So Hello Guys!
I am still in France as you might have guessed from the title. But guess what?? Only 5 weeks left! I am missing Scotland enormously (I know right? What's in Scotland but rain, rain and more rain you say? And France has croissants, berets, the Eiffel Tower.... and more croissants!) but I just am, I'm obviously a total home bird. Oh well!
Anyway I am enjoying myself - after a disastrous start at my first placement I am now set up in a really nice stable with a family of my mums. Unfortunately they're English. (It's not a problem because of their nationality but it means I'm speaking English in the evenings so my French is coming along haltingly). Onto the first place. It was horrific. It started like this: Imagine a 5 hour journey by train and bus to get off at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere. You wait for 20 minutes for your 'boss' to come and pick you up (She's late) and all the while you're panicking as your signal is crap, you're trying to phone her house in case she's forgotten and it's a very busy road, and the bus stop is literally a sign at the side of the road.She arrives and parks on the opposite side of the road and so you have to cross said road with your massive suitcase (whose handle is breaking) and your rucksack on your back. When you reach her she doesn't greet you or say hello. She screams that it is a dangerous road (I'd already gathered that) and we must get off it quick. She throws suitcase in the back of the car and throws you into - it's all very like what I imagine being picked up by the police is like (she puts her hand on my head and pushes me down into the car into the back with a dog that is a slathering angry looking Alsatian. Great!) After that less then welcoming arrival we drive (extremely fast) to pick up her husband. During our journey she is speaking rapidly in French to me, getting increasingly more frustrated when I don't understand her - hey c'mon I was exhausted, I don't speak French well and I learned textbook French not country slang - so all in all you might have gathered she wasn't a very amiable person. We reach her husband who is a huge man (looks like one of those mad ax murderers not that I'm assuming anything) and he grunts at me and we return to her stables. By this point I'm ever so slightly freaked out, I'm 5 hours from any friends or family, with a slightly psychotic seeming couple, a spoilt crazy dog, and a huge language barrier. When we arrive I'm shown to my room, or my bedsit.
I'm not staying with the couple, instead all the volunteers, or slaves as they shall henceforth be known, are housed in single bedsits alongside the house. They're horrible plain and simple. I have no sheets, a pathetic hospital type duvet, no working lights, no towels (How on earth was I going to get a towel from Britain -luggage weight was already costing me a fortune), a shower which has broken chipped lethal looking tiles, a toilet with no seat, a sink with an open bottom... and that was just the room. We, there were some other volunteers there - a really nice English girl who I made friends with and I'm actually meeting up with tomorrow but that's another story-, had to go to lunch with the couple and it was dry pasta with 2 frankfurter type sausages which were so salty and we were forced to eat it all by the woman...... Again I'm still getting freaked out. Afterwards we went and did a couple of hours work with the horses and then came back in at dark. I set to work getting out my computer as the woman had promised we had Wifi and I was desperate to talk to my family for a bit of needed calming down! I had wifi for all of two minutes before it shut off at 8 mid-Skype call. Apparently it did this every night as the woman had some sort of timer on it though when I asked her she pretended she couldn't understand me before shouting that the volunteers were always getting first go over the Wifi and she sacrificed her internet when she could be working for us - so yeah I got a bit worried about asking her anything - not a fear you want when you're meant to be living under someones house for 2 months. Then we had dinner, the volunteers had to eat in this separate dark dining room in one of the bedsits as the woman didn't want to see us after dark as it was 'her' time. I'd thought I was getting housed and treated as part of the family for god's sake!
The dinner was tomato salad, as it was for the all of three days I managed to tough it out there. Unfortunately tomatoes are the one thing I hate. I despise raw tomatoes and when the volunteer who had been there the longest (2 weeks and she'd booked her train out of there for the next day - she had been going to stay for 5 months) told me tomato salad was on the menu for every evening I freaked. That on top of the fact I went into my room that evening and found cockroaches all over the floor just tipped the iceberg
. There was no way I could stay! Call me a princess or something but I'm not I can cope with tough conditions but not outright hostile ones!
I left under the emotionally straining pretense my grandmother was ill. Low I know but I was desperate. The other English girl left a week after me and informed me that several others came and gave up in the extra week she was there. I'll get the rest of the gossip tomorrow, can't wait!
Anyway I am now set up in a lovely stables where I have to work really hard but it's worth it, it's giving me a chance to improve my French and work with horses. Just what I wanted. It might not be the greatest most social time of my life but I think I'll be glad I've done it.
Tune in again for more sticky French situations that I've managed to find myself in (there's a few!)