Two straight days of travelling really takes a toll… After three hours of driving out of the city and deep into the countryside, we arrived and I was completely dead. Although I felt utterly disgusting and greatly needed a shower, I was much too tired to do anything else.I quickly met my host father, Renaud, and then went straight to bed. I somehow, even though I thought about it all the time, failed to plan how I was going to meet the girls the following day. What was I going to say? What could I say? I didn’t yet know that they knew no English.The next morning, my subconscious was rising out of my deep sleep when I finally began to hear the screaming, crying, and banging that was coming from just outside my bedroom.
My mind began to translate and make out words that were familiar. I learned that Margaux, the 2 year old, was very upset because I was not awake. She shouted in French, “I want to see Ana!! I want to see Ana!!!”. I completely awoke, slightly giggling to myself. As I began to think about how I would make my grand entrance to meet them, it dawned on me that this was the start of the third day I had not had a shower… I knew they were just children and wouldn’t care about my appearance, but I couldn’t walk out looking like a sleep deprived, horrifying, oil machine… I silently unzipped my suitcase, pulled out an outfit and my shower items and planned how to get from my bedroom to the bathroom just two doors down without being noticed. I stood by the door, waited until I could hear my host mom, Lorraine’s voice distant from my door and the screaming from little Margaux leave my ear. I peaked out, looked to see if any of them were facing me, and quickly walked to the bathroom. As I opened the door, it creaked. I looked around and saw that Margaux was about to turn around. I panicked and quickly went in, closing the door behind me. I turned on the shower and heard footsteps approaching. “Ana!! Ana!!”, she screamed. I took my shower, ignoring the banging and shouting. Once I was done, I put on little makeup to look presentable and opened the door, my heart pounding. As it opened, two curious faces stood before me, gazing up in awe—and confusion. I said hello, knelt to their level, and received their hugs and kisses. As I walked to the kitchen, two giggling girls behind me, Lorraine greeted me. She said that they think I am Anna from “Frozen” and were very confused and looking to see Elsa as well. (Side note: Bekah…I need you to dye your hair, put on a blue dress, and fly to France please… 🙂 ) I laughed and said that children in America think that as well.
The day consisted of quite a lot of silence and awkward staring. Later in the afternoon, Lorraine asked if I wanted to accompany them to the supermarché. I accepted, ready to see the nearest town of Aurillac, 25 minutes away. This will be where my French lesson will take place, so I carefully studied the way there. In the back seat, Line, the 5 year old, requested music. As Lorraine turned on the stereo, a CD began playing very familiar tunes and it took me quite a few seconds to realize what I was listening to. As my ears adjusted to the English lyrics, I smiled and laughed to myself when I discovered we were listening to Adele. Lorraine asked her if she wanted to sing. She eagerly said yes, the track was turned to the first, and a very particular strumming pattern began. As Adele began the song, Line sang along to the lyrics of “Rolling in the Deep”. I smiled as she tried her best to follow all the words of the song. For 3 minutes and 48 seconds, the language barrier was broken. We were both singing the same song.
My first day had gone quite well, other than not being able to communicate with the girls. Lorraine kept me inside most of the day so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. Renaud later joined us for lunch. We had zucchini, potatoes, pasta, and to my shock, real, authentic, straight from Italy, ham… Renaud went to the counter where a strange shape stood. It took me a minute to realize that what had once been a whole pig was now flesh exposing, horrific chunk of animal. He asked me if I wanted any and being the Third Cultured Kid that I am, I couldn’t turn down a new food experience. I accepted and ate a piece of the bright reddish pink meat along with a potato. To my surprise, it was the most flavorful piece of meat I had ever tasted. I quite enjoyed it but only if refusing to think about where I just saw it being cut from.
I knew that the next 5 months would be very challenging, full of new experiences, and sometimes terrifying. But overall, they would be the most adventurous and enjoyable 5 months of my life…