Friday, February 8, 2008

La Ville Rose

My first days in Toulouse have been a bit wonky, but I suppose it is to be expected. I have discovered, probably a very obvious truth, the things that challenged me on my last trip are no longer difficult. Changing beds every few nights, not knowing exactly where I am going, carrying heavy bags, figuring out foreign transportation systems, and feeling comfortable in strange places now come very easily to me. In Toulouse, however, an entirely new set of tasks stands before me: finding a job and an apartment, making long(ish)-term friends, and making a home in a strange city by myself. I find myself as bewildered as I once was learning how to catch a train and get off at the appropriate stop. I suppose there is much hope in the fact that it is a similar feeling of confusion as with those things that I now breeze through easily, but it is never comfortable to feel in over one’s head.

Though I got off to a bit of a rough start, unable to get in touch with the folks I was supposed to stay with and having to pay for hotels, things are definitely beginning to look up. This morning, I experienced the most difficult moments of my time abroad so far. The hotel I was staying at is evidently closed on Fridays (who’s ever heard of such a thing), so I was kicked out of the cheapest hotel in town with no place to go when all I wanted to do was go back to sleep and have a sure place to leave my loads of luggage. Tired and frustrated, I found my way to a new hotel, dropped my bags and headed out to look around the city. As if in direct response to my prayers, I met a young American gal who has lived here 4 years working with a Christian association. We got to talking (I shared with her my woes of the day) and ended up exchanging information and I’ll be staying with her tomorrow night. The world works in miraculous ways.

In the arena of good news, Toulouse is beautiful!, I am having a fairly easy time making contacts (6 phone numbers in 3 days isn’t too shabby), and if I don’t run out of money first it looks like this will be a very nice place to get a job and a little place for a while. All the buildings are of lovely pink brick which shines in the sun of southern France, truly earning the city’s title “La Ville Rose.” The weather has been absolutely gorgeous since I arrived and it is a great place to simply wander around. Miraculously, unlike almost every other city I’ve visited, it is almost difficult to lose yourself in Toulouse. If it were probable to be lost in a city, I would be counted among the first to accomplish the feat since I wander off in random directions (ask anyone that’s traveled with me), but *knock on wood* I have yet to get lost here. The maps are fairly terrible but the city is so well designed that everything seems very straightforward, and so far all roads have eventually led back to my hotel room.

All in all I have been very lucky. My time in Paris was amazing. Toulouse is a wonderful city, and I am beginning to sort my way through the language and cultural barriers. Over the next few weeks I am looking forward to becoming more and more comfortable with the city and finding a more permanent place to live (wouldn’t take much to be more permanent than what I’m doing now). The perfect people keep crossing my path and I have found myself blessed by even the most trying circumstances. I will be happy to settle down, hopefully relatively soon, and begin to explore la vie en rose.

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