Yay for all of your comments! We all know that I'm lame, but to add to my lameness, I'm pretty sure that my self-esteem is now linked to how many comments I get to my posts.
Clarifications on Paris:
Ben and I flew into Paris, and stayed at a wonderful hostel Mon, Tue, and Wed night. Thursday after a day o' exploring, we took a one hour train to Orleans and stayed with Ben's buddy Kirill and Kirill's family. We stayed there Thu, Fri, and Sat night. Sunday night we took a train back to Paris, stayed in the same hostel, and left at about 5 A.M. to make sure we had enough time to make it to the airport for our fly home.
Aliosha (which is a nickname) is Kirill's two year old. Kirill's wife, Carolyn is expecting, and she is due at the end of this month. They were the best hosts ever. They created amazing meals, Kirill spent lots of time with us walking around the city, and Aliosha made me laugh non-stop. He quickly figured out Ben's name, and Aliosha said Ben a million more times than he said Amy. It hurt my heart. I didn't know how to play with him without scaring him; it was honestly really hard for me. Kirill speaks Russian to him, and Carolyn speaks French.
Funny stories for Jackie:
Dang. I should have wrote them down; I feel like I'm scrabbling.
1. Aliosha was extremely worried on the day that I wore my jeans that have a hole in the knee. He would cautiously walk over, point at my knee, and call to his mommy, "Oh no, cache!" Carolyn informed us that cache meant broken. She laughed when she told us that as he was falling asleep that night he kept repeating, "Oh no, Amy, cache ... oh no, Amy ... cache."
2. When Ben and I were hiking up to Montmartre we were met by a crowd of, who I thought, were Morroccan men. They called out to us, and I clung to Ben's hand, determined not to get sold anything. They were trying to hand me what looked like a bracelet, and I politely said no, and kept plodding. Ben also said no ... and then one of the guys grabbed my left fist. (It was in a fist, again, because I was not going to accept anything and then feel obligated to purchase it.) This man forced open my hand, and slipped the string over my finger. He had lassoed me, and I absolutely hated it. Ben had also been bamboozled.
The man proceeded to twist the string and design the bracelet in a french braid fashion. The man explained that they were from Africa, and this would help his people, and tried to sweeten me up with questions about how I became so beautiful (Give me a break, I hadn't washed my hair in three days.), why we weren't married yet, how we should go up to the church and get married right now ... I was boiling. I was trying to figure out what to say to refuse this lame bracelet, but every now and then I have a hard time using my teacher voice outside of the classroom.
Ben was really put out too, poor us. They tied it around our wrist, and then I was terrified/claustrophobic. I wanted scissors right then. They said something lame like, "Usually we charge 5 Euro, but for you, 3!" Wow! $5 for the lamest bracelet ever! Ben paid them, and we fumed about it the rest of the day. Why can't we be mean sometimes? I think I left it on for less than five minutes, then I strained and pulled and pulled to Ben's, "Can I help you?" but I was so angry at this stupid bracelet that put us in a bad mood; I didn't want anybody's help. I rippped it off, and felt only slightly satisfied. Ben's still wearing his. It's a bittersweet reminder.
3. Ben wanted to see the Eiffel Tower at night. I was really excited because when I saw it back in high school, we had made a day trip of it. We figured out our metro stops, started walking, waited for a huge procession of buses carting military folk, tucked in tighter in our jackets, rounded the corner ... It was so wonderful. I had remembered the Moroccans from the last time I came; they had been selling laser pointers, and they kept shining the lights on our boobs. Classy. So we're walking, and I'm laughing and giddy, and we're trying to take quality pictures with both of us in them, and a man bows in front of me, and quietly hands me a rose. I took the bait without a second thought. "Oh wow, alright!" and I twirled it and admired it, and we kept walking. I'm such a sucker for flowers. Soon Ben pointed out, "He's following us ... um, I think he wants us to pay for it."
Duh! I felt so lame, of course he wants money for it. I am such a fool. I laughed and should have slapped my forehead. I gave the rose back to the man, who kept trying to give it back to me, "2 euro! 2 euro!" No, no. You already made me feel so excited then so lame. Ben offered to buy it for me, but that would have felt even worse. I am chief sucker.
Ben debated whether he wanted to ride to the top or not. I put it all in his hands because I'd already been to the top. We went to the top, but it was the most drawn-out/freezing cold experience of my life. We hadn't bought our scarves yet, and as I stood in line after line, I kept myself going with, "I could definitely survive for five more minutes." We barely talked. It was so painful.
4. We rode the metro to the stop where we would eventually leave to head for Orleans so that we could buy our train tickets early. We actually passed some missionaries, and after a quick conversation with each other, we decided to go back and talk to them. We had questions about buying a local phone card so that we could call Kirill with out train time, and we wanted to make sure we bought the right train tickets. The missionaries actually had a cell phone, and their plan had endless minutes. So Ben talked and talked to Kirill while I chatted with the missionaries. One had been there for 1.5 years, and he had just barely picked up the other. I kept laughing at the greenie, he seemed so awkward, and I loved it. I was observing them converse with each other, and the greenie pulled out a piece of gum, unwrapped it, and popped it in his mouth. He turned to his companion, "Would you like a piece of gum?" The older companion's eyebrows kind of turned in, and he turned down the offer. "Is that because you really don't want any, or is it because it's against the rules?"
"It's because it's against the rules."
Wow, this made me laugh really hard. It summed up all of the awkwardness that I'd been able to observe in the short time we were with them.
5. I need to talk with Ben, he'll be able to help me remember more. He gave me a really hard time about the public toilets on the streets. At one point on one of our walks, I confessed that I was at code red on the bathroom alert. He pointed out that we had just passed one of the public toilets, and I told him that I was too scared to go in one. They are self-cleaning, as in, when you step out after use, and shut the door, you can hear it spray itself down. Gross. What if the sensors are broken, and I get sprayed down with who knows what?
"Well, I want to try it," so I sat in bladder-stressed pain while he explored and admired.