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I’m in Bangkok now (it’s hot) and Azure will be coming over in about a week. We’ll then fly directly to Bali, Indonesia, where we’ll spend at least a month, maybe two if we can get our visas extended. After that we fly back to Seattle via Bangkok on February 12. We’ll have a week or so at home, then head to France for Part II of the trip, as it worked well last year.
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Three horses, one erased, Les Tenieres, France. Click to view the photo at Flickr.
I spent four days on my scooter wandering this little region to the north of Tours, France, blown away by the access the scooter was giving me. When I pulled off the main highway onto this tiny road that might as well have been private, these two horses (and a third one erased) were just posing for me. I was realizing the dream of riding a scooter in the countryside with a nice camera and all the time in the world.
Nobody at home knows where I am; nobody here knows who I am.
The night I returned home from three months in Paris I had a dream: I was arriving back in Paris and I said, “I’m back, I’m finally back.”
That winter I woke up in the evening, my roommates were gone for the break and I kept one room warm in the top of the house. Mine was the only light in the neighborhood. I would be awake the whole night, depressed, and during the day I’d sleep and I’d dream, “I’m back, I’m finally back.” I didn’t see daylight for a week.
But things got better, as they do, and I met a girl who I’d known for a year. We secretly danced in the dark under trees. We fell asleep tangled in her bed and then I’d dream about being in Paris, being back, finally back.
I’m sure I studied around this time because I remember walking to German class in the snow and swearing at it for visiting Seattle in March. I took the class because I’d met a German in Paris and schemed to go back and woo her with my painful conjugation of simple verbs. But the scheme faded as the snow melted and I kept waking up tangled with the girl on white sheets, waking from the Paris dream again and again.
I had the same dream, warmer, later in the Spring, after we fought about nothing and I walked home alone, looking up at the trees drip in the rain. We had fought about the world: I thought it was incurably sick, while she was more optimistic, and I slept alone, tangled in sheets in my warm room.
Despite her optimism, we stayed together through the summer. At her cabin we swam in fresh water. I pulled myself up the ladder to lay on the dock in the sun, the boards scratching my chest. We swung in a hammock and slept there together in coins of sunlight, and I dreamed of Paris.
In winter I woke up, untangled, alone, in Paris, I was back, finally back. I descended dark stairs to a wet, stony street and walked in the rain on a bridge. I wandered the Left Bank until I found a hotel and carried my things up dark steps to the desk. A young man smiled and motioned down the hall. I walked down the hall and stopped at a door, behind which she waited, asleep, tangled in white sheets.
We got into Punta del Diablo so late that we couldn’t really tell what the town was like, or even how close to the ocean we were. The next morning I woke up at 6am with the sun and when I stepped outside this man was walking up with his thermos, cigarette and the ubiquitous yerba mate.
To drink it, the Uruguayans fill a gourd with the tea leaves, then pour in hot water. They drink it through a special straw that has a filtered end so it can draw in the tea without taking the leaves. When the tea is gone they pour in more water.
When I saw him I asked if I could take a picture and only really snapped this one shot, the first shot I took in Diablo, and the best.
If anyone from Punta del Diablo is reading this and knows this man, I’d love if you would contact me.
A couple in their Pissos, France home
Bert Teunissen photographs people in their own kitchens and dining rooms in a series called “Domestic Landscapes.” The photos are gorgeous, shot inside by natural light, but they’re also uncomfortably intimate like we’re looking at the inside of a person’s skin, not just their kitchen. Most of the series are shot in Europe (it’s broken up by country on the website) but there’s one series from Japan during which I kept asking, “Why is he shooting these people at a restaurant?” I guess I’ve never been in a Japanese home….
I’ve spent a lot of time in people’s houses as well, but in the US I rarely come across a home that exhibits a personality’s corners the way Teunissen’s European homes do.
The other website I’ve been loving is the David Lynch Interview Project. The filmmaker has sent a team across the US to conduct four-minute interviews with locals and they talk on a variety of subjects, but often about themselves.
While window washing I’ve had a lot of four-minute conversations and though I don’t think such passing glances can give a full picture of a person’s life, it tells you what they want you to hear in four minutes.
I was in India during the tsunami. I was eating dinner with a friend in a restaurant that sat at the top of the beach and we started hearing waves, the Arabian Sea, which was a surprise because it was low tide. People were shouting and I ran to the front of the restaurant to see Indian men knee-deep in water, grabbing chairs and tables as they drifted away. I thought, “How desperate they must be to think about chairs and tables when this is happening!”
The people in the town were spooked because they’d never seen the ocean act like this…
Filed under India, Stories
If there is a god, then why do stupid things happen to smart people?
Azure and I have had plenty of health care encounters abroad, so I thought I’d tell some of the fun stories about how we get treated when we leave our own country.
Chipped tooth, France 2001