Sunday, 11 January 2009

Farewell Party

Last night we had a huge party!! And I didn't take a single photo. So all you have is lots of writing, sorry...
The Mairie had sent out invitations to everyone in the village, inviting them to come to see a slideshow presentation of the photos I have taken in the village during our stay. I went through the photos I had selected for the book, and culled out ones that were not vitally important or not particularly pretty, and put them together in a movie slideshow that lasted over one hour. I used Adobe Premiere Elements 3 to put it together, and in the end all the work I did getting the soundtrack to match the slides was wasted. I burnt the DVD and tried it on the computer and the TV, but neither of them had any sound. I guess I'll probably work it out one day...
I had a practice run with the projector in the hall on Tuesday morning, to make sure everything would hook up properly and it went together without a hitch. Easy as pie. So I rocked up on Saturday evening and plugged evrything in and can you guess what happened?? I couldn't get the movie to show up on the screen! I fiddled with the computer display settings until I got a picture up, but it was cut into a very narrow panel on the screen. More fiddling with the computer, more people offering helpful advice, and more frustration. Eventually some bright spark fiddled with the projector and bingo! Dim the lights and on with the show...

The community surprised us by presenting us with some gifts, as a reminder of our stay here in Sainte Marie d'Alloix. Isabelle said some very kind words, to which my response in my surprised state was somewhat inadequate. Roger spoke in English, so about half the room would have understood some of what he said. We now have, to take home with us, a big book with aerial photos of the Alpes (can't wait to have a better look at it) and a small relief map of the region. The kids were given a CD with 42 French songs and rhymes for children, and I'm sure we will have fun singing along with that in the car in Australia.

We have been extremely fortunate to have been in such a welcoming little community. The kids have made friends who will be sad to see them go. Roger has been helping people to practise their English. People have got used to seeing me around with my camera, and mostly have been happy to have their photos taken. There were a few times when I didn't have my camera with me and I wished I had. For instance, when Fred was teaching Justine scuba diving in their swimming pool; or when young Jeff killed a rooster for the first time (the red blood on the white snow would have been very artistic I think.)
So last night we had a hall full of locals trying to spot themselves, or their house or their kid or their dog, in the photos. Roger counted 150 people sitting in chairs. There were kids sitting on the floor at the front (well they sat for about ten minutes before starting to run around) and others standing at the back. Everyone brought some food to share, and the Mairie provided drinks. After eating, Fred and Anke cranked up the music and the dancing started. There were even computer-controlled disco lights, thanks to Benoit whose company Airstar uses lights in display products. As the night wore on Anthony plugged his i-pod into the "virtual DJ" playing through Fred's laptop and the tempo of the music changed. He and his mate had dressed up in hats, sunnies and jackets and they put on a bit of a floor-show and managed to get more people into the groove. They even got Roger doing a few groovy moves.
Some people left after the photos and the food; some only came later after their other commitments had finished. We finished up at about midnight after a really fun evening.
It was a night to remember, and I didn't feel sad at all, knowing that we have made so many friends during our time here. We expect that we will have the opportunity to return the hospitality when some of our French friends come to visit us in Australia. They are more than welcome!

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