fleurs de cimetière


Illusions in the desert... read on in today's missive!

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le poids (pwah) noun

    : weight

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prendre du poids = to put on weight
perdre du poids = to lose weight
quel poids faites-vous? = how much do you weigh?
de tout son poids = with all one's weight
un poids lourd = freight vehicle, semi-trailer truck

Today's list of idioms is a little light... won't you weigh in with your own "poids" expressions? Thanks for sharing a new term here, in the comments section.

  Belgium flyer Meet Jean-Marc... in Belgium, December 10th, 11th, and 12th!  He'll be at the Salon des Vins et Métiers de Bouche (Centre Sportif de Soumagne, Tel 04 377 98 11)



A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

One Quick Thinking Camellaro

Last month, on the black-ashed island of Lanzarote, our family of four navigated the volcanic desert floor from the inside of a tour bus. We listened to Paul, our native guide, fill us in on all the island's "asides": its lava-rich legacy, its austere architecture (laws have local buildings standing no taller than a palm tree, or so it seemed...), and its inhabitants. Presently we were about to meet the lumpy, long-lashed locals as our bus was pulling into a camel station.  

                                                                            Lumpy, long lashed locals...

I looked out the window, feeling a mixture of awe and apprehension....

We alighted in the parking lot and took our places in line, queuing up deux à deux as our guide had instructed us to. "Oh," Paul mentioned, motioning us to line up in twos, "and the heaviest person on the left...."

Earlier, Paul had enlightened us about the Arabian camels on the island: these were dromadaires (one hump and not two). The way we would  ride these gentle beasts was to sit on either side of the hump, on sturdy seats fashioned for the occasion. For this reason, the weight needed to be evenly distributed—or patatras!—the riders would come crashing down.

I wasn't so worried about falling as I was about fleeing—for that is what my experience had been: ripping through the wind on the back of a crazed quarter horse. But this wasn't a cheval and there was no risk, this time, in letting the reins slip. By the way... where were the reins?



Apparently there would be no reins! This, after all, was a camel convoy. The only person holding on to a rein would be the camellaro, or camel driver. 

Presently our camel driver, Moroccan by custom, was eyeing our line-up. As he walked down the queue, his eyes weighed the would-be riders. Now and again, he stopped to switch the places of passengers, as we stood there, two by two, waiting to take our seats. 

Oh, yes, I remembered, heaviest person on the left.... I looked left, to my 15-year-old son, and told him to stay put, right where I had placed him! But the giggles coming from behind had me turning around in distraction. The couple—in tank tops, shorts, and knee-high socks—quickly quieted. 

"But he weighs more than I..." I insisted. The couple nodded their heads, humoring me.

I turned to Max. "You do weigh more than I! You are taller!"
"It's (my) muscles," Max chuckled, pinching my side. Yes, I had to agree, muscles weigh more than... than never mind about that!

The camellaro put a stop to my arguing when he placed his hands on our shoulders, Max's and mine, and moved to switch us! That is when every self-respecting bone in my body balked. I would not budge!

"But he does weigh more! He does..."

The camellaro didn't need to understand English to sense my "illusionment" and he was not about to dis me. Hell hath no fury like a disillusioned fille! 

Without missing a beat, he reached forward to where my daughter was standing, to the right of her "heavier" co-passenger (her father), and switched her place with mine.

And that is how I became a veritable poids plume, and, this time, not only in my mind.

Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, comments, and stories of your own are welcome in the comments box, here.


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French Vocabulary

camellaro = camel guide

deux à deux = two by two

le dromadaire = dromedary (one-humped) camel

patatras! = crash!

le cheval = horse

la fille = girl

le poids plume = lightweight

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The little cages, or "muselières", around their mouths keep the dromadaires from nibbling at tourists. This lovely "lady" above, could not resist, time and again, nudging her son, who stood in line ahead of her (carrying Jean-Marc and me). Camel riding, we were told, is strictly regulated, in Lanzarote, where camels give no more than five rides (20 minutes each) per day.




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