This past June, a year from when I moved to London, I was grumbling to my sister about things that frustrated me about living abroad.  She gently put her hand on my arm and said "Sissy, do you know what they tell missionaries? That it takes 18 months acclimate to your new home. Just give it time."  I am pretty sure I rolled my eyes at her.  I had given it a year, I was pretty sure that was long enough to know that my frustrations and annoyances were not dissipating any time soon.

And then, a few weeks ago, I was walking down the high street in my neighborhood and I realized, I liked it here.  I wasn't grumpy or uncomfortable.  No one looked at me like I was out of place (i.e. the startled look I would always get the moment I opened my mouth with my American accent).

I felt -- *comfortable*. 

I also felt like Oprah was in my head explaining to me that I'd had an a-ha moment (not to be confused with an A-ha moment where you accidentally starting singing "Take on Me").  Yep.  I was officially acclimated.  And then I started counting...17 months, to the day.  I beat those missionaries by a month.  So here I was, an expat, who finally felt ok about her expatriation and new home, one month ahead of schedule. 

You know what else takes 17 months?
Me and the killer whales.  Making it through life together.
 
So, this summer when the Canadian and I were in Le Petite Village with Sara and G, G suggested that the Canadian run the annual race between Marseille and Cassis...and these days, pretty much any race somewhere new and different is one the Canadian wants to run.

I, on the other hand, had visions of Sara and I sipping champagne in Cassis, waiting for the Canadian to finish his run.  See, I'd never been to Cassis -- but the photos I'd see were something like this:
Picture
Click photo for attribution
And this...
So you can see why I'd have these visions of champagne and girl time.  Except that is not how the weekend went down at all.  First of all, when I arrived in Marseille, the cab driver tried to rip me off.  (And as an aside, I was SUPER annoyed by his constant chattering (yelling) into his ear piece). The fare was 10.80 -- And the cab driver gave me 30 Euros in change.  Y'all do the math.  He owed me 39.20 basically shorting me the 9.20.  I started to count the money (after having a gut feeling about this guy), realized he shorted me, and started to explain that he owed me change.  He started yelling back that it was for my baggage.  FOR MY BAGS?  For my tiny little weekend bags that you didn't even put in the cab? 

Well, Marseille?  Meet Texas.  And y'all should know, you messed with the wrong Texan.  So picture this giant van on a tiny narrow French street, blocking traffic and people honking.  And me yelling at the guy that he owed me change, and telling him that it was ridiculous (in some combination of French and English) that it would be 9 Euros "pour les bagages".  He finally grabbed a wad of Euros and flung them at me, yelling at me in Arabic.  Whatever dude.  Don't try and bite the tourists because you might get one who bites back.  (Later, someone said "you should have gotten his cab number" and I said "406" -- seriously, don't mess with me -- I notice this shit)

So, that was annoying.  But it was totally made up for by the awesome hotel we stayed in, Mama Shelter.  Sara explains a little about it here, but what she doesn't tell you is all about the awesome lobby...where you can buy all kinds of naughty things for your romantic getaway. 
Picture
Naughty things.
Anyhoo.  The first day we made our way up to Notre Dame de la Garde -- and can I tell you, the wind was horrifying.  Like, it almost blew Sara over the edge.  At one point I hid in the church because every time I left the church, the wind tried to push me off the cliff.  The Canadian had to come rescue me.
I snapped that while hiding from the wind.  See?  Looks beautiful -- except there are 100 mile per hour winds out there!!!!  Nothing is what it seems.

So, we went on with the rest of our weekend and then it came time for the Canadian to race.  This was the route:
That morning, there was SNOW on the highest peak, and the wind was still howling.  The poor Canadian (and Honey Jr.!) had to run in that madness.  In the meantime, while the Canadian and Honey Jr. are off to the start of the race, Sara, G and I are discussing where to park and what to do about picking up the Canadian.  You see, the night before, Honey Jr. kept saying "there's no parking" but then we'd ask Honey's Honey what she was doing and she'd say "I'm parking in Cassis".  There were no straight answers.  And, there was of course, a language/culture barrier.

So, the morning of the race, after Sara and I stop at Starbucks (as you do when you're in Marseille), we drove to Cassis...well, not really.  We almost got to Cassis -- we couldn't *actually* go down the mountain into the town because the police had the route barricaded off except to certain cars.  So we walked 4 miles, in howling wind, down the mountain to pick up the Canadian. 

I was *ahem* displeased.  Sara kept saying "it's an adventure!" and in my head I was thinking "I will kill this Canadian when I get my hands on him for running this race".  So we made it down to Cassis and met up with Honey's Honey while I had some wine and pampelmousse (grapefruit) to take my irritation away.  And it was then that Honey's Honey told us that Honey Jr. had given her a parking pass that got her past the police and down into the town. 

Um, hey Honey Jr.??  That would have been NICE TO KNOW!!! But it's ok, I've forgiven him...mostly. 

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