May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Nice Route to Paris

Beautiful sky in Paris

Aug  16-Aug 20
My nice pants shrunk.  New hem.
eggs with feathers still on for hostel breakfast
I may add more details to this blog date at some point, but in short, Les and I have been staying with friends and have started the business of couch-surfing; and next we have accepted an invitation to work on a farm through WWOOF in France near the border of Spain and next to the ocean.  I’m looking forward to a more grounding experience for a while.
StayOkay Hostel Aussie Roommate in Amsterdam

Four Dancers
Rita and Pawel
Highlights include staying with Rita in Rotterdam, whom I met at the jam in Amsterdam.  She made a delicious meal (salmon, boc choy, and yummy veggies on delicious unusual very brown rice) and included another choreographer named Bruno, who helped me see myself differently; and along with Pawel, I learned about the arts and politics and squatting, and so much!  I loved being in a home and seeing Rita’s choreography.  Her work was wonderfully surprising, whimsical, exploratory and visceral.  I found myself breathing with her-- waving my spine with her.  Her piece was about a cleaning lady, and she used a vacuum cleaner as her main property.  I loved that she got the real cleaning lady, who shared that same vacuum to clean the rehearsal space, to come to the show so that when she cleans the space, she can think of that dance as she works.  It makes me smile.
This makes water hot for the whole house!

The next day, Rita loaned us bicycles and we cruised the town.  It was very cool to finally BE a part of the Netherlands bike lane.  Everyone rides.

Inside Cube house top floor
We ended up at the cubic houses there.  They and the other new architecture were sure a sight!  Wow big trunks with a tipped cube on top where people lived—the big hostel in town resides there too! 

One funny thing--Les was pleased that he had the correct change for the bus.  He showed the bus driver and the driver nodded.  Then Les proudly put each coin into the ashtray! (the busses he knew long ago had holes you put money in.)  The guy was perplexed, so we fished them out.  Then when Les got the ticket, the man gestured to put it in the validating machine, and Les began to put it in the trash can next to it instead!  Funny.  Gotta be there?
We got on the trains (4 connections with 5 minutes to change) and very soon realized that the 2nd train was delayed 15 minutes and we wouldn’t meet Job on time. 

(Job and Michelle we met in Thailand 8 years ago on a hiking trip in the hill country and haven’t seen them since.)  Only late 10 minutes, he whisked us away to his historic home in Oirschot that he totally modernized inside, with a beautiful garden where his charming 3 children were playing: Rose, Jelle and Kato.  I could go on and on about how sweet the children are, but the funniest moment was when we were sitting outside the ice cream store, Jelle asked with the most sincere face, looking deeply into Les’s eyes, “Les?  Can you make a fart sound with your armpit?”  For the rest of the time there, Jelle and Les were giving raspberries to their own elbows, making fart sounds in the small town’s main square.  We had a meal where delectable things kept coming: barbeque meats of many variety (I love duck!) potatoes with scrumptious herbs, divine salad with arugula and at the last minute guacamole.  It was FANTASTIC to reunite with them again and see the lives they’ve built since their wedding trip.  On the way to the train, the kids sang their own words to “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”  They are sure cute.
Nuriel! Our first couch surfing host in Brugge Belgium!

Look Maureen, Jenn--Lace!
Our next stay was in Brugge, Belgium.  We went indirectly but glided through the countryside until we got there in the late afternoon.  After grabbing a bite, we saw the bus to our host’s home, but they didn’t recognize the name of the stop, so we tried to call him.  We find that in each country, we have a different difficulty with the phone.  We call out a thanks to all the locals of all the world who help us with the proper numbers to call, the right bus lines, for walking us to the block we want to find, and for their fingers that point us in the right directions!  Finally we met our first couch surfing friend, Nuriel!  He picked us up from the stop and took us to his lovely home with a yard where he planted fruit trees and offered us real Belgian Beer!  I loved it, and his stories: growing up in Israel, tribulations on the kibbutz, educational systems, family stories and his life as a tour guide.  Nuriel has a huge wealth of his life, is very charming, and seems to love having connections with people around the world—he travels EVERYwhere, and especially loves Goa, India.  He took us into the heart of Brugge and showed us all around.  It was magical and romantic with the dramatic lighting on the buildings and on the canals.  He told us all about it.  I don’t know how we ended up with so little time there, but…

August 21
…we left in the morning and took a mini tour around the places we visited the night before and soon we were on the train to Paris!

Suzanne (viola) and Jann (chef)

Botchi Ball?
Auuu Paris!  Les and I got to the address of Yann, who welcomed us into his home while his girlfriend Suzanne baked heart-shaped cookies.  Before long, we all went
Old dungeon
for a walk in one of the biggest parks in Paris, talking, listening to drums, seeing a little softball, lots of dogs, and returning smiles of families on this sunny day.  Creeks and water fountains cooled us off, as did a white beer afterward.  
Yann is a French chef!  He hadn’t made sushi for Suzanna, so he made it for all of us.  It was very yummy, with a perfect blend of wasabi, and a nice soy sauce dripped artfully over the plate.  At our own risk, we offered to make them “Mark Morris Rice and Beans” before we left.

In the late morning we breakfasted with Suzanne and set off to see some sights.   

Attitude! Ballet Students!

Nice Dog, eh?
When we got the the Louve, we found out that it was closed for the next day, when we had plans to go, so we quickly bought tickets and went to the Italian/Spanish section.  I didn’t expect to be moved by the Mona Lisa, but I was.  I couldn’t stop staring at her, like when a child looks into my eyes and sees my soul.  There’s a gaze between us that is remarkable.  When I sat down to rest my eyes, I couldn’t get her out of my mind.  What is in that painting of a simple portraiture?  It really intrigued me—and obviously many others, as the crowd was full of pressure (Grrrr).
Les Smooches Mona


of course I had to do it too
Metro by Comedie Francaise

After seeing many of the pieces that Les had seen when he was in his teens and when studying art history (he was jumping with excitement for many of these pieces), we traveled with our 2-day transport card to the Arc de Triumph, saw Les crying at the La Comedie Francaise because they were off for the summer, and walked to Notre Dame at sunset where we found a group of capoeristas playing and singing in that square.  I wished I knew enough to join in; so instead I gave them a tip in their hat.  The lightning and the sky made me breathless—it was gorgeous.  It took a while to locate the place to take the bus 24 back.  I was famished and so we found a little café where I could get a salad.

Our last full day in Paris we spent doing laundry and preparing Rice and Beans for our lovely hosts. 
Laundry Machine
It was funny to figure out the system for washing at a laundry-mat, and we did some grocery shopping while the clothes were washing.  We decided to look for a really big supermarket that might have black beans and a jalapeno pepper.  Every trip anywhere is packed with our questioning people about where to go and confirming our location and direction, and we ask some stupid questions sometimes.  We thought Pont Bercy was on the bus away from Paris, but it wasn’t.  After asking many times the same questions, one woman grabbed my shoulders and turned me to face the other bus stop and kept saying, ”en face!” which I knew from my ballet classes that she said that it’s in front of me.  We asked others, we asked the bus driver, and of course she was right.  Alas, no beans or pepper, so we got red beans and a pepper that was red, round and small.  During the cooking, Les found that the green mild peppers weren’t so mild, so I left out a lot of the spicy stuff.  Though a little bland, folks seemed to enjoy the meal, and we had a lovely last evening with Jann and Suzanne.  Now, on to the FARM!  

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sue!
    It's been so much fun following along with your travels. Jay and I also went to Paris about 5 years ago and loved it even in March! Hope you are having a wonderful time....funny I know right where you are in front of Mona. Keep posting!