It really seems as if we have been at Rivière-du-Loup much longer than a week; time has passed quickly, but at the same time so much has happened that it nearly seems impossible I've only been here for seven days. Patterns and routines have been established, with courses in the mornings of each weekday, activities each afternoon and evening, and during all this there have been groups created among students. Groups have been created among those with rooms near one another, or by their arrival together by plane, train or bus, or others have net each other through their classes and other activities at the residence.
My teacher is so lovely, as are all of the moniteurs et monatrices
that organize and facilitate everything we do, and she speaks French slowly to ensure we understand, while introducing new ways to help us learn, including games and conversations during class. There is homework, and sometimes we envy the kids from this town who ride their bikes by the windows during the day, shouting out to each other, but its also an extremely amazing opportunity to travel somewhere new and spend time with a new culture and language with others in a similar situation.
As today was Sunday, the only day when activities are not mandatory, it was also a day when we could sleep late, and explore the town at our own leisure without needing to be back at the cégep for a certain time. Today, brunch was served in a room called the Carrefour, a place where many meeting and activities with all the students are held, and among the tables and chairs we met around eleven this morning to enjoy both coffees, soy milk, and an array of fruits, eggs, hashbrowns, and croissants. Breakfast is one of the most relaxing meals, usually our moniteurs have not yet woken, and English ends up being spoken a little more freely. However, when it comes to eating gluten free for breakfast, things are a little more restricted. I've mostly relied on the platters of colourful fruit that's served, and the little packs of peanut butter, but have also recently discovered yoghurt hidden in the drinks fridge. Some days there are eggs as well, and they do have gluten free bread if I were to ask, which would be good to practice my French as well.
After a long brunch we explored the river on the other side of rue Lafontaine, where a big waterfall, or chute, flows down the rocks. Across the bridge were lots of trails through the woods and along the lower half of the river, but we saw a set of stairs down to a little beach just near where we stood to set out. From there we could paddle our way out to the middle of the river, and with difficulty as the rocks were slippery, we took tons of photos under the sun and swimming in the river. It was so nice to be out of the cégep for the afternoon, and after a swim through the currents, we laid down on a heated rock with the wind a soft breeze with just enough strength to dry us off. I must have began to fall asleep, for the sound of the waterfall lost it's distinctiveness, and I drifted into a new set of sounds that whirled through my head. A dreaming sort of sounds, and without the interruption of other students running through the halls or banging up and down the stairs.
The rest of the day went with as much relaxation as the afternoon, we walked around the shops, and tried to get enough ingredients to make smoothies back at the residence. Even though the blender was unavailable to be leant out by the kitchen staff, as we later found out, we bought blackberries, strawberries, and yoghurt, to mix together a healthy dessert or snack just like we have been craving. No added preservatives or grease, just regular fruit and yoghurt. It was something we all had been craving, even walking around Saturday night in search for a milkshake-like drink, but there was no blender found, and we've kept the fruit in someone's personal fridge, hopeful.
When we came back for dinner we were told that pizza was being served, in hopes of getting everyone excited I bet, and it did, except for me. The only thing I was thinking about was last week's pizza dinner, when they had completely forgotten that I couldn't eat the pizza, and had to call a restaurant to order me something. I was completely overwhelmed that time, mostly because everything was quickly spoken in French, but also because I quickly realized they were giving me a choice out of the restaurants and dishes served in the town, one I had only just begun to explore.
However, this time when I walked into the cafeteria, reminding the servers that I wouldn't be able to eat the pizza, she cut me short halfway with a nod, and turned to the back kitchen. A few moments later she returned, and on a plate were my very own little pizzas, sans gluten.
My own little pizzas on gluten free bread, with tomato sauce, green peppers, mushrooms, red onions, and topped with stringy mozzarella. Sure, I love having gluten free pasta, but I also love changing it up, and trying something different every day.
I was so excited, I didn't want to sit and wait for another meal to be delivered to the cégep for me, and after a relaxing day just to ourselves, it was nice knowing that I also don't have to worry about what I'm going to be eating, who's cooking what and what is gluten free, for these next few weeks. Obviously, I haven't been cooking here, there's been too much going on, and I've been focusing on the people and the French instead. So there's no recipes to post at the moment. Besides, I think I'd have to bring all my own pots and pans in order to use the kitchens along each floor, and I have no idea how they'd be brought back with me in my tiny suitcase.
To four more weeks of speaking and learning en Français!
Labels: gluten free, pizza