October 18, 2011

Horses and Horses and Horses– Oh my!

Yes. I had a weekend full of horses... and fatty food in between. It was actually an incredible weekend despite the fact that I can barely move my left arm and I walk like a robot. There's pain everywhere right now. Why? I fell off a horse on Saturday. Oww.... :( Might as well talk a little bit about that. So today we cantered in class. Cantering, for all you not so equestrian-savvy readers, is like galloping only much slower and smoother. I had a different horse because Hermes is too big and the instructor, Christophe, thought that I would be better on a smaller horse. Throughout the beginning warm-ups all Christophe could do was yell at me. I could do nothing right. Too slow! Pay attention! You're doing it wrong! No, not like that! He is incredibly harsh and not so nice... especially not to me. He gets so frustrated when I don't understand everything that he says to me. I was already ill at ease when everyone else left to go canter outside, but instead of going with them Christophe told me to stay behind. Then he got on my horse and started to whip it like crazy. The other girls and I watched in horrified silence as Christophe whipped my poor horse until it cantered in the way that he wanted. It kept rearing up in protest and trying to slow down, but Christophe wouldn't let it. So then, just to make things even more challenging, Christophe took off my stirrups before telling me to ride. If you had been whipped for twenty minutes and then had to do the same exercise again, how would you feel? Absolutely terrified, maybe? My horse went wicked fast but Christophe just kept yelling "Faster! Faster! Faster!" I knew I was going to fall before it happened. It was way too jerky and there was barely anything for me to hold onto. The ground came at me way too fast. I landed on my left arm. So there I was moaning on the ground, not able to feel my arm when I heard Christophe shout, "Bravo, Aja! That was much better!" You can imagine the curse words going through my head in both languages. To make things worse the horse sort of stepped on my ankle as it was running away so my leg was throbbing. I tried so hard not to start bawling, but the pain made it incredibly hard to rest in silence. Some lady took me to the club house where I sat in pain until Marie-Armelle came to get me. I was a wreck with mud and tears all over me. But nobody seemed surprised that I had fallen. It's not a huge deal in the horseback riding world– it's actually normal and expected... but still it's not exactly fun. So there I was, in the car holding my arm like a broken doll, thinking my weekend was ruined. I had planned on going shopping with Justine and Mathilde in town, but obviously that couldn't happen. I was not a very happy camper/exchange student at that lovely point in the day.

But sometimes fate has a mind of its own. I could walk much better after a hot shower, some Aspirin, and lunch so when Justine asked me anyways if I wanted to go over to her house I said yes. I only saw Anne-Soizic at lunch because I ended up staying at Justine's until 10:30 that night. Why? Well, first Mathilde came over and we made amazing brownies. I love baking with friends and I seem to do it a lot with Justine and Mathilde. Afterwards we played a couple games of cards. It was a lot more intense than I would have thought and the rules were very complicated. It was called "Sandwich" if you're in the mood to look it up. Mathilde had to leave for her horseback riding lesson, but Justine's mom invited all three of us to stay for dinner and have a raclette while she was out. I had heard rumors of this delicious, famous, calorie packed meal so of course I stayed. In the meantime I helped Justine with her English homework and then watched lots of YouTube videos with her and her brother Thibault. Mathilde came back later for the raclette. Justine's mom was out of the house so it was just us five teenagers for dinner: Justine, Mathilde, Thibault, Justine's other older brother Antoine, and me. I have to say that the dinner was pretty awesome. I guess you want to know what a raclette is. Well it's a party dish that requires these special tools used to melt slices of cheese. One pours the melted cheese over some mashed potatoes mixed with ham and... voilà! A masterpiece in the mouth. It's so, so, so good. Here are the pictures:

Cheese for the raclette on the raclette maker.

All ready!

Ready for melting!

Left to right: Mathilde, Antoine, Thibault, Me, and Justine.

The dinner stories, food, and atmosphere were super great. My stomach hurt from laughing so much. We ate our brownies and then everyone crashed on the couches to watch T.V.– American couch potato style. It was my first time really watching French T.V. and I found it super strange to hear the Simpsons talk in French. People have told me that when I can understand that show and laugh at it, I will be fluent in French. I didn't understand all of it, but I did get the jokes from time to time. I also like watching the French commercials- the "pubs." I understand most of them and even took a picture because I'm such a tourist.
Note the random strawberry rolling around in the background...
So yeah... it was a really great night to counter a horrible morning. My whole body was aching like crazy and even typing made my left arm hurt. :P But that wasn't the end of my weekend adventures. Not even close.

Sunday was an amazing day- packed with activities. Marie-Armelle has been talking about this day for a long time because she was super excited to go to this special mass celebration with tons of... Can you guess it?... Horses everywhere! I think they were all there to get baptized or something. Can horses even get baptized? Anyways, we set out early and once we got there we had to walk a long ways to get to the main celebration place. I hated walking. It hurt so bad and every time someone bumped into me, my arm felt like it was burning up. I was generally more sore than the day before but at least my ankle had healed. Can't say the same for my arm, though. The mass thing was actually extremely cool. I've never seen so many different kinds of horses in one place. Big ones, small ones, brown ones, black ones, spotted ones, miniature ones (my favorites), furry ones, etc. etc. It was definitely Marie-Armelle's thing. Every two minutes she would give me a big smile and say how much she loved the atmosphere there. Horses and religion–I would say it was her thing. However, it was not the same for Xavier. Just the opposite. He left early actually to go get Morgan and I don't think he was too disappointed to leave. He doesn't like horses at all. After the giant choir sang for a bit and the brass band played, all the horses passed by the audience to go up a hill and get their picture taken. Then all the riders left to go on a giant walk around the fields and forests. I would have liked to ride around if not for my current state of pain and the fact that I don't have a horse. I love trail rides. I hate hard core lessons. So anyhow, here are the pictures from the horse/religion-celebration/spectacle thing:
Look at the mini-horse in the middle! Aww, I wanted to take it home so bad.

With Marie-Armelle :)

Oh yeah. Pony Club Power.

Almost the same size! So cuteee!

I seriously wanted to steal that little thing and let it live in my room.

Big horses. Yeah, I know it looks like I'm modeling my purse :P

Up the hill... past the preacher... and out yonder towards the fields of corn.
With occasional host brother Morgan :)

Afterwards we met up with Morgan and Xavier and then all went to a restaurant. A restaurant! It was my second time in a restaurant and I found the cuisine quite similar to the other restaurant I had been to. The North of France is really big on potatoes, thus the restaurants in the North are really big on potatoes. It's not exactly calorie-light meals. The ambiance of the restaurant was sort of special. They wanted it to be super family friendly so every table had some type of game for everyone, even though most families don't whip out the Pick-Up sticks during dinner. Also the ceiling was amazing with random things like baskets and pots and pans stuck to it. It reminded me of Triple X Root Bear for those that will get the reference. It was very fun and very yummy. We had a pâté appetizer thing that was amazing and then I had a Welsh entree which is even fattier than a raclette. It's a lot of melted cheese with pieces of bread in it and also fries on the side that you can dip in the cheese. So good but there was no way I could finish it. Only a sumo wrestler or a growing teenage boy could.

Appetizer- pâtés :)


Awesome ceiling inside the restaurant.

Then for dessert we had a tiramisu in a glass and a tarte au spéculoos. Spéculoos is also very popular in France. It's a type of cookie that usually goes with some hot drink but can be made with or into any dessert.

Tiramisu and tarte :)

It was a verrrry filling lunch and I felt even heavier afterwards than I did after the raclette. Morgan and I totally crashed in the car on the two hour car ride to Touquet where his apartment is. I love Touquet. It's a very cute town and Morgan's place is only five minutes from the beach! We got lucky and had really good weather so everything was prettier than usual. For most days, a beach in the North is gray all around from the sky to the sea, but as you can see it was beautiful today. Not like L'ile de Ré, but still beautiful.

We walked around the town, peeked in some shops, crossed through the forest, and basically adventured. For some odd reason, it reminded me of Canada and how my parents and I would wander around the different towns. It made me a little homesick... yeah, I know that's a little weird to be homesick for a place that you don't even live in. Still. It's the random little things that make me nostalgic– like thinking of Canada. It's not my country, but anyways moving on... Here's Touquet:

Wanna be red carpet :)

Chocolate :) Everywhere in France.

Pretty building.

Sunsets all around the world are beautiful.
After a long good-bye we left Morgan at his apartment and then drove the two hours back. I ate a yogurt for dinner. Seriously, a Welsh is like a meal for the entire day. Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! Oh!

Before I sign off here, I have to say that I remember what happened on Wednesday! We went to a dinner party at a friend's of the Raux... well the Raux were at the dinner "party" while I stayed in a seperate room with the family's son eating pizza and drinking Coke. He went on a six month exchange to Germany two years ago, but didn't seem to get much out of it except for the language. We talked about everything for three hours. He's Parisian but claims to have no accent whatsoever of any language. Afterwards before it was time to leave he showed me the house's old wine cellar. So French! It was really dark, scary, and very cool down there with tons of bottles of wine– some empty and some full. Their house was ginormous! A mansion in the middle of nowhere. It was a good night.

All right, so now you know about Wednesday. I'm exhausted and in pain so good night everyone. A bientot et bisous :)


  1. OH my goodness, theses horses are so huge! Hope you'll feeling better soon from the fall. Boy you do need a vacation from all the activities around clock. Glad you had another great weekend minus the fall from the horse:(

    Love you:)

  2. Bonjour Aja,
    Ton blog en Anglais est très joli mais il gagnerait encore à proposer des articles en Français. N'oublies pas que l'échange de jeunes du Rotary a pour but le partage des cultures et la compréhension entre les peuples.
    Fais attention à dormir suffisamment car j'ai l'impression que tu rédiges ton blog souvent trsè tard le soir.
    Cordialement, Benoît Flamen - YEP Chairman D1670.

  3. I didn't have time to read the whole thing, but the sentences that I did read made me smile! I love that movie! Thanks for telling me about it! I miss you!

  4. You fell off a horse!?! That's awful! I'm glad you're feeling better!