For the past few days (almost a week) I’m wandering around the French speaking part of Canada. Before arrival I knew that Quebec is a French speaking part but now I have found out that also northern parts of New Brunswick speaks French. New Brunswick is the only Canadian province that is bilingual. Quebec is not. They speak French here.
My initial contact with a French speaking part in Edmundston went fine. They understand English as well, so no problem. I have had some years of French and I can say that I can communicate in it, but the local accent is something completely new to me.
Upon leaving Edmundston and venturing further in the depts of mysteries of French speaking Canada I started to realize English won’t do much good to me here. Being on a bicycle you go to places where there aren’t many foreign tourists and you meet people that mostly do not leave these places. And here they speak French. So I was forced to browse through my memory and with a great deal of effort I started to learn the local accent (to at least understand what are they saying to me). With every passing day and intensive practice my confidence grew. I actualy understand what they are saying to me. And sensible answers always come to my questions.
And then came a cold shower (literally and metaphoricaly). Yesterday I was in a company of rain all day long. Three times it has really poured down so that I was soaking wet. And since it is still cold out here, I was also cold. As a light at the end of the tunnel, a McDonald’s sign appeared in front of me. Great, there is warmth and they sell a cheap brew they call coffee. I go there, park Lou as much as I can under the roof and follow the warmth. I stand in line and when my turn comes a nice young lady greets me. Saying back hello, I order coffee with milk. Politely she ask me back something completely incomprehensable. I smile and say »Oui«. That is all I’m having. But she doesn’t bulge. She asks the same again (probably the same since I did not understand a word). Now I try different tactics – yes, it’s for here. A slightly angry look comes my way – again wrong answer – she rolls here eyes and gose to make my order. It is obvious that I have fucked up and that I don’t master the local accent as much as I thought I do.
Oh yes, later I come to a conclusion that she was probably asking me what kind of milk would I like (0,5% or 2% milk fat). What an idiot!