Les Maladies

This weekend David and I both had the opportunity to experience adventures in ill-health while abroad! Yippee. Saturday evening David developed some sort of stomach bug, complete with fever and chills, and was just sick enough for me to start freaking out about my lack of preparedness for health issues while here.  Neither of us is prone to sickness, so I didn’t really think I had to have that all figured out. We have international health insurance because it was required for the long-stay visa, but other than knowing where to find a few pharmacies, I felt pretty ill-equipped. I do know 911 is useless here. Instead, you call 15 for medical emergencies, 17 for the police, and 18 (or 112–don’t ask me, I have no idea) for the fire department.

La Police (instead of David feeling unwell)
La Police (instead of a photo of David feeling unwell)

Fortunately, no emergency services were required, and David is on the mend. But just when he was starting to feel better yesterday, I started feeling unwell–I’ll spare you the details–and became increasing convinced that I’d have to miss my first day back at school and would somehow need to find a doctor and get myself there, since antibiotics would be required to get me back to health.  I remembered the welcome packet for school (yes, I’m one of those people who read things like that) had a page of emergency contact information, so I was able to find a clinic half an hour’s walk from the house. It’s just around the corner from here (below):

Place de Verdun et rue Fleuriau
Place de Verdun et rue Fleuriau

I was still in a bit of a panic, since although my French is definitely improving, I’m not great at talking on the phone, but I felt I should call the school to let them know I could not return today, and then I had to call to get an appointment with a doctor. I managed both, in a rather bumbling, incoherent way, admittedly, but . . . yay . . . gold star for me.

I’ve read somewhere that doctor’s appointments in France are rather different than those in the states. Don’t know if this is true or not, but I’ve read that you have to take off all your clothes and sit there, awkward and freezing, on the examining table without so much a tissue: no gown, no drape, naked as the day you were born. And while it is true that things were rather different–no nurse checking my blood pressure, taking my pulse, making me stand on the scale, no nurse at all, in fact, and best of all, ZERO paperwork–I’m happy to report, no nudity was required. The doctor was the one to fetch me from the waiting room, and we walked through a little courtyard to a small exam room, but he sat at a little desk and I sat in a chair on the other side and we had a conversation–flipping between English and French as either of us lacked the necessary vocabulary. Then he explained the prescription he was giving me–three pills, take one a day, avoid the sun, drink LOTS of water–then asked me for 23 euros, shook my hand and showed me out.

Les Minimes -- No beach for me this week!
Les Minimes — No beach for me this week!

I retrieved David from a bench in Place de Verdun and we went to the pharmacy where I turned in my prescription and was immediately given the packet of pills–cost 13 euros 56 centimes. Done and done in about 20 minutes and for about 40 bucks USD. Love it. We, however, did not feel quite well enough for lunch here:

Café de la Paix
Café de la Paix–Best Salade Chevre Chaud in La Rochelle

And while I certainly would have preferred that neither of us get sick, it was one more fear conquered–okay, two–the phone AND the doctor. Here’s hoping your fears can be conquered without the need for ill-health.

À votre santé!*
*(Common toast in France, roughly: Cheers! Literally: To your health!)

Life in Oz

No, we’re not actually in Oz. We’re still in La Rochelle, which we love, but sometimes Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz springs to mind, as in, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Here we see things we would not ordinarily see in Fort Collins, Colorado. Like this:

I have no idea.
I have no idea.

Well, maybe we do see things like that occasionally in Fort Collins, but only on Tour de Fat Saturday!

Don’t see these, though:

L'hôtel de ville de La Rochelle

L'hôtel de ville de La Rochelle
L’hôtel de ville de La Rochelle

Or these:

Citroën 2CV – Classic French Car
Citroën 2CV – Classic French Car

Or toddlers sporting fabulous scarves:

Toddler in Scarf Cropped

Or man-bags:

David says no thank you.

Or Converse worn quite this way:

Very French
Very French

Or women of all ages enjoying fashion quite this much:

Rockin' the Mini-Skirt
Rockin’ the Mini-Skirt

How about this one?

Maybe a rock star?

None of the above are isolated random sightings–well except the dude in pink. Converse, man-bags, beautifully wound scarves on children, and even stylish seniors in mini-skirts and boots are everywhere. We can’t get enough. We walk and look or sit and watch (and sneak furtive photos with a long lens) every chance we get.

Finally, check out this little piece of the vieux port. Can you imagine a drop-off like this in the states with no railing? And yet, we all manage to walk along it every day with no mishaps. Well, few. There was a bike at the bottom you could see at low tide the other day, and be sure to scroll down to note my hat’s new home.

The sad end of my fab hat!
The sad end of my fab hat!

Sunday my best new hat was stolen from my head by a strong gust of wind and dropped down into the silt of low tide, as you can see above. Of course the port area is always thronged with pedestrians and café-sitters, so there was a sympathetic chorus of Oh! Là! Là! Là! Là! (It was more than a two Là! catastrophe, but not quite a six. “Oh! Là! Là!” is used for any surprise, whether positive or negative. The more “là” is repeated, the more likely it is to be negative.) I could possibly have climbed down the ancient iron ladder affixed to the wall and then squished across eight or ten feet of muck in an effort to retrieve it, but decided to let it go, rather than attempt it with such a large audienceLater when we came back that way, the tide had come up a bit, but it was still visible and was providing quite the conversation starter. I overheard no fewer than five separate groups of people, “Blah, blah, blah, un chapeau . . . .” One man in a hat was leaning over and looking without holding on to his own hat, so I felt compelled to warn him. “Ah, attention à votre chapeau, monsieur! C’est mon chapeau là-bas!” (“Be careful of your hat, sir! That’s my hat down there!”) Guess that was my fifteen minutes of fame—kind of lame. Yesterday I went back to La Chapellerie and bought another one, but David has made me promise to hold onto it when near the water.

Once we’ve had enough people-watching for the day, we head back home,  and although Colorado is certainly very beautiful,  I can assure you we’ve never glanced down a random side street in Fort Collins and seen anything like this:

Rue Bazoges, La Rochelle
Rue Bazoges, La Rochelle

What a treat for the eyes this place is.