Now I don’t know how many of you (probably not that many) sprang out of bed some morning in January and said to yourself, “What I’d really like to do is spend the better part of February living out of a motel in Forestville and hobnobbing with the locals all day,” but I did. You might be saying to yourself right now, “They’d have to PAY me to spend February in Forestville” and I agree. In fact they are paying me to do just that, so here I am, firmly ensconced in a surprisingly classy Econolodge, an hour’s drive downstream from Tadoussac, quietly watching Les Canadiens get thumped again, and preparing for (dare I say it?) WORK tomorrow.
That’s right. No longer a parasitic pensioner living off the generosity of an economically challenged nation, I’m now a productive member of the workforce. Well, actually I’m still a parasitic pensioner but, egad, I’m a double dip! I never saw this one coming.
The sordid course of events that led to this state of affairs include that genetically irrepressible need to educate that has plagued most descendants of my dear old Dad, and that some of us have in spades. Tadoussac’s other Anglo, Shawn Thompson, usually has this gig but this year he had a project of his own encroaching on his time so I leapt into the breach; “this gig” being teaching English to about a dozen adults. The CEGEP of Baie Comeau sets up two such classes these days, one here in Forestville and one in Les Bergeronnes, in an effort to help people in the tourist trade to better accommodate their English-speaking customers. It’s a good idea, but I hear it’s not that easy to find someone who knows enough English to teach the program, so they were delighted to find Shawn, and delighted again when Shawn found me. So delighted were they, that no one from the CEGEP interviewed me, checked my qualifications, or even met me until today, which was the second day of classes, and then it was simply to drop off about 40 pounds of books, and 30 pounds of electronics. After explaining how to fill out the time sheet and the expense claims my, er, “boss” beat a hasty retreat back to Baie Comeau. I’m starting to wonder what they’re not telling me…
Jane, for her part, was very supportive. “What? You’re going to be away for a few days out of each of the next five weeks? No, I don’t mind being out here in the woods in the middle of winter all by myself, bringing in the wood, clearing the snow, looking after the dogs, and doing, well, everything. Here’s your coat, when are you leaving?” Hmm…, perhaps a little too supportive…
The first order of business on Day 1, which was yesterday, was for me to introduce myself, make a presentation about the course, and tell the class what they could expect, all in French. I figured after that they would likely be thankful when I switched to English, (“Oh good. Now we can understand him!”) but that wasn’t the case. The sad truth is that my damaged use of the French language is the only lifeline of communication between us, and getting them to speak English is a challenge. As you can imagine, after all of our efforts to do the right thing and speak French as best we can in Tadoussac, it seems absurd to be speaking English in a room full of French people, but that’s what they’re paying me for. I can certainly relate to their frustration!
So for twenty hours over a four day week, for five weeks, I’ll be having fun in Forestville. My first tourism-related question to the class was to direct me to all trails that were good for hiking, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing. After class today I had a great hike on a “Sentier Pedestre” on a mountain down by the ferry wharf and it was spectacular.
Tomorrow we’re expecting big snow so perhaps I’ll get the skis out of the back of the car – they have set ski-trails a few hundred yards from the motel. The only thing that gives me pause is a conversation I had with my brother-in-law Ian, on Saturday. It was during that that I realized that of my three siblings, one is in Thailand, one is in Hawaii, one is in Costa Rica, and I’m in, (what? gasp!) Forestville?