The sun is shining, ladybugs are trundling along the sidewalks, and the first spring flowers are popping up here in Belgium! And it's only March 2nd! Life is good. I'm about to drag Julia on a walk to the store with me to search for some Molasses to accompany fried corn meal mush for supper tonight. Hopefully no one in my Belgian family gets too weirded out when I try to feed them what is considered horse food!
Three weeks ago now, Laura, the previously hosted AFSer from Costa Rica, came to visit. It was fantastic to get to know the famous first exchange student who set the precedent for Julia and me. Plus, we got a glimpse of Central American culture and another wonderful sister! We had a great time together shopping, laughing, and just hanging out. Laura went back to Costa Rica this week with Jade, who's going to absorb Spanish and culture for the next three months. It's extremely calm around the house with them gone...
While Laura was here we all spent a weekend on the French Coast with the extended family of friends. We made expeditions along the beach among WWII bunkers and squinted into the mist hiding the cliffs of Dover. The beach was much wilder than that of Belgium, where all the bunkers have been cleared away and tourist-trapping mussel stands dominate every spare centimeter of the beach. We spent most of our time in a rented house near the beach, playing ping pong, teaching card games, and eating a prodigious amount of French cheese and baguettes. We also enjoyed some sea food, which I succeeded in smashing/prying open without too much unnecessary violence. We came home happily spent and full of warm memories and laughter.
As I have no school at the moment (All of my classmates are working in the field, which is unnecessary for me. Score!) I got to visit Brussels with Cécile and Laura for an afternoon. Unfortunately we happened to pick the one day of the week when all the museums were closed, but we did take a tour of the Atomium (giant molecule sculpture built for the world exhibition of '58---Belgian equivalent of the Eiffel Tower) and took our picture with Mannekin Pis (peeing boy fountain that is also a national symbol. One story says it commemorates a lad who extinguished a firecracker meant to blow up the town hall.) We oohed and ahed over the buildings in the grand place, one of the best-preserved in Europe (it escaped the bombings of the two World Wars) and rubbed the arm of a martyr statue for luck. The town hall was so big and fancy I thought it was a cathedral. We also ogled fountains of chocolate and enjoyed a gaufre de Bruxelles (Brussels Waffle) like good tourists. Overall, a delightful afternoon.
Well, I'm off to search the crazily organized grocery store for some horse food. I will have to finish recounting my latest adventures a bit later.