Reading a place

There are things that I needed to know before traveling that I didn’t realize I didn’t know. Language plays a huge part in this, I realize now. How often does one go into a restaurant, a shop, and listen to the other people around to learn how the place works. Do they want you to take a number? Will they call your name? Do you ask for a place, whether at the bar or at the table? Are there different rules for different types of places that might otherwise seem similar? And can you discover those rules if you don’t understand what people are saying?

I thought I knew enough French tho “get by.” I’m doing great with the reading of placards and historical notices. But I’m not picking up on the speech. There’s a French phrase that I’ve used for years: L’esprit d’escalier. It’s the act of coming up with just the right phrase, the bon mot when you’re already halfway up the staircase, when it’s far too late to use it. That’s where I’m at, but it is happening at every interaction. I realize the correct phrase I should have used, about 2 minutes after when I should have used it.

On another note, I’m going to have PTSD from driving over here. Some of the roads make sense but those are the big modern freeways. The rest? I drove on roads today that were no bigger than the bike paths in Madison but were expected to allow drivers on both sides of the road (hah! “Road”) doing 70 or even 90 kph (about 45-55 mph). No shoulders. In fact, on the sides of the road are ditches about two feet deep. Let’s just say it would be bad to fall into one of those. Most likely, more of those tomorrow.

But I’m here in Sarlat, alive and well, loving the flat I’m renting for the next bit. Now, have some pictures from the Limoges area. And a selfie. Next time I’ll even smile.

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