After a day filled with new impressions and walking, it was nice to relax in front of umbrellas in Cherbourg.
The rain surrounded us as we were standing on the main deck, waiting for the captain to speak. While we stood quiet, I noticed that everything around us appeared to be a bit ‘more boring’ than yesterday. For me, it seemed like the rain and the gray clouds above our heads had taken away some of the colors of Cherbourg.
When the clock had turned eight, I turned my attention to the captain and the rest of the crew. They didn’t have much to say compared to Brita, our teacher. She gave us a lot of information about our day to come. Thankfully, she had made a clear and strict plan for us to follow, otherwise everything would’ve turned out in war and chaos. The first thing on our schedule was to go ashore and buy ourselves some snacks for our upcoming school visit and hike.
Me and my friends, walked together to the nearest supermarket and so did the rest of our class. The owner of that store must have been a bit surprised when the store got overflooded by drowned teenagers in sailing gear. We headed back to the boat after we’d emptied the entire store from baguettes and cookies.
Half an hour later, we met a teacher with a great big smile, named Vincent, from the Lycée Millet school on the quay. He showed us the way to the French school. We walked together on the empty streets of Cherbourg and just as Brita’s weather app had predicted, the sun showed up behind the clouds. Sadly, the bright light didn’t help me feel less nervous about the school visit. Me and the others who study French, were supposed to ask the students about their school system and interview them about common swearwords, in French. Therefore, I don’t believe it was too weird that we had some black butterflies in our stomachs.
We arrived at the school after about twenty minutes of walking. There were a lot of buildings placed here and there, like an enormous labyrinth. Thankfully, we had Vincent who guided us to one of the school’s classroom. There, we met a bunch of French students. We presented ourselves, not by name but by school. Next, Vincent provided each of us with a paper filled with questions. Together, we discussed the potential answers but there were some hopeless cases where we ended up googling.
When we’d finished all the paper questions and our interviews about migration, it was time for lunch. Everyone felt excited about the French food, because we’d been told that all the students in France were served three dishes for lunch. That’s something we’re not used to in Sweden, so we were really looking forward to try the school dessert. The food tasted amazing and filled our stomachs to max, so there was no more place for our black butterflies.
We rolled through the doors of the cafeteria, straight towards the classroom there we’d left all our stuff. Then, we went looking for the busses that were supposed to give us a ride to the place where we should hike. But apparently, there had been some mistake made by someone because there were only one bus standing outside the school. While we waited for the second one to come, me and my friend talked to one of the French students. He confused us a little when he started our conversation in Swedish. He laughed when he saw our surprised faces and explained that he had studied our language for a couple of years.
The bus ride wasn’t too pleasant, especially not for us with long legs, because we had absolutely no place to put them. We arrived at the hiking spot after about forty minutes. Me and my friend stumbled out through the bus door on four pieces of wood, or at least it felt like that. The cold wind hit us in our faces with such a big force that it felt like we stood in front of a gigantic hairdryer. We and the French students walked together towards the high cliffs of La Hague. The view over the sea was stunning! But my friend wasn’t too interested about that, instead she found some black berries.
We walked up and down, here and there until we reached a beautiful stone beach. Some of us (including me and my friend) went on our knees, searching for the perfect stone to bring home to Sweden. It turned out to be very easy to find more than just one, so well, we might have picked some extra souvenirs.
We continued our hike after we’d taken a group photo on the beach. After a couple of hills, we arrived at an entrance of a dark tunnel. A teacher from the French school explained that the tunnel had been used by SS during the second world war. But that was not the main reason for why some of us hesitated when we were told to walk into the cold darkness of history. Personally, I thought that it was fun to walk without the ability to see, but some persons didn’t feel as comfortable as me, so they turned on the flashlight on their phones. That caused a lot of noise in the tunnel because the sound of the loud protest echoed between the stone walls. It was impossible for us to see the end of the tunnel even when all the flashlights were turned off, since there was no light from the exit. It felt like we could’ve continued walking in the darkness forever. Finally, we reached the end of the tunnel and our freedom. We’d must have looked weird when we reached the surface, since everyone walked around like blind zombies in the bright sunlight.
After we’ve transformed into humans again, we continued our hike. It felt like the wind had grown stronger during the little time we’d spent underground. Thankfully, the wind came from the right direction. That meant in case of someone were picked up by the wind, he or she would’ve been thrown into a bush filled with berries and thorns instead of flying over a deadly cliff into the ocean. Almost like the game of pest or cholera, only more hardcore.
Anyway, we’d finished our hike around five o’clock. Luckily everybody had survived despite the windy circumstances. While we walked towards the busses, me and my friend took another opportunity to do our French assignment with two students. Later, we took the same buss as them on our way home. That was something we’d regret, not due to them but simply because it was the wrong buss for us. (We were dropped off at the school instead of the harbor). This resulted in another hike through the town of Cherbourg for us, yippee.
After a long day of walking, it was nice be back home at Gunilla. There, Brita had prepared a cozy movie night for the whole class in the big mess. Together, we watched the old movie called “The Umbrellas in Cherbourg”.
Emma klingspor, Portwatch :)