Guess What?

I went to Marseille yesterday for a sociology class trip. We are doing sociological research on the “Euroméditerranée” project. It is, well, really complicated, but the gist is that it’s a massive renovation project in Marseille. The goal, from what I can tell, is to make a business center in the city to help revitalize Marseille’s economy and its importance in the Mediterranean region.

So basically they’re making everything look nice.

Anyway, it’s a massive project that has a lot of contention around it because it’s going to gentrify a lot of the areas affected. Among other things, like costing millions of euros. It’s really a very interesting project because of how noticable and how subtle the project is.

In any case, this trip required us to be in Marseille by 9:15. So, I had to wake up at seven to get to the bus stop and meet up with the rest of our “Aixoise” classmates to travel to Marseille together and try and figure out where we were supposed to meet up with our professor as a group. That all was pretty easy. I even got this nifty card called a “tickettreize” that allows me to use the Aix bus system for two euros a day. It’s pretty tight.

We got there and made a quick stop at McDonalds for coffee. They asked me if I spoke French and I was just like…uh, I’ve been speaking to you in French this whole time?. I managed to get an espresso. Then, instead of taking the really, really straightforward metro system to the place we were meeting, we decided to save a euro fifty and walk. And by “we” I mean the French girl just started walking out the door. Which was fine, I like walking, but this is where it becomes a story.

So we go walking. We’re all just chatting and being tired and I slowly realize that I have to pee. But I don’t know where the heck that’s going to happen because it’s not like we have time to stop, buy something and use the restroom (because just doing the latter would be really, really rude). So I decided to just wait till we got to the metro we were meeting the class at because that seemed logical to me.

We ended up getting directions to the metro from a very nice African guy who…well he led us to the tram which is exactly the wrong direction from the metro. This, however, was after the time we came across a gated sidewalk place, opened it, and kept walking. Only to get stuck inside some fairly sketch compound that had a security guard on a scooter. He was like…what are you doing? And the French girl was just like “getting over that way” (completely fenced off). He was like “there’s no way you’re getting over that way.” So what does the french girl do? Slips through this little crack between the fences. And we all follow suit. No comment from scooter dude.

Anyway, no bathroom at the metro and we begin our adventure.

It was pretty cool. I didn’t know what to take notes over, but I did count how many people had rolled vs commercial cigarettes when we stopped. The percentage of smokers I didn’t really care about because it’s literally almost everyone. Rolled was much higher percentage. It’s a lot cheaper apparently.

We visited one of the poorest neighborhoods in Marseille which is part of the Euromed project I believe. It was interesting. Lots of immigrants. Coptic Christian church. And huge market. They had live sheep for sale. And warehouses full of sellers. Food, bobbles, junk, antiques, all of it. It was really cool.

It makes me really interested for the first time. What’s going to happen to these people? Should majority rule always be the rule? Maybe it’s better to listen to the people directly affected. Lots of interesting thoughts.

And good tea. Sweetened mint green tea. Good stuff.


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