Friday, June 9, 2017

Nun on a Camel

Next stop . . . Carcassone.

Marie and I met up with our Professor, and Aimee and Renaud (a.k.a. expert French genealogists). It felt to good to see them again. We had a blast traveling around Carcassone, Albi and Pau with them doing archival research. Our days were packed, and wifi was at times limited, so here are some pictures to prove the experience was real.


Aimee and Renaud


Then, came the wild-fire adventure. On Wednesday, my Professor, Aimee and Renaud were leaving, and Marie and I didn’t know exactly where we should head next. We knew that we would head to Paris eventually, but the research projects we had in mind were a bit over our heads and we felt we needed some serious planning and prep time. But, like most adults who worry about their children, our professor wanted to make sure we were safely off on a train before we parted. So in essence, within an hour we decided to go to Paris, we bought a train ticket and a hotel, and we were off. As you can imagine, I felt some definite anxiety heading into the biggest city in France on a whim.

We arrived safely and made it to our hotel carrying our luggage up five flights of stairs in a spiral shape. There was one shower for the entire hotel and we had to pay for wifi. The struggle was real. But we did have the coolest Parisian window view and that kept us going.

Making the most of our funky experience!

We woke up. We prayed. We google mapped. We survived.

First we went to the Archive Militaries in the Chateau de Vincennes. Beautiful location and beautiful archive. We tackled some interesting problems and walked out feeling better than we did walking in. Nest we hopped on the metro and headed to the National Archive for France. Our research concerns worked out and again we walked out feeling like we had tackled a crazy day.

Archive Militaries

National Archive

Also, side note, after a lot of travel stress I turned to Marie and said, “I am going to the French Open to watch tennis tomorrow. It’s my dream, and I am going. No matter what.” God must have heard me too because it was like the great sea parted.

I jumped online and bought one of the last tickets. By the time I checked out, the tickets were sold out. The app wasn’t working to download my ticket, so I called the ticket office and they told me that it would work better to just print it. That stressed me out a little because we were staying in the dinkiest hotel and I knew they wouldn’t have a printer. So as we were walking home, I put it out into the universe. I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great, if there suddenly appeared a print center on the side of the road?” I hadn't seen one before during my travels thus far, BUT THEN BOOM! Five minutes and 40 centimes later was a print shop and my ticket was printed. I felt so much relief.

We also had to change hotels because we had only booked our hotel for two nights (thank the heavens). I was praying that we would find a place that would hold our luggage in between the two check in times. We found a better hotel in the same area for the same price, with a luggage storage. Phew. But then at the last minute a hotel with a deal opened up that wasn’t available the day before when we had checked! MIRACLE!

So, this morning my moment to live my dream at Rolland Garros arrived. We checked out of our funky hotel, entered our new one and then I was off on my own. But I learned that being on my own really means that I am never truly alone. I got on the metro and saw two cute classy old ladies. They were speaking Spanish and got off at the same stop as me. I soon realized that we were all going to the tennis tournament and, because they looked a little lost, I showed them my google map and we all walked together. They spoke Spanish to me and I spoke Spanish/French/English to them. My new language is communication I decided. They were so comforting to be with and made the experience so fun as we walked in all the security gates together. Once I helped them find their seats, they gave me their number and invited me to come and visit them if I am ever in Barcelona. Thanks, Pepe!

And then I entered Court Philippe-Chatrier and died! The clay court was beautiful and although my seat was on the very last row of the stadium, it didn’t feel very far. My view was great and the stadium wasn’t too big. Plus I could see the Eiffel Tower from my seat. What could be better? I was like a five year old kid again. I literally forgot to eat all day because I didn’t want to miss anything while buying food. The match was between Andy Murray (no.1) and Stan Wawrinka (no. 3) and it was incredible!! Like five-hour-long incredible! I LOVE WATCHING TENNIS!

I just love how classy tennis is. No one is drinking. It is quiet during the point. Everyone is dressed up all fancy with their cute little hats. You get to watch the individual journey of both players. It’s simply breathtaking. I know this is cheesy, but deal with it. My heart was happy.

Oh, AND someone wanted to sit with their family member and asked me to switch seats with them, which meant I got to move down a row! I was no longer on the last row, but on the second to the last row. I met four guys from Amsterdam and we became buddies. It was a worldwide experience. Chinese speakers to my left, French speakers to my right, and my four pals from Amsterdam behind me. After every good point they would all cheer with me. I just couldn’t believe that I was sitting by myself at the French Open in the middle of Paris and I didn’t feel alone. By the end of the match my new friends had taught me a few Dutch phrases and I asked them in Dutch what their names were. Denis, Roger, Arnould, and James. That was their English names, they told me, and they called me by my Dutch name.

The match was incredible. Wawrinka gave a big fight and it every point was a battle. The first set ended in a tie breaker with Murray barely pulling it out. After that I knew this was going to be a match to remember. Wawrinka took the next set. Then Murray. Then Wawrinka. The fourth set ended in a tie breaker too! It was just amazing to watch these two players run each other into the ground. It was very hot and they looked exhausted but Wawrinka wanted it a little bit more and pulled it off easily in the fifth set. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and I am really grateful I got to have that experience. 

During the last set of the match, Roger (my new friend from Amsterdam) started asking me about my life, and boy did I feel like a nun. First, he asked me if I knew any good bars around and of course I had no idea. Then he asked me what I was doing on Saturday in Paris and I tried to explain that I was going to Versailles. He wanted to know why, so I told him I was going to Versailles to see the temple. That lead to me being a member of the church. It was a weird moment because he had never heard of a Mormon before. He wanted to know what my church was about. It was hard because tennis is supposed to be a quiet sport, so I gave the fastest, softest version of who we are as Mormons during the 5th set of this famous, amazing, fantastic tennis match.

He then asked, in the most awkward fashion, if I believed in having sex before marriage. It was such a open conversation it shocked me. It wasn't uncomfortable actually, except for the fact that I felt like such a nun and it cracked me up. It just continued to get worse because he thought Utah was a country place where I had a horse. When I tried to explain it was a desert, he thought I owned a camel. Then I felt like a nun on a camel. Yep. But I also was grateful to make some nice/cool friends and share different life experiences.

On the way home I met a man from Seattle who was lost. He was a pilot, in town for the day, so I helped him find his way to the metro. Once again, I didn’t feel alone.

Rolland Garros 2017 baby!!! SUCH A GOOD DAY!

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