The simple act of doing the laundry has been difficult. The laundry machines are all in the basement, very unfamiliar, and with no instructions in English. The property management company that owns this building has some onsite people, whom I called to come over to the laundry room to help Eric, but apparently they didn't know how it worked either. They just put in some credits and turned it on to a setting that's the equivalent of prewash, that just left the clothing soaking wet. And they didn't speak English. He said it took all day, both the first time and today. Today he knew how to do it, but the machines were occupied when he went there, so he had to keep on checking for free machines.
The first time he tried doing laundry, last week, some people at work heard me talking to him on the phone about the laundry and tried to help - apparently we're not the first to have some issues with it. A guy who sits a few seats down from me said his wife had problems for 2 weeks before she finally figured it out. He was very helpful.
Overall, I'd say the people here are quite friendly and certainly extremely polite. Especially considering that we're in a city, it's amazing how people will say (in French) pardon me, have a good day, etc. Email and any official communication is what Americans would consider extremely formal, with flowery salutations and formal well-wishes.
I feel self conscious in the grocery store here. Not just for the obvious reasons - we probably stand out like a sore thumb here - but because I'm talking, probably fairly loudly, to Eric and the kids, and I'm probably the only one who is. Most people seem to just glide through the store silently. I never noticed this so much anywhere else.
The internet is down here at our apartment. It's been down most of yesterday, and will in all liklihood not be up today, because nobody does any work on weekends at all here. So if it's down, that's it until Monday. It makes me realize how dependent we are on the internet! It's no longer just an option for modern life, it's something critical like water and power.
Speaking of not working on weekends - nobody works outside regular work hours, either. What this means is - instead of the office being cleaned silently and efficiently sometime in the evening or during the night, you have people poking around you with a vacuum cleaner, or wiping your desk, while you're trying to work. Or (like yesterday for me at work) you have to leave your office at 1 in the afternoon because somebody needs to work on the air conditioner in the ceiling. I've also been told that no road work happens during the night, like you have in the US, it all happens during regular work hours. Which would go a long way towards explaining why traffic is so bad here.
So, this weekend I have some things planned - a trip to the local toy library should be fun, and also to the citiy park that's quite close, with the old fashioned play equipment. It's also in the middle of old town, which we saw on the first or second day, but we were so dazed and confused and jet-lagged, that we really didn't take anything in. Unfortunately because we don't have internet now at home, it's difficult to do any research on where to go. I hope I can get by with using the notes I took in Google docs, which I should be able to access on my phone (really inconveniently and awkwardly, but should still work, hopefully)