12.23.2008 - 12.29.2008 21 °F
Nearly two weeks have passed since I arrived in Chamonix, and I've finally moved into a place of my own. Actually, not "my own," per se - I share the massive chalet with the family for whom I work. I decided to take an au pair job for a very kind English family, the Jones' who have two great kids, Oscar and Rosie, ages 10 & 12. The job includes housing, food, a weekly stipend, and a car (so I can keep up with the Jones'?). The work schedule gives me the opportunity for five ski days a week, assuming my legs can handle it. Three days a week would be plenty whilst I get my ski legs back, or lets be honest, construct them from scratch. It's been a while.
Luckily, Christmas came early this year and I found something upon which to build my ski legs - skis! My friend Phil and I did a thorough search and through a series of unfortunate events - rentals, skis sans bindings, affordable skis that refused to adjust to my boots - I was led to a great pair of used skis in top shape for only 80euro (down from 100)! As I happily whipped out my cash to Phil's friend, I was informed that these skis were not for sale. They were now a gift to me from this man who I just met. And he threw in poles though we protested. I was amazed and knew why I had come back to Chamonix, because of the wonderfully kind people. What a gift!
Not surprisingly, Chamoniards' generosity did not end there. As a "Christmas orphan" (one of many here), I was taken in by Gary and Guri Bigham (who, interestingly enough, are from Paia, Maui) on Xmas Eve where I was fed fantastically and entertained better. Squeezing 12 people onto an 8-person table, and then realizing there were actually 15 of us and making it work anyway was memorable in itself. Jen and I contributed homemade-altitude-screwed-burnt-top-undercooked-base brownies that somehow ended up being a hit. We happily took credit but only after we heard the "mmm"s of satisfaction. Wouldn't have admitted responsibility otherwise.
The international company, conversation, dishes and drinks were welcome and wonderful. All culminated in a ceremonial opening of gifts from the Bighams, all from their recent trip Maui which made me feel right at home. The last present opened was to the Bighams from Santa - a sleek carbon fiber toilet seat complete with racing flames. Apparently "it makes you go faster."
Christmas dinner was equally as delicious with amazing food and great company at the Smart's. Puppy Pepper was well behaved for the evening, despite whoops and hollers during after-dinner card games. Rounds of Uno separated the men from the boys, or in this case the three adults from the 9 year old. It was a slaughter, but she was a good sport.
As the holidays come to a close here in the valley, the winter weather gets *%$&#ing ridiculously colder. And I swear -6 degrees celsius here (which is approximately 20 degrees farenheit) is way colder here than 20 deg used to be in Colorado, dammit. I'm just crossing my fingers for some cloud cover already, and not just for the snow.