Est-ce que c'est bien le bus pour Bellecour? The little old lady asked me, curiousity on her face. I tried to explain back that yes, it would go to the center which was indeed Bellecour.
She stared at me behind her large black sunglasses and said, "Anglaise?" I smiled, used to this question and shook my head, "Non, Américaine!".
She paused, I thought perhaps I used too much gusto in the American statement and waited for her to respond. She threw her hands up smiling, "I'm American!... well French Californian!" as if California were it's own country. Her strong French accent led me to believe she was instead a crazy old French lady who was mocking me.
I nodded and said, "that's nice" and was ready to turn to stare at the seat in front of me... except she continued.
Not only did she continue, she talked all the way to Bellecour.
"I moved to California in 1959, can you imagine? I lived there 50 years and had this... how do you say... urge to move back and see Lyon. I am so disappointed with Lyon, it was nothing as I remember. The city has gotten dirty, the people are mean. I love Americans! I think younger French want to go to America... and I understand why."
I nodded and agreed, it was true, French culture was a shock to me... but I love Lyon equally as I do my own city in Oregon. I asked her where she lived in California;
"Well, I don't want to BRAG or anything, but I lived in Beverly Hills... I'm no millionaire but I do have money for an old woman. I had a great life there, Beverly Hills was so wonderful... you know I never took the bus in LA, I drove everywhere... I had this lovely big car. I married a man from IOWA, can you believe it, an Iowan. It was fabulous my life in California... my family. Now be honest, you hate France don't you? I can see it in your eyes! It's okay to admit it, I hate it here too. See? Now Americans are all afraid to say what they think until they realize I understand!"
I just nodded, in a way I didn't like Lyon but in a huge way I did. Our bus got to our stop and she stopped talking, looked over and said, "Well dear, that's our stop.. nice talking to you," and she blows an air kiss and steps off the bus. No exchange
She was probably around 70 years old, visiting her home town... disappointed and feeling betrayed as if she left a dream and came back to nothing.
Adventures in public transportation are so interesting.