On Friday afternoon, Virginie picked me up and we went to her house in Saint-Junien-près-Bort. She lives with Joselin, nicknamed Jose (sounds like Joes), her boyfriend-nearly-husband, their dog Shina (pronounced Sheena), and their two cats. Saint-Junien is an adorable little...crossing of roads. We went for walks, had dinner - truffade, which is basically cheesy homefries spread on ham slices, and I brought homemade brownies for dessert - and generally had a delightful evening. We visited the Lac de Bort, or the big lake formed by the dam at Bort-les-Orgues. There's a castle on the other side that was unintentionally saved when plans for the dam changed. Apparently no one seemed to care if the lake submerged the castle. we also took a walk to the Site Saint-Nazaire that overlooked the gorges of the Dordogne river. Ohhhh my goodness. It was so impressive. I'm not sure my photos do it justice. I slept over. In the morning, we made our way to Puy de Dome. On the way there, we stopped at Lac de Guéry, the only lake in France where you can legally ice-fish (really?), Mont Sancy (where if you remember, I went "skiing"), and Orcival to see a beautiful (but still scaffolded!!!) Romanesque church. Once at Puy de Dome, THE mountain of the Massif Central, we had lunch with Virginie's college friend Sandra and her boyfriend Julien. The five of us, all teachers of some form, talked about France, the US, how stupid hot it was, how high up the mountain is, and had a good time. And we hiked up the mountain. It was just over 400m vertical and took about 45 minutes to go up. Once up, we walked around the summit, looked at the ruins of the ancient temple to Mercury, watched the...how do you say "parapent in English? people flying around on kites, and drank lots of water. By walking all the way around this mountaintop, you can see the Cantal mountains, the very extinct volcanoes, the city of Clermont-Ferrand, and this beautiful, unknown, lost region. It was breathtaking. It took us nearly two hours to go down the hill and find the parking lot, and involved much "Jose? Are you sure we're almost there? Jose, do you even know where we are?" It was really fun. Virginie is a really fun person. She's smart, down to earth, humble, funny, and genuinely kind. I like her a lot. We have similar opinions of the schools in Ussel. School Three, where she works, is pretty cliquey and stand-off-ish. She was unsurprised that there were some teachers there that haven't said word one to me. Jose was a really cool guy too. They're good together.
As a farewell dinner, Hélène invited me and Françoise to her home for a traditional French dinner. Her husband Laurent and their son Pierre were there, as well as Pierre's best friend/partner in crime Daniel. Those two are hysterical, as I have mentioned many times. Better than TV. They watch unsubtitled episodes of "Lost" in English, so their English is pretty funny. They're also brilliant. Anyways. Apéritif was La Vache Qui Rit apéricubes, crackers, and champagne. But not just any champagne - the brand of Queen Elizabeth! Classy. Entrée was salad with shaved wild boar, melon cubes, and goat cheese. It sounds gross but it was beautiful and the wild boar, the first I had ever eaten, tasted like some of the best dry ham I've ever eaten. It was delicious. Plat was rosemary roast beef with olive oil mashed potatos, all perfectly cooked. Unbelievably delicious. Then cheese - Saint-Nectaire (soft), Cantal (hard), and bleu d'Auvergne (bleu). Dessert was clafoutis, a sort of flan with whole cherries. Everything was so delicious. The Lombarteix are such warm and kind people; I feel so comfortable with Françoise; Daniel and Pierre are hysterical. They gave me a little parting gift - a mug with the old time La Vache Qui Rit picture on it! This will be MY mug for....
I HAVE A TEACHING JOB!!! Monday afternoon, after classes (more yelling, lots of sweating, lots of bitterweetness) and before the dinner party, I had a Skype interview with the school in New York. It was really exciting to finally see "in person" the principal and French teachers with whom I have been corresponding via email for the past month now. They are so professional and positive and enthusiastic. I guess they liked me. After about an hour of discussions about teaching, the principal offered me the position as their new French and Spanish teacher. I am on the MOON. I am so so so excited!!! Oh my goodness. I have so many questions for them now. Namely, when can I get into MY classroom!!
Today after my ONE class as my fifth graders are off on a bike ride somewhere, Jean-François and I are going to look for peanut butter for snackies on Thursday, I am going to get baking materials for brownies and cookies, and then I am going to bake up a storm. Luckily Françoise won't be here to see the bordèle - she has a meeting elsewhere.
Wednesday is my last class with my fifth graders. I am going to miss them a lot. They are fairly indifferent about me, I'm sure. The third graders and some of my fourth graders are really upset that I'm not coming back next year. I love this job and I am so so so grateful for the things I've learned and the doors it has opened for me. Even when there are intensely disappointing days.
I will be in New York in one week. Seven days.