samedi 15 novembre 2008

Franco, AZ

Almost two years after leaving for Arizona, I have one last story to tell before bringing you half way around the world. An untold one, at that. If there is a second language in Arizona – I better take cover from some local politicians just for asking that question – it’s undoubtedly Spanish. But linguistic diversity in Arizona goes beyond the O in gringo.

Le désert de la Sonora, en français? As implausible as it is true. I first discovered a great resource for anyone moving to Tucson, which has no equivalent in English: Tucson vous accueille. Now somewhat outdated, but still very handy. Take that, those who claim the French are never practical.

From the Internet to the second necessity in life: food. For any foodie, Tucson supermarkets are depressing, but the French speaking community has stepped in. Boudin blanc and camembert? You got it! The gas bill ends up being higher than the grocery bill, thanks to all these shops being in the fancy-but-faraway Catalina Foothills, but you would almost think you’re in... Ottawa. Sure, it’s not Paris, but it’s a lot better than the Safeway at Broaway and Campbell!

So, you can eat it, but can you speak it? There are more people than you think who speak French. No Canadians, but I met several foreign students from France. They delighted in mocking my (slight) Canadian accent. I was nice enough not to return the favour with respect to their (atrociously accented) English. There were also a few people who grew up in mixed households and I met two Americans who had actually learned French. Oui, c’est possible!

The University of Arizona has an informal French Club, which gets together to chat or watch French movies. While I was there, we watched Le Dîner de cons (The Dinner Game) and La grande séduction (Seducing Dr. Lewis). Both are as far removed from the Sonoran Desert as you can imagine... Thinking back, there is some irony in all of this. I went on exchange for something different, yet craved the familiar. Perhaps belonging is a natural thing after all.

Guacamole et pain au chocolat, ou l’histoire d’une mondialisation inachevée.
- Chandos

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