A shiny yellow sticker in my passport, a two pound can of pumpkin in my bag, a pair of boots in dreadful condition, and a ticket out of Nantes in my hands.
The plot thickens….
Last Saturday morning, our bellies filled with delectable Christmas sweets from the night before, Krista and I woke to a frosty, snow covered morning in Nantes. Our shoulders buckling under the weight of our heavy backpacks, we embarked on the next step of our mission: get the heck out of Nantes.
Prequel: Getting our carte de sejours.
Weeks earlier, along with every other assistant plucked off of a different continent than Europe, we had to go to the immigration office and get checked out for the final step of our temporary citizenship in France. This consisted of being led back and forth between a series of little rooms, responding to a cross fire of questions about the state of our health and history of immunizations, and then poked and prodded by doctors and machines. The entire visit can be summarized by the gigantic x-ray they left us with at the end: unnecessary and bewildering.
Apparently whether or not you stay in France hinges on the state of your lungs. The last doctor clipped the gigantic x-ray of my lungs up on a light board and glared at it through her quizzical little glasses.
“Do you smoke?” she queried.
“No,” I responded automatically.
She turned to face me, giving me the full effect of her raised eyebrow. I looked this fierce little old French woman in the eyes and began to doubt my answer.
“Are you sure?”
I began to panic. “It’s France,” I wanted to say, “I’m breathing in second hand smoke all the time.” But all I did was ask, “Is there anything wrong with my lungs?”
“No,” she replied, ripping my x-ray off the light board and handing it to me, “completely normal.”
Phew. Maybe she’s just surprised to meet someone in France who doesn’t smoke.
I was handed over to another nice French woman whose office is overflowing with caricatures of Sarko and “Vive la Retraite!” posters. She was thrilled that I had a conveniently open page in my passport for the shiny yellow seal of approval and then proceeded to cheerfully lecture me on the benefits of having a parapluie (umbrella).
The conclusion of this story is this: I had obtained my carte de sejour. This means I can legally leave and re-enter the country. Yay!
Next up: Step 1: Reunion with the Euros