“OK — who else is more than a little bit nervous right now?” (Tuesday, 2010 June 8)

June 17, 2010

Nous sommes arrivés au stage (we have arrived at pre-service training). That means I have met my host family, from whose house I am typing this. I am staying with the Alemis, who are: Mr. Alemi, Mrs. Alemi, Hyacinthe (their son), Astride (their daughter), Vladimi (Astride’s one-and-a-half year old son), Nadege (their daughter), Claude (a visiting student?), Petit (a visiting student), Christelle (daughter) and Sandrene (also a daughter.. Or possibly a visiting student). Mr. Alemi has some other sons who are at various universities, including one in Birmingham. (Are you out there, Todd?) Some of the people living here currently are just attending the local lycées, and are not directly related to the Alemis.

When we were drivihg here, one of the trainees asked the above question. Yes, I was really nervous. I’m still a little bit.

I and Mr. Alemi spent a little while walking around the neighborhood. I am given to understand that the city where we are has 50,000-100,000 people, but they are very far spread out. To me, it seems like the suburbs.

I guess this is where the field trip ends. It is at least 90 here, there is no AC, I am sweating like a pig, and I am very tired. They wanted to know what religion I was, which I answered honestly, first in halting French and then in English when they asked me to try again. That’s more or less the pattern — Mr. Alemi studied English up through university, and Astride is studying English in high school, so it’s French when I can and English when I want/need to be understood. There is electricity, but no running water (there is a well, with water from which I expect to bathe tomorrow. I am supposed to boil well water before using it to cook or drink).

Elizabeth A. is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and catch up in one day what took us 6. Perhaps that will be hard; but since so much was just waiting, I’m not worried.

Lastly: on our walk, I saw someone who looked a little fascinating only for Mr. Alemi to point out that it was another stagiere (trainee). It was Allison, whose French is a little worse than mine. We introduced each other to our host families (famillies d’acceuil?), And when I asked in French if her family, like mine, had better English than our French, she froze up. I joked, "I guess so" which was probably uncalled for. But before I left, I asked: "Having fun?" To which she replied, simply, "Yes".

Addendum. Eventually it rained, and then it became cool enough for me to sleep. I dreamt weird dreams about having sex with a fellow Organization pre-volunteer while another did the same to my girlfriend. Eventually I had dreams about roosters crowing because that was what was happening outside. I woke up crosswise on the bed (which is too small). On the weirdness scale of dreams I have had, that was pretty normal, if unsettling.

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