I only go round in circles

From last Friday…

The day is conspiring against me. I’ve been without internet for three hours, ever since I pulled out the live box from the wall because there was lightening and I was afraid it would set on fire. The landlady told me to unplug electrical appliances when there’s a storm. I think she told me to do this. It was on my first day and I couldn’t understand much. She is at work till 19:30 so I have at least two more hours in the dark ages.

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Ajaccio sun @ weekend (+ to come on this in next post)

 

This morning I took the school bus down to the Collège, arriving there just before half eight. My classes started at the Lycée (which is next door) at 9:30 so I went for a coffee at this self-styled upmarket bistro on a concrete, salmon painted half empty retail estate. It is the only one.

The coffee there is shit relatively speaking and steeply priced at 3 euros 20 for a café crème, yet they have a good Wi-Fi connection even if you sit outside. Also, it had just finished raining and the air had damp, smothering warmth which I wanted to enjoy.

Before the coffee, I went to the “La Poste” opposite to send some postcards to various family members. I waited outside for its imminent opening with five others. The door opened and a woman carrying a piece of printed a4 paper came outside. She shut the door behind her and started addressing us. The Post Office was closed she told us. It was due to technical issues she said. There was some grumbling but soon the five others left and I was left alone trying to decipher the meaning of all the words on the a4 printed sign that she had taped to the door.

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I went for my coffee. I was midway through composing a challenging text in French when I looked up and saw two men coming towards the bistro. I stared at them disinterestedly as they approached. Then I noticed one of them was nervously waving at me. I squinted, put on my glasses and saw a bald guy from the school smiling and waving. I smiled back and waved.

I continued with the text message when a loud, high-pitched sound above me made me jump. I looked up. There was a female teacher (I wasn’t sure which one) beaming at me. Before I had chance to realise who it was she was coming in for a kiss and not expecting it I flung my phone onto the table. Halfway through bisous I recognised her as one of the English teachers.

“Are you okay? Hahahaha” she said, grinning.

“Yeah my classes start at 9:30 so I’m just enjoying a coffee” I replied, smiling.

“Aha hahaha, so you’re OKAY?”

“Yeah fine thanks,”

“Okay have a nice day hahahaha”. She was round the corner whilst I was still saying bye. I picked up my phone from the table and went to finish composing my message, except the tab on my phone had vanished. I must have deleted it when I threw my phone aside.

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Eventually I sent the text. It was a message asking Marie, one of the French teachers, to show me where the canteen was. “You must get Marie to show you” Alis had said. “You need to get Marie to show you though. You can’t go alone. Because it’s different. Teachers go in a different place to the students. You must.” I finished my coffee and went inside to pay.

When I opened the door I saw Marie and a bald guy sitting in a group of about eight people at a table by the patio windows to my right. Feeling slightly surreal, I went over and said ‘Bonjour’. Marie replied in English. The bald headed librarian looked at me piercingly from beside her.

“Could you show me where the canteen is this afternoon please?” I said.

“No” she said. Taken aback I blinked in rapid succession. “The Lycée is closed today”

“Closed again?” I said to her, but it was more like thinking aloud.

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Getting a bike had transformed my life here

The Lycée has been closed on Tuesday and Thursday too, due to nationalist protests, which had been going on since last week. Last week it was just the school gates and road outside barricaded with fridges and palates, a small group of them burning tyres outside and casting a dark grey smog over the surrounding area. A Corsican flag draped badly onto the school gates. A few teenagers raced  Renault Clios up and down outside. Since then things had escalated, but thankfully there seemed to be less fire involved.

I said goodbye to Marie, paid and left. It was 9:15 am. I had nothing to do in town. I couldn’t do anything in town. I had lessons but the school was closed. I had letters to send but the post office was closed. I resolved to treat myself to the Adidas t-shirt I had been eyeing up in Intersport last week. I wanted to shop, but Intersport was closed. To be fair it did open at 10am but I could probably be home at about quarter past if I started walking now.

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Early morning Ajaccio (+ in next blog post)

I walked home. The long walk home up the hill. Halfway up I passed a home store and bought a neon pink and black mop and bucket. I carried the mop and bucket up the hill with me, walking on the verge when I could, towards the incoming traffic. Lots of drivers looked at me curiously. Then, I put the bucket on my head, lifted the mop in my right hand towards the sky and continued up the hill towards home.

Things could only get better, I thought then. Now I sit inside watching the storm outside, without internet. I have one book on my Kindle and I hate it.

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