My first Lyon post, for some reason or other, wouldn’t copy to here. You can read it at www.somewhereisspain.blogspot.com.
After our first night in the glass-walled albergue, we walked down the hill and across the two rivers the next day to arrive at the Center of Resistance and Deportation. The museum-college-community building combines a detailed and well-done museum to the victims of the Vichy (Nazi collaboration in France) regime and the brave people who resisted and fought against the Nazi invaders and French collaborators, including many Spanish Republicans fled from the newly-formed fascist regime here in Spain. We thoroughly explored the museum space on Friday morning, with a talk – in French – from a survivor as the culminating experience. The SYA France students translated for us with the help of their teacher, and we all came out full of respect for this brave individual who had fought for his country and his principles during the Vichy regime.
The conference also involved rotating discussion groups composed of one SYA student from each site in a library room in the center. The Italians would put in their historical views, the French would add theirs, and so would us Spaniards, using the three different but related events and opinions to come to a bit of a conclusion. Our topics of discussion varied from the basic facts – what happened in the bombing of Viterbo? – to historical memory – how is the event remembered? are there monuments, museums, documents? – to post-event trauma – exiles? deaths? – and ending in a full group discussion of historical memory, while oscilated from Europe to the United States.
All this was broken up by a French goat-cheese and tomato grilled sandwich, salads of the best sort, roasted spiced potatoes, a chevre-apple bake, crepes with chestnut puree and chocolate, Morrocan tea, and even an American food shop where we were served toasted bagels (our first bagels in almost 7 months!) with cream cheese and fresh crisp vegetables. I also couldn’t resist a package of Reeses peanut butter cups… Needless to say, Lyon lived up to its reputation as a gastronomical capital.
Another great experience of the trip was our connection with French students. On Friday we went to a public school a couple of tram stops from the history center for lunch and an afternoon discussion. We also found out who we would be staying with the following night – each of us chose a French host student! We learned a lot about the French school system, living in Lyon, etc – all wonderful conversations. The group of students two friends and I fell in with were all studying Cinema in the Literature track of study. We met up again on Saturday after lunch, this time leaving the group until the next morning, and they took us all over Lyon: hanging out in the art museum, sitting in the sun at the Roman theatre (two perfectly preserved stone theatres now a park), and at the country house of one of them, with a porch from which one can see the twinkling lights of the city at night. We left with each other’s facebook contacts and addresses, and I hope we can all keep in touch.
After making such great friends and enjoying ourselves so much in the quiet but busy historic city of Lyon, we were all sad to leave. But looking forward to a Friday night of tapas, my new discovery of a delicious bakery near school, and my departure on Saturday for Sicily with Heather, the future looks to be just as wonderful as my five days in France!