already said I wasn't doing the first.. the second one got postponed by the friend who invited me (because something came up) and the third... I ended up changing my mind at the last minute because I accidentally found some scary articles online about Couch Surfing which freaked me out. In hindsight it was stupid of me to get so worked out about it and reading too much into everything but I'm kinda glad I didn't go today anyway as the weather is/was crap.
Well I did do 2 random social things this week though! And I had awesome fun at both of them.
1. One morning, one of my lovely friends offered to take me around to do my errands which is so much easier to do with a car and just as well too as it was raining that day. He ended up taking me to the town market, which - as everyone knows - France is famous for. I knew about this market when I first arrived but I couldn't coordinate it with my schedule since I work every morning and wouldn't really have enough time to get there before it closed, and back before lunch was over. This time, we didn't have a lot of time either but my friend still ended up buying a lot!
Now, I'd been to and seen markets in France before of course (during my travels to other towns). But this was the first time I was shown how it all 'works' by a local. What a treat I was in for! At first I just wandered around by myself taking photos and one of the greengrocers offered me samples of his fruit to taste. All the market sellers seemed very friendly and you could freely taste anything you wanted. Apart from fruit/veges (fruits et legumes) there were also stalls selling bread (pain), cheese (fromage), dried meats (viande sechée), olives (olives), spices (piments), and other such typically French foods. There were also a whole heap of stalls selling things like clothes (vêtements), shoes (chassures) and handbags (sacs à main).
I thought I might buy something while I was there and picked out some mandarins (which the French call clementines), bananas (des bananes) and apples (et des pommes). The guy weighed it for me and then I was about to pay for it when my friend was acting all weird and told me to put my purse away.
As I quickly realised, he was going to haggle with the owner (who he'd obviously bought from before) to get a good deal. He ended up buying boxes/cases and then I got my stuff for free! Woohoo. What a great friend and what a nice lesson. Haha.
It is SO nice to be shown stuff like that by locals... I was hoping I'd be shown around more in this town but those moments have been very far and few indeed.
A bit off topic but... we made it back just in time to eat lunch in the school cantine (yes a highlight of our day - haha) and I noticed a couple of my students sitting nearby. Nothing strange about that. But because we weren't sitting with any other teachers or staff (it was almost time to pack up and not many people were around then but usually the cantine is totally crowded) I just had this feeling something was gonna happen later... and yes, it happened. Those students later asked me about him. Oh gosh. I actually think I went red with embarrassment. A few female students asked me, "Is he your boyfriend?" (yes, in English). I said, "You don't know who he is? He works at this school. He's just a good friend, that's all." Oh dear.
2. The second social/exciting thing I did this week was... last night I met up with someone in my town from Couchsurfing. Before we agreed to meet up I said I was a bit scared walking back home by myself late at night, which is something I've never done here as usually I'm with other people or with someone who has a car (not to mention it's kind of boring and freezing cold and up a big hill too so not exactly that much fun) and he kindly offered to walk me home which was so nice (and also because he didn't have a car either).
He was super nice and friendly and we shared a nice dinner in town. It was totally a spur of the moment decision of mine so I'm so happy he agreed to spend some time with me. He's fairly new in the town too, and lived in several cities/countries too like me so we had lots of stories to share. He told me he always wished someone would want to 'surf' with him and I said the problem is, noone would think to look up our town's name because it's so small! (whereas people in big cities get bombarded).
I've realised that.... How much I enjoy my time in France seems to depend a lot on how much human interaction I get with interesting company!! I really tire of people who can only talk about their work or their family or the news... and I also really tire of being asked about the floods in Australia (yes, still!) because it's obvious they have no idea what to say to me...
Pic: by me, taken in Chambéry.