Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I'm married.

There, now that's out of the way. Post on that when we return from La Ville de Lumieres. See? I'm not so bad when I can write it down. Perhaps I should just carry around a whiteboard and dry erase marker, so my utter lack of French skills would be less evident.

In any case, we left on our trip woefully underprepared to deal with the language barrier. We can both speak passable Spanish and have reverted to it when our minds are overwhelmed with not understanding the French going on around us.

Well, it seems that way. I think what's most likely happening is I fumble for a French phrase I've just tried to read in the travel book. I get a response that is gibberish to my ears. "Uh..."

The morning we left, I read a blog post by an American expat living (or who has lived) in Korea. She made several good points about living abroad and Americans in general when they are there. I hope my perspective changes on this first trip abroad.

Quick anecdote before we head to dinner after 9pm..excuse moi, 21:00.

We found a fruit stand around the corner from the apartment we rented. I wanted to buy some fraises, but I was hesitant to go to the clerk. While waiting, an American in a Spain soccer jersey walked up and asked where a particular street was. His question seemed phrased ok, and I was able to understand him. Speaking slow helps me when I have context. An older French gentleman standing nearby answered him in French.

Blank stare.

Frenchman tries again, "Se habla espanol?"

A shake of the head. Frenchman laughs, and asks, "How about English?"

Relief washes over American masquerading as Spaniard's face. They sent him on his way. The way they saw him must've been the way the waiters saw us at the cafe this afternoon. Only my attempt at French was immediately discounted and traded for English with nary a thought by our waiter.

Off to try again. Au revoir!

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