Friday, April 6, 2012

Goodbyes and guilt trips

This has been the week of the guilt trip. I had my last day at each of my schools and every day I accumulated more and more drawings and cards and "pourquoi-tu-dois-partir?"s. Here is a small sample of the going-away cards I've received. 

"Thank you for helping us to learn English vocabulary, names of animals, and song lyrics. We hope that you have a good return home."

"Thank you for helping us with English. Thanks to you we know lots of English things and with you we remember the English words. Thank you very much, Katrina. Happy Birthday."

"Thank you for the English classes with you. I would like for you to stay with us, but I can't even stay away from my parents for four days so I understand you want to go back."

"You are the best teacher in the world."

"Katrina, goodbye and thank you for everything and also happy birthday!!!!! I'm going to miss you!!!!!"

"Hi Katrina!!! I hope you have a happy birthday (early). Thank you for coming on Thursdays and one time on Tuesday. And I hope that you have a good (???). And thanks again for coming and working with us. I couldn't buy you a present. Goodbye, Happy Birthday" 

"Arizona, Funny, Smart, Darn? too bad that you're leaving, Unique, Don't Leave, Arizona"
"Katrina, Arizona, Very Pretty, Funny, Unforgettable, Don't leave, America"

"Thank you Katrina for being there for English, it was great. I'm going to write the names of cities and that way you can go visit them. They're United States cities: Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, New Orleans, Philadephia, Miami, and the capital: Washington."

"Thank you Katrina for your help with English. I'm marking the cities where you can visit: New York, Havana, Mexico, Dallas, Washington, Los Ang, Canada. See you soon Katrina"

"Katrina, Adorable, Very Beautiful, Funny, Smart, Don't forget us, Arizona"

I'm going to miss these kids.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ma descente dans les gorges de l'Ardèche

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a boat down through the canyons of the Ardèche River (Gorges de l'Ardèche) and it was by far one of the most amazing experiences I've had in Europe. For tourists, it can be difficult to travel beyond large cities to see the natural beauty of Europe, but I've been incredibly lucky to have my host family to show me around to beautiful places I would never have seen without them (specifically, here and here and here). I only hope I can return the favor someday.

Google Map of the river

I left with Mme. T at 8:30 in the morning, despite the fact that I hadn't gone to bed until 1:30 or 2 am due to a very, very late going-away dinner with Kayley's professors (8pm to 12:30 am!). Fortunately I forgot about my sleepiness as soon as we stumbled into our rowboat. In the boat, there was me, Mme. T, an elderly woman, another younger girl, one boatman with a brace on his entire left leg, and two able-bodied boatman to row. In total, there were about forty or fifty people in our group, the majority of them employees, their families, and co-workers of Mme. T. The main objective of the excursion was to see how the river had changed since the winter and to get an idea of how the summer tourist season might go this year. At times the water level was very low, but most of the boatmen seemed enthusiastic anyway.

Proof that I was there

The take-off