It has been 3 weeks or so since I have updated the blog, I have been so busy with working and ventures on the weekends. I have officially been at the castle in the center of France for a whole month and it has been a wonderful month indeed!
The KIDS are crazy and always so full of energy. We keep up and manage just fine but some days you wonder how they still want to run around after hours of intense activity. It reminds me of my friend’s chocolate lab that would still force me to play with her even though her heart was beating out of her chest and her lungs puffing for air. I have never been one to like children or get attached in any way, but I have found myself warming up to them. A bizarre combination of being a kid’s parent, teacher, and best friend for an intensive week of 14 hour-a-day contact causes you to really love the kids like they were your own child or little brother or sister. We have definitely had some campers who have driven us to insanity, some antagonize you and boo you whenever you enter the room, some tell you about diarrhea, and some don’t listen for the life of them. However there are some that dress up in drag and prance around, some buy you candy, many cry when they have to say goodbye and every week there are a handful that you just want to adopt.
The STAFF have become like family to me. I have made contacts and friends from all over the world and each of them have become very dear to me. I have been blessed to have such a great group of co-workers because it is like working with your best friends everyday from when you wake up till when you go to bed. A lot of crazy jokes have been made and times have been had. We share music, media, stories, and sometimes bedrooms. This job would not be nearly as good without the staff and friends I work with.
On the WEEKENDS we have made our way in the close city of Montlucon, which has provided us with eating, shopping, and bowling at a very popular laser tag and bowling bar. In France it is a very popular Friday night activity for young people. That way they don’t just drink; they have something more to do. Of course Discothèques and bars are still a past time and we have managed to sample a few clubs and pubs on the weekends as well.
Our first time in Montlucon we decided to go for Chinese food because we were all dying for a break from the French food at the camp, however it was not all we hoped for. We ended up taking forever translating the French menu to a Chinese woman who spoke French with an extremely thick Chinese accent. It was very funny as she slapped at our hands and lectured us in bad French about how to properly eat the food (food that was not that good, and did not fill us up). The entire restaurant was watching us and it was quite a show.
There is also a lake very close to our camp that we have both driven to and hiked to on the weekends. We pack a picnic and spend the day sunning by the beach and playing in the lawns with random dogs that like to visit everyone at the Lake. The summer sun has definitely began shining in France and it is keeping me in high spirits.
The FOOD from the camp is free but could definitely be better. As a foodie, and culinary adventurer it has been hard to eat mass made institutional meals, eat at scheduled times, and eat exactly what is given to you each day. However some of the food is pretty good, we usually get spaghetti carbonara, chili con carne, and some decent Mexican and Thai salads. However a lot of the food (especially veggies) gets doused in a nasty dressing they seem to use on everything that is a mix of mayo, mustard, and oil or cream. I firmly believe they change the ratio to make it thick or thin depending on the application. However on the weekends there are private parties and rentals at the Chateau and we often get great food as a result, like braised rabbit in grainy mustard sauce and roast pork legs. We also get a wack of cheese and bread at all times with full wheels of Brie, goat, and blue cheeses. We go into the markets in town and try interesting things and have become regulars at an amazing little bakery where the lady and her husband routinely give us boxes full of pastries for free. (A direct result of eight people going to the same bakery several times a week) I miss spicy food, smoothies, and salmon but I will just adjust my tastes for the time being and enjoy what France has to offer. Bon Appetit!
As I write this entry I am on the train to a new camp however and I now have to say good-bye to my castle and good-bye to my new family I have been working with this past month. I am being sent to the south of France in the Pyrenees about half an hour from the Spanish border where I will be doing the teaching I love with a new set of great young people (or so I assume).