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More on my life in Mons…

patio pic My hotel patio

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m sipping my coffee while listening to the maids clean the rooms near me.  I’ll be getting the knock soon, which is annoying because I’ll have to answer the door with my bed head and sloppy sweats and repeat what I say every weekend, “non.  I’m okay.  Merci!”

This time in two weeks, I’ll be in my apartment, scrubbing away, getting it ready for my furniture delivery.  My little hotel studio is the perfect place for me to temporarily live.  It has a little patio and friends two doors down, but hotel life is hotel life even when you have your own lil yard, fridge, stove top and microwave.  Besides, I’ve heard enough of my revolving neighbours’ noises — from snores, to off key singing, to their kids banging on my back sliding glass door, to their phone alarms. Thank God I haven’t had overzealous couples or loud bathroom goers!  There’s also the crappy Internet, but it will all soon be another memory to add to the pile.  Hopefully, the Internet at my place will not ping out so much, and I’m told since the bedrooms face the backyard my mornings and nights will be quiet.

archway

That archway leads to a shortcut to my apartment.

Anyway, I’m soooooooo looking forward to moving into my new home.  That said when I move, I will miss coming home from work to a freshly made bed, fresh towels and a shiny bathroom, with a tub that says, “Come on in Darling.  I’ve been waiting for you.”  My apartment tub will be there for me, but my fat ass will have to clean it because I love my bubbles, and they love leaving a ring.

Some shots of my currently empty apartment.  That room in the middle is the entryway. The living/dining room is also huge.  I’ll show more when I move in.  And, I have two square toilets!

I finally feel like I’m somewhat settling into everything.  Oh, I still have a boatload to do, and I tense up when I think about it, but I’m more than halfway up the hill.  I’ve got this.  I used this weekend to relax, grade and plan a lesson (the plan was to plan more, but oh well I got one two-day unit covered).  I’ll finally rent a car and start driving next week, which will help me feel more like a resident than working tourist.

I’m getting to know Mons a little better as well.  The Grand Place (pronounced more like Plahss) is a cobblestone mecca of festivals, food and alcoholic goodness.  There’s almost always something going on.  Weddings with their honking horns (which I enjoy — makes you wanna get in on the fun) on Saturdays, parades, festivals and tourist events throughout the weekends.  A few weeks ago, I literally watched World War 2 jeeps and tanks parade about, while a band played favourites from that era. This weekend it’s street performers, outdoor concerts and fireworks celebrating Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium (which is where I am).

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Tanks in Town, the WW2 event, is such a big deal they’re already planning the next two years activities.  Click here to learn more.  As is this weekend’s  Les Fêtes de Wallonie – Wallonia Festival

The city is as Shannan puts it is a big wheel with The Plas (ewww what we locals call it) as it’s centre (although not quite the center), and streets and alleyways as spokes going out to the inner and outer rings, main roads that circle around the city.  The train station is on the outer ring.

The spoke my apartment is on runs parallel to The Plas, so I guess it’s more like a spider’s web (but I like the wheel analogy; it helps me when I get lost), and it’s a 5 minute stroll to all the good stuff.   My landlord said I’ll be in the perfect location for the Doudou, (sounds like do do) now, now it’s not a dog-park cleaning nightmare.  It’s a major event that dates back to the Middle Ages, and it involves pulling the hair off of a dragon’s tail.  So, Daenyrs ain’t the only blonde getting to touch a dragon.  This Mother of Heathens is gonna get her chance.  I’m fascinated by its story and look forward to visiting the Doudou museum, which just happens to be on my street.

There are so many alleyways and off streets to explore as well.  I love walking to get lost and then finding my way back to the way that leads to the hotel.  I now know enough food words in French to somewhat figure out menus.  I know that Filet Americain is a raw hamburger (the Belgium version of steak tartare) and that poisson won’t kill me since it’s fish.  Entre’ is an appetiser and chaud is hot.  The salads are almost always big and not low cal, and frites pretty much go with everything.  I usually order jambon (ham), fromage (cheese) scampis, boeuf or poulette.  I bet you can figure the last three out no problem.   LOL so eating is not a problem!  Nor is drinking — order the house wine; it’s usually good.  I even like the beer, so all is well in my quest to destroy my liver.

The job is still great, and I’m adjusting to wearing close-toed shoes.  It’s been in the 60s, which was a bit of a shocker for me since I’m not used to temps dropping that low until February.  I’m not complaining though — love experiencing Fall again!

And, last, but not least, some random shots of Mons (although the doggy sign pic was taken at another village; I’m sure Mons has one too).  My phone isn’t the greatest, so I promise to bring my camera the next time I walk to take some better pics.

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Bon Jour!

yard

A view of the backyard for my new apartment complex.  Flowers, stone walls and green … lots and lots of green!

Hello from Belgium!  I’ve been busy, busy, busy.  I would’ve posted something sooner, but, well, I’ve been busy.  The few times where I had a moment to write, I was torn about sharing my good stuff while shit was happening elsewhere.  August has been a whirlwind of “wtf.”  But, in between the “is this really happening again?” and the chaos of devastation, there’ve been moments of people putting themselves at risk to help strangers.  As always there’s this mix of good and bad — I want to type balance, but let’s face it shit aint balanced right now.

I am so incredibly fortunate to be living my life, and nothing terrible has happened to me, but the wrongdoings in the world are very visible, especially in Brussels.  I now go to outdoor concerts with military men and their weapons walking around for protection (and I am grateful for it).  I’ve been asked to leave a park while security did a sweep.  It’s surreal to get off your train to see fatigues and big-ass guns casually strolling by.  That said life is certainly not taking a back seat.  Parades, festivals, restaurants and pubs are still belting out their fun, and the necessary added watch manages to blend in.  It is what it is.  In the villages and smaller cities you don’t see this, but the police are there doing their thing, and I imagine everyone is more vigilant than any of us were what feels like a long time ago.

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I wish I could say I’ve been going to a lot of the fun stuff, but right now I’ve only managed to fit in a few outings — thanks to a visit from Shannan and Ian and the new friends I’m meeting here.

Half the time I feel like I’m running a marathon backwards because there’s so much to do for the new job, the new bits and pieces of immigration, etc., etc.  The other half I’m in awe by where I am.  I cannot wait until Joe and Badger join me and we explore together (plus by February things should be way calmer for me).  There is so much to see and do — and eat and sip!

Until then I’m settling into my new job, country and all that goes with it.  It’s overwhelming, it’s stressful, and it’s full of lovely surprises.  Again, people who were complete strangers to me a month ago have stepped in to save the day more times than I can count.  I feel like I’m making another batch of life-long friends.

When I want to quit, throw a temper tantrum and scream “I can’t do this!”  Someone pops in to help me figure whatever out.  It’s going to be a very good life here.

I love my school — yeah, yeah I know I always love my school when it first starts, but this one is different.  I love the international aspect.  Students and staff have lived around the world and the mix of accents and languages in the hallway is music to me.  As a newbie I’m intimidated, but everyone assures me I’ve got this.  So, I trick myself into believing I do, and whalla! my classes have been going well.  And then the day ends, and I realise “oh shit, I’ve got a lot to get ready for tomorrow.”  InshAllah (will eventually learn its French equivalent) it’ll all be worked out by second semester, and I’ll be ahead of the game a bit.

class

A pic of my room before school started.  I have my own classroom again!  WITH lots of shelves and storage and moving whiteboards and my own teacher laptop and printer and books and woo hoo!  My teacherly self feels whole again.

I’ve been lucky that I’m staying at the same hotel as another couple (who remind me a little of Joe and me — I’m thinking we have lots of fun times ahead of us), and I’ve been riding to work with them, so I haven’t had to worry about getting a car yet.  We’re in our hotel studio apartments until Oct 1 when they move into their new apartment, and I move into mine.  Sometime before then I’ll get my local drivers licence and buy a used car and deal with another country’s version of DMV (another thing on my life to-do list that I didn’t know I needed to do).

I’m excited about my new place.  At first I wasn’t sure I wanted it because it doesn’t have the exposed beams or brick walls I’ve seen in adverts for other places, it doesn’t have a private backyard, and, well, it’s not what I was envisioning at first.  BUT, it’s actually a pretty darn awesome place.  First off it’s huge with three bedrooms and an office room (which I plan on turning into a closet), it has two balconies that overlook a lovely garden, it has a storage cellar and a garage, it has marble floors and huge windows, and there’s an elevator that can bring us up to it — whew! for those days when I just don’t want to lug groceries up the stairs like I did in Al Ain.  And, it’s smack dab in the middle of Mons.  I can roll down the hill into the Grand Plaz, which is this place:

Unknown-1Unknown Internet pics again.  I haven’t had time to take good pics.

This is the street in front of my apartment (those second story windows that jut out I think are mine):

street

So, yeah, I’m excited about it.  And just to show off my balcony view again, here’s another pic of all that green

balcon

I’m meeting with the landlord next week to inspect the apartment before we do the lease signing, so I’ll take more interior pics and post when I get a chance.  There is also a park for Badger right down the road.  Badger is also going to like hanging out at the cafe bars with us.  I’m telling you we’re buying that dog a beret and wellies for his paws.  Pics will ensue.

Meanwhile back in Arizona, Joe is training Badger to get used to his kennel for his long flight, and  finishing up last-minute stuff on the house, so it can finally go on the market.  It’s been a long time coming, and we’ll both be happier when it and the last of our debt is gone.  At the same time it’s sad saying goodbye to the house I raised my children in, but I’ll just drown it out on the balcony.

wine glass

Oui, oui!

Of course there’s tons more to share, but I’m hungry and a coffee cafe is wooing me, so time to get dressed, explore my new town a bit, eat and then come back to do lesson planning.  I’m going to get ahead one way or the other!

Au Revoir!  I promise to post more pics soon.

 

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