This blogging while travelling is not for the faint of heart. Focus is a problem. I look to the left and I see a beautiful arched bridge spanning a town crowded with 17th and 18th century stone houses. I look to the right and see we are approaching a lock: are we going up or down; are we tying up on the left or right; will the lock keeper also be selling goat cheese, wine or white asparagus? Travel aboard a barge may be slow, but you have more free time for wonder, speculation, and appreciation.
And then there are the odd bits. A mural on a wall, an odd sign, a meal you have eaten, a wine you’ve drunk. How do you pick and choose topics for the blog?
Not that I speak French, but luckily for me, as one of the Romance languages, French has many cognates. I may not understand what the French are saying, but I can read a bit. One sign called my attention to sex. The sign was set up as an acrostic. The words Desir, Aventure, Passion, Plaisir, Sexe, Emotions, Amour, Partage, and Tendresse were listed one below the other. But running vertically through the words, letters framed in red spelled out “Depistage.” At the bottom of the sign read: “Le depistage fait parlie de volre vie sexuelle. Faites le test du VIH et des autres IST.”
I knew that the sign warned against HIV and sexually transmitted disease, but it was only after I turned to an English/French dictionary that I caught the tone.
The only words I needed to look up were “Plaisir” which is pleasure and “Partage” which is sharing. As for the concluding sentences, the text in English reads: Screening is part of sex life. Take the test for HIV and other STIs.
I am struck by the sign because the tone is so different in America as compared to the tone in France. Sex education posters in the States are not warm and friendly. Rather, they feel like pursed lips and pointing fingers. The frowning judgemental American posters are pointing their fingers at careless promiscuous sex addicts. In contrast, the French posters feel more like a hug. Note the words: emotion, love, sharing, and tenderness. Screening for sexually transmitted disease is not just for selfish sex addicts. Screening is for everyone who cares about his partner.