Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Do you have a permit for your minky?

So we arrive at the local bank that caters…..well I don’t know if caters is the right word,
In the states banks cater to their customers to a degree, here, well lets give it time before I judge too harshly. We arrive at the bank, there are two people in line to see the cashier, and there is one person in an adjacent office meeting with a lady behind a desk. We wait, after the two patrons in front of us have been helped, we approach the teller and mention that we would like an opportunity to open an account in their banking institution. She informs us what we actually want to do is make an appointment to open an account. O.K. point well taken, at this point the lady in the adjacent office has finished her meeting, “appointment” and comes over to help the cashier. She acknowledges that we are making an appointment for account opening. Lets see today is Tuesday, early in the morning and our next available appointment is…………..Thursday at 10:00 am. Are you $#%&&^ kidding me I scream into the confines of my own head. Sounds great, cause I know people are twelve deep outside and around the corner waiting for available teller time.
“What about tomorrow, Wednesday?”, my wife sheepishly asks.
Even me with my preschool level of world politics and French lessons knows that Thursday is the best we’ll get, and any more questions like that and they will clarify the Thursday they have scheduled is two Thursdays from now. I’m already turning around and heading for the door.
Gotta love the officious nature of banking institutions. We’ll go with our three past Bank statements, mortgage payments, account balance, contract of house letting ( residence), our extended stay visas, three different utilities receipts, some money to deposit and information for transferring money from the states to here, our passports, California drivers licenses. And you know when all is said and done we will need to reschedule due to forgetting to bring paperwork that releases us from the liability of some guy on a dirt bike hitting our mailbox back home. The main reason for doing all this, is to get $%&&@$# cell phones for each of us. This will enable us to keep in touch with each other in a foreign land, for six months. The cell phone companies won’t sign you up for a contract if you don’t have a bank account, the bank won’t give you an account if you don’t have an address, and you can’t rent an apartment if you don’t have a cell phone number or bank account. The easiest way to think of this is the old question about the guy that approaches the river crossing and comes to a small boat. He has in his possession a fox, a goose, and a bag of grain. The boat only can carry the guy and one of the three possessions at a time. And the whole exercise is to get all three to the other side with out the goose eating the grain, or the fox devouring the goose. Well in this question they don’t throw in the French language, scheduling useless appointments, or cranky east coast curmudgeons like myself. The answer is you stuff the grain down the gooses throat, and make high grade foie gras, sell it and buy some spices, a bottle of local wine, a baguette, break up the boat, barbeque the goose in spices and sit down to an excellent meal of Baguette, goose, and a local red wine. I haven’t figured what to do with the French fox yet, but give me time.
With the resounding thud of our earlier banking appointment still ringing in our ears, we head out to Bergerac to get school supplies for Caleigh. We had started to get supplies from the local Carrefort but Cindy baulked at the prospect of spending the equivalent of $9.00 for a small one subject notebook. Luckily Caleigh’s new friend had instructed us to go to Bergerac to a store named Le’clercs, something like that. So we drive the 24 kilometers to Bergerac and get to this store, wow big difference. We go to the electronics part of the store first and pick up a printer, scanner, copier. Great deal for what is sure to be a six month rental / disposable purchase. Then into the main body of the store for school supplies and a minor amount of things. We see baguettes for .30 euros each, which is $ 0.45 so we got one, and the school supplies were a quarter of the price. We go through the list of supplies and grimace at the fact that we get to buy another scientific calculator for Caleigh, knowing exactly where the other (newish; 6 month old) one is back at home. We finish the shopping and drive home,
once home we layout the supplies for Caleigh.
I decide to go for a drive and start photographing the surrounding countryside. I wind my way down roads that are new to me and make my way to Duras, the town where Caleigh is attending school. I park the car and walk the town, photographing the wonderful old architecture. There at the end of town I see a gorgeous Chateaux and start photographing the exterior, it is Chateaux Duras. I walk through the freezing town photographing anything that strikes my fancy and make my way back to the car. With heat on full blast, I make my way back home and Cindy and I eagerly await Caleigh’s arrival home. We naturally are concerned for her and the experience she’s having with the new foreign school bit. If it’s lemons we’re hoping she’ll make lemonade, it could go either way, we have faith in her but hope she’s adapting. She finally returns home and she’s beaming, turns out her classes today were English and Gym and a few others. But in Gym they do gymnastic, Cindy and I look at each other and crack up, our half lemur daughter has been taking gymnastics for a few years and is fearless. Me not so much, I’ve gotten to the point that it’s hard for me to watch, every gravity and physically defying routine makes me cringe because I always imagine the worst. The teacher got the idea pretty quick that the half lemur would be a good teaching aid so Caleigh was feeling pretty good about herself. English class was interesting, trying to guess the instructions in French for her English lesson. Anyway she’s getting a more confident stride as all these little steps are slowly building in balance. She was blessed to find a few friends, and in my opinion some really good character kids. She is making plans for a sleepover type thing for the weekend with a couple of her new gal friends, fine by me, they all seem to really thrive off each other. That’s all a parent can ask for, their child to be happy and have good influences. These years will define some of Caleigh’s character, most of that die has already been struck, these days are reinforcing and strengthening the bonds that will last a life time. I’m excited by these experiences for her and can’t wait to see how all these friends transition with her through life. France may be in deep winter and cold, but no matter where you live, its not what you know, but who you are inside that keeps you warm. Good night John boy. Night Grandpa, now get outta my bed.

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