Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Normandy Scholars: Day 6 - Making it past the quicksand -- NOW COMPLETE WITH PICTURES!

(Tonight's entry has two authors.  The first section is written by Mr. Yee, while the second section is written by Katie Connor '16.)

As we traveled up to Mont Saint Michel, a few of us remembered seeing this scene from the Bayeux Tapestry that we had seen a couple days prior.  Mont Saint Michel sits near the border of Normandy and Brittany, and the Norman troops, led by William and accompanied by the soon-to-be-traitorous Harold, march through and past the location, but not before many of the men succumb to the quicksand that surrounds it.  You can see the quicksand rendered in the stripes of white towards the right of the image below.  You can also look for the falling horse.

Brothers In Arms scene 1 - Bayeux Tapestry
Depiction as we could not take pictures of the actual tapestry
Though we made easy work of the quicksand by following the smooth interstates and the level and well-tended land bridge, we could still look upon the quicksand deserts that had taken those men over a thousand years ago.  

A stroll up the boardwalk to a thousand years ago
However, a select group of people each year, not content with the luxuries our modernity affords us, choose to do it the way the Normans did so many years ago.  They take to the desert with a guide to shepherd them away from the quicksand.  Still, some choose to go off piste, and one of partner teachers at Jeanne D'Arc, Julie, told me that at least one person a year succumbs to the quicksand.  

Some of those dots that look like a ridge on the sand are actually people!
Still, it's a recent group of hikers that we had to thank for this symbol we saw in the sand as we walked to Saint Michel on our comfortable wooden boardwalk.

Peace where once there was strife 1000 years ago

It added a nice counterpoint to the news and resultingly heightened security around.  It was also the same sand message we saw yesterday, right next to where we had stopped for our tour of Omaha Beach.

Peace where once there was strife 70 years ago
Despite the apparent strife and resulting tension playing out throughout the world around us, what has struck me most about my time in Bayeux and Normandy is the boundless generosity and kindness of our hosts.  Whether it's in painstakingly crafting bowling teams so as not to exclude anyone, or offering additional accommodations for us as we dealt with our changing plans, they have demonstrated that they will do anything to help.  It's led to a great comfort that I, and I think many of our students, have felt here.  I have felt an extension of their community, and in many ways, it's a community that feels a lot like our own Saints community.  Perhaps that's why this partnership has lasted for so long.  We'll take these memories of our hosts and Bayeux along with us to Paris, back home to the States, and we can only hope to welcome them the same way they welcomed us when the come in mid-April. 

You're not real friends until you're mountaintop friends

(Note: after having a few uncharacteristic good minutes, the internet again decided to quit. I am posting via phone, but I cannot upload the photos without my computer. Those will again wait for a better connection. --ed. note: now all uploaded! What is below is written by Katie Connor '16.)

Ever since I got to France, I have eaten so much good food. My strategy to be a good guest is just to say yes to everything they offer me, and so far it is working out pretty well. For example, last night I had foiegras for the first time, and it was GOOD.

A view of the main abbey at Sant Michel (so Gothic?)
French correspondents walking through some Gothic Arches
Jessica walking down a Gothic Hallway!
Usually during the day we go to school in the morning and do touristy stuff in the afternoon by ourselves. Today, however, the French kids had a half day, so us and our correspondents went to Mont San Michel, an abbey on an island in Normandy. It is truly a beautiful place. Even from a distance, it is a sight to see because it appears to rise out of the sand. We explored both the town and the abbey. The abbey is massive, ad mostly constructed in the the Gothic style. As a student of Ms. Hunt's Art History class and Ms. Snadler's Gothic Novel Seminar, I was in heaven.

Katie making her way down some dark (and therefore, now blurry) stairs
More stairs!
Even more stairs!
After climbing up and down the approximately 9,000 stairs (a guesstimation), we had lunch at a creperie and then walked around the island some more. The "grand rue" of Mt. St. Michel is filled with food stands, restaurants, and gift stores. There are also many nooks, crannies and passages not included in the abbey tour that we explored.

The "grand rue" outside of our lunch destination
Sarah contemplating what's above
Another shot of the grand rue that overlooks the dry sea
The afternoon was spent teaching the French some English slang like "hangry " and styling Malcolm's hair into pigtails.

Malcolm, whose hair was not yet pigtailed, engages in metaphotography while Katie and others look on
Now, I am at my correspondent's house, preparing myself to do some packing. While I am excited for Paris, I will miss my French family. They have been so welcoming to me, even though I stayed for such a short time.

Katie Connor '16

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