Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I am now officially a seasoned Belgian traveler.  Ish.  In any case, I made it through an entire weekend trip (buses and trains) without getting lost or missing a connection, and didn't even need to attempt to ask for help in French.

That is to say, my visiting the other AFSers was a success.  I took a train Saturday morning to Verviers, where they met me at the station and took me out to look around.  We ate lunch, did some shopping, ate fancy pastries, did some more shopping, had a waffle, and walked around before catching the bus to Malmédy, Karamea's hometown.  We had dinner with Karamea's host family before heading out to a party in Xhoffrait (which, despite having a lot of strange letters, is easy to say: off-ray).  Apparently out in the country, every couple weeks they have a giant dance for all the youth of the surrounding villages, which was this weekend in Xhoffrait.  It wasn't too far from Karamea's house, so Karamea's host mom drove us and her sister Mathilde to the party, and met up with some people that Sofia and Karamea knew from school, including a Rotary student named Francis.

There was a lot of dancing and drinking of colorful drinks (green whatever-it-was was definitely the best, although pink was pretty good too), even though a lot of the people there were clearly under 16.  The people at the door were not strict at all-- they gave me an over-18 bracelet without even asking, despite the fact that I am not over 18.  It got a bit gross at the end-- apparently it's standard protocol to throw your empty plastic cups on the ground when your finished-- because the floor got very sticky, but it was still a lot of fun.

We got back late and slept at Karamea's house, where her host family was nice enough to set up some beds for Sofia and me.  In the morning packed up to go to Ovifat, an even smaller town where Sofia lives, as do Karamea's host grandparents.  We spent the day with Sofia's little sisters (10 and 11), who were really adorable and really excited to have company.  I've never had younger sisters, or even younger cousins, so I had a lot of fun walking, painting nails, and doing silly makeup with them, even if it was exhausting.  After we acted as their trainers, making them do sit-ups and pushups (which they somehow thought was fun) and got quizzed on our French spelling, we convinced them to let us have a little alone time to talk (in English, which was nice) amongst ourselves.

I caught the last bus out of Ovifat (there are only like 4 in a day) and got back to Liège by 9 pm.

Today I had off from school because it's the Fête de la Communauté française de la Belgique (as opposed to flamande or germanophone; basically the French-speaking Belgians celebrating the fact that they speak French), and I had yesterday off as well because everyone wanted to extend the weekend as much as possible.  This meant a lot of getting to walk around Liège and relax at home instead of having to be at school.  To those of you not in French-Belgium who had school/work these past days, Ha.

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