03 January 2006

Why are the French trying so hard to get rid of me?

So here's the deal. I want to stay here, at least for for a number of months each year. I buy lots of euros and spend them lavishly. All the merchants smile when a London is spotted in the hood. You would thing the French gov, or at least the Chamber of Commerce, would offer me an incentive to do this. Yeah, right. The French Foreign Office says that to stay here for more than three months, I need a Long-Stay visa. To get that visa, last April we had to fill out a form that was more onerous than the outrageous one my co-op demands of prospective purchasers, translate it into French, gather supporting documents from employers, banks, stock brokers, insurance companies, (all in english and french, no less) and then stand in line for an hour and a half outside the French Consulate. The guy inside, who collects a fee before you get to the lady who actually reads the form, said "A Long-Stay visa? Nobody ever fills that form out correctly, with the correct number of copies, etc, without coming here two or three times." Well, little did he know with whom he was dealing. I was then a partner in the Litigation Department voted number one in the nation for 2005! Harrumph. Sure enough, three months later a letter arrives informing us, ( in French, of course) that we have beaten the French Foreign office. We have won. Round one, that is. Round two was filling out more forms at the local sous-prefecture (Yes, I shaved and wore clean clothes, and will do so again tomorrow when we must travel to St. Martin for round three--a medical examination.) I'm not kidding. Assuming we pass that, we will need to pay a 440 euro tax for one year to the Mayor's office, then return to the sous-prefecture. If we behave ourselves, our visa will issue and be good for one year when it renews for only 220 euros for the year following. There appears to be no tax on Franck.
The French do love dogs, tho there are signs all about banning them from the beaches. The local dogs love to pee on those signs.

Want some local dog color? The island is, this week, chock full of people who arrive on 250' yachts. You get the picture. Of course they all must eat, so Match, the only decent size supermarket on the island, is very busy. Between the front door of Match and the parking lot is a football-field size lawn, you know the kind you see outside of most Manhatten supermarkets. On this field lives a chicken, or maybe it's a rooster, (bring to mind the Seinfeld episode when George's father, while dining with his future machetunim, philosophizes about chickens, hens, and roosters: "So if the chicken goes with the rooster, who goes with the hen? What's the matter with those hens anyway?" Ah, you had to be there.) Anyway, up drives a local with two Pointers in the car. The guy goes into the store and both dogs jump out the window, and are cruising the parking lot when one of them spots the chicken and gives chase. Man, that chicken is fast! Chicken dashes across road, dog follows, I am waiting for the feathers to fly or the cars to crash. Nothing happens. Nothing at all. Cars barely notice--very blase. I guess they see this all the time. I think this is all a game between the Pointer and the chicken. They need the exercise and their show pleases the tourists.

Btw, Franck barked at a baby goat this morning, and the poor critter got so excited he fell down and got tangled up in his lead. Pinks was this far from climbing the barbed wire fence and soothing the kid. Btw, you will be happy to learn that I am so far winning the Let's-get-a-goat battle. The smart money is on me in this one.

So the hardware store opens, and what do we buy? AN ALARM CLOCK! I thought I was finished with those. Gotta be at the dock at 7:30 am to make the 8:00am ferry to smx.

PITA trip has a bright side. No gym tomorrow. Just saying that reminds me of high school.

Oops, sun is sinking. I'm off. A bientot.

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