Thursday, June 9, 2011

Flea Market and Waterloo

Life continues to click right along here. I'm progressively losing my English (how do you spell occasionally? Thank heavens for spell check!), thinking in French, and feeling really and truly at home in this family. When I think about leaving I feel like I'm leaving home all over again, except this time it's less certain I'll be back. It makes me teary just thinking about saying goodbye, so I'll move on to other topics.
Last Saturday I strolled down to the village center to check out a Belgian flea market. I found some deliciously cheap earrings and a scarf among the china teapots, plaster leopards, Star Wars figurines, and ancient typewriters. Thrift stores and consignment stores don't really exist here, so I was really happy to do some treasure hunting that didn't hurt my wallet.
Later that afternoon Jade, Julia, a Canadian AFSer and myself went out for a fondue at a hawaiian café, something we'd been meaning to do since January. The melted Belgian chocolate was quite delicious of course, and we had a nice chat. That night we made peanut butter cookies and goofed around as only exchange students know how. Julia, with her horror of all nuts, tried making nutella cookies (that is the one exception to her nut antipathy) but it turned more into a cake since they spread out a bit much. Happily chocolate is hard to ruin, and the experiment was still perfectly edible.
Sunday I got up early and joined Mina, a Norwegian AFSer, for a day in Waterloo. Yes, how many of you knew that Napoleon got his French booty kicked in Belgium? We visited the Duke of Wellington's quarters which is a 300 year old inn that has been turned into a very informative and interesting little museum. We saw the Lord of Uxbridge's artificial leg he never got the chance to wear, as well as the room he died in and his leg's burial spot. We saw many handsome swords and pistols and banners, and listened to drums and cannons and bugles on our audio guides. We also climbed the Lion Monument that was erected on the spot where the Prince of Orange was wounded in battle. It's a veritable mountain by Belgian standards, and we had a great view of the countryside from on top. The tourist season here is in full swing, so we saw plenty of Americans, Englishmen, Asians, and even some Danish folks who were happy to have a conversation in Danish with Mina. While it was sad to learn about how many men and horses and drummer boys were butchered on the field, it was also very impressive to get the full impression of what courage and discipline it must have taken to be a soldier or general in battle.
Monday I went with Marianne to the pony club for an impromptu barbecue to celebrate Alice's casting in a cooking show. It's a Belgian cooking competition show, featuring culinary students from around the country. Alice was picked out of close to 200 candidates to participate, so we are all very excited. The show will air in January, so Julia and I will have to check it out online or something. We enjoyed champagne, ribs, and Cécile's famous chocolate mousse with strawberries. (I've got to learn how to make that stuff!) It's just the end of the strawberry season here, and they were nearly as exquisite as the mousse.
Later in the week we also went to Veronique's for supper. Gilles, and Jean were there too, so we made up quite a large and lively party, as Jane Austen might say. We sat out in the sun and laughed at the grumpy neighbor's donkey and the loving, drooly dogs. Quite a lovely evening.
Another cultural note I've failed to mention: Godparents actually count for something here. They help with babysitting, throw birthday parties, and are generally like a more involved aunt or uncle. Pretty cool.
To be continued...

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