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.
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.
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
You have to be pretty cheap to find places like this.
Y’all want to know about our finances anyway. I’ll keep it oblique so there’s still a sense of wonder and enchantment.
Az and I budgeted about 50 Euro per day for us as a couple this winter, which works out to about $1000 per person per month, not including airfare. We spend less traveling than we do at home.
Here’re 20 tips for traveling Europe on the cheap
By Mike Goldstein
“Granite Island: A Portrait of Corsica” is a beautifully written chronicle of Dorothy Carrington’s time in Corsica (which spanned decades). Even after the second world war Corsican peasants were living very much in the same way their ancestors had for centuries. In the following paragraphs Carrington, visiting from London, writes about her experiences living with a Corsican peasant family near Sartene.
“… I had not understood how far my daily load of anxiety was a craving for the things every peasant knows: space, silence, and food that is not stale…
Azure and I agreed that Bonifacio is one of the most spectacular cities we’ve visited – it’s built on a cliff that’s surrounded by water on 3.5 sides and it’s pretty much waiting to fall into the water, as you can see above. From Bonifacio you can see Sardegna, Corsica’s Italian sister to the South. Bonifacio is hundreds of years old, of course, and somewhere up here was found one of the oldest inhabitants of Corsica, a woman whose grave was dated to ~9000 years ago.
We found the town itself to be one of those annoying seasonal towns that’s a shell in the off-season, so there’s nothing to do, nothing that sustains people. Tourism keeps em going the rest of the year, of course, so when we were walking around the town our interactions felt uncomfortably artificial. We were much happier in Sartene where there was a university and some commerce and free wifi only half an hour away.