Saturday, June 10, 2006

In a Strange Land

My lanugage skills are improving. I had an embarassing situation today when I tried to order a sandwich sans frites, and the woman told me it was not possible, but I have no idea why she said it was not possible. I was able to get a Coke (un coca) and later I got a croissant avec buerre and une pomme at two other places. But, it's difficult, because you feel like an idiot when someone is talking to you and you don't get what they're saying.

Where it's improved is that now I usually understand what they say, but with a delay. So, a homeless woman said to me today that "c'est beaucoup de chaud!" and I sat there for about five or six seconds thinking about what she said before I could say: "Oui! Beaucoup!" This is embarassing as well, but it's better than looking at them with a blank stare.

The thing is, there's not really any other way to do this. In movies, they show newcomers watching game shows and learning the language from that. And, the television helps a lot. But, when you have to learn how to interact with people, there's no way to do it, aside from actually interacting with people. I'm probably going to be back here for a year, or more, so I have to do this. I feel bad making strangers take part in it, but alas, this is how you do it.

There are people who never want to leave home, and I've decided that there's nothing really wrong with this attitude. It takes a certain inner peace to stay put. As I get older, I see a lot of wisdom in the Wizard of Oz approach to life- that you have everything you need with family and friends at home. But, I'm one of those people that was born wanting to wander. To quote Mr. Jonathan Richman, "I love the world. So why sit still?"

So, for those of you who are grounded and belong at home, don't begrudge us wanderers. We just want to see the world and find out what's out there. Something like a white dandelion might seem unimportant to you, but I've never seen one before. We'll get the hang of it, but be patient with us. We love the world. So why sit still?

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