So in my last update I was admittedly a little hasty to pronounce the peak of the virus over with here in France. The death toll did reach new highs in the week before Easter, but I do think that I can now say with confidence that the numbers are decreasing.
Life in lockdown still continues as usual. The week leading up to Easter Sunday was hot and sunny and so I spent most of it outside, when I wasn’t studying French in my room. Ben and I spent many afternoons tanning and reading in the garden. During the week we slowly shifted over to almost exclusively speaking in French, which is difficult but necessary if I want to learn.
We continued our evening routine of clapping and shouting at 8 pm and then reading ‘le Petit Prince’ and ‘Ratus et ses amis’ after dinner.
And on Friday the 10th, a healthy little girl, Alix, was born – Ben and Eric’s first granddaughter. Although it was slightly bittersweet, since Ben and Eric would not be allowed to visit any time soon, the day was joyous and filled with smiles. We celebrated little Alix with Champagne in the evening and dinner outside. Bienvenue Alix!
At 9 pm I had a “wine meeting” on Facetime with Caroline, Zuzanna and Munk, and although bringing a bottle of wine to my room and not sharing it with anyone felt very strange, we did have lots of fun and talked well into the night (even though Zuz had to leave early).
The Saturday before Easter I went for a run, but within 200 meters my knee made it very clear that I overdid it on the last one and so I had to stop. Instead I walked down to the river and explored the tiny dirt paths leading from the main path, in between the trees, and all the way to the water’s edge. I found a fallen tree trunk that extended into the water and climbed onto it to sit. I ended up sitting there for just around 20 minutes and would’ve stayed for much longer if I wasn’t at risk of being fined and didn’t have to get back for lunch. But since I couldn’t let out my frustrations and pent up energy by running, the calming effect of sitting in nature seemed a good alternative. It was beautiful and peaceful, the sun glinting off the river and reflecting onto the trees, birds chirping heartily. It was a tranquil moment and since we aren’t being overwhelmed with too many reasons to feel overly cheerful right now, the effect of the nature really did wonders on my mood.
I followed the river until it met the main path again and went home just in time for lunch and just five minutes before my allowed hour outside was up. That was the first time that the “1” rule here in France (1 person can go 1 km away from home for 1 hour, once a day) really bothered me.
In the afternoon Eric and I started our big ravioli project - since Eric didn’t believed that raviolis could be made vegan - where I made vegan raviolis (with a bit of help from Eric) and he made classic ones. They both turned out well, although I hadn’t rolled mine out thin enough with the result of slightly too thick pastas, but they tasted good nevertheless. We had lots of fun with our little competition.
Nothing much happened on Easter Sunday, the weather was nice and so I made my way down to my spot by the river and stayed until the very last minute, having to rush home in five minutes so as to not exceed the one-hour time limit.
Monday was another day off without school and I spent a fair amount of it outside, enjoying the calming sound of the rain with a cup of coffee and a jacket on.
Just after 8 pm (to give people the time to go out and clap as usual) Macron spoke to address the coming weeks. In short, he extended the complete lockdown until the 11th of May – another month. It wasn’t the news we’d been hoping for, but it wasn’t unexpected either and Ben and I comforted ourselves with the knowledge that we’d already completed five weeks, so we were over halfway through. And at least we could be pretty sure that the country would really start to slowly open after the 11th of May, meaning that Ben might be able to visit her new little granddaughter, while I could visit Madeleine. Unfortunately, it didn’t leave much hope for me getting back in school. I went for a run around 9 pm that evening and while my knee definitely wasn’t bemused by it, it was just what my mind needed.
This past week has been mostly French, French and more French. Because Monday was a public holiday, Accent Français made up for the lost lessons, by putting in extra lessons in the afternoon on Wednesday and Thursday. To top that off, most days were filled with lots of homework, Madeleine in the evening and almost exclusively French conversations with Ben and Eric. It was a lot, but I also felt like I learned a lot.
And frankly it would’ve probably been a lot easier if I hadn’t slept so terribly the whole week – every night I’ve been having bizarre and vivid dreams, most of them either nightmares or extremely stressful. And it turns out I’m far from alone. A new phenomenon, ‘Corona virus pandemic dreams’, has apparently become a very real thing. I found countless articles on the topic, stating that the quarantine is causing bizarre, vivid and often stressful dreams for a lot of people. Here’s an article from National Geographic, just to mention one: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/04/coronavirus-pandemic-is-giving-people-vivid-unusual-dreams-here-is-why/
To get back on track, this week has been exhaustive and busy, but good. And since the weather has been mostly grey and uninteresting, it’s been a good time to focus on learning. This weekend has been quiet and calm, just as cloudy as the rest of the week. Friday, I stayed on Zoom until 1 pm, to participate in an aperitif and casual discussions in French. Although it did end up being mostly a talk about politics and the lockdown, I had a good time and it was nice to speak with Claire (one of our teachers) and the other students casually for once. Unfortunately Claire did say that she doesn’t expect the school will open until France opens all its borders again (since a lot of the students are stuck in other countries across the world), and even then, the school is under the same rules as restaurants and cinemas, and can’t open until the others can. And since those are likely some of the last parts of the country that will open, I’m almost completely positive that I won’t be back in school. Alas, I was already half expecting it and now at least I can plan accordingly.
Ben, Eric and I have had some really good times together throughout this month and a half in confinement and we’ll surely have lots of good laughs still in the coming three weeks. This situation sucks for everyone, frankly, and I feel very lucky to live with Ben and Eric, to have access to a garden and to be able to still learn French from home. And this coming week it looks like the sun might return, so there really is a lot to be grateful for.
Here’s a sentence I’ve learned this week, which I’m really not sure when I’ll ever need:
“Si le crabe violoniste n’existait pas, des vegetation dans l’écosystème ne pousserait pas et les autres espèces mouraient de faim"