Today we drove an hour west to the town of Toulon. I had appointments to finalize my temporary (1 year) resident visa for France. With the Tom Tom it is always easy to find a pay parking structure, but once in the town, I was having a little trouble getting my bearings with only the limited Google map printout I had with me. We found ourselves in a busy pedestrian area right outside the parking structure. I was deciding on whom to ask for directions…and chose poorly. My first person was a girl standing by a staircase. She looked friendly. She had no idea where I wanted to go, and then started asking passersby if they could help her. Two people immediately blew her off, and then I realized this poor girl who was sucking on a lemon was not really ‘all there.’ Then I asked and older woman who had no idea. C’mon, I was pointing to a street next to the Opera House. Do these people have no culture? Third times a charm, I tried the opposite sex, and well, my French must really not be that good, because this guy said ‘follow me I will show you,’ and walked me two blocks to the soccer stadium. Luckily, this all wasted only about 15 minutes of my time, and the tourist information office was only a block away from the soccer stadium. The lady there gave me a map and clear directions.
We were walking up what was probably the main pedestrian street and the weekly market had just ended. The vendors were all about finished packing up their stalls. There was bagged trash and trash from the market on the street. We saw one garbage truck, then behind it two trucks with water tanks and men using high pressure hoses to scrub down the street. Behind them were two sweeper/vacuum trucks sucking everything up. It was like the Disneyland clean up crew after the Main Street parade. We were impressed how municipal authorities can put such manpower into cleaning up after a street market.
First stop was a medical clinic for a physical exam and x-ray. French authorities want to make sure I am not bringing tuberculosis into the country. One interesting thing is that only Gigi and I are required to do the medical exams, the boys never received any kind of paperwork requiring them to submit to a medical exam. Their little lungs are just a capable of carrying tuberculosis as my aged, asthmatic lungs. We sat in a waiting room with North Africans/Africans/Chinese for a short time; the doctor was Bang Bang Bang with the interviews and his assistant with the physicals and x-rays. The nurse listened to my lungs and told me to start taking my asthma medicine again. The doctor gave me my health clearance and prescriptions for asthma medicine (I have a 3 month supply with me, but neglected to communicate that). Then it was off to my visa interview 5 blocks away from the clinic.
At the OFII office we only waited 5 minutes for an interview. Two people from the clinic were also there, seems we were on the same bureaucratic treadmill. The lady interviewer was very welcoming and really this went as smooth as could be. Hey, I had paid the 349 Euro tax for this interview already and had my proof of payment. Easy peasy, I now have my clear Temporary Resident Visa for France.
For a treat we stopped at a corner café that had the largest pastries we had ever set eyes on. Jordan is especially fond of croissants, and this baby (see pic) was just something you would expect to see in a comic book, it just could not be real, but it was. The three of us ate about half of it; we took the other half home and ate it with our dinner. One croissant, 6 servings, all for 3 Euros.