Jul 30, 2009

Lost Diaries 5

It was recently brought to my attention by one of my faithful readers that I never revealed the quasi-happy ending to the saga that is my international hair style. I think the last mention I made was that I was determined to buy a cheap European hair straightener. Well, I did in fact make that purchase at the local shopping mall. It cost 29 euros, which is indeed a small price to pay for respectability. It appears to me that there is no actual European Chi, which is sad to think of all these poor people living over here in the middle ages of hair straightening. The cheap straightener that I bought is called the Babyliss, which led to quite a few jokes between Damon and me. (Get it? Baby-less?) It works better than the first American straightener that I had, but does not approach the greatness of the Chi. I have not taken it along on weekend trips, since we are packing light, but my strategy has been that I do my hair carefully on Thursday before we leave, don’t wash it on Friday, and then ponytail it on Saturday and Sunday. Those of you who know me well are probably amazed to hear that I am skipping a day of hair washing, a heretofore unprecedented event in the life of Scarlett, but I figure most of these people smell so bad they won’t even notice the stench of my hair. So, when you see pictures from weekend trips and my hair is down, know that it is dirty, and if it is clean, it will be pulled back.

Other concerns have been raised about ingesting all the foreign food and water. You will be relieved to know that most of the time we are drinking bottled water; Evian to be exact. There was the episode at the Roman fountain, and I’m sure we’ve drank tap water at restaurants, but so far there have been no ill effects from drinking the water. Montezuma is unable to take his revenge over here. We have not experienced Jacques Chirac’s revenge or Mussolini’s either, so far. I am also learning where food is concerned that the human body can apparently ingest a large volume of germs and survive. These people buy baguettes (long loaves of French bread) and carry them around all day with no covering. I have literally watched people lay their bread down on the counter of the train station, which is teaming with international germs, and then pick it up and munch on it. It is disgusting, but they appear none the worse for wear. You can guess that I have not been eating any of this type of bread, though.

There have been several everyday things that we have struggled with that have surprised us. For example, in France there is no such thing as a 3 ring binder. They have 2 ring binders, and 4 ring binders, but three rings are nowhere to be found. We needed one for Damon’s school book, and we had to go to a Kinko’s type place and have it bound instead, because it had three pre-punched holes. Their measuring system is of course different. You buy water, coke, and milk in liters. (And most of their milk is not refrigerated and does not appear to be homogenized….it is SCARY!) Even the time of day is measured differently, and it is tough to know when to go to bed, since it is still daylight at 22:00. It seems that everything is smaller here. This has been most disconcerting in the food portions. We found a Domino’s Pizza in our neighborhood, and we ordered a 4 person pizza, which in the U.S. would be the equivalent of a medium. They only offer 2 sizes, 2 person and 4 person. At McDonald’s, if you supersize your combo, you get what would be a medium drink in the U.S. One of Damon’s friends was shopping in the mall and went into a Levi’s store. The biggest pants he could find were a 27 waist. He said he could not fit a 27 waist around one of his thighs, and left in disgust.

Yesterday we had a wonderful day because a package came from the Pourciau’s bearing American food, including Tony’s seasoning, Velveeta shells and cheese (light? Is that a hint?), red beans and rice, and other items. The shipping cost on these luxury items probably outweighed their net worth, weighing in at a whopping $40. We are savoring every morsel, and my tip for all of you is to pack a suitcase of foodstuffs if you ever cross the pond. Know this for sure: You will be hungry.

Yesterday was also the day that Batman Begins debuted, and Damon had a burning desire to see it. So, we spent the afternoon tramping around Lyon on public transit and looking for a theater playing the “version originale” of the movie. We finally struck gold at the 4th theater we visited, and got tickets for the 19:00 showing. Damon suggested that I bring along a sweater, since I am normally cold in the movies. I told him that I have not been cold anywhere in France and I would be fine. When we got to the movie, the theater was tiny, and old fashioned, with tiny seats covered in black velvet, if you please (which also happens to be one of their favorite songs). Things were fine starting off, but by the time it got to the fiery scenes, I felt that I, too, was about to spontaneously combust. I was way past glistening and was literally sweating beads into the velvet it was so hot in there. I can only imagine that Damon was about to pass out. The movie was good, minus my disgust for Katie Holmes and her Tom Cruise/Scientology loving self, but the movie watching conditions were deplorable. I felt like I would need oxygen, or at the very least treatment for heat stroke as we left the theater. On our jaunt about town we did, however, make a few discoveries. All this time we thought that Lyon was an ugly, crappy little industrial town, but last night we discovered that we simply live on the wrong side of the train tracks. There is a beautiful side to the city as well, full of ornate museums and beautiful gardens with jogging paths and flower beds. It was a glimpse of how the other half live in Lyon, far away from where we live with the construction workers relentlessly jack-hammering anything they can get their hands on outside our window, trains screeching by every few minutes, and dogs barking in the alley at all hours. It was a nice place and I think I will go back next week to sit by the fountain, eat ice cream, and write postcards to all of you. So on that cheery note, I will close. We are leaving at 15:00 today for the Netherlands: land of prostitution, marijuana, and Anne Frank. We will be paying lots of attention to one of the above, and I’ll let you guess which one until the update of our travels on Monday.

1 comment :

Unknown said...

I will be so sad when these come to an end. :( You must go back, so we can have more delightful stories. I want you to know that I ran THREE POINT TWO miles without stopping yesterday. I was dizzy after, but I did accomplish it. So, if we could just have a mini-adventure race, I would be fine. :)
Love and miss you all!!