France Day 13 - Fiesta with the Huets!

Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Flag of France  , Pays de la Loire,
Friday, August 8, 2008


Today, the Huet family is coming over around 10:30am or so to enjoy a Mexican feast with us. We wanted to say thank you to them, and it seemed to be a perfect fit. (Of course, I had no idea ahead of time that the store would carry things like cilantro or refried beans ... but with a little extra work, its all going to be fine...)

First thing I do when I hop out of bed is to do the pre-work to the cooking. Today, I will make some homemade guacamole, tortilla soup, and bean and veggie tostadas for our guests.

Around 11am, the Huet family arrives and we are all thrilled to be reunited. A nice surprise in store for us ... they brought us gifts! I am soooo excited ... an Arthur H CD for Janice and I !! (the last one in all of France we are told!), Ella receives a CD and book, and Samuel a children's book with English and French writing! We are all so happy, except Ella ... who is still learning how to be grateful. She did a little better than the last time she was given a gift, but not by much. Still some pouting. : (

Lots of talking with Vincent and Guenola ... and we decide to go for a quick walk to the local park once I finish cutting up with the chicken shredding. ... A nice ten minute walk lands us in the main park of Chateau-Gontier. There is a large grassy area, a kids playground (fenced so we don't lose them!), and approximately eight goats that can be fed and petted. Its a perfect day here in Chateau-Gontier ... a nice breeze, great temperature, with clouds spotting the sky. Vincent's English has improved tremendously. ... My French is still HORRIBLE. Well, absent is probably a better word. Horrible would mean that I have some French. I don't. I can barely remember how to say hello and goodbye. Seriously. Guenola had an idea to force me to speak more French today, and that lasted for all of two minutes. I can't even repeat what they say to me, even when the do it slowly and three or four times. My brain just doesn't register the nuances of the pronunciation. ... I honestly did MUCH BETTER in China than I am doing here. I feel so lame, because I hate the 'ignorant American' thing, and thats exactly what I feel like here. ... Thankfully, Vincent and Guenola seem to forgive me for being so lame and graciously stick to English during their time with us.

We return to the house and within ten minutes or so, Guenola's sister Cristal (sp?) arrives to pick up her four year old son, who has been staying with the Huets. I've asked Guenola to extend an invitation to Cristal to eat with us, but apparently she has to work and travel a lot. ... However, with a little effort, we convince her to neglect her work and stay and eat and drink with us! : )

The hours from 1pm - 5pm are filled with cooking and eating, drinking (I found some Coronas at the store and bought some lime for the true Mexican experience!) and laughing. We discover that Cristal is an avid runner, and Vincent claims he is too, but supposedly injured. Hehe... We get some travel tips from Vincent and Guenola and change our plans to visit Versailles tomorrow (the highways are way too busy on a Saturday in August, so they recommend we go on a weekday).

Just around 4:30pm France time, we set up Vincent and Guenola on Skype to call our French exchange friends living in our house, Franc and Sandrine. They seem to have a great time talking, and we discover that Franc loves to play poker ... so after the Huets leave, I call Arron Carrillo to see about extending an invite to a local game. Hopefully it works out! ... We are very happy to hear that the family is having fun in Sacramento. This has been such a wonderful experience for us so far, we just want them to enjoy it as much as us.

One thing that I've definitely learned from our time here in France is how great a simple lunch or dinner party can be with good company, with the right attitude. It might be just me, but it feels like our American culture is always in such a hurry ... always go go go ... It seems that an afternoon at a friends house for lunch is a 12pm - 2pm type of a thing instead of a 11am - 5pm type of thing. Having friends come over and relax and drink while the food is being prepared, and then enjoying a nice three or four course meal while the kids run around enjoying the house, the toys, the yard ... this is the good life, ya know? It doesn't get any better. ... And yet, I think that ... at least in our circles, the children tend to be the excuse as to why lunches and dinners have to be so brief. "Gotta get the kids to bed...", "The kids need to get home.", "What will the kids do?" ... and the time is kept to an hour or two. But what I'm finding is that our kids are maturing and exploring their world in new ways when they aren't so supervised. What will they do when they have six hours with kids who don't speak English? They will figure it out! That's what! Just like I did when I was at music practice with my dad, or at a catering event with my mom. ... Its during those non-supervised times that I became who I am today. Its during those times I got to see my mom and my dad as people instead of parents. I got to watch them do what they loved, I saw them laugh, and work, and cry ... I made friends, I learned how to deal with bullies, I learned that the amount of effort it takes to get my parents attention to get sympathy for a small bruise or cut wasn't worth the time I'd miss playing with my friends ... or that I'd miss my turn if I left the line ... or that sometimes life isn't fair and that we have to learn how to struggle through anyways. I made one of my closest friends through my life, Ben Ebenezer, while unattended in some upstairs storage room in the church while a service of some sort was going on, and we all dove off couches and chairs and tables on to one another, throwing elbows and knees mimicking our favorite WWF stars. The sweat and pain and bruises and cuts helped form us in to life long friends, and there is no way in the world that would have happened under the watchful eyes of our parents. (and of course, that same night, or perhaps another in the same year, I also learned a lesson that I've never forgotten: the soft pink bundles of commercial grade insulation look and feel like a perfect place to hold a wrestling match ... but in fact, well, its not.)

And so, when we get back to the USA, I'm voting for a lot less Saturdays with six different events planned at six different locations around the city, and instead lots and lots of days and nights with nothing but friends and eating and drinking on the agenda. Sound good to you too? Viva la France!

* And now, as I write this, I've received an email from Guenola asking for the recipes of the food I've cooked (hopefully this means they enjoyed it!) ... and also a note that their son Leo now refers to Samuel as "my American friend". And Samuel is talking nonstop about the possibility of the Huets coming to California for a stay with us. Perhaps future pen pals? They sure had fun playing together!
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boutyfamily on

Frenchies in Sacramento
It's true we have a great time here in Sac ( as you guys seem to say here) but promise you give your recepies too
we were impressed by Janice's written French: you said you don't know french at all


styrsky on

Re: Frenchies in Sacramento
I have to admit...I used Goggle translate. :) But I am trying to learn, I promise!
Je suis lier!!

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