Dives-sur-MerDives-sur-Mer

Another Couchsurfing event this week. This time we went to a tiny little village in Normandy called Dives-sur-Mer, where we saw a film at the theater. I ended up experiencing something that I’ve never quite had the chance. When people have showings that are special, apparently it’s accompanied by coucil-members from the towns as well as a debate. This floored me. I had Ariane, a German surfer with me, so we decided to pass the time in the countryside, and not in the flat because the weather was iffy.

Cabourg

The film we saw was Nos enfants nous accusons which is all about pesticide usage in France and how we should be eating more biological foods. Basically it was a scary documentary look at how OGMs affect us in many ways, and how it’s not so much affecting us, but rather our offspring, altering our genetics and making us even more suseptable to further disease. Main message of the film is that the food costs a little more, but it’s worth it for the end. The sad fact is that if we’ve already been eating it, then we are too late for the next generation.

What else can I say really than the film was okay, but painfully long, and then when we were done my patience was worn thin with the debate that dragged on. It featured a smokey woman who sounded like a man saying that we are all going to die anyways. Good stuff, good stuff. Afterwards we went to the neighbouring village of Cabourg for a little drink. Population 7’000 or so but the town is bustling with a bunch of very gay patrons at the bars. The bar we went to has the most expensive drinks I’ve ever seen (minimum €10 each) which is really bad! What I chose was far too strong and left me with a hangover the next day; damn that one drink!

German War Cemetery in La CambeGerman War Cemetery in La Cambe

As planned, but delayed due to normal Caennais weather (rain rain rain), our Couchsurfing activites for the weekend continued with the planned tour of the American D-Day Beaches (Omaha etc.). I went to the market early, as I didn’t have to host or pick up the German, Canadian, or American Caitlin as planned, got my food for the day and met at Patrice’s house up near the port. We chit chatted for awhile and I got to know Laura, Kevin’s friend, a little better (as she’s a bit shy). We then set off in our four, officially marked Couchsurfing cars, to La Cambe which is the German War Cemetery. After walking through the lovely gardens, we went off to Pointe du Hoc, where the rangers attacked at Omaha Beach. The place was like covered with craters and crazy to imagine how much bombing went on. In the photo you can see Kevin, Laura, Sarah, Gaëtan, Tim, and our guide Patrice.

American War CemeteryAmerican War Cemetery

After the cliffs we descended into Omaha beach and the American War Memorials and Cemeteries which are located in Vierville-sur-Mer, and Colleville-sur-Mer, respectively . All I can say is that it’s typically American, and very glorified. There are statues, and marble al around, and despite it’s massive size, it’s still a little bit over the top. However, I recognise that it’s an important part of history, and that many Americans died for freedom. Just I don’t think they need half naked statues around a cemetery depicting that! I was most impressed with the Jewish graves that were listed, and with a pretty Star of David, and thus were found intersperced through the normal crosses. I’ve also never seen so many people there, and this isn’t even in high season, so I’m told!

American War CemeteryLongues-sur-Mer

As we were leaving, we had to say our goodbyes to Kevin and Laura who were leaving for Toulouse on train and had to go back to Caen really quick, so with tears in my eyes, I said goodbye. After all, we had spent the beter part of 5 days together hanging out and making funny jokes about this or that! And so they were off, and we went on to our next destination Longues-sur-Mer which is where the Germans had some outposts and some ruins of the fighting. As we were exploring, we noticed the fog that was approaching and on the water the visibility was nearly 0, especially weird because the sun was out. That meant we had to skip our final destination, which was Arromanches-sur-Mer, because the fog made it impossible even to drive through the countryside.

And so we returned back to chez Patrice, and we had an apéro and some of us stayed for dinner. I took Stacey and Tim back to my flat and got them settled. They were incredibly polite and fun, and even Tim and I have an inside joke about how I can’t fly west, and I know that he’s never going to live it down! He’s got such a good sense of humour, and since Stacey is from a farm in Australia she has tons of stories about kangaroos and such! We both conceeded that we could never live in each other’s country because by our standards they are both deathtraps in different ways!

I took them on a tour of the churches, and gave them history lessons (ha!) about Normand and France vs. England. I’m surprised I knew so much, and then I dropped them off at the train station for their ongoing journey. Perhaps I shall stop in to see Tim in Jönköping, if I get a chance!

Since I’m totally hip and on the inside group of the Couchsurfers in Caen, I participate in all of the amazing adventures. On Thursday, we had planned a night out which would include having to dress up with something that starts with the letter “G.” Since I was spending the better part of the week exercising I got pretty lazy and when I finally opened up a dictionary to find something to wear I stumbled across the greatest idea in the history of ideas.

The night in general just gave us all an excuse to dress up like idiots, and since it was the holidays there was hardly anyone around to make fun of us. We were about two weeks late of the Carnival so people that did pass us made little comments. I elected to not go full out, and to be more witty than anything, in far of further assaults. So I chose the French word greviste which translates to a person who is on strike. What a perfect idea, living in France, right? I thought so. But what made it even better, was the fact that I was a person on strike against strikes. The irony was so good that everyone at the party thought it was great; and thus I’m a star.

If you’re wonder what’s up with the picture I’ll explain. I’m no the left, for the Mouvement Anti Grève “parce que j’en ai marre!” and because “Chez moi, on n’en a jamais!” Photographed to my left is Nico, a good friend of mine from Toulouse who dressed up as a geek, he did it far too well methinks!

This was the prélude to the weekend, as we had planned to do an official CouchSurfing D-Day Beaches tour with all of our guests. I didn’t realise until I got there of the gravity of the travellers, as there were about 20 all together, and a lot of them had nowhere to go. And so I enlisted my assistance as always, since nobody had contacted me at that point (how sad!). I agreed to take a German and a Canadian, none of whom ever showed up because they are flaky (espeically after caling me at 02h30) and then I agreed to take two lovely Australians for Sunday night before they left on Monday since Nico couldn’t have them as per work.

Here I also met some Americans that are assistants in Perpignan, Kevin, and in Lorraine, Sarah and Caitlin. We hit it off great and were chit-chatting the whole weekend. They are so lovely and I’ve really never clicked so well with travellers. I appear just to host the duds. I reckon I’ll go south to visit Kevin before I leave as the South-West is what eludes me.

Evening was a success, and I went home to rest, finally…

Courceulles-sur-MerCourceulles-sur-Mer

I was obliged by a Canadian Couchsurfer that stayed with me, Kyle, to got to the place of his wishes and where his ancestors gave their lives. Nearly a half century ago, the Second World War went on, and on June 6th 1944 the Allied forces arrived on the D-Day beaches of Normandy. Each beach is code-named after it’s plan, and is divided by nationality. Juno was the beach of the Canadians, and thus that’s where we went. Since he doesn’t speak French, and is really not a very interesting person in any respects, it was an awkward day-trip, but I made the most of it.

Courceulles-sur-MerCourceulles-sur-Mer

To get to the beaches, which are located in Courceulles-sur-Mer, northward of Caen, we had to take BusVert de Calvados, which only costed us 2.90€ each way. What a great fare, in my opinion. An hour later, we arrived in the gloomy and nearly-rain ridden town, and explored our way into the centre to find the Juno Beach Centre, a monument-museum that is run by Canadians to outine the history of Juno Beach, and general Candian history. We didn’t go in, because Kyle is cheap and it costed 12€ to go, but we explored the beaches regardless. Monuments were scattered everywhere, and there was nobody around (being off-season and all).

Courceulles-sur-Mer

Call me purple and name me shotty, but there was something there that shocked me, and drew me in quickly. I bet a lot of money that this is the only Inukshuk in France, it must be. It’s impossible to think that they are found elsewhere. Kyle had no idea what it was, so I chalked it up to being an uncultured-stupid-punk Canadian, sort of like a stupid American in a way, either way something I don’t like, and continued on. The idea wa to see the stuff and make it back to Caen in time for him to go to Paris again. I welcomed this with open arms.

RéviersRéviers

Since what we wanted to visit was a Canadian War Cemetery in a tiny little village, with no bus service, I decided on our part to take a long walk into a little village on foot to see what we came for. I was excited, with my sense of adventurism that is oh so rare, but armed with a self-drawn map I lead the way of the straggly Canadian. Travelling nearly 4km into Réviers from Courceulles-sur-Mer, and then another 2km East to Bény-sur-Mer, left us in the middle of nowhere, with a man-made forest which surrounded the symmetrically planned grave-site.

Canadian War Memorial, Bény-sur-MerCanadian War Memorial, Bény-sur-Mer

Armed with my camera-phone, we explored the site. I signed the registry, which Kyle refused to do. I’m going to comment on this because it kind of bothers me. What is the big deal? Do you think that the government is going to stalk you by reading a little book in a cemetery in the middle of nowhere (literally)? Get over yourself. It’s respectful and helpful to show the work that’s put into the site is appreciated. Take your ghetto-punk-ass and get yourself some education and respect for people who freed the world you see today. Grow up, also. End rant.

RéviersCourceulles-sur-Mer

We waited for a bus which never came, because I failed to realise that it was summer schedule, and it’s so clearly winter, but we made our way back the same route. The tourist office laughed at us when we said we would walk there, but it really wasn’t such a big deal. We didn’t talk the entire way back into the village, because it was awkward and I wasn’t happy with his company nor what he had to say. The photograph above explains French-countryside, which is nothing, quite literally. We arrived back into the town, I bought some stuff from the HyperChampion, and Kyle almost got arrested for being dodgy-looking and having rubbish in his bag of something he bought in Paris. Basically they thought that he was a thief. I almost wanted them to arrest him, just to get a good laugh, but we got out after I was obliged to be a translator (not impressive for someone you’re awkward around!) We found our way back into the village and got our bus back (which was non-spoken). I crossed some friends on the way, then went back to the train station to drop him off, stress was relieved and then the journey was done.

Note to self, no more Americans or Candians, yes?! 🙂

What a miserable day I had. For the first time in nearly two weeks I woke up at an hour past 09h00 and thus I was feeling a little more well rested than normal. As a result all of my classes were most enjoyable and I had a lot of fun with my students. One debate, and then some other game activities, and chocolate, all while hearing the major gossip stuff that’s going on at lunch at the teacher table. It’s amazing what one can learn by just sitting back and eavesdropping on a neighbour!

What brought on this good mood? Mostly because I was surfing the internet and came across, on YouTube the film, Peter Pan, the musical with Mary Martin. This is a musical that I would watch time after time and dance, sing along to when I was a kid in the basement. I’m sure that my parents were driven crazy with the sounds of this film; however it made me happy so shush. Seeing Mary Martin prancing around in tights singing about how happy it is to be in Neverland made me happy and probably contributed to my awesome mood.

In any case, also I was happy since I was to meet some fellow CouchSurfers in Caen. I hosted a couple of American’s this week, and it was good fun. Playing host and cooking for people is something I really like, and so it was enjoyable on all fronts. I waited all afternoon until the moment of meeting, and then set off in search of the bar, in the pouring rain. By the time I got to the centre of town I was soaking wet, and I started to walk around the castle looking for it. After the third circling I couldn’t find it, my socks were all wet, and I felt miserable. I set off home in a bitter mood, and composed an email to send to the other meeting people to appologise for not being able to find it. In all fairness, the name “Le Bar Ché” was not listed anywhere and thus impossible for me to find.

I’m just a tad bitter, especially because it was a chance to meet some townies that aren’t homeless!