Thursday, April 26, 2012

Carcassonne Castle

After leaving Paris, Nate and I caught a 7 hour train ride down to Toulouse, France. It was MUCH  better than the 8 hour bus ride up to Scotland that I posted about earlier. We actually got to sit by each other this time! And the people around us were pretty pleasant, except for the ladies that wreaked of smoke behind us that we had to smell the whole time. But we got to see a lot of beautiful French countryside and enjoy the scenery. We also got a good nap in. When we got to the station, we walked around Toulouse a bit but everything was pretty much closed because it was Easter. So we ate some Indian/ Middle Eastern type of food because that was literally the only restaurant we could find that was open! But we found a couple bakeries that were open as well, so of course we got us some pastries. :)

We rented a car from the station in Toulouse. After a big mess of them only having stick shift cars available when Nate requested an automatic, getting stuck in the parking garage, taking a short detour to the airport, we finally got going on the road. We drove to Montech which is only about 40 minutes away from Toulouse.

Nate had a friend from BYUH named David that he worked with at the PCC. David's family lives in Montech and let us stay at their house with them for about 6 days. They were the sweetest, most kind people ever. We fell in love with them and their family. I even cried when I said goodbye! The one difficulty was the language barrier because only the mom spoke English, but she isn't a native speaker, and no one else speaks really any. The 16 year old girl, Anicee, spoke pretty good from learning in school, but the dad and the 8 year old boy, Timothee, and the 6 year old girl, Claire, didn't speak a thing. Kinda hard getting to know each other when we can't really speak to each other. But we managed and Carol translated for us as best as she could! :)

The first night we were there, they had dinner all ready for us. They even let us sleep in their master bed and then the mom and dad took the air mattress! They were too kind to us! The next morning we woke up to a French breakfast with chocolate croissants, fresh baguettes, hot tea served in bowls, and jams and other break toppings including nutella. They taught us how they make their herbal teas and then dip their breads into the tea. It was so good! That day they arranged a barbecue for us and invited some friends from their branch over and the elders. One elder was from Idaho! They even did a little Easter egg hunt. They made us feel right at home and were so sweet. I found myself wishing over and over again that I spoke French though because I felt like I really couldn't get to know them as much as I wanted to with the language gap.

The next day we took our rental car out for a day trip to Carcassonne. Thank goodness for Carol and Pierre for telling us about all the cool places to go to in Southern France.We invited the two little kids to come with us. They were so excited. It was an interesting experience, but very fun! They spoke zero English and we spoke pretty much zero French.....but we got along all right. We used other methods of communication like piggy back rides, tickles, facial expressions, hugs....and the Ipad. :) The Ipad really brought us together because that was something that we could do together without really having to speak the same language. We played Marble Mixer during the drive and had a blast! Knowing small french words and phrases like yes, no, let's go, very good, I don't know, thank you, please, and sorry.....really helped out a lot. Those words are essential. I even know how to say, "You are so cute," so I told Claire that alot, and she would say back to me, "Merci!" During the day she got cold, so I gave her my pink wind breaker. She wore it and it was huge on her. So funny.

Here are some pictures from our day trip to Carcassonne:
Lunch was the time most during the day that I wished we could talk to these children. I felt so bad. They probably thought we were just super shy or boring...never talking to them. People around us probably wondered why we never interacted with our children! Hahah. It would break my heart when they would ask us a simple question and we couldn't even respond. We would just say, "I don't know, sorry," and shurg our shoulders. So sad. The menu wasn't in English at all and our waiter didn't speak any English, so we had a hard time ordering. It was hilarious though because the kids ordered very quickly and spoke to the waiter, and then we came to us and we just stared at him like idiots. We felt like the children at the table instead of the adults, not knowing how to order our own food!

The silence between us and them started to bother me so I made up a little game that went like this.....
 I would point to something on the table or in the room and say, "English- fork. Francais?" Then they would tell me the word for it in French. Then me, "English-napkin. Francais?" Then they would tell me. It was so cute and we learned a lot of words! We did this for a while and they even started pointing to objects. :) I actually felt like I was bonding with them through words!
This is a famous dish in Southern France called cassoulet. It had white beans that were soaked in a thick sauce and a bunch of different pieces of pork all slow cooked together. Quite tasty! 
After Carcassonne, we went to the seaside. It wasn't horrible weather, but not really warm either and the water was freezing. But the kids still wanted to go in. At Carcassonne they kept on asking about the beach, but we didn't know what they were saying. Then we looked it up and realized they were asking about going to the beach. They were so excited! We also saw some surfers and paddle boarders.
Nate even went for a short swim! He wanted to say that he swam in the Mediterranean. He said it was absolutely freezing and his whole body was numb. :) I'm glad that I was the photographer and not his swim partner. :) 
We saw this castle while driving with a cute town around the bottom so we decided to go check it out. We hiked up to the top and found a demolished building. The view was great and we had a fun time exploring up there.
One more funny story....
I noticed towards the end of the trip that the kids thought that Nate understood French. I realized why a little later after observing a bit. When the kids would ask me something in French, I would be honest with them and say shurg my shoulders with a smile and regret. Then after I would do this, they would run over to Nate and ask him the same question. He would nod his head like he understood and say, "Oui!" Then say, some simple phrase that he knew in french or some English words with a french accent. It was actually pretty hilarious. I would go over to Nate and say, "So you understood him huh?" :)
He is pretty good at faking it I guess.... :) 

1 comment:

  1. Nate & Mikelle,
    I loved reading your holliday trip. Thank you for this wonderfull recording. I am so sorry for your frustration and boring about language barrier !! I want you to be sure that Timothee & Claire loved their trip to Carcassone with you and all they did with you was so fun !!! They just knew they wouldn't be able to communicate in French but they appreciated your kindness so much !!!
    The whole week with both of you was so fun ! God bless you ! Hope we'll meet again !
    Bisous !
    Carole

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