Conversations with Mormons
Sunday, 2 March 2008
Yesterday I spent a few hours checking out Roman ruins, and at about three in the afternoon I was wandering the streets when I saw a pair of well-dressed young men ringing a doorbell.
Now, I’ve been in France for just over a week. And everyone here speaks French, apparently. I’ve had to book hotels in French, and order meals, and buy train tickets. I’ve even explained the merits of the Eee PC to a few curious passersby. But my French is not what it was. I can tell people that the monkey is on the branch without making any mistakes, but otherwise I find myself horribly self-conscious about genders and irregular verb tenses and things. I came top in French in 1A, for God’s sake, I shouldn’t be uncertain about the future tense of faire.
So I was so excited by the prospect of a conversation in English that I went straight up to the young men. The more confident one told me he was from Idaho (bless him!); he had learned French at school and had done some intensive language training before coming to France as a missionary. I told him about my plans, and he was lovely and enthusiastic, as Mormons are. He briefly attempted to hook me up with missionaries in Sydney, but didn’t push it when I told him I wasn’t very religious. I said goodbye and walked away much happier.
The ruins had been great, of course. I went a bit mad with the camera. There was the Maison Carrée, where they show you a cheesy 3D film about the heroes of Nîmes. And then the beautiful Jardins de la Fontaine, where there was once a temple of Augustus and where you can still see the ruins of a temple of Diana. And at the top of the hill is the Tour Magne, a deceptively squat-looking tower from where you can see a panoramic view of the whole town. If you can cope with the scary spiral staircase leading to the top. I even visited the Castellum, which is the cistern at the end of the aqueduct, which used to distribute water all over the colony.
Catching the train to Paris this afternoon, and from there to Rome. I arrive on the morning of the fourth. I’ll catch up with you all then.