When we woke up on Saturday morning, relatively early for being us, O suggested that we do something that we have been planning to do since January… Go to l’Alliance française in Santurce (a neighbourhood in San Juan)! You see, in January when my French friend C was visiting us, she and I went to the French organisation to check out their activities and meet some other French-speakers in Puerto Rico. We met the director who was very nice (and German!) and he told us that every Saturday morning the French-speaking community in San Juan gather in the AF building (a beautiful colonial house) to eat crêpes and socialise. Anyway, O and I are usually very tired and lazy on weekend mornings so we never went… Until last Saturday!
It might sound strange to you that a Swede and a Spaniard decide to check out a French organisation aiming to encourage and develop knowledge of the French language and French and Francophone cultures, but we did live in Brussels, a French-speaking city (well, officially bi-lingual) for over 5 years and we both feel that we would like to keep up with speaking French. O is considering taking a conversation class as he doesn’t feel very comfortable with speaking the language – he’s just a little shy! And, we wouldn’t mind meeting some other Europeans every now and then, French-speaking or not! 😉
The Alliance française in San Juan has a library with French books, magazines and films, and 12 class rooms for French language studies. We actually decided very quickly to become members, while speaking a mix of French and Spanish with a Puerto Rican receptionist! In the library I enquired if they might need volunteers and once again I met with the German director (who speaks perfect French), and the American president. They were very friendly and I am now going to a committee meeting tomorrow to see what I can help out with. What is great is that the meeting will be held in Spanish so I will practise both my French and Spanish!
In the end we spent an hour or so chatting to the people on the porch having coffee and mixing French, Spanish and English – just the kind of atmosphere that I love and which reminds me of Brussels! Let’s hope that we manage to get up early in the future on Saturdays, and that I end up volunteering [in French]!
However, our social Saturday didn’t end there, in the evening we had organised, together with Swedish B, a Swedish crayfish party… which ended up being a shrimp party as we couldn’t find crayfish despite B’s efforts! Apparently there was first of all a linguistic issue – O claims that crayfish is cangrejo in Spanish, but the Puerto Ricans that B spoke to used two other words for the shell fish (maybe one of them was cigala?), and anyway, it seemed impossible to find the two-clawed creature on our island! Another issue was that Puerto Ricans are not always very reliable when it comes to party invitations, which we have already experienced, and in the end only two guests showed up – the English-American couple Nick and Miri from Rincón!
Nevertheless, with the shrimp, some left-over snaps from Christmas, a mushroom quiche and B’s yummy potato salad + Nick and Miri, who we didn’t know but whose blog I have been following, I would say that the party was a success! Nick and Miri are a great couple and we finished the evening on a terrace on the water-front in Condado having drinks and chatting until 02! Hopefully we are meeting up soon again, maybe half-way between Rincón and San Juan for a lunch in Lago Dos Bocas!?
All in all, a great Saturday and lots of new acquaintances and friends! Now I am focusing on our trip to Washington DC and Virginia on Thursday – we are meeting Annika in Reston on Friday morning and spending the day in DC before we head to Norfolk, VA where our Finnish friend P (an ex-colleague of mine from Brussels, she came to visit us in February) lives.