Jellyfish, Boats and the Beach

Trip Start Aug 16, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of France  , Provence,
Monday, August 30, 2010

Sunday we had to wake up even earlier. We met at the bus at 8:30 to head to St. Tropez.  This trip was optional and we shared the bus with a group of students from Indiana and Wisconsin.  First we were taken to a beach fairly far away from St. Tropez, based on my best guess on my map I think it was the Plage de l'Escalet, which sounds right based on the amount of stairs we had to climb.  The guide took us on a long hike over lots of rocks and past many little coves filled with naked and half naked French people.  Finally we got to the furthest and most secluded part of the beach.  Some of the group were so excited to finally get there they dropped their bags and dove right into the water.  This was definitely a mistake.  I was a little further back in the line and as I was putting down my bag, several of them were already coming back out of the water complaining about jellyfish stings.  I kept telling people to pee on the stings and it would stop hurting.  Everyone seemed to grossed out by this idea and opted to deal with the pain.  Some of the braver ones is the group tried different parts of the beach, (we were on a small sandy peninsula connecting a small rocky mountain to the shore).  Apparently the jellyfish were only on that one side.  So some of us went swimming on the other side, the water was a little cold and filled with seaweed but warmer than California oceans and cleaner than our water too.  It was really hot, so the water felt amazingly refreshing, (although the fear of jellyfish was always in the back of my mind, so it wasn’t as relaxing as it could have been).  We got out as a Ice Cream Delivery Boat was pulling up to shore.  Yes an Ice Cream Delivery Boat, like the Ice Cream men we have driving around the suburbs back in America but on a boat.  I had to get something from him just so I could say I did.  So I bought some ice cream and an espresso, (yes espresso).  Only in France would they have an ice cream boat that also delivers espresso.  So I went and laid out in the sun with my ice cream in one hand and my espresso in the other and just relaxed, listening to my ipod… life is good.

After an hour or so of relaxing we hiked back to the bus which now took us to St-Tropez.  We now understood why we weren’t taken to the beach by St-Tropez, which is what most of us were expecting based upon what we had been told.  There isn’t one.  It is a port town. There was a very interesting museum filled with impressionism art.  We wandered along the pier, where I bought another painting and we saw Johnny Depp’s boat.  OK it wasn’t Johnny Depp’s boat, but we told ourselves it was as a joke.  There were so many huge beautiful boats there, and St-Tropez has the highest celebrity rate per capita in France, (which is totally understandable considering how beautiful this city was) and we knew that he lives in the south of France.  Anyways, I can totally see why celebrities would live here.  It’s somewhat secluded, the weather is gorgeous and the water is indescribable, in brilliant shades of blue, green and turquoise.  I would live here in a heartbeat.  So we wandered around some more, saw the old harbor fortifications and then headed back to the bus.  We needed our rest, because Monday we took our placement test for our French classes.  Oh my.

So this morning I woke up at 7:00… OK I know that’s not believable.  That’s when my alarm went off.  I got up around 7:20.  Had to get ready, eat a good breakfast and walk all the way to the campus by 9:00 for our French test.   The test was definitely not what any of us were expecting.  I was anticipating another test on grammar and vocabulary.  Nope, these all about comprehension and response.   We had to read a story or article and then respond to or recap what we had just read.  There was one fun part where we were shown a picture of a man walking a dog looking at a man painting a picture by a river.  First we had to describe the picture then make up a dialogue between the two.  It was interesting though.  Most of the articles we had to read had to do with the environment and government policies regarding individual liberties and pollution laws.  Personally I’m impressed with myself that I was able to understand that much about the meaning of the article.  But the topic was right up my alley so I did as best I could.  Then we had a lunch break, (lunch breaks are very important here) and then returned for the oral exam, which was much easier.  Mostly just asked my name, why I’m studying French, how long I’ve studied French and that sort of thing, (in French of course).  I think I did OK.  I’ll find out where I got placed tomorrow.  I also move in with my Madame tomorrow.  I really hope it works out OK.  Regardless I’m looking forward to moving out of the hotel, not living out of my suitcase and having my own room.  Very excited!  Wish me luck.
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