What a weekend! On Saturday afternoon, the group embarked on a three and a half hour hike guided by Tim, our program director. Later that evening, a few of our new friends from Albi visited for awhile, giving us an excuse to bring out the French vanilla ice cream (which is a pretty religious experience in itself) and time to exchange music, ghost stories of the monestary, and new vocabulary words. The highlight of my weekend, however, was on Sunday morning. Celebrating Mass in a 9th century chapel was one of the most peaceful experiences I've ever had. I could not translate a single word of the homily, but there is just something about being in a place where people have prayed for over a thousand years that makes the building feel exceptionally holy. After Mass, we had lunch and made the trek back to the village for a tour given by an older lady who seems to have lived here for awhile. We learned a lot about Ambialet's history, which turns out to be extremely fascinating contrary to my inital thoughts, considering Ambialet's very remote location. It turns out that Ambialet has been inhabited by people as long as there have been people in what we now call Southern France...they carved itty bitty houses into the rocks and lived off of the land. I think it's pretty sweet that you can still see the remains of these little caves all over the place (there have been talks of camping in one of them at some point). In the 4th century or so, there used to be multiple "castlettes" on one of the hills adjacent to the monestary. To sum it up: I could very easily be living in a movie right now.
And in order to put the "study" back in "study abroad," today marks the start to our regular school schedule here in Ambialet. For those that care, Mondays will normally consist of History in the am, Social Work in the pm; Tuesday will bring Elementary French in the morning, Religion in the afternoon or evening; Wednesdays we will take field trips to wherever we learned about in our Religion course the day before; Thursday mornings we will go to Albi for more French (I need all the help I can get); and Fridays are reserved for our art course and a "Tour de Table" where we are supposed to find appreciation for French cooking. (Trust me, one taste of Mousse au Chocolat and you will have an immediate appreciation, too).