9/7/08

Vignettes

I'm very thankful today is Sunday: nothing on the schedule that requires doing battle with the bus system. I went to church with my host mother this morning. It was...different. It's called the Église chrétienne (Christian Church), and is exactly what I expected from the name: not actually in a church, praise and worship music, about as non-liturgical as it gets. Lots of spontaneous praying and hand waving. The pastor is American and speaks French worse than I do. All he did was give a sermon; he didn't even serve or particularly bless the communion; you go up and take it "as the spirit moves you," I guess you could say. Me, I like the ceremony and tradition of liturgical churches. But living in Mignaloux, with no buses on Sunday, I'm not sure what other options I have. We'll see.

Mignaloux does have its plus side, being small and cute. Today there was a big market thing, basically an all-town garage sale (it reminded me strongly of the Kolache Festival, sans kolaches, and with sausage in a baguette rather than on a stick). I saw lots of interesting stuff, including an amazing number of matched sets of beer glasses, piles and piles of the little china figurines that come out of King Cake, Readers Digest condensed classics in French, and tons of vinyls, which Bruno collects (he came home with Johnny Cash and Sting, among others). It was pretty fun. However, it greatly disturbed me that they planned on selling the rabbits at the petting zoo for eating. That's just wrong.

To backtrack a bit, we tried to register at the Scolarité des Sciences on Friday and had all sorts of trouble with our American health insurance not being accepted. The nicest of the ladies told Lauren and me to go to our class anyway and we'd get it worked out later, so we did...and we're not going back. I came to that conclusion more quickly, having understood less of the computer science related material than her, but it's not what either of us was looking for. So I'm ditching math for the semester, which leaves this week pretty much free.

We did two walking tours of the downtown area, one Friday afternoon and another Saturday morning, with M. Fabrice Vigier, a history professor at the university. We saw a lot of churches, including some that have been repurposed. It was all quite interesting, and also damp - it's rained every day so far, and the forecast predicts rain for the foreseeable future. Charming. Tomorrow I'm planning to go into town in the afternoon, when there's at least a chance at sun and I am nearly certain the buses are running to/from Mignaloux, to explore inside a few of the churches at my leisure. I love old churches, and devoutly wish people still habitually built in stone. Though it's awful to see the graffiti and ugly paint and electric lights and other indignities people inflict on beautiful old churches. Progress is all well and good, but it should stay away from certain arenas.

I finally bought a cell phone, which is pretty cute and weighs almost nothing, being as basic as it gets (which is exactly my cup of tea). I had to go with the cards to add minutes, because you can't sign up for a month plan without a French bank account - a credit card doesn't cut it. Minutes are kind of ridiculously expensive, as previously noted, but all received calls are free and work even if you don't have any credit to make calls, and emergency numbers are free as well, so it's good for being reachable and in case of emergency.

In general, I'm getting a bit more settled in, though everything is inordinately tiring, including talking to people. I can understand French if one person is speaking in a relatively quite environment, but start adding people to the conversation and I completely lose it. Hopefully that will get better quickly.