Heather in Rome

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - St. Augustine

Saturday, January 14

3 1/2 Days in Grenobe/Noyarey

After leaving Lourdes, I jumped on an overnight train at 9:30 pm and headed towards Grenoble in the southeast of France. I changed trains around 5:30 in the morning in Valence and managed to sleep for the 2 hour train ride to Grenoble. I was excited to see Carole and to hear about the Emmanuel retreat that was held in Paray-Le-Monial, France while I was in Barcelona and Lourdes. I found her in the station and we headed off to Noyarey, the small town where her family lives.

That day was a lazy day. We stopped by a bakery on the way home and got croissants. Later when her dad came home from work for lunch, he brought croissants for me and us too. Yum, yum. If I haven't already said it, French bread is really good. That day we went for a bike ride along the river near her house. It was overcast and the air was brisk, but I could see the Alps and the conversation was fun, talking about when we were children. Back at the house we showed my videotape of the past three months to Carole's family, which was fun for us too because it was the first time we were seeing it. Ah, memories. Later on at dessert we had a traditional French Epiphany cake called the King Cake. I think New Orleans does the same for Mardi Gras. It's a cake that has a ceramic figurine, very small, in the middle and whoever gets the object is the king or queen for the night. It's really fun because the youngest person at the table has to get under the table and name off who gets what slice of cake. This way they don't see who is getting the slice with the figure. Carole's youngest bro got under the table and once the cake was distributed and we started eating, both Carole and I had things in our slices. So we were both queens for the night and shared a crown.

The next day we went into Grenoble, about 30 minutes away, and walked through downtown. We happened to catch a Mass at a church there; it was perfect timing. I shopped a little, picked up a sweater for the colder European weather. That afternoon Carole's two brothers and the two of us played cards. I taught them Spoons, if any of you know it. It's a favorite slumber party card game. That night we went their grandma's house, which was next door, for appetizers. She had been to CA 14 years ago and brought out all the flyers from the amusement parks and Monterey. I could show exactly where I live on a postcard map of CA. It was CA pride night and it was nice to be able to share about my home. For dessert I provided a traditional American sweet courtesy of a Spanish supermarket, Oreos!!! Everyone laughed. Later on we drove into Grenoble again for an Emmanuel prayer group, which was interesting to experience. I thought it was pretty short compared to what we do in the school: praise, a short time of silent prayer, and then a prayer to end the night. I thought, "That's it?" It was so short.

The next day we went to Mass at the local parish because the priest only goes there for Mass every 40 days. The area is so small that he rotates between church buildings. After Mass we went home and got ready to go to the Alps for snowboarding with C.'s two friends from high school. Actually, I was the only snowboarder and I had a pretty lousy performance in my opinion, but I hadn't really gone in two years so what did I expect? Nah, I did okay, but it was obvious that these people had spent a lot of time growing up on the slopes and I hadn't. Towards the end of the afternoon it started snowing. A nice touch. After 4 hours on the slopes, we headed back to the house. This dinner was great because we made crepes. There was an electric griddle that had 6 round indents for the crepes. We all sat around the table and Vincent, Carole's dad, would pour batter onto the griddle and we each were in charge of flipping our crepe and putting cheese and ham or bacon on it. After lots of these, the cheese and meat were put away and the sweet stuff was brought out: Nutella, jelly, coconut, maple syrup. We had lots of those too. It was so good.

The next day was a day to sleep in, pack, and take me to the airport around noon so I could go to London. Looking back over the three and a half days, I know I've left out a lot of the details, special moments, that were there. I thought I could end with some thoughts on the experience. Lots of conversations focused on our different cultures, on trying to learn new words or talking about different customs. It was great to learn, but sometimes I didn't want our nationalities to be the main subject of our interactions. It creates a barrier I think, or maybe it was the language that did it. But that's how it is, I'm noticing, everywhere I go. Our cultures make us different (which is good and special), but sometimes can't we not think about the differences and instead think of each other as humans on the same planet Earth?

Other thoughts. It can be really hard to not understand a language. It's really isolating to be in the midst of people who are talking and to not understand what is being said. It's like you're not there. It was mentally rough sometimes and still is in Rome as more French is being heard in the classroom and dining room. Please pray for this sudden sensitivity I have to this. I don't know if I'm being too sensitive or reasonable. I think reasonable.

Well, I hear everyone having fun in the other room so I think I will go and head out there. Peace all!


  • At 4:14 AM, Blogger The Michael said…

    Dear Friend,
    so good to read your blog today. Miss being able to call you. Things are good here. When you feel alone or left out just smile and strangers will welcome you. Gods speed!

    The Michael


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