Sunday, October 11, 2009

New home again

Dear Family and Friends

Hard as it sometimes is to beleive we finally made it to Paris, where we are enjoying a gorgeous fall. The weather has generally been fabulous, uncharacteristically warm and sunny, with enough chill in the air for us to savor the need for clothing that has been in the closet for four years.

Of course we miss the people and places and things we came to love so much in Cameroon, but the school here is fabulous, our apartment is almost as gorgeous as my wife, and the bread and cheese are to die for. We live in a very posh but unpronuncable neighborhood called Neuilly-sur-Seine - and enjoy proximity to a huge park (Bois de Bologne for you francophiles out there), and good (if pricey) shopping. It takes about 1/2 an hour to get to the Embassy, basically going straight up/down the Champs d'Elysses (usually on a metro line).

The boys love their scooters, but are still working on their "street smarts". Predictably, Lincoln has given us the worst scares with traffic due to his total ignorance about life outside a home or school enclosed by walls and filled with people watching out for him. Nonetheless, he is now good friends with the "green man" - and becomes very upset if any family member dares cross the street when his evil twin the "red man" illuminates...

Kristie is doing a great job with the million chores of settling in, from finding a new doctor to finding places to put all our stuff, when the furniture stuff is still weeks away... My work is also going well, though the embassy staff and community is much larger, and much less cohesive.

In short, things are falling into place and we are enjoying our exploration of our new life, while holding onto what we can of the old.

Scooter adventures - looking out on "La Defense"

Crossing the Seine to get to the skate park

Boys in front of their new school - Marymount

School picnic

An afternoon at Luxembourg Gardens
yes the boats and carousel are still there, and we will get the appropriate picture next time

As a reward for reading to the bottom - the final picture of this post commemorates our latest cultural mishap - and by far the most expensive trip to the pool in Swaney history.
Having subjected the boys to not only the monotony of unpacking, but the indignity of substantial new chores (did I mention missing Cameroon...) - we decided to reward them with a trip to the community pool, which they learned about within 48 hours of arrival, and have been asking about ever since.
After the usual delays we rolled out (at least the boys on scooters did) - stopping (wisely) at the ATM. After a short walk we arrived and started trying to puzzle out the system. Meanwhile the boys were attracted to and amused by the vending machines selling googles and swim trunks. Realizing that there would probably be equal parts water and chlorine at an indoor pool in France, we went ahead and made the investment in 3 new pairs of googles. Serendipitously, Lincoln got an orange and black pair, which soon led to a decision that he had "become a fish, I'm Nemo".
We made our way into the dressing room where the boys and I got into our bermuda style swim suits (feeling rather cool I would add) - and then deciphering an automated locker system. All was going well with our adventure until we got to the entrance to the pool itself whereupon a pair of lifeguards barred our way pointing to a sign about "shorts".
It turns out that "shorts" - what you or I would probably call a mans bathing suit - is, to use the words of our hosts "absolutely forbidden" (it sounds even better in french with the attitude). Our feeble plea that these are the only suits we own for three boys who have been waiting for weeks to come to the Speedoville pool was summarily rejected.
Luckily, we knew just where we could find four regulation suits to keep our outing from being a very short one. While they were fairly priced (15-20 USD) - I had to swallow hard before making another sizable contribution to the wise retailer who had cornered the market for uninformed americans with a swimsuit emergency. After a good laugh about the whole thing, Kristie managed to convince some pretty resistant boys that they were lucky they would get to wear a "fast" suit like she does...
As you see, the story has a happy ending, and our three little fish had a great afternoon playing in the nice, but slightly chilly water. For those who are wondering, the answers are:
Yes, I needed a new suit also
No, I went with the marginally less revealing "boxer style" suit
and No - you should not expect any pictures
Hope you are all well and enjoying your own adventures - keep in touch!
The Swaneys