Saturday, January 08, 2011

What Is This Emotion I'm Feeling?

At the bus stop
I’m in St. Laurent, a suburb of Nice, France. Just had a sandwich sitting on the beach and went for a walk along the Mediterranean Sea. I want to go to Vieux (old) Nice and check out the city center. My hotel is conveniently located adjacent to a bus stop with buses that will transport me into town. So, I’m at the bus stop and something begins to grip me. A feeling that I don’t like and a feeling of which I am surprised that is occurring right now, it is fear. Why am I fearful? Because I barely speak French! I’m about to spend the day on my own in a country where I’ve never been and I don’t speak the language of the host country. I’ve been in this situation before, but why am I fearful now? My French speaking and comprehension are very basic, but I do have in my possession the Just Enough French book I purchased back in 1995 in preparation for my first trip to Montreal. This book served me well on that initial trip to Montreal in ’95 and that trip turned out to be great. I realize that fear is a necessary emotion and it can help in keeping one safe, but fear can also be paralyzing and inhibiting. And, I am not one to live life on the sidelines, I don’t like being a spectator.  I want to do and see as much as I can. As I write this, I also remember being a little fearful on my flight to Montreal prior to my first visit back in ’95. Maybe I have a fear of speaking really bad French, I don’t know?

So, I’m having this internal dialogue while I’m waiting for a bus to take me to old Nice. Then, I start thinking, what if I get on the wrong bus? (I had asked the hotel staff which bus to take, but the bus they told me to take is not listed)? My time is limited. I’m only in Nice for a day, I want to make the most of my time, and I don’t want to end up somewhere I don’t want to be. Standing next to me was a diminutive and fashionable (Everyone in France it seems is fashionable, it’s something to see) grandmotherly woman. I approached the woman and explained in French that I spoke a little French and I was trying to get on the correct bus to old Nice. Amazingly, the woman understood me and told me the correct bus number; bus #52 and amazingly I understood her, for she spoke no English. We were quite the pair, my new friend spoke no English and I spoke little French. The bus stop where we were waiting was a busy one and many busses serviced this stop. Anytime a bus would pull in, my new friend would look at me, wave her tiny hand with a slightly bent index finger extended and would say, “Non.” This went on for sometime. Then, when bus #52 finally approached, my friend looked at me, smiled, extended her slightly bent index finger in the direction of the bus and said, “Voila.” I thanked her and I was on my way.

Vieux Nice
En route to old Nice,  the bus followed the promenade along the Mediterranean. It was a gorgeous, sunny, cool, and slightly windy day. It was the kind of setting I envisioned the French Riviera to be anytime someone said the words, French Riviera. It was great witnessing so many people running, biking, rollerblading, and enjoying the day. After about 20-25 minutes, I was deposited in Vieux Nice. The city had a buzz to it, it was a Friday afternoon and the weekend was on. I love cities; I love walking cities and the best way to explore and experience old Nice is to wander its small, narrow, labyrinthine streets. It was great discovering what was down each little alleyway and behind every corner. Be it patisseries with freshly baked baguettes, which seemed to be ubiquitous. Pastel houses, markets selling beautiful bouquets of flowers, shops selling the latest fun and funky fashions or a tucked away shoe store that actually had a pair of good looking affordable shoes in my size that I just had to purchase. I strolled, observed, and took in the scenes that were unfolding around me.

I then came upon an auditorium called The Acropolis and there was a banner in French advertising classical music concerts for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. I believe the concerts were free because I saw the word ‘gratuits’ in the banner and as my good friend Rob likes to say, “If it’s free, it’s for me.”

So, I approached someone who worked at The Acropolis to confirm if the performances were free. The guy I spoke with was extremely helpful and friendly; and between our collective broken English and French, I obtained the information I was seeking. Yes, the concerts were free. I now knew how I would be spending my Friday evening, catching a classical musical performance. I love live music!

After a couple of more hours of exploring, I decided it was time to head back to my hotel so that I could get ready for the evening. I was getting hungry and I found a hole in the wall shop that served delicious chicken shwarma sandwiches, nice. I then went to the bus depot, found the bus for St. Laurent, and headed back.

I got back to my hotel room and as I was getting ready for the evening, I was thinking about the day and how everything went down. I was glad that I decided to venture out and not let fear inhibit me. I enjoyed speaking the little bit of French that I know, encountering many helpful people, and having the opportunity to check out and explore a new city. And as always, I learned some things about myself throughout the course of the day. It was a good day!

4 comments:

Rebecca said...

I loved reading this Ryan!

Chris said...

Great stuff Br. Rionne... Great stuff.

Marketing Mama (TM) said...

nice post, haynes.

Anonymous said...

Hi uncle Ryan, I really like your post. But for the ending you should had said Au Revoir! -Ernest