Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The forwards and backwards dance

Some of my colleagues are not keen on me buying a car. One said I shouldn't ever buy a car and if I get to stay longer in France I should move to Paris and manage without one. Another colleague suggested I have a break and wait until Spring and start looking then if I still think I need one.

No-one seems to appreciate that I need one for everyday living. I need an ironing board. How am I going to get one without a car, I need some sort of cheap furniture to put my stereo on to get it off the floor so I need the car for that. Buying train tickets to get all the way to Paris and then to somewhere else from there that might be close to where I need to end up is impractical and expensive from my tiny village of Cafeolait. It will be impossible to do any bellydance gigs without one, even in Cafeolait. I can't carry anything bulky or heavy. Even getting groceries from a big supermarket is a problem, especially if I have frozen food- it's melted by the time I buy it and queue for ages, walk to a bus stop and wait and then bus and walk home and I still can't carry much. There's also the issue of needing to get a French drivers license if I stay past September so I'd need to be practising driving long before that.

I get the feeling they don't think I can afford a car. I'd have to buy something old with big kms and that would need expensive maintenance and I'm not used to managing all this stuff on my own. Maybe they are tired of helping me last year.

I'm trying to help myself as much as possible. Yesterday I went to the insurance company alone to cancel my car insurance and request payment stop. Complicated because I have an automatic payment set up. Horrors- it's still one total price. The boss's assistant assured me she had changed it to monthly but the company had no record of changes. Trying to decipher money options and date options made my head spin. In the end, because the money from the sale of the car is in the bank I said just go ahead take the money and then reimburse me for 10 months. Reimbursing me will take several weeks I am informed. But I'm keeping up my accident insurance (imagine if I got hurt in a taxi or in someone else's car). Unlikely but I can't take the risk. My belongings are also insured.

Later in the day/evening I went to see the doctor for the second time since arriving in Cafeolait. It's getting easier to manage the communication with doctors as I have just enough vocabulary to explain the problem. My strategy is to say as much as possible up front so they have less to say and that means less for me not to understand. This works quite well and I precis important stuff to check I have understood. But no, I still have not recieved my Social Security Card so it was paperwork the old-fashioned way which I understand now.

It's very different to NZ. The waiting rooms are old, rundown, spartan, there are no receptionists or busy atmospheres. There are some french magazines and one old toilet usually and the doctors are NEVER on time. The doctors have exceedingly inadequate signage, almost as if they are trying to be super-discrete. No lighted signs for them.Just a tiny plaque screwed to the wall.

Off to the chemist - it was a little more challenging because they are so systems driven and those systems are different to NZ. They don't print out dosage instructions on the bottles or packets so I asked the lady pharmacist to write notes on them for me-telling me once in french is no good. The little boxes generally have Braille on them and standard instructions inside. I guess French doctors don't use medications in a 'creative' way as they do in NZ. One size must fit all, it seems. I asked her if she had any other Kiwi clients-she's not aware of any. She was friendly and helpful and didn't mind my bumbling french at all.

I'm now armed with a cough syrup, some short term steroids/anti-inflammatories and a nose spray that had the effect last night of totally aggravating my nose bleeds to the extent I had to cover my pillows with towels. I am hopeful that I'll be my old energetic self by the weekend.

Photos show Peugeot 206 and Renault Clio car models I will investigate in Spring. In the meantime I've been told to keep my life SIMPLE. Come on people- does that sound like ME?


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