Thursday, May 26, 2005

Welcome to Kansas

My in-laws left our home in Minneapolis this morning at about 6 am to return to Mexico. At about 2:30 pm they were stopped by the police in Kansas. The policeman told my father-in-law he was going 1 mph over the speed limit, but this was not true. He was driving 3 mph under the speed limit. By the way, my in-laws have Mexican license plates.

The police searched their car and my husband's parents watched as they tore through their personal belongings. They tore apart some of their things looking for drugs. My in-laws were then taken to a police station and put in separate, cold rooms. The police took their cell phone. (This is illegal unless you are arrested, according to our brother-in-law, a border patrol agent.) Several hours later my in-laws were interrogated separately. They told them that they'd already found the drugs and that they might as well confess, etc. Naturally my in-laws said they had no idea what they were talking about.

The police have decided to let them go, it seems. At the time I am writing this, the police are "putting their car back together." My in-laws haven't been allowed to see their car. They'd had nothing to eat since their very early breakfast at my house.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

St. Etienne, France, 12 May 2005

Right now I am sitting in the car while Jorge has his meeting. It's raining, and it's really kind of pleasant here. I will read a little of my book Reading Lolita in Tehran. This book has been fascinating. It is starting to fill a huge hole in my understanding of modern Iran, once Persia. I feel like this author is reaching out to me through what we have in common--our love of Western literature. Really, it is something that I feel binds us almost like the gospel. Whenever I meet a member of the Church, no matter what their race or nationality, I immediately feel a connection because of the ideas we share, our gospel heritage.

Naturally I do not share religious beliefs with Azar Nafisi, the Persian author of this book. But when I read this book, I feel like she is my sister. I suppose it is because so much of who she is was formed by her reading of great literature. I too feel that I was partially raised by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Henry James, George Eliot.

Lyon, France, 12 May 2005

We're staying in the Lyon city center. Yesterday evening after our showers we went out to walk around the old part of the city. There are renaissance buildings with large statues and fountains everywhere. It was lovely weather and there were many people out with their dogs or children. The children played soccer in the squares. Of course, most of the people were sitting at cafes, chatting quietly and sipping their drinks. We saw very few tourists, and no Americans. Lyon seems like a real French city where people quietly live their lives and conduct their business. It is not very crowded and no one seems to be in a rush. The people tend to be on the smaller side, like Jorge and me. For some reason, I expected the women to not wear much make-up or style their hair the same as women in the U.S. That must be the northern Europeans. Women here wear quite a bit of make-up and wear their hair either very short and heavily styled, or long in an up-do. Teenagers and younger ladies in their 20's dress in American styles with jeans and t-shirts. However, older women seem to value unique-looking styles of clothing. Young women here dress much more modestly than their U.S. counterparts, but their are pictures of naked women in every pharmacy window. The people here seem relaxed and friendly.

We climbed up to the basilica that was built in the late 1800s. It was done in the very ornate Gothic style. There was a beautiful view from up there.

We ate at a restaurant that was o.k. but rather expensive. By that time we were very hungry and couldn't seem to find many real restaurants open yet--just lots of cafes. However, I did make a discovery: French people do eat french fries! When I was a kid I remember asking my mom if they were called "french fries" because that's how they ate potatoes in France. She said no, but guess what Mom--they really do!

This morning we went to the Fine Arts museum. It was quite large and we saw all of it. It has the biggest collection in France outside of the Louvre. There were some very good paintings and some interesting sculptures. I wish I'd gone more quickly through some things, because what I most enjoyed were the paintings at the end. There were many student groups, both young children and older art students. The museum is built around a gorgeous courtyard where many students were doing watercolors. I rather rudely peeked at a few of them and I was so impressed by their quality. I would love to learn to do watercolors.

I would also love to learn French. It's the only thing I don't like about being here--that I can't speak the language. I feel that the least I could have done was to learna few phrases before I came. I just didn't have time. I thought of it but things were so crazy. I didn't even pick up a phrase book. Well, learning French is on my list of things to do after I graduate from college. Sigh.

For lunch we did find an excellent restaurant with Lyonaise specialties. I had crab souffle-mmmmm. And Jorge at frogs. (Yes, it's a little trite, but they were good!) The sauce of the frogs was really good and I'd like to learn to make it. It's called "Nantua." The chocolate flourless cake I had for dessert was lucious.

Lyon, France, 11 May 2005

Well, we made it! Yesterday at 1:30pm we left Minneapolis. We had a 5:30pm flight from Detroit to Frankfort. Our flight went very well. We maaged to get a few hours of sleep. We arrived at about 7:30 am (1:30 am Minneapolis time) at Frankfort. We drove directly to Lyon, France. The autobahn sure makes it fast. We were driving 120 mph (not kph!) and cars still zipped past us. The part of France I've seen so far is very lush and green. Burgundy is largely agricultural it seems. There are many rolling hills covered with trees and some pastures with brown and white cows. Some of the fields are a very bright yellow with a certain flower--I wonder what it is. I really love the buildings here--the charming homes and churches of the little villages along the way. They are all off-white, made of cement and painted maybe, and they all have red tile roofs. Everything is so clean and neat.

Jorge and I just had showers and I feel much renewed! We're ready to go out and find some good food.