Friday, August 20, 2010

WARNING: Read at Leisure

Oh man, life is epic. Catherine is making pizza for dinner. Like from scratch. Like from SCRATCHSCRATCH! This morning I came into the kitchen to have breakfast (the only time I'm allowed in the kitchen) and I smelled burning. It was coming from two peppers, one red and one green, which were sitting out on the stovetop smoking. I asked Catherine if the peppers were supposed to be on the stove without a pan or anything underneath them and she nodded (she was busy making some sort of sweet tart for the kids' breakfast). I asked why the peppers were on the stove like that. Ah, ma fille! The answer is simple. Apparently uncooked peppers are hard on the digestive system. So you... er... char... the skin of the pepper on an element to cook them, then wrap them in a sheet of newspaper and let them sit for the day on the counter. When you get home from work, you cut the skin of the pepper away from its meat (I imagine with a very sharp knife and epic skill) and that is what you then slice into strips for putting on pizza.

That's. Just. The peppers.

This afternoon I found her kneading the dough when I got back from classes. Clearly Catherine loves to cook.

Yesterday was also an adventure! Contrary to Googlemaps, Montpellier is not actually a beach town, its about 15km inland. So I rounded up Kate and informed her that we were going to rent bikes from the TAM (Transit Assoc. of Mont.) and bike to the beach for the afternoon. It took two tries over as many days for this to work, but at last... success! What a gong show though. I've cycled in traffic in a few places, the most wild being Cuba, the most insane being Africa (never again, oh god) but nothing was quite like cycling in France.

The TAM and rent-a-velos are in the middle of the vieille-ville (old town center). From there you have to navigate your way through crowded, narrow lanes until you get far enough out that you are on roads wide enough for auto traffic. MISTAKE! There are bike lanes on the edges, but those are really only guidelines and they aren't terrible large. Without helmets on strange, very non-agile bikes with poor brakes this whole process is hilarious. Initially we thought we'd go through the pedestrian plazas to avoid all the auto-craziness, only this meant a lot of going down stairs and up escalators in pedestrian malls. Bad plan, but you get awesome looks from the locals going up an escalator with a rent-a-velo.

Resigned to the streets, we left the pedestrian plaza and I played navigator with my map... until we rode off the map. It was a small map. Fail! Fortunately I now have enough french that asking people for directions isn't so bad. I think I scared Kate a little, being as she didn't have much experience on a bike and I kept to larger, main roads to avoid getting lost, but we made it to the river unscathed. Once we were at the river the riding became significantly nicer, and our progress significantly smoother.

We did unfortunately spend so much time getting out of the city that we were riding on an un-shaded path to the beach in the heat of the day. We ended up deciding that we couldn't face another morning of walking into class and hearing Binnert (from Holland) asking us how the beach was and having to answer 'Well, we didn't make it.' again. Regardless of the actual result of this final foray we agreed; we made it to the beach, and it was brilliant.

Really though, we did make it. We got lost a few more times but it was fun. When we arrived and locked up the bikes Kate asked me how warm I thought the water was. "Brilliant." I said. "No no." She laughed, "Like what temperature, give me a number." I laughed. "A brilliant number!"

The water was actually pretty cold, I'd guess 17 C, maybe 18 C max. We swam in it anyway and it was - you guessed it - brilliant.

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