Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Au Revoir Quebec

Our family has returned to Alberta. We have mixed emotions to be done language study and back in Alberta for a few months. This is our "hommage" to Quebec. Thanks for the memories.

Things I never quite figured out:

The bise. This is the french custom of kissing each other on the cheek. The problem is, you don’t always do it with everyone. And how many times? Twice or three times? Well, my rule of thumb became watch for the signs that they were leaning into you when greeting you or saying goodbye. Then I would watch their head to see which cheek they wanted to kiss first, left or right. I followed their cues and kissed back as many times as they kissed my cheek. And is it an air kiss beside the cheek where just your cheeks connect, or do they actually kiss your cheek? There didn’t seem to be a rule that I ever figured out. So I just gave everyone bear hugs.

In the fall I couldn't figure out what they were all setting up these canvas huge tents over their driveways. Were they really that afraid of snow or afraid to shovel their walks? Some streets had 70% of the homes with these little canvas tunnels. It looked really funny and a bit overexaggerated. Then the snow fell. And fell. And fell. When we left, the snow was up to 5 feet in some places. And they don't get the chinooks and melting that Alberta does. It sticks. So now I get it.

Things I loved:

Café Castello. This little coffee shop and beanery was just between my gym and chiropractor, all within walking distance. It smelled heavenly and he had the freshest café au lait I’ve ever tasted.

The Vieux Marché : I blogged about this place before and I will miss the plethora of fresh smells and colors of the stands filled with fresh flowers, fruits, veggies and other products. It turned into a christmas bazaar this November./December. By far the best farmers market style place for food ever!

Old Quebec. I used to live in France for a while, and Old Quebec reminded me so much of there. The architecture and streets were reminiscent of old Europe. The overflowing cafes in summer and people walking arm in arm along the port and through the narrow alleys were always a pleasure for the photographer in me. The heritage and culture is rich and we are blessed to have been able to really enjoy it.

The French language. What can I say? I love it. My undergrad degree has a french major, so I felt like I found an old friend when I moved there. Our friendship was rusty, and I made mistakes getting to know you again, but you were patient. And this time i got to share you with Paul, who got to know you amazingly well in 6 months. Living daily life out in french was a joy. Merci.

We cheered everytime we saw another Albertan license plate. :) Our trusty 4-Runner made the trip to Quebec, including all the way to the Atlantic ocean for a trip, and then all the way back again.

Bennett's favorite thing to watch

Things I disliked:

Budding in line: They do it. More than half a dozen times, I was clearly in line, and someone stepped right in front of me and up to the counter. An old woman, a hurried business man, etc. Maybe my idea of personal space is too much and I’m supposed to hug the butt cheeks of the person in front of me to show that there is no room in the line in front of me. Or maybe I looked too laid back and relaxed and surely they were much busier than me and should go first. Either way, I was shocked, then annoyed, then….well…too polite and said nothing. Really, I did have more time than them, but at least they could have asked.

Saying goodbye. We were only there 6 months, but we really enjoyed our time in Quebec. We especially miss you Nelsons. You know who you are. We love you and in our deepest imagination and wishlist, someday we will live close again. We miss our times with you already. Thank you for taking us in.

Thank you so much to Quebec. To the people, the church, the friends, the language, the sights and the culture. You all enriched our experience and we have a Quebec chapter in our lives that won't soon be forgotten.