The Great White Honky Visits France

September 04, 2009

For those who somehow land on my blog but don’t hear me blathering in person, I’m spending the next 3 weeks in France. The first 2 weeks with my cousin Kimberlee in Brantôme, and the last week in Paris.

I just spent the day walking around Brantôme and love it. It’s a tiny town about 4 hours south of Paris, in the Dordogne region of southern France. My cousin’s place is a 300 year old building, a work-in-progress which reminds me of the many rustic places I’ve lived. It’s amazing what she’s done with it so far, judging from her early flickr photos.

Here’s a sketch I did in her backyard:

kim's backyard

And a little sketch I did from a cafe in Brantôme:

Brantôme, 09/04

I’ve only been here one day and I’m already in love. Such a different feeling than the states. We’ll see how I feel in 3 weeks.

One thing I’ve quickly realized (or remembered) is how little people can interact when you don’t speak the same language. For some reason, I didn’t seem to feel this as much in Korea. Perhaps because it was so completely different, and I was so obviously not from the country (aka: Honky). I do feel frustrated I didn’t learn at least a little bit of French before coming here, a minor oversight on my part. I didn’t even get a Lonely Planet book or anything of the sort. It’s Europe, right? For the most part you can get around with English — the airport, train and most everything right up until I landed in a tiny village had English alongside the singsong French. But meeting Kim’s good friend Jean-Yves, who speaks no English — well, what do you do? Grunt and dance? Shake hands all day? Pantomime?

Kimberlee keeps saying her French isn’t much, but she’s able to talk at lengths with folks and it sure sounds good to me! I’m surprised at how little is comprehensible to me, how little is shared between at least Spanish and French. I feel like I would have been so much better with a whirlwind 2-week course in French to communicate in the most basic manner.