Saturday, July 31, 2010

Week #1 at French Vacation Camp

Wow, it’s been an interesting and difficult week!

We have been volunteering as employees at a French vacation camp. We had no idea what to expect before arriving, except that it was in the middle of nowhere, and that much is true. We made the drive from Paris and saw only one car spontaneously burst into flames (which was totally insane and DieHard or 24-like). Our first few days were a tough adjustment, as we now live with our 18-month old in a tiny room with a miniature closet, shower, and a toilet shared with our neighbors. There’s nothing but corn nearby, and runs to places with internet, canned food, and french fries are rare and major undertakings.

The camp is not as we expected in that it’s nothing like American camps we’ve been a part of. The schedule is not active from sun-up to sun-down, there’s no blob, no mess hall, no silly camp songs, no cabins of rambunctious teenagers, and no ghost stories. It’s just a bunch of families in rooms/tents/rvs/apartments, a pretty fancy swimming pool, and optional activities and meals offered throughout the day. So it’s like a rustic (rustic: a great word for ‘there’s nothing here, you’ve dropped off the face of the earth, but in a nice way’) vacation place with few amenities, but games, tours, and activities offered for both adults and children.

JJ has quickly become a hit with the children, whom she works with throughout the day doing art, crafts, stories, and games. They have all taken it as their personal missions to teach her French and do so diligently while she helps them with paint brushes, knot tying, and sitting down. They love her already, and I believe it’s with good reason.

I’ve been an odd-ball worker... My official job is a fix-it-man (are you laughing yet?) and a driver, though I sometimes get recruited for other assignments like dish-washing and cleaning. So far my handyman tasks have been completed successfully. They’ve comprised of fixing some lights (plugged them in...), stabilizing a wobbly RV (kind of like sliding a card under an uneven table leg), replacing a mattress, and unclogging a couple of sinks. At one point they showed the giant industrial water heater in the boiler room and told me it wasn’t working. I just laughed and said “call the pros”. I’ve been a driver to take people to do tours of farms where they often do taste-tests of fancy country French stuff (like foie gras... if I understood right, it’s a certain part of the liver of ducks that’s quite the popular delicacy - tasted ok to me, but I’m not down with the €100+ per kilo price tag), and I pick up new comers at the train station that’s a close half-hour away. Lots of driving through corn fields. And nothing out here has an address! It’s almost as bad as directions were in Africa, except I could pronounce the names of stuff there. Here it’s ‘turn right at the farm of’ and then I get a random string of r’s and l’s and eaux’s and saliva spittle. Like I’m gonna understand that.

And so we’ll be here for the next month, learning a new dialect and trying to stay on the good side of the locals. Seriously, this place is scarier than West Virginia, but with fine wine, foie gras, and fancy bread.


Aaron M said...

Glad to see you've turned into a handyman :-)

Anonymous said...

And how's Sawyer's dance party going? Are the locals eyeing him as a rebel-rouser ala "Footloose"?

The camp sounds a bit like resorts that went out of style about 50 years ago...(think Dirty Dancing) but with RVs and tents.

Love you guys,
Aunt Jenni