A School Assignment
Here is a paper that I wrote for school a few days ago.....
One last day was all that remained of my trip in France. I woke up fairly groggy because the night before was a fun filled night of me and Frenchies doing what any group of guys would do late at night inside. I decided to treat Jonathon, the Frenchie who was hosting me at this time, to a fat filled American breakfast. Bacon, Eggs, and sausage all covered in melted butter because bacon doesn't have grease in France.
"This bacon actually has flavor when you cook it" said Jonathon
I must have had the largest grin in the world when he said that. We ate quickly then got prepared for the day. Jonathon was to take me through Lyon's metro system to the TGV (really fast train) station and from there I would be back in Paris.
After arriving at the station, Jonathon talked the ticket checker into letting him onto the station platform so we could say our last good byes. We had about a fifteen minute wait so we chatted about whatever was on our minds. I started to get thirsty, late June weather was breaching 100* F, so I decided to buy a pop. 2 Euros for a Root Beer, about $2.50, outrageous, but its the best option for the time. As I open the pop it fizzes all over my pants and bag.
"This would have never happened if I bought this pop in America" we both laughed.
The train had arrived and all the passengers rushed on. The two hour train rides was filled with anticipation to see my Paris host family again but disappointment for having to leave Lyon. It went by fast, after having two previous experiences on these I was more prepared to ride a train that breaches 150 mph. It arrived in Paris and people got off as fast as they got on.
After arriving in Paris I needed to buy some more Metro tickets so I could travel across the town to my family's house. I went throught the line to buy the tickets and said "deux billets s'il vous plait" (two tickets please). The ticket vendor realized that I spoke English because of my horrid accent and so she said "That will be 16.78 Euros." My eyes grew wide. Normally these tickets were about one Euro each and I only had twenty Euro's left. I chose to buy the tickets anyways, everything would be fine when I reached my host family. It was a long way from my host family so the trip took almost an hour, the train was filled with twenty or thirty hot sweaty passengers and made frequent, seemingly unnessecary stops. This was very frustrating.
The train slowly lost more and more of its passengers at its regular stop but I was waiting for the 3rd to last stop. The numbers started to dwindle down to about five people in the car when I could finally dapart. I was less than two miles from my host family's house now. I was thinking about how well I navigated the systems of Paris all by myself, how proud I was that my host family was waiting for me and would welcome me into there home for this final day of my voyage.
As I was leaving the station I put my ticket through the ticket check. The doors didn't open. I tried again, nothing. My face turned pale. I started to become frantic. I tried a different door, once again it didnt move. Searching for a different exit was in vain. With two large bags there was no way to slip out like most French people do. There was a button that said "push for help" so I pushed it and a French voice came on and in a blur of french asked me what the problem was. I told the man that I don't speak good French but that I was stuck in the station, my ticket doesn't open the doors. The man said to wait calmly, someone would be down to help in a few minutes.
A feel of reluctance swept over me. Help is on its way and then I will take the bus to my host familys house. A few minutes passed, hundreds of people must have walked by me now thinking, "what's a tourist doing in this section of town" or "what a loser, getting stuck in the station like that." My hope started to fade. After half an hour I gave up waiting for the help and tried the doors again. Finally, a lady with a Metro pass came to my rescue. A random lady that was going on the train for whatever reason saw my struggle and slid her pass to open the exit. Freedom at last. I quickly searched for the bus that takes me to Lycée Richeliu, my host brother's high school which was about 100 feet from his house.
The bus arrived and I bought a ticket. This left me with only 1.60 Euro's left, not even enough to buy a pop. Bus 141 was taking me around to its normal stops. None of them looked familiar. I rode the bus from this train station my host brothers house a few times so I was dumbfounded when it took a different route. It was all in the same relative area so I figured it would be fine. After riding a little longer I got really nervous and got off at a stop that seemed to suit me. There was a sign that said "Lycée Richeliu" and pointed down the street so I started to walk.
With my two large bags rolling behind me, the walk was tedious and filled with doubt. Nothing looked familiar. I tried to talk to two arab men walking in the opposite direction as I was asking them "Ou est le Lycée Richeliu?" (where is High School Richeliu). They didn't understand me with my choppy accent and just walked right on by me. This made me feel ill. "I'M LOST IN FRANCE AND MY PLANE TAKES OFF TOMORROW." What could I do? I decided to walk back to the bus stop and see where it would take me. After getting on I asked the bus driver and a nice lady that was talking with him where I could find Lycée Richeliu and that I speak poor french.
He said that the school was just a few blocks down and to the right. I was headed in the right direction but just didn't go far enough. What relief. I was close to my family's house after all. The few blocks were fairly miserable. Though I knew where I was now, I had been carrying bags that weighed well over fifty pounds for the last several hours and it was starting to get late, almost French dinner time.
I was covered in sweat when I arrived at the house to. Outside was welcoming picnic table dinner set up on the front yard. I opened the gate and felt immediatly at home. My travels for the day were done. I was walking up to the house when Paul, the youngest of the family, saw me. He stuck his head out of the window and with his lousy English said "Welcome back." I returned the greeting and before I reached the front door one of the brothers was there and opened it for me.
The mother and father were in the kitchen cooking up the dinner for that night. The mother came out and told me how worried they all were since my experiences left me over two hours late. They called Jonathon's house and heard that I had left. I told them all why it took so long and learned that I was suppose to take bus 144, not 141. After I was finished talking I quickly changed out of my sweat covered clothes and dinner was all ready. Goat cheese pizza, how....delicious? As all French meals, this one was served in parts, bread and butter, then the appetizer, then the main dish, and finally desert, all of which took up the better part of an hour. The pizza was really good, the only flaw was that it had black olives, and the rest of the meal was also very enjoyable.
After dinner I attempted to take my plates into the kitchen but that was unacceptable, I was a guest so I was to be treated like a guest, so me and two host brothers tossed a rugby ball in an alley next to the house. After an hour or so we went back inside and I changed into my bed clothes. It was still a bit too early for bed so I went on the computer for a while. Vianney, the oldest brother and my age, joined me. I went online and chatted with some friends, both me and them excited to see eachother again soon, my trip was almost over.
After messing around on the computer for a while, a gang a Frenchies walked past the house and made a lot of noise in the process. This was fairly irritating but we both kept our cool and continued what we were doing on the computer. I let my host brother on the computer while I turned on the cd player to listen to the System of a Down cd that I gave them when I first visited.
A little while later I was on the computer again and by this time it was completly dark out. Once again the gang walked by the house while making a lot of noise. I got up out of the computer chair, walked past my host brother, picked up one of my tennis balls off the bed, turned around and pretended to throw it at the group of Frenchies. Wanting to feel tough, they decided to defend thier "honor." After walking past the house the noise stopped and all of a sudden the house was being pelted with rocks. My host brother quickly went to the window and yelled at the people to stop. They walked back in front of the house and they started to talk. Most of it wasn't understandable but I heard my host brother saying, "il comprennes pas, il est Americain" (he doesn't understand, he's an american). Before trusting my host brother, they decided that they should test me to see if I was truly an American. They wanted any form of proof.
How can a person prove that they are an American? Their weren't large quantities of food around, I didn't own a large polluting corporation, George Bush 's phone number wasn't on the tip of my tounge. So how can a person prove that they are an American.
"GIT ER DUN" I yelled out the window with a rather proud tone. Fortunatly, it seems that some French people have heard of Larry the Cable Guy before so they decided that I was an American and left the house alone for the rest of the night. A little while later I fell asleep.
I am glad, and probably fortunate, to have gone through this experience. Getting lost in a foreign country is fairly nevre racking but it led me to be aware of things that I am not normally aware of. In under five months I will be in France again with some friends, will any day this summer be as memorable as last summers trip?