Fait le maximum des choses!Arles, Summer 2011

I can now count on my hands the days left in France. It now seems so urgent to take advantage of every second! Yesterday I saw a Provencal bull fight (les courses camarguaises), which was much different than I'd imagined. It was a team of toreadors instead of one, trying to cut ribbon that was wrapped around the bull's horns. And even though he had about 25 men running around him, the bull was less than impressed and made his charges obligingly (though there were a couple of close calls, and no matter what the players always threw themselves over the fence after every charge). But it was still really cool to see how traditions morph by region (bullfights in Provence, Spain, and then when you think about rodeos...) Have seen tons of other concerts since I last wrote. Paco Ibanez (Spain), Antonio Sambujo (Portugal), Estrella Morente (Andalousia; during which one of her drummings did the most amazing grasshopper-like tap dance; traditionally Flamenco and mesmerizing to watch), Afrocubism (Mali-Cuba), Chico Trujillo (Chile), Angelique Ionatos and Katerina Fotinaki (Greece; they were like the Greek Indigo Girls), Alireza Ghorbani and Dorsaf Hamdani (Iran-Tunisia; a man played a hollowed out gourd as a drum. I want one. I also want more tambourines in my life), plus countless other free concerts in the street. It was incredible to have all this music I never would have searched out on my own just placed right in front of me in Arles. Music that everyone here is so enthusiastic to hear and play but that I had never heard of before in my life was so incredible. I felt like every concert was making new musical synapses fire that had never been fired before! It's strange that now, just as I'm getting ready to leave, I feel so at ease with French, more than I have ever before. I got rid of my false hopes of being fluent at the end of this trip a while ago, but this sudden surge of comfort in French has made me wish I had more time here to improve. My family has been remarking how I have less and less of an accent every day, and how my phrasing is more and more French. And I just want to jump in the air when they tell me that! I'm going to try as hard as I can to guard my progress with books, with classes, with music, and movies; because this experience has been too good to let fade. I can't say it enough how grateful and happy I am to have done this. I needed this; proof of my French abilities, proof of my independence, proof that it pays to be selfish once in a while and do things that are just for you.
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