Bonjour mes amis!
Today, please enjoy the rest of the beauty of the City of Gien, France, that Ms. Sapphire and I enjoyed together, while I share a couple of stories.
Americans living in France are strangers, étrangers, but people are people, and therefore want to connect. Some observant French people have chosen to connect with us, just from hearing us speak English together. On with the stories...
I did't think Dr. J and I were talking very loudly, but a French woman certainly must have heard us and understood us just before we entered the Carrefour Market to buy groceries one night last week.
She came right up to us in the parking lot and struck up a conversation. Usually, people here think we are English, as in British English. We always have to explain that we are Americans. For this woman, Sylvie, it didn't seem to matter. We spoke English, and that's what she cared about.
Sylvie started out by inviting us to come to her house for dinner. Yup, a total stranger inviting us to dinner!
She has a daughter, age 19, who apparently is very scared of people, but she happens to like English and Japanese. She thought if we came to dinner, we could talk with her daughter.
Dr. J asked if her daughter spoke English well. Sylvie responded that she didn't know, because she (the daughter) never talks with other people. She told us she'd like us to come to dinner and named the night, and then she went on to tell us that she loves to cook. Sylvie spoke fairly good English herself, since she had lived in England for a short period of time.
Sylvie gave us her cell phone number, and I typed it in to our cell phone, and then I sent her a text to be sure she had our number, and with that, she exclaimed that we should get back with her to let her know if the date was good for us.
Okaaay. This was very kind...and interesting...but we had shopping to do still! We quickly went into the store, got only a few items, and then the Store Manager came up to us and told us "Fermé"! This meant that the store is closed. We had to pay for our things right away and get out. What? Perhaps we talked to Sylvie too long, and now we couldn't get all of our groceries!
As we got in the car, we thought...wow, was that weird? Here we were...kicked out of the store, and also asked to dinner by a complete and utter stranger. The dinner invite is still there and we are in a quandary.
Dr. J's colleagues have tried to convince us this may be unsafe. That, of course, was our reaction, too, but she certainly seemed sincere, and she told us enough about herself that it seemed somewhat unlikely to us.
We'll tell you the rest of the story as it unfolds...
Since we hadn't gotten all of our groceries, we had to head to a second store that evening, that stayed open later. (I've told you before that France is not a 24/7 country. You must know what days shops are open and for what hours, even the big stores.) We managed to gather our groceries at the second store just before it closed, and upon our return to our apartment, another story unfolded...
While parking the car at the apartment and making plans to carry groceries up to our apartment, apparently another French woman was overhearing us as well. She approached me and started speaking in French.
Fortunately, I could understand her and respond. She wanted to know if we were from Ireland. Her husband had been from Ireland and she recognized our English.
"No, we are Americans", I told her in French. Strangers are always amazed to hear that Americans travel all the way to France! (We usually make friends easily, though, when we tell people we are from Dallas, as everyone here knows the TV Show, "Dallas")! Back to my story though...this older lady, although missing a few teeth, was very kind and was happy to talk for a few minutes. She wanted to discuss the flooding in the area, and then she told us that her home had gotten flooded with two meters of water, and it ruined many things inside, including furniture. She was, it turns out, living in our apartment complex for one week while the flooding goes down.
She was just a very kind lady who was outside for a smoke, and she was being friendly. We were very sad for her and all her losses this past week.
How open many of the French people are!
All in all...it was a very interesting evening for Étrangers!
Have a "jewel" of a day!