La Fin au Sud

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?” –C.S. Lewis

We are reaching the end.  As in, it is tomorrow: something I have been saying and dreading for a while.   It is interesting looking back to the very beginning and reminiscing as we have been these past few days, as it doesn’t seem like much really changes between us.  We see each other every day and have our ritual: Maybe dinner, Dexter, wine, and tea on a weeknight, travelling on a weekend.  Looking back to the beginning, however, we can see how much we’ve all changed and how fast this year has gone.  I think we’ve all changed for the better.  I feel better now that I know what I’m doing next year: I can officially announce I’m going to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique! I will be an English Teacher Trainer, and I leave at the end of September.  This year has definitely given me skills and confidence that I know I will need next year, and better yet, stories I can cherish and fond memories to look back on.

After returning from Morocco, we had a weekend left in Chalon before our last hours of work.  Jaclyn and Laura came on Saturday for a last dinner together, and we went to the Chalon market one last time.  I spent much of Sunday packing up my apartment and making lists of things to do before going home.  On Monday I had my last class with my Euro Pro kids, which mostly consisted of them asking me questions about my holidays and my future.  After my class, I went out for coffee with the other English teachers, who gave me a lovely shirt and bag as gifts.  That night, we had one last dinner at mine, taking advantage of my spacious floor, before moving the majority of my things to Kate’s, where I am staying until I leave.  On Tuesday I went to lunch with another of my teachers before moving out of my apartment altogether.  It was very sad to leave, as I grew very attached to my apartment.  It was my home in France and has a lot of character, so I am sad to see it go.

We left bright and early the next morning for Boulouris-sur-Mer, a small town on the Cote d’Azur that required 5.5 hours and 2 transfers to get to.  We arrived in the early afternoon and made our way up the hill to Kate’s aunts house.  It was beautiful: a small house with a clear pool (whose alarm was incredibly confusing to turn off), a lemon tree, wisteria draped and hanging over the terrace, and to top it all off, the sun—something we had been missing for a while.  We spent a relaxing poolside afternoon reading and sleeping in the sun before a delicious homemade dinner and some Dexter.  The next day, we walked down to the beach and climbed around on the rocks.  Kate and I took some jumping pictures, which did not turn out all that great for me, and we all admired the surrounding houses, which looked beautiful with the sea.  We spent much of this day poolside as well, and got dinner from the sketchy pizza van that actually makes really delicious pizza.

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On Friday we went to Monaco, which is my 14th country this year (as in since September).  We knew going in that it would be a rich country, but it was still surprising to see the difference between Monaco and nearby France.  There were no really dirty or disgusting parts of the city that we saw (although we did stay in the fairly touristy bits), there were gardens everywhere (but you couldn’t sit on the grass), and there didn’t seem to be much culture.  It was all for show.  It was still cool to see though, and a very pretty city, as it is right on the seafront with the hills rising in the background.  We made our way up to the castle to start with the Changing of the Guard.  While we were waiting, whistles started blowing and they told everyone to stand back as a very important car with two people in the back seat drove by.  Basically, we could have seen the Prince of Monaco! But who really knows… Changing of the guard wasn’t too interesting, but it was worth seeing for the funny hats if nothing else (though apparently they’re funnier in the summer).  We got sandwiches and had a picnic in a playground overlooking the sea, then made our way down to the docks where we relaxed in the sun.  When we were able to convince ourselves to move again, we made our way up to Monte Carlo and the casino, which we entered but did not stay in.  We walked around the gardens and beaches before heading back.  That night we got a proper dinner at a seaside restaurant called L’Etoile.  When I say proper, I mean it was posh and expensive, but completely delicious.  I started with a warm goat cheese salad and then had a main course of steak with crumble, roast potatoes, and a small vegetable ratatouille.  It was so good, and kept us full well into the next day!  We went back and read some of Kate’s diary from the beginning of the year before bed.

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We had a nice lie-in the next day before heading off to Nice.  There was some confusion since the ticket counter was closed and there is no ticket machine at the station (why???) so we tried to buy tickets on the train, but we decided that those conductors just don’t care enough, because they never came around to charge us.  In Nice, we walked around the shopping street, saw the church, and then made our way to the beach.  It didn’t look fun, as it was very pebbled, but we got some great views when we climbed up the tower and then up by the waterfall above the city.  It was very beautiful, and a nice hot and sunny day for our last full day in the south of France.  We got an afternoon cocktail from a restaurant in vieux Nice with a waiter who was very flirty with Kate before heading back to Boulouris and a final night of bread, cheese, and wine.  It was a night of reminiscing, and I think it encouraged us all to continue to be in denial about the end.  This morning we woke up and cleaned, and are now on our way back for what is my final night in Chalon.

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We had a fabulous last holiday in France, and I’m very glad we got to spend it in France and speak French rather than traveling to other places.  It’s been a great year and I’m very sad to leave, but I think I’m leaving a better person than when I came.

Also, congrats to all who graduated IWU today!  May you go on and do great things with your lives that make you happy J

French word of the day: La Méduse: Jellyfish.  We saw a lot of them!

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