During the two week Christmas holiday visited friends in various parts of France. I took the train from Montpellier to Grenoble to Lyon to Paris…lol. It was my first Christmas and New Years away from my family, and I had a wonderful experience thanks to the lovely people I was with.
I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Le Versoud, a commune just outside of Grenoble. The Nigerian-French family I stayed with has known me from birth, and despite the distance we’ve stayed in touch over the years. On Christmas Eve, we attended a night church service and on Christmas we spent the day preparing food, eating, Skyping family members near and far, opening presents, and just relaxing. I ate wellll…my mouth was never empty. 😛
On the 26th a colleague invited me to Chamrousse, a ski resort near Grenoble. Due to a mild ankle sprain**, I wasn’t able to partake in any winter sports. However, I enjoyed a lovely meal with my colleague and her family. After enjoying her dad’s delicious spaghetti bolognaise we took a tour of the resort.
**I sprained my ankle on December 7, 2014. One may ask, “how”? Was it while running for the tram/bus or maybe even rock climbing (a sport I tried a couple times)? Nope! I slipped in the middle of the street while trying to cross it… After my mother cajoled me (and gave me her famous Naija mom death stare), I decided to go to the doctor. A sweet French lady took me to an urgent care center where I was x-rayed and fitted with an ankle brace. I wore that baby for 2 weeks…ish.**
On the 27th I headed to another Nigerian-French family’s house lunch for a wonderful lunch consisting of vegetable gratin, jollof rice, fried plantains, fried chicken, pounded yam, egusi soup, etc. Sadly, I deleted the pictures, but I’m sure y’all get the idea. 😉
On the 28th I took the train to Lyon where I stayed with a Nigerian-French ‘aunty’. She’s a friend of my parents who took care of me as a baby. Whenever I come to France, she’s my second mommy. If there’s anything I need I can always depend on her, so it was nice to spend time with her during the holiday season.
In this vibrant city I had the opportunity to reconnect with friends that I’d made in France, Senegal, Canada, and the USA. From going out to eat, exploring the city, cooking at a friend’s apartment, dancing the night away, and so many other adventures these were all moments that will stay with me. I can’t thank God enough for the wonderful people he’s placed in my life. ❤
Josephine Baker Cocktail at Le Paradis du Fruit (mango, coconut juice, and passion fruit)
And then three days later on the morning of Tuesday, January 7, two French terrorists killed 11 people associated with the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in Paris.
In Montpellier there were various responses to this tragedy. Gendarmes have since been placed in various parts of the city. The following day there was a national moment of silence at noon; I observed this with the administration and students at one of my high schools. That week there was also a town hall meeting and a march for ‘Je suis Charliens’, people who stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. Although I didn’t attend these community events, I got a glimpse of them.
The following week there was another march conducted by Muslims who denounced the terrorist attacks and the backlash that their community was facing in the country. Like the former demonstrations, it was open to all. Although I was not able to attend this march, I’m sure it was well represented like the previous one.
As a foreigner living in France, it was interesting to observe these atrocities and their aftermath, especially in light of other terrorist attacks of greater magnitude occurring around the same time. I completely denounce any type of senseless killing; the terrorists were not justified in their murder. At the same time I can not stand in solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo newspaper due to their offensive portrayals of my Christian faith, Islam, the abducted Boko Haram schoolgirls, and the list goes on. I hope that moving forward we can all use the common sense God has given us. 🙂