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Four Month Trip

Introduction   Guadeloupe    A Week in Paris    Morocco     Southern France    Paris Again    Wrap Up   


The attacks in Paris were a terrible thing, but they did not change our plans. In truth, we think that the most dangerous thing we do is take cabs to and from the airport. Especially when it is dark and rainy and the driver talks on his phone the whole time.

We rented out our house to a young couple from Roumania, Martin and Alex.. They both work at the Fornax Bakery and she also works at a Greek restaurant in East Cambridge. We were very happy for them to be in our house.


Paris is a wonderful city. No question there. At the same time, when we were there for three months last spring, I found myself occasionally wishing to escape to some of the beautiful rural areas of France that we love so much. So for this March and April, we returned to the Luberon in Provence where we did a twelve-day hike many years back. We stayed in Goult, a small village that we did not hike through, a town that our friends Jim and Lee fell in love with after their brief stay in Paris last spring.

We re-visited "Les Glycines," Véronique's place in Le Paradou where we spent some time with her and Malek a few years back. Before Malek died, Véronique had bought a small adjacent cottage that they had hoped to turn into a writers' retreat. She still wants to do that, but it takes money, work, and dealing with the worst red tape I know of, that of the French bureaucracy. So we would not only like to visit, but we would also like to help, however possible, in the creation of the Maison Littéraire Malek Alloula.

Things We Did During the Summer and Fall, 2015

Following is a little rumination that I wrote last June, a few weeks after returning from our long trip. I am happy to report that my arm and rotator cuff are much better, although not perfect, so I have been able to return to classes and the gym. Hence I am feeling much more at home in my body. Still, the questions around "home" are worth pondering, and I always welcome responses from you. Some of you have already seen and responded to these thoughts. Thank you.


During the long trip, there were times when I felt “unanchored." I wasn't exactly sure what that meant, but I thought it was something like being “homesick." Even though I have been home for a while, I am still feeling somewhat unanchored which leads me to ask myself,

"What is home?"
Is it the Boston area where I have lived since 1970?
Is it the web of friends and family here that deepens over time, notwithstanding some very sad losses?
Is it this house/garden or the things in it that remind us of our parents?

What am I still missing, even though I am "home?"
Yoga or gym or even Zumba (because my fractured arm is still not ready to do classes)
Teaching in SIM - I was so lucky to have employment, albeit not high-paid, that had meaning for me and was apparently meaningful or useful to others.
Having a dance company with regular rehearsals and a wonderful group of colleagues

These communities are now removed from my daily life schedule, people that I automatically interacted with on a regular basis, people who shared some of the passions that I have, movement, music, art, creativity. Now I have to reach out and make dates with these folks in order to see them.

Also, I imagine that if you have a job that you need to do solely for the income, but it isn't so interesting, that you would look forward to retirement as a chance to do all the things you weren't able to do when working. Wow, was I lucky! I got to travel a lot during my working years, often related to performing or making choreography and video. Don't get me wrong; I am glad I no longer deal with the anxiety around teaching or doing live performance. I am really glad not to be dealing with the ever-increasing administrative burden of teaching in a state art college. I am glad not to be writing grants for Dance Collective and trying to schedule rehearsals...but I guess I miss the camaraderie around teaching, creating, performing, and mentoring with a group of long-time artist/friends.

I have always felt at home when involved in the creative process: choreographing, making videos, or writing. Yet lately these projects seem less frequent. Recently I have been waylaid a bit by recovering from an injury, but I still wonder if, being older, I am less motivated to do the hard work often necessary to pull off a big project. Is that being lazy...or is it appreciating simply "being" as against "producing?"

So what is "home?" I would not mind living more closely connected to Nature, be it the ocean, a lake, or a wildflower meadow out my back door. Nevertheless, I don't see myself living totally isolated from urban culture either. Home is most certainly where Stephen is, and he has proven himself to be very "portable!" My son's family is in the Boston area, but my daughter's is in San Francisco, always a challenging geographic and emotional divide. Often, when I sit down to meditate, I have the feeling that I am coming home, somehow coming home to the present moment wherever that happens to be.

What is home to you? I would love to hear how you reflect on this question.


Guadeloupe 2016

Guadeloupe is over on the right

We can't start at the beginning, because the beginning is now, lying in a gravity chair on our terrace with Dawn in her chair next to me reading "The Mill on the Floss". The clouds are sailing across the sky, appearing from behind the green mountains that lead up to Soufriere, the volcano inactive since 1976, and fading into a gray soup over the Caribbean Sea. So it is time to see how we got here.

It all went smoothly at first. The Lyft driver was interesting. He drove us smoothly to the airport, where as usual we arrived too early but then had time to move stuff from one bag to the other to satisfy Norwegian Air's baggage police. We got off late because the flight crew was in the duty free shops and wouldn't be hurried, but we met a nice guy who sat next to us in the exit row.

Norwegian Air is now flying a non-stop flight from Boston to Guadeloupe on Thursday and Sunday, December to April, when they will take their planes back to Europe. We are staying in Vieux Habitants, a small town on the western side of the western island of Guadeloupe. It takes about an hour to drive from the airport which is at the juncture of the two islands.

Landing, passport control, picking up our bags and even getting our rental car went smoother than expected. We saw the self service gas station for filling up before we return the car across the street from the lot and that is a first. Hopefully this will mean that we are not driving around looking for gas when returning the car in a month. The roads in Guadeloupe are in good shape but they got darker and narrower the further we got from the airport, and since it was an hour's drive, by the time we got to Vieux Habitants, it was 8:30 pm and dark. It turns out that my navigation preparation for this phase was totally inadequate. If Dawn hadn't dug up a cell phone number that I mistakenly thought was Fabrice's in France rather than his father's in Guadeloupe we might have driven around the town until we ran out of gas. First we met a couple of groups of young men, and we asked them to help us find our hosts. Then we drove thru town and on the other side asked another group of young men, who were deeper into their New Years Eve celebration who both gave us good directions that we may have misunderstood, but when we asked the third group to borrow their phone to use our discovered telephone number, we hit the jackpot because we were parked across the street from our hosts' house. In the dark, I got my bearings mixed up and we had passed the intersection a couple of times but looking on the wrong side. Next time we will have the compass out ready for use.

We arrived an hour later than we thought but we were not late for dinner because the traditional meal happens late enough to end with dessert and champagne at midnight. In France this year all official firework events have been cancelled because of the November events in Paris, but there were plenty of private rockets from all over town and Paul, our host added his own two shotgun blasts as part of his own tradition. We were on the balcony and the noise bounced off the ceiling to create one of the loudest noises that I have ever heard.

Yes, it was mighty handy that I knew enough French to ask directions. Each set of instructions got us a little closer. We tried calling the hosts' number from Stephen's phone, but not having a local SIM card yet, it didn't work. Finally I showed a very nice gentleman the phone number in my email. He started dialing and then saw our hosts' name at which point he gestured to the house across the street and said , "well he lives right there!" I have to say that everyone we spoke with, all natives to the island, were gracious and charming and as helpful as they could possibly be to a couple of Americans who had lousy directions and couldn't see in the dark.

Fabrice's parents greeted us as cordially as if we had been right on time. They have a lovely home that he designed and built, with a very modern kitchen that was created according to her specifications. Dinner started with a little rum punch on the deck and some savory canapés. At the formally set table, we had some smoked fish, cucumber, and a shredded orange fruit or veggie that I didn't quite recognize. She made a lovely velouté soup with big shrimp in it, then a stuffed squash dish, chayote. Here it is called christophine. Then we moved on to the langoustine, which I believe is a Caribbean version of lobster. The finishing touch was her children's favorite, a kind of pineapple upside down cake. All was delicious. He had three wines of which we all drank just a taste...the last being champagne with the cake at midnight.

While I brought them some hand-made New England chocolates (thank you, Linda), it felt like a small token, given their generosity. Not only that, she gave us some lovely leftovers for the next day because nothing would be open on New Year's Day either.

We took a couple of pictures the next morning of our little apartment which is underneath Raymonise and Paul's. Because it is on the edge of a steep hill we are still up in the air.

Early Morning
This is the view from the deck at about 7:30 in the morning.
Kitchen window
The kitchen window view
and a view of the kitchen.
The terrace which is really our living and dining room along with yoga and sitting.

So we are well installed and our investigation begins.


What Do We Do All Day?

Assorted Incidents
Deck chairs
In our deck chairs

Rather than plow through the last couple of days, I am going to give an idea of what kind of things occupy our time.
We had a three beach day as we drove up the coast ending up at Malendure, a black sand beach with a view of Pigeon Islands where the Cousteau marine reserve is. There is lots of commerce here involving taking sightseers, divers and snorkelers out to the two islands. There is a shop there that rents snorkeling equipment which we may come back to. There is no hawking of wares here so one can walk through their stalls unmolested. We stopped at a beach side snack shop for a couple of beers and two orders of hand cut fries, $12. Seemed like a good price to me. Our feet were in the sand and a palm frond hung down to shade us from the late afternoon sun. On this side of the island, the Cousteau Reserve one of the biggest attractions and I think there were more locals than Europeans or North Americans.

Before Malendure, we started at Plage de Petite Anse. It is a small blank sand beach with some trees to sit under if you get there early enough. There was a little restaurant that wasn't opened yet. Around here a beer is never very far away. On our way home we drove to the closest beach, Plage Rocroy. It is really small and next to a hotel that has seen better days.
We keep meeting the guys that helped us our first evening. The first time outside the local Superette where we get some supplies, like a six dollar bottle of Bordeaux. Dawn recognized him, the second was outside our house when a handsome man stopped his car on a very steep hill to say hello and say that this was the corner that he had sent us to.

Because of the holiday and the following weekend, many stores have been closed when we have gone by, but now the are opening. We got a baguette at the bottom of the hill and stayed for a cup of espresso. The butcher next door was still closed but we found another in town and although he was also closed he had a sign with his hours on it. There was also a guy parked by bread place with a large bag of cucumbers and a trunk stuffed with lettuce. As we drive along the coast we see a lot of small farms. His lettuce was probably grown within a mile of its sale.

On New Years Day, we decided to take a little walk rather than get in the car again. This place reminds us of a combination of Guanajuato, Mexico and Southern France. We have a fabulous view, over hills, some houses, to the mountains from one side of our deck, like Guanajuato, but on the other side we see the Caribbean Sea! I must say that I like the heat and humidity here. My system seems to function better close to sea level rather than at 6500-6800' elevation like we had in Guanajuato. So far, Guadeloupe seems more prosperous than many parts of Guanajuato, although there are occasional moments of trash heaps, dead cars, and run-down shacks. For example, our hosts have a very prosperous lifestyle. It IS France politically, actually an outre-mer (overseas) département. While we love to buy as much local produce as possible, we can also buy French wine, some of our favorite cheeses, and go to boulangeries, etc.

Ever since my "chute" (fall) in Paris when I fractured my arm and messed up my rotator cuff, I have been pretty mindful of my walking. In Paris it was a broken step that tripped me. Here I got caught by a little hole in the street when I had the audacity to be looking at my surroundings instead of at my feet. Down I went in a flash, hurting my foot and my thumb, but thank heavens I am feeling almost totally recovered two days later. This kind of thing just makes me feel like a little ole lady which I guess I am but haven't quite adjusted to the concept yet. I am back to doing yoga on the deck, with a view of the sea. Not too shabby.

We meditate. Every morning. We now have no excuse. A thought bubbled up at the end of a session. Could we not accomplish anything? Seems weird, but it still leads to lots of activity. Also, from David Appel we got, "Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda, StarWars -The Force Awakens. I really like this. Trying really brings in the future when being in the present is where all the fun is.
There is writing this travelogue. It takes almost as long to write about something as it does to do it.
Stretching and yoga. My back wants a lot of attention. Getting out for a walk every day.
Talking, pondering.
Finding, buying, cooking and eating food.
Getting to the beach.
Things I haven't even started:
Working on my poems and continue studying French.

So, it turns out that we do nearly the same things that we do at home except in a different language and a different temperature.

Dawn at the Beach
Dawn at the Grande Anse Beach

One more beach, Plage de Grande Anse. An hour away, the road is twisty and turning with many ups and downs. Different colored sand, a kind of pink. At noon, everyone goes in for lunch.


Some Hikes, Wildlife & Dancing
Are We in France?

Dawn on Trail Stephen:
We hiked today on a short trail marked "facile". It was until we got to the part with the knotted rope tied between two trees that was needed to get up and down the final part to the river which turned out to be too high to walk in to go up the ravine to see the waterfall. We don't know what this means for the trails to the volcano marked "difficile". Will they be too difficult for us?

About that trail...it was in a rain forest and it had been raining all morning. Something that would indeed be pretty easy when dry was a slippery, deep, muddy affair when we hiked it. Actually the road to get to the trailhead was even more challenging! But the dense, green foliage and sound of roaring water was worth it. Of course I neglected to pack my hiking boots for this trip, so I am just using my good sneakers.
Stephen on Trail
Nearby is a photo that has a sign, with "You are Here" inside a green circle. It was at the parking spot for the hike. I am not sure what is going on. Is the white part the remainder of a real sign with the rest just being hand drawn? The red part is the hiking trail, the dark gray lines are the roads, well made, but up here some of them are exactly one car wide.

Map It would have been nice to find a nice place to have lunch, but the rain that had held off during our hike came down again in torrents, making it impossible to wander around looking for a restaurant. So we headed for the Super U market on the way home to stock up on fruits and vegetables, cheese and wine with some sausage.

(I am now answering, sort of, the question, have we found any good French wine?)

Yes, there is a lot of good French wine here. We are currently exploring the twenty or so Rosés that are on the shelves of a place like the Super U starting at about $3.50 and going up to $15 a bottle. This is where I get to say "But, this IS France", but also admit that it is, but not exactly. One of the guys sitting outside the Superette in town said, "I love my country, I love Guadeloupe". He didn't say France. And in the markets they always distinguish the origin of the product by country, France, Spain, Morocco, or Guadeloupe as a country. But then there are the rotaries and the guys in their green uniforms hosing or blowing the streets clean and the construction crews repairing roads. I have to finish with the baguettes. We have gotten them from a few different sources now and haven't found the classic baguette whose crust makes that wonderful crackling sound when you break it. But it is respected. Today at the market, Dawn hesitated to put it down on the belt because it is not totally wrapped up. When she started to put it on some of our stuff, the woman said, "Vous pouvez garder la baguette", you can keep the baguette. No one thinks it should be put down, or I guess broken. (or "contaminated" - DK)

After the hike today, we have come home for a couple of light rum cocktails of Dawn's design and are getting ready to go down into town for dinner. We are trying to find the place that was described in the reviews of our place a couple of weeks ago by a couple from New York. A corner on Route National 1 is the main descriptor, but we have decided that it is a place that we walked by the other day where a guy was outside grilling up a large batch of chicken. When night comes, I think it will be a garage lit with fluorescent light but the couple raved about the four euro grilled chicken and the one euro rum drinks. We may walk over to the river road to find out where the music that plays until ten PM comes from.

The line at the window for the grilled chicken was really long, a good sign. We were standing behind a pair of young-ish white women, speaking English. We have only seen one or two other white folks in this particular town, and hearing the English, Stephen asked where they were from. The answer was "Boston," They had flown in on Norwegian Air the night before and were only staying until Sunday. So after a long wait and a potent "pour it yourself" rum drink, we all sat together at one of the four tables in the little bar. The guys were all very friendly. When people entered the bar and saw us at the table, they invariably said "Bon appetit," even when our plates held nothing but the bone remains of our excellent grilled chicken that was only 3.5 Euros for a half chicken. The woman who managed the bar thought it was great that we were all four from the same distant city but had only met five minutes ago, here in Gwada, as the Creoles call Guadeloupe. It turns out that we did have some friends in common as one of the women taught at BC. Our new friends took off to drive the twisty coast road up to Bouillante in the dark to their Airbnb place. I did not envy them that drive as we walked up the steep hill to our place. Since we don't have an oven or broiler here, we will definitely return to this place for more grilled chicken.

Have you ever been to a seashore where there are no seagulls? Here we are on an island, surrounded by the sea everywhere, and there are no gulls, none trying to eat your fruit on the beach or tearing apart garbage or diving for fish. Instead we are treated to flocks of elegant egrets soaring overhead or below us as they flew up the river valley. Before I have mostly encountered these beautiful birds only as waders, but here they seem to be as common as gulls but without the pesky behavior of their avian relatives. Of course, we have pelicans. They are huge and a bit threatening when you happen to be lolling about in the warm Caribbean Sea, and a flock of them circle and dive-bomb straight down to catch their prey near us. As long as they don't see me as a fish, I guess I am okay.

We also have some small, dark birds, almost wren-like that dart around our terrace with no fear, picking up crumbs. Occasionally they fly right into the apartment. One practically flew into me as I entered and he was exiting. There are no screens here to inhibit their comings and goings; screens would be a luxury I would really appreciate as the mosquitos always find me a delicious meal. We do have mosquito netting over the bed at night, but those critters like to take little drinks from me all day long.

I love watching the little lizards dart about on the terrace or on our walls inside. They eat bugs, so they are welcome. However, one day down at the beach we saw an Iguana that must have been as long and big as Stephen's leg. He was a swift and camouflaged tree climber with sharp claws and pointy teeth. Although I don't think they are interested in humans unless threatened, this fellow was a mighty imposing creature and made me think that I should be looking up in the trees more often.

As I write, a bee just flew in the kitchen window. I can't imagine what he is looking for here as there are multitudes of blooming flowers outside, just asking for pollination. Yes, it is January, and the island is in raucously colorful full bloom. That is the most astounding thing for me about going to warm climes in the winter...how green, lush, and colorful everything is when I know how grey and drab Boston looks right now. You can almost watch some of these big blossoms unfurl in near time-lapse fashion.

Last night, I walked a few yards up the hill and across the street to a community center where I took a class in "danse traditionelle." The warmup and cool-down were kind of Zumba like, but the class itself seems to be about putting together a piece of choreography. Nothing was terribly difficult to do except for squatting on one's heels with knees on a gritty, hard, tile floor and jumping on that floor, both of which I pretty much declined to do. I guess I could wear sneakers next time to give me some cushioning, but I am already conspicuous as the oldest, and whitest, person in the class! It is a nice group, mixed in age and gender, and it does indeed feel good to dance. The live drumming is a plus as well. Zumba classes start next week which I may try since sneakers are usually worn in Zumba. I came home dripping, popped in the shower, and enjoyed a "Jamaica Mule" cocktail and a nice dinner that Stephen had prepared.


The first thing about this hike is at every view spot there is a bench with a placard that teaches you how to make a watercolor of the view. Each location has a different emphasis, how to shade, in what order to do things, how to crosshatch to reveal steepness.

We were warned that the hard part would be getting down to the sea level from the road. It turns out that the steps were repaired and a new handrail put in so it was easy.
Stephen on Trail

The three photos show the route, (Parking P to P), the cloudy day over Stephen which was fine because there were stretches without any shade, and the beautiful little cascade and pond where we took a little swim just after we turned around to come back.
You can see that the sun had come out for the dip.

Afterwards, we navigated into Trois Riviéres for a couple of beers with a view of the ocean and Les Saintes before our drive home.


Idle Thoughts and Moments
In No Particular Order

We watched a flock of birds a couple of miles away from our terrace/living room. They had found an updraft over a ridge and were circling higher and ever higher. They were also moving away from us and seemingly up toward the peaks. As they got smaller and smaller, they became the smallest things in my field of vision, certainly smaller than the little black dots that float around in my eyes once in a while and maybe being registered by a single cone in my retina. Eventually, they surprised me and wheeled away in a straight glide to the west or south. I couldn't quite tell.

Other smaller birds including dark colored hummingbirds use our terrace as a cut through to get around the house. Something flew under my chest one day when I was stretching forward with straight legs and a straight back standing on Dawn's yoga mat.

Raymonise and Paul came downstairs for lunch on our terrace the other day. They own the house in whose apartment we are staying. Table We started with smoked fish (salmon and swordfish) on cucumber slices (thank you Ann B.A. for that idea-DK) and tomatoes, followed by two recipes of my own creation. One, turnips, carrots, onions and fennel cooked in ginger beer and served room temperature; the other, small cubes of beef braised with star fruit in freshly squeezed orange juice. Wasn't bad. We ended with a salad with Dawn's vinaigrette. There was also some sharing of grandchildren pictures, and we showed them our Irish video Cottage on the Ipad as we finished up.

Fruit Tree Stephen:
Yes, we probably talk too much about food. Skip this paragraph if you are not interested. The star fruit comes from Raymonise and Paul's trees in the yard. The ones out back are more acidic and went well with the beef. The tree out front yields a very sweet fruit; we have to compete with the birds to get any. Let's talk about tomatoes. If you are a New Englander, you know how rare, and expensive, a vine-ripe tomato is, even in August. We are eating local, ripe, inexpensive and delicious tomatoes...in JANUARY! The local cukes and avocados are great too, although the avocados are quite different from the Haas variety we are used to. They are bigger, greener, and have a huge pit. I enjoy making a Gwada version of Guacamole, even without Cilantro which they don't seem to have here. Cheese? Well we are in France, after all. We bought three nice cheeses for our lunch with our hosts, but they declined to have any. When we were at the market, I asked if cheese was made on the island. The answer was, "non." Not quite sure why because there are goats everywhere, on cliffs hanging over the sea, climbing on trucks in people's yards, running around town as well as in the rural places. They may only raise them for meat as "cabri" is something we often see for sale. There are also plenty of cows. Maybe it is too hot for cheese-making here? Well the good news is that we can get our fave goat cheese, Cabecou, as well as a nice entre-deux Cantal and St. André at prices here that are much better than in Roslindale.
In the last 20 years or so, Gwada has had an historical concern with the history of slavery here, now having a UNESCO "Route des esclaves." I am interested in the history but don't really want to visit former slaves quarters on sugar, coffee and banana plantations. The original population was Amerindien, and there are some rock carvings dating from their era. We will try to write more about a group called Voukoum that is going back to African roots for traditions and as a means to honor their slave ancestors. They do a kind of alternative Carnavale event including cracking large whips as they walk in the streets to honor their ancestors' suffering and to be deliberately intimidating. One Sunday, Stephen and I researched where they would meet and walk. After three hours of looking and walking around the city of Basse Terre, we saw their event from the distance. The whip cracking is followed by fast marching to a military style of drumming. Look them up online if you want to know more
I am pretty sure that the French were the only European colonialists on this island, although I just read that the small, now charming islands of Les Saintes, went back and forth between the English and French several times. Unlike so many of the African colonies, Gwada became a French département instead of becoming independent. This means that they are French citizens and get support from the French government as well as the presence of institutions like the Gendarmerie and la Poste. I assume they must pay the same tax rate as the Metropole (European) French do to get those good benefits.


From the naturalist point of view, this island, Basse Terre, is much greener and less developed than Grande Terre which has gorgeous white sand beaches but a continuous strip of commercial development. This island has the National Forest and volcano so it is very green and mountainous. Our poor little rented Renault Twingo has a hard time getting up some of these twisty 10-degree steep roads! Also the Cousteau underwater park that we hope to snorkel in soon is on this side. (sulphur and iron laden tepid natural baths)

The morning after I took a hot, challenging Zumba class, we attempted to climb La Soufriere, the volcano. This is a great exercise in being present. With its wet, slippery rocks and muddy paths, you need to focus on what is underfoot. I still need to work on fear as the final ascent, steep and in rain and clouds with low visibility put me off so we didn't go. The photo on the left shows the hikers ahead of us.
Dawn on soufriere

Stephen would have done it if he were alone, but he turned around with me. About ten years ago a landslide wiped out the road to the original parking lot. Now you have to park at the Bains Jaunes (sulphur and iron laden tepid natural baths)

and climb another 500 feet to get to where the hike used to begin. And we had to park the car on the road another ten minutes and 100 feet lower. The forecast was good so the trail was packed with hikers of all ages and fitness levels. Even though we got one photo of Stephen in front of a non-cloud covered peak, by the time we got to that last approach, it was rainy, foggy and windy as usual up there.

We were both startled to see a young woman coming down the trail with a babe-in-arms and a four-year-old tagging along. We have no idea how far up she had gone.
The trail that they made to replace the destroyed road was beautifully made with cobblestones. Since it was not raining, it was not slippery underfoot.

We made a quick stop in at the Hyper Casino for cheese, milk and rosé. To minister to our legs, we hit the beach for a swim and then to watch the sunset.

Parking availability determines a lot of what we do. We didn't know how far we were away when we parked for Soufriere, so we continued. But, the other day after investigating snorkeling rentals at a shop at Malendure beach with an empty parking lot at 8:30 in the morning, we returned another day at ten to find no parking anywhere in the lot or on the road, so we returned to our local beach for a swim and a book read and lunch at Ginette's, one of the two beach side restaurants. Cold beer, a couple of plates of interesting food. My smoked chicken friscassé was amazing. I am not sure I have ever had smoked chicken.

We are getting up earlier now to enjoy the sun, around six thirty. We make plans but something else happens about half the time, a skill we have been cultivating.

Dawn in Pool
We found this little pool at the end of a hike which we couldn't complete because the water was too deep to ford.

We tried to use this picture to entice a friend to come visit us. The moon is becoming full and helps light our evening meal.


More Moments & Changing Continents

Lamp Lit Sink
The headlamp above the sink in order to do the dishes

Thank you Laird for the headlamp. We tend to live in the dark down here so that we don't have to deal with too many bugs. At dinner on the terrace we bounce the headlamp off the ceiling along with a candle in the hurricane lantern when we need to see the food we are eating. Deep Pool Lately,we have been able to eat by moonlight as the moon has been rising in all its fullness to light our evening meal. We live in a simple place with just an overhead light in the middle of the kitchen. We brought in my bedside lamp to put on the little side table, but even that attracts too many bugs. So hanging the headlamp off the cupboard handle to light the center of my sauté pan made cooking the beef tournedos an easy task and they ended up being the best beef I have ever eaten in French territory. After dinner, Dawn hung it above the sink to do the dishes. Then there is putting the garbage out on Sunday night, which entails walking down to the end of the drive and opening the electric gate to dump our bag in the container. Easy work with a headlamp.

We hiked to the Bassin Bleu. We actually got to it, but it started to rain so we didn't swim, but we drove home around the southern tip of Basse Terre and looked at another beach called Grande Anse down there. A rough beach by Caribbean standards with pretty big waves coming in, but in a nice area.
Dawn and Raymonise

We have to jump ahead. We now are in Paris, leaving behind a very comfortable Gwada for a cold, gray and wet Paris. We won't write about our tour of Grande Terre or Les Saintes. Ask us about Memorial Acte, a new museum in Pointe á Pitre about the history of slavery. It took us a long time to get there and we had to leave a little early to get to the airport through rush hour.
Paul was not there when we left, but we did get a picture of Raymonise and Dawn.

Flying North to Paris for a Week

I will write about our flight. We flew Air Caraïbes, in a kind of premium economy. It was the first time that I have gotten on a plane and turned left. Not so far left as to walk into first class, but into our own section of maybe 50 passengers. As perhaps mentioned before, I did not get seat reservations early enough for Dawn and I to sit together, but a nice woman at check in gave us half a solution which Dawn completed by switching seats with the nice woman who had been ticketed for the seat between our new seats. I won the prize in that there was no seat in front of me. Although, I had no place to put stuff on the floor in front of me, nor a seat back compartment, I had unlimited leg room. We both got hot towels and free mini iPads for reading magazines and newspapers and we drank wine and champagne out of real glasses with an extra pour from our handsome and sweet steward. These perks have me rethinking my choice of cabin when I fly across the Atlantic. We loved the extra seat incline. From Guadeloupe, it is over an eight hour flight with one less time zone. So after dinner, I pushed back my seat and went to sleep and excepting a couple of forward bends to stretch my back, I didn't wake up until breakfast. My best crossing yet. Next time, I will have to give the good seat to Dawn.
I never do really sleep on airplanes in spite of the aforementioned perks from the Guadeloupe travelogue. And what a contrast from warm, green, blooming Gwada to cold, rainy, gray Paris! However, a nice nap, shower and shampoo perked me up, and we went over to the Centre de Danse du Marais to see our friends' performance and celebrate her birthday afterwards with cake and champagne. The dedicated travelogue reader may remember that it was this place where I took a few classes last spring with Maggie, the Graham aficionado, before breaking my arm, and it was she and her husband who hosted our video-showing there.
The Four of Us
The place was packed with friends and families of the student performers. It was really sweet that some of the young students I had known briefly from last spring recognized me and gave me the French greeting. After some very technically challenging and well-executed pieces performed by students, both modern and ballet, Maggie and Ghislain performed themselves...a very humorous version of "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!" After that, we all danced up a storm. The evening was a lovely island of warmth and art in a city that has been so stressed in the last year.

Sunday we had lunch with our dear old friends Isabelle and Jean. Then we all went off to a suburban theatre in Sceaux (where we had seen Anna Teresa de Keersmaker years back) for a stunning performance of A Winter's Tale by an English group called Cheek by Jowl. Click on the link for more details of the company. The king is so paranoid, crazy, jealous and murderous in the first section, that the melodramatic performance put me off. It IS Shakespeare of course, so the poetry is always beautiful, even if I sometimes had to read the projected subtitles in French in order to understand the accented Elizabethan English! However, the second half was brilliant and created a perfect balance with the first. Stephen and I were both in tears by the end, with the bizarre family reunion and the redemptive power of repentance and forgiveness.

So in less than forty-eight hours, we experienced two fascinating performances and saw four close friends and some other folks that we had met last spring. While I have yet to see a single patch of blue sky and while this city has had a rough year, Paris is still alive and vibrant, filled with art and creativity, learning and life, and good people. Yes, Stephen, it is always good to return to Paris.

Stage Stephen:
The energy of a post performance dance party in Paris is the same as the ones I participated in the decades ago in the United States. Exuberance mounted upon bravado. Young dancers love to strut their stuff. It brought back memories.

The Shakespeare was great. We got the last two seats at $22 apiece having to wait for all the reservations to be handed out and were ushered quickly into the theater before the performance began. The view was good, although a little from the side. That big white box in the back of the stage turned, blew open and served up one dramatic effect after another.

Jussieux Our friend, Lena, has reminded us that this year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Coming out of the theater, I wondered why we were still watching his plays. First, they are good, second, scholars love them, and a new idea I had is that he was an actor and he wrote for actors and I think there have always been actors who want one of those big juicy roles. Tonight, the play was done in what I think of as the international style. Plenty of action. Plenty of physicality to communicate alongside the words. There is a language to be learned, the characters demand you pour your whole being into them. It is the actors and actresses who won't let us take him out of the repertory.

Today we have had a coup of sorts. After returning from two electronics stores empty-handed in our quest for a wifi router (Mifi), I went online and managed to get amazon.fr to deliver one the the copy shop downstairs in our building. It should arrive on Wednesday. Actually, Amazon did all the work, having thousands of drop-off spots in Europe available for their deliveries. I just had to figure it out.

So all I have to do is send this out after I add this shot out our window of Place de Jussieux. In the summer the tree will totally block it.

Dawn remarked yesterday that in the last five years we have been to Paris many more times than to New York City. For me, I know Paris better. I can get around on the Paris Metro easier than the subways of New York. It is much more expensive to get here, although once we are here the city is cheaper to live in. We know more people here.

We are back in the fifth. We found a place on Airbnb from Manu with lots of light that we felt we needed in the middle of winter. It has a great location. We can easily get to the places we need to get to.

Curie This map is posted on the wall of our apartment. Manu works for Google in San Francisco and you can see that mostly he expects English speakers. You can see the "You are here" red button below the yellow university (Madame Curie-She won two and her family five, Nobel Prizes. Think about that the next time you hear a Polish joke, or a blonde joke because she was blonde.) I think walking back from Notre Dame is around 15 minutes. We kind of sauntered and stopped on a Sunday night to pick up a bottle of wine at a Carrefour Express that was open. The little shops in Paris are very inviting. Some don't have doors.

Our apartment has a Roomba, but I don't thing it is turned on because it never cleans. My technology life is so full that I haven't even bent over to see if there is an on switch. Yesterday the Wifi Router arrived downstairs and I set it up and connected our three devices to it. It is for Essaouira where our apartment won't have wifi. When I get to Morocco I will buy a data SIM card and that will allow us internet access both in the apartment and on the street as it is battery powered. I will get a card for France when we get back. It will be useful for navigation. Of course the iPad did not hook up to the network. It turned out to be a problem with one of the last updates. The workaround is to go to Settings>Privacy and turn location off. That worked, and location turned itself back on. For me, technology is research and workarounds. The only way to blind copy to a large group, for instance the travelogue, is to send a copy from Pages turned into a PDF to Dawn by email, then forward it to the group. When I tried just to send it directly, the bcc: was not available. The addresses themselves come from Numbers where the spreadsheet adds in the necessary sideways carats and commas.
To store the PDF's on Amazon S3 to place them on our website I have to upload them to Dropbox because that is the only way that an iPad can make the transfer. But we love the iPad, enough so that we will get another before our next trip because with all the research, reading, writing and staying in touch, one is not enough.

We went to the Bourdelle Museum to kind pop in before our tea with Isabelle. We knew nothing of the artist, but it would be open during lunch and would fit our schedule. He had worked with Rodin for a few years before going out on his own to emphasize monumental and outdoor sculpture. For me, I find these artists' studios set up as they were when the artists were alive to be intriguing. The studio itself feels like a collaborator. Their temporary exhibit was having their tour directors give their tours as if they were Rhodia, Antoine Bourdelle's daughter, who had lived for many years with her father in this place.

Ah, and this morning, we have blue sky! It is the first time we have seen anything other than gray/white skies in four days, this being our fifth day here. We spent a couple of hours with Isabelle yesterday trying to figure out the best timing and transportation for her visit to Essaouira. Then we went to our old haunt, the Petit Cardinal, for a drink with Pascal. He is pretty discouraged about the state of affairs in Europe, what with the refugee problems and deep cultural differences, the Isis fanatics, and his view that the Paris police are incompetent, e.g. they were pitifully slow in their response to the debacle at the Bataclan in November. It is a complex world, and we are always trying to see the beauty and goodness in it, yet we do keep our eyes open and take care to stay out of harm's way.

Flags1 Flags2

In fact today on our way to see our friend at Le Voyageur, we walked through the area where the two restaurants were attacked. There are strings of what appear to be prayer flags all over that neighborhood. One of the restaurants, Le Petit Cambodge, is totally closed down. The other, on the opposite corner, appears to be still operating, Le Ca Rillon, I believe. It is such a calm little corner, it is awful to imagine the chaos that happened on November 13.

We returned to Le Petit Cardinal to meet with Bruno, the artist whose studio we went to last time to see his work, but he forgot about us so we will try again Friday night. But now we are in Le Voyageur having a coffee after having lunch at Piccoli Cugini, an Italian restaurant owned by Pascale's husband where we thought that she was going to leave the scarf for Dawn that Dawn had left in the apartment last spring. But as we waited scarfless outside deciding what to do, she rode up on her bicycle with her young daughter and delivered it. So now we have the scarf and are finishing our coffees.

As we walked toward le Voyageur, we both had private fears that le patron, Mohmmed, would not remember us. It had been nine months since we had been there, a couple of Americans, one with a broken arm, the other a kind of mute. We were greeted with a roar from the back of the room as he came forward to embrace us with kisses as prodigal children. Dawn at Voyageur What followed was an hour or so of catching up, with much teasing about our forgetfulness, first of the name of the woman who works at the bar, Isma and then about the wifi code and then about my lack of speech. Our request to learn a few words of Moroccan Arabic began a long discussion of the nature of translation, all while he was "talking" in sign language to a young man who was deaf and mute. This wasn't the only thing happening. A man came in with a portable mixer and there was much discussion as the box was opened and it was tested. Another man came in and there followed some business transaction that I could not figure out.

Dawn pointed out to me as I was writing this section that we seem to be the only non-North Africans that we have ever seen in the place. There was a single woman at the bar when we arrived. She joined in the conversation and when she had finished her coffee, she paid and left.

(As she was leaving, she continued the joke that Mohammed had started about keeping Isma's name a secret by saying, "Shh, don't worry, I won't tell anyone." DK)

This is a place "Where everybody knows your name". Everyone is a regular. But this is the way of much of the world. A place like Boston can be a gathering of transients. We have lunch or a coffee in a restaurant where we don't know anyone. In our part of the world, we move for education, for business opportunities, for a prettier neighborhood or perhaps a better view. When I was growing up, I was expected to move away after college. Some people can re-create a village when they move, others find it hard. So, Le Voyageur is creating a village local, a village of travelers united by language, religion and culture. Even the name hints at its function, to be a home for travelers.
Ai Weiwei, a renowned artist from China had work displayed at Bon Marché, a very upscale Department store in the 7th arrondissement of Paris.
sculpture in window
On Thursday, we went to see it with Isabelle. We started inside with the the hanging pieces that were in the four story tall gallery which is the main room of the store and progressed outside to the 10 store windows outside the building. The lines in the window photo are some electronic glitch. No on else's camera showed the lines which were rolling when I lined up the shot.

Thursday night, we met our friend Amy at her studio, Le Regard du Cygne, had a pizza together and saw an absurdist theater piece called "Home," although it was performed in French by two women who seemed to need to get rid of all their stuff and then decided that the spare space was "too masculine." They also shared birthday cake with the audience, got us on stage for a group photo, invited us to dance, and left a mess onstage...perhaps implying that it was our job to clean it up.

I got some of the French, especially when they repeated something many times, but I never got the jokes. But their physical performance was very good. They really had control of their characters. The pizza made it two Italian dinners in a row. Afterwards we got to see Amy's wonderful house on the outskirts of Paris, yes, a real house with a walled in garden. All of it holding its many secrets seen over the many days of its existence.
The poster from "Home"
with Bruno and Pascal
With Pascal and Bruno
Bruno did remember us on Friday and in fact, changed the plan and invited us to his studio where, with Pascal, we drank a bottle of champagne. It was fun and relaxed and I even tried to tell some stories. We will return and take our bargaining skills learned in Morocco and see if we can get one of his nice little paintings for our kitchen.

We did not get a painting. Maybe next time. But now we are off to Morocco.


Marrakech - Jumping in

Yoga leg
Dawn doing Yoga on the roof
Yoga arms
Dawn doing Yoga on the roof
Writing on the roof
Sun setting from the roof
I am writing from the roof top terrace of the Riad al Rimal. It is getting dark, Dawn did some yoga and then a hot tub. I can smell someone's dinner being cooked. Two Muezzins have sung their call to prayer. It is a magical place. We got here, after the taxi dropped us off by being led by Shakeel through a maze of streets and tunnels, narrow enough that people had to step aside for him to pass rolling Dawn's suitcase. My navigational skills will be challenged.

Before that we spent half the time that we spent flying standing in line first at Orly passport control and then in the same line at Marrakech airport. More care is being taken. I heard a few months ago that the airport at Orly is controlled with a system using Windows 3.1. Don't know it that extends the security, but the computers were slow. We made the flight by 5 minutes and got yelled at by the gate staff for our not pushing forward in the passport line when our flight time neared.

We had arranged to have dinner at the Riad our first night. We ate in the dining room because it was not quite warm enough to eat upstairs on the roof. We do eat breakfast there as soon as the sun hits the tables.

Jemma al Fna
Jemaa al Fna, Unesco World Heritage Site

We have unusual warmth for this time of year here in Marrakech, low 80's in the afternoon, cooling way down at night to near fifty. The Marrakech medina is a chaotic warren of small, often covered streets, the big plaza Jemaa al Fna, and souks where everything is hawked and sold from spices to rugs to jewelry to hardware, food, clothes and plastics! Pedestrians, bikes, donkey carts, horse drawn carriages, motorcycles and cars going in all directions at once, although no cars go in the small streets. It is very easy to get lost in the souks! It is exhausting, but fascinating...snake charmers, drummers, guys with monkeys on their shoulders, musicians abound. Pedestrians seem to be lowest on the right-of-way ladder. Anything with wheels has priority, and the more powerful and noisy the motor, the more right-of-way claimed. I have seen some very close calls with motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians at the corners of these narrow streets. We have learned to step aside.

The Riad is a real oasis of calm. (Thank you, Micki, for the recommendation.) Breakfasts on the roof deck are sumptuous with lots of fruit, yogurt, crêpes, jams, bread, the best freshly squeezed orange juice, and café au lait in bowls. We do have to share a bit with the birds and bees, but if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have fruits at all. In fact, we didn't even have dinner last night or this evening, but we are currently sitting in the little living room area with a very nice bottle of Morrocan Cabernet Sauvignon and a plate of olives.
Nightcap at the Riad
Bedroom door
View of Courtyard from our room

As I am sure you all know, Muslims do not drink alcohol. Most of the cafés and restaurants in town have only alcohol-free beer and mocktails on the menu. The "wine of Morocco" is thé à la menthe, a very sweet green and mint tea drunk by all North African Muslims. It is delicious, and we consume it often. However, apparently a riad that has European or non-Muslim clients can keep a small stock of wine and beers for in-house clients only. I am not sure who is actually making these wines; our server misunderstood my question, but they are quite good.

Some also say that thé à la menthe is the whisky of Morocco. The guides in the museums also get around quickly to talking about the four wives that they are allowed to have. Two of our waiters have had brothers working in Boston, one at a Kentucky Fried Chicken and one at Logan airport. Stories get told.

(Polygyny, or multiple wives, has been restricted by the state in Morocco since 1958, but apparently it is still done occasionally. Check out Wikipedia for an interesting discussion and history of the subject, including Muslim feminists' points of view. DK)

Much here is not what it seems to be. In fact, this is probably true everywhere we go and maybe even when we stay home. "Street Smarts" are developed as a survival mechanism but they are likely overdeveloped, so it easy to compartmentalize people into the good guys and bad guys, strangers and friends. Boston street smarts don't always apply here.

I have been trying to engage all the people that some tourist guides tell you to avoid. The guys selling really cheap lanterns on Jemaa al Fna put out a cluster of the candle lit lanterns. From afar at night are beautiful and draw you in, but close up, not so good. They want to bargain, talk about price, I tell some of them I wouldn't take it if they gave it to me. That doesn't stop them, they just continue bargaining on. This is not new phenomenon. Marrakech has been a market town for a thousand years and once a place draws a crowd the hustlers are never far behind. The henna ladies are a little different. They like to grab a hand and draw tattoo designs before you can pull away. If they can get some ink on you then they try to make you pay. They can be persistent. I had to tell one woman, "Do not touch my wife". That seemed to work.

Our first experience with the street life was the worst, mostly because we didn't understand the dynamic. We got involved with a guy before we had any money to pay him for his services which, of course, were minimal and full of lies. As we walked away, he yelled at us, reversing all the complements that he had lathered on Dawn.

We began looking for jewelry for Dawn and became intrigued with a simple silver Berber collar. In the first shop, we spent a half an hour talking about Marrakesh, the state of the world, the need for tourists to come to Morocco, and his assertion that we are all descended from Adam and Eve and thus all connected.. He mentioned the four wives again and how they had to be treated "democratically," and how one was enough for him. He gave us a price of 650 dirhams, a little over $65 dollars and not to be negotiated. We had nothing to compare it to, and we didn't have that many dirhams with us, so we said we would come back. True to his word, he didn't yell at us, just gave us his card. He is the one who taught me Inch'Allah, which means Allah be willing, a good thing for us to remember as we make all these plans about tomorrow or next week or month. They are just dust in the wind.

Well anyway, we go down the same little street for fifteen minutes and find a young guy with what we think is the same collar. He starts off at 1150 dirhams and he insists on having us give him our price. We say 500 and he accepts it after doing some weighing and calculating to a result of 675. But we are not serious about this and we leave taking his card after he wrote 500 on it. He really wanted a deposit but we say no.

A day later, we go to an Artists' Complex. Here there is no bargaining and saw nearly the same piece for 750. We have been shown marks that we really can't see. People have been weighing right and left, because silver is sold by weight and we now have arrived at the nub of the situation. What is value? It's resale value? As jewelry or metal? It's sentimental value as being made by a mountain tribe of silversmiths? As a bargain (maybe)? Its symbolic value as a gift of love? Its beauty? We haven't bought it yet. Who knows if we will. I started mostly to practice bargaining. As I told one guy, I only buy stuff that I fall in love with.

I got a comment back from one of our readers that I lost someone in my technology talk and I think that was my aim, words as scat, so I won't go over buying a SIM card for my router. Took me two days to make it work and only by going back to the guy that I bought it from. Today I will go back for one for my phone. It will be rinse and repeat, so less trouble. Inch'Allah.

Dawn at Resto
Dawn in candlelight
Stephen at Resto
Stephen in orange light
We met Ross and Amanda, a couple of Aussies who live in London. We see them at breakfast.They recommended a restaurant they went to the night before so we went. We had a good time and the food was good.

You can see by the wine glasses that this is a place where they do serve wine. I must say that we would have never gone there on our own. It was kind of touristy but beautiful. The room was lit by tall candles on the tables, the waiters wore fez's that were for sale. Live musicians played well, and as we left, two belly dancers were beginning out amongst the tables to dance with the customers. It is not what we usually do, but that in itself is always a good reason for us to do it.

After a day or two Ross and Amanda left for a five star resort outside the medina. A day later they were back! Nothing worked at the new place and it was out in the middle of nowhere so they called up the Riad and asked can you you take us back? They did, so we spent out last night sharing a bottle of Morrocan Rosé on the roof. They are world travelers and very adventuresome so it was good to hang out with them. Bon Voyage to them and maybe we will see them again.
Stephen on rooftop
Stephen, at the Perle du Sud with Green rope lights
Dawn on Roof
And Dawn with a lively street scene below
Last night, we were at a place where they did not serve wine, therefore there were many more Moroccans and the prices were lower but the food and the musicians just as good. La Perle du Sud was more informal, being out on a roof overlooking a street that heads into the square. The green thing is a steel mesh tube with a green rope light in it. Everything is gotten to or from our riad by going through the square. At night there are temporary food stands that serve all kinds of exotic things. The lonely planet guide says sure eat there but use bread to eat your food rather than the utensils that he claimed were only rinsed between customers. We will let you know. They are our target for tonight. Between the breakfasts here at the riads and these dinners, we are skipping lunch. Maybe a piece of fruit grabbed from breakfast.

Medersa Ben Youssef
Stephen at Window
Medersa Ben Youssef
We have now visited four different beautiful places: Medersa Ben Youssef, a former Koranic scholar center, Palais Bahia, Dar Bellarj, and the museum of Dar Sidi Said.
Medersa Ben Youssef Tiles
Madersa roof
Medersa Ben Youssef Roof
All are splendid examples of Islamic Art, architecture and design. Since depicting human or animal imagery is forbidden, the attention to geometric and floral design is stunning. Whether in wood, plaster, marble,tile, metal, wool, silk, or leather, the work is intricate and beautiful. Inlay upon inlay, star upon star, design is everywhere, yet it never feels like too much. Even flying in on the airplane, the crenelated, terra cotta colored walls, the keyhole shaped entries, the perfectly spaced olive trees...all create a sense of harmony quite different from the aesthetic of our own culture.
Dar Sidi
Dar Sidi Said
Palace Bahia
Palais Bahia
Hopefully these pictures will give you some idea of both the large-scale and detailed beauty of this art form.

As I said to the Reiki healer that we talked to for awhile, "Paris and many other cities wait for you to be involved or absorbed, to come to them, but Marrakech rushes at you from the first moment you enter. Open your arms or jump aside, the choice is yours". We did a little of both.



She said to me, "Hand me your clothes."

So I took off my clothes and got on the massage table. This is not how we do it in America. There, the practitioner leaves the room while you undress and get on the table under a sheet. I had gotten some warning from Dawn when she came back from her massage that privacy would be treated differently. She did think that as a man I would be treated differently.
Not really.

Dawn and I have the same doctor, a woman, and the same masseur, a man. But we live in the USA, not in Morocco. I obviously don't understand the difference between the public behavior of the two sexes and what happens in the private quarters. The massage was very good and different from the therapeutic torture sessions with Craig. At the end, I got a pair of sandals to wear back to my room to protect my own sandals from the argan oil that I was covered with.

In this country I think we get surprised at least once a day.
Street Scene
(top) Street Scene
Here is a trick if you want to lead someone to a store in the souks without seeming to. You plant yourself in a place so that the store is on the way to the main plaza, Jemaa al Fna which is the goal of many tourists. Then you help someone (us) by pointing out the route and say that you work in this little woodworking shop next to you, but that you are going home to your father's (not likely) so we are all going in the same direction, which we did. If we stopped, he came back for us. We kind of got the scam but we were sucked in and ended up at the shop of Mehdi, a healer (Reiki and Reflexology). We talked for a while and then invited us into the shop while the young gentleman sat in the back for a while and then left. The most important thing for Mehdi was to get me to sit down which he did by getting me to read his book of comments of satisfied customers but also talking about his love for a woman in Wisconsin.

Cobras, the snakes in Jemaa al Fna, do not hear the snake charmers' pipe music, but rather watch the musician's body movements. I was being charmed by a promise of friendship and healing and improved health, always from the side. He guessed my age twelve years younger and said he would never guess a woman's age. Always gentle, always the charmer. Now writing this, I feel I probably owed him money just for the experience.

But no, I didn't get healed. We didn't even get to the point of a price discussion. After a while, we got up and left with much politeness on both sides, but I recommend if ever you are in the souk up near the Medersa Benter Joussef and get pulled in by the same trick, go all the way.

Some Trip Advisor reviewer said that the Jardin Majorelle was too small and the Berber Museum not so great, the two not being worth the $10 combined admission ticket. It was the most expensive admission to anything we went to in Marrakech. However, not only was the garden lovely and beautifully maintained, but also the museum of Berber history, artifacts, clothing and utensils was wonderfully done. The pieces were cleverly presented and lit imaginatively. Moreover, the late Yves St. Laurent who restored the garden and created the museum, contributes some of that admission price to a foundation that benefits creative and social projects in the city. In the garden was a memorial to St. Laurent, given by his former partner. It was a simple Doric column in a little glade with benches on two sides. There was a certain amount of smiling and tittering in the public's reaction to a memorial at once so simple and so phallic.
Majorelle Garden
The Pool of the Majorelle Gardens
Majorelle garden steps
Steps at the Majorelle
Berber Costumes in Majorelle museum
Jewelry in a mirror walled room in the museum
This was also our one foray into getting a taxi, which neither of us likes to do. Our riad host said the taxi should cost between 20 and 30 dirhams, the driver asked us for 50, we ended up paying 40 each way. Four bucks each way for a trip pretty far out of our part of the medina was certainly not bad at all. The thing that gets us is the constant issue of what is appropriate to pay for what. It is perfectly reasonable that tourists be charged a little more than the locals because salaries, when there is employment, are much lower in Morocco than in Europe or the USA. At the same time, nobody wants to be scammed into paying something outrageous by local standards even if it might be in line with prices in New York or Boston.

Riad Pool
Looking Down on the Pool in the Central Courtyard
Way home to the riad
Way home to the Riad

From our review of the riad:

Accept their offer to have you picked up at the airport. At 11 euros or so, it is a bargain. You pay at the end of your stay
If you need a SIM card for your phone, take their advice where to get one.
We had dinner here the first night. Drink the Moroccan wine, we thought it good in its price range.
Use the hot tub after a day's tramping around the medina.
Bring a compass or GPS.
I encourage everyone to open your arms to the culture of the raw marketplace. You may never hear a true word spoken, but it has been going on this way for hundreds of years. And you can tell some fibs too.
We felt that the calm that the Riad al Rimal provided us allowed us to jump into the medina with more bravado.
Some time in the future someone is going to come to Marrakech and buy a multicolored knotted rug that has four knots that I tied. I hope it doesn't ruin the karma of the rug. We were wandering through a artists's complex when we came across a women's rug making cooperative and went in to watch. We both got invited to sit down by a different woman to try our hands. For me it was slow going, for them, it was fast. She didn't have a pattern to follow, instead she was following diagonal paths with her colors. We were using Turkish knots, rather than the Persian one and she would do a rug in three months, mine would take three years. As usual, the women were making the rugs and the men were selling them.
Stephen in the Wifi Park

After our relaxed time at the garden and museum, we came back and shot another video of Dawn walking home. This time it was to our Riad. We shot it in the afternoon so we could see the variations in the color of the walls. We can't get any of it off the camera, so it will stay there until we get home to edit it. The video I shot at night on my phone shows a group of dodgy guys that sat near the entrance to our street/tunnel. It turns out were the men hired by all the riads in the neighborhood to walk anyone home who felt that they couldn't do it on their own. Some because they might get lost, others because they didn't feel safe.We felt pretty safe there, but some people might not.
(It is possible that these men with the orange vests were hired by the government rather than the riads. -DK)

To tell you the truth, Morocco is a mixed bag. We spend a lot of time getting lost in some pretty trashy neighborhoods, and I have to watch out for all the wrecked pavement so I don't fall again...Stephen is great about giving me his arm when we walk. Yes, very exotic and beautiful in many ways, but I would love to feel like I can walk down the street without someone trying to sell me something. On the other hand, we have seen NO bad behavior on the part of Moroccan men in relation to relatively scantily clad, attractive young western women; that is the good news! I would say that at least in public, they are better behaved than some western men.

On the other hand, we never seem to see local women sitting in cafes with their husbands. It is always groups of men, drinking mint tea together at the cafes. Our lovely tagine making teacher said to us yesterday that she is the only sibling in her family not yet married and that women do ALL the work at home, shopping, cooking, dishes, cleaning, laundry, child care. Although that can be a familiar story in the States as well, I think most couples in the social context in which we live have found ways to share household responsibilities.



A map of the Medina of Essaouira. It was maybe a ten minute walk to the right corner.
Yesterday was the coldest day they have had this year in Essaouria. We had our down coats on!
Zahra, our cooking instructor
We took a morning to learn how to make Tagine.


view from apartment

Dry, dry, dry, dry and dry. Once we left Marrakech and until we approached Essaouira it was parched. The herds of goats we saw seemed to graze on just the color of green. There did not seem to be any plants or water, just dry river beds. Then we pass a town in the middle of all of this where they were building maybe two to five hundred apartments. Who was going to live in them? We didn't know. The bus was big and comfortable but too cold. We took a twenty minute stop for toilettes and juice for some people. The driver played the radio and changed the channel as we moved across the country. As we approached the sea, single argane trees began to appear and then forests of them. We haven't seen any mosquitos because of all the dryness. The rainy season is finishing here but they didn't have much rain.

We were met at the Supratour station in Essaouira by Christine, Virginie's friend and she escorted us to our apartment. She also paid for the cart guy who wheeled our stuff into the medina. We felt a little conspicuous but shouldn't have because this is a major way that stuff is moved around the medina. After five or six minutes or more, we arrive at the apartment.


We went for a walk on the beach. The photos below certainly could look like the desert, but actually they are of a thriving business of camel rides on the beach! We didn't ride them. In hindsight, I am a bit sad that we didn't screw up our courage and take one of those guided trips into the desert.
More Camels

My wifi router, which is working great, came with a USB charging cable but no wall adaptor. I decided to go out and remedying this situation by buying another charger. Being linquistically challenged, I brought along one of mine to show what it was I was looking for. In the middle of the Souk we find a couple of guys, one very handsome, who had some glass top tables with phones and stuff on them under the glass. I show him my gadget and say I want one of these with a euro plug. He pulls out a charger and pulls the cable out of it and, voila, just what I wanted. We take the charger and my wifi router past the butcher with a half a side of beef to a food shop and we plug the whole thing in to test it. The light on the charger turns green and my device shows a flashing icon indicating that the thing is charging. Okay, how much. Ten Dirhams. One dollar. Sold.

Later in the day when we get home, we can't find the original charger that I had taken over there to show him. The next day we clean the apartment to prepare for Isabelle's arrival. We still can't find it.

Today, on the way to food shop, after a really good cup of coffee that Malek, the owner of Triskalla, where we had dinner the night before, had told how to find, we found the guys setting up their table again. I sent Dawn in to explain what had happened and ask had he found our original charger. On recognizing us from two days before he broke into a big smile and said yes and proceeded to look through a black plastic bag for what seemed to be a minute and a long minute at that, pulled out the missing Samsung charger with an American style plug. For me, it just rose from the dead.
A mosque minaret
Typical street scene with rug displays
skala shops
Street of shops along the skala (ramparts)
on the roof
On the roof of our apartment in Essouira
dinner in front of the fire
On a cold night, Dinner in front of the fireplace was a real treat. Here we are having a simple but delicious omelet by Isabelle. We have gotten used to fireplace that is not on the floor, but raised up.
When we first arrived here, we met a man who spent quite a lot of time trying to sell us something without success. Dawn really didn't want to turn that way for fear of meeting him. He got kind of surly and acted offended that we didn't behave the way he thought we should. Luckily, as he promised, he left town after a day. He would turn out to be the exception. But he did recommend a restaurant for our first lunch right across from the apartment which we liked and have been to three and a half times. The half time they were closed but there was someone there to lead us down the balcony to another place. On the way, we saw our waiter in the restaurant and waved hello. The third time we went with Isabelle. The food really is good. It always has an interesting texture and flavor. Again, simply served with no pretensions. We have eaten in prettier places but never better food.

T he vendors are interlocked with each other. If they don't have it, they know somebody who does and they will walk you to their store. For example, Dawn admired a shirt for me in a store which we passed several times. One day when I was out by myself, I bought it. I tried to pretend that although my wife liked it I didn't, trying to get a good price. He didn't go for it. I didn't get the best price, but I got one good enough for me. The next day, I am wearing my new shirt and I introduce him to Dawn. Much flattery ensues about her good taste, her beauty, etc. I mentioned that I am looking for a hat and take mine off to show him how dilapidated it was. He says that he knows the best leather designer in town and off we go, trailing Dawn and Isabelle behind. Seeing my head, I says he also knows a barber. We arrive at the leather shop and after a while I find out hat he will reproduce my hat in natural un-dyed leather for a hundred dollars. I know that even at fifty dollars it is too expensive especially since I don't know if I will like it or whether it will be comfortable. So no deal was made.

There are two points to this story. The first is that when I went by the shirt seller after having bought a cheap hat, he asked to see it. I gave it to him and saying that the designer hat was too expensive and that I had gotten it around the corner in Hassan Moulay square for 120 dirhams ($12). He said it was a good hat and not everyone needs a designer hat.

The second point is that I am trying to create the illusion that I live here. So I wave or say hello to all the people that I have bought things from, or that Isabelle has bought from. I even say hello to people that I haven't bought from if I have spent time negotiating in their shop. We had the pleasure of running into Malek, the owner of Triskala, a restaurant we had been to twice, at one of the coffee places he had recommended to us.

Which brings me to an extra point. I think that when we are in one place for a while we should return to restaurants or vegetable sellers that we like. It is good to be recognized, if only as a customer, especially if you are away from home as long as we are.

As you can tell, Isabelle has arrived. She had some difficulty at the passport control. Because she didn't have our address to put down on the entry form, she got shuffled off to some other officials where she put down Christine's address at the Institute Français on the form. When she went back to passport control, the official did not stamp her passport but let her through by mistake. This might happen with some regularity because when we came though the same control two weeks earlier there was someone inspecting our passports after we went through one of ten windows to see if we had been stamped. But there was no one there to check when Isabelle came through.

I got a text that Isabelle had left the airport and Dawn and I let go with a large sigh of relief. Turned out to ber a little premature.

The next call we got was from Christine at the French Institute saying that she got a call from passport control that Isabelle must return to the airport immediately to have her passport stamped or she will not be able to leave the country. Christine tried to reason with them but they insisted that she had to return, so Christine called the driver, who she had arranged, and they turned around and headed back to the airport after having been on the road for an hour. I am beginning to believe that they were not telling the the truth. What they were worried about was that when Isabelle showed up to leave the country without the stamp, heads were going to roll and people might lose their jobs. Who knows? Isabelle with Bread guy
So Dawn and I worried for a while. Isabelle's communication that she was leaving the airport the second time did not reach us, so when we heard nothing we worried some more. I even looked up the number of the French Consulate. When we started to picture her at the bottom of some Moroccan jail, we called again to find that she was an hour away from us. Then we got a call from the driver that he was near so we walked over to the Bab Sbaa, one of the gates of the medina, arriving at the same time as Isabelle who was sitting in the front seat as calm as could be. I was very, very happy to see her.

We walked back to Dar Scheherazade, our apartment, and found out that it had no electricity. We lit a candle, I went out for more candles, Dawn called Christine. She said her husband would come over and then like magic when I came back with the candles, the lights came on. We headed to Triskala for dinner where I had arranged to have a table waiting for us. What a day!
Isabelle liked this guy's hat

Isabelle in Market
Shopping for the best Clementines

Dawn and Stephen with hats Walking over to Bonheur des Dames in the Place de Marché aux graines to sit in the sun and write this travelogue, I went a different way through one of many of the narrow passageways that lead off the main streets. On a hand pulled cart, a man was making a concoction of something by pouring a liquid from one bottle to another. A few steps further and there were women carrying it up their stairs to their homes. Further on a man was hand delivering propane tanks to the shops. I think that while I have been in Morocco I have felt that I have been visiting a past way of life, but perhaps I have been mistaken and instead I have been living very much in the present for much of the population of the world. When we see them in the media they are called poor. But this is the normal way of life for the vast majority of people.

In the square there are five restaurants. They all have tables, chairs and umbrellas as to resemble a terrace in France or other European countries. What is left for the diners that enter the square is a narrow corridor that goes between the chairs. What is different is that the greeters don't go out to the diners but instead hang back halfway to stand, smiling with open and friendly body language. Is this by agreement? How did this come about? My guess is that they learned by experience if they all gathered round the potential customers that they would drive them out of the square to other restaurants. But, I don't know and I like my theory well enough not to ruin it by asking one of the guys.

All this before getting to what I came here to write. Life is changed since Isabelle has arrived. Within three minutes of walking out of the apartment she had bought a print from a guy on the street. And she had found out his history. The art was beautiful, two parrots made from butterfly wings. She continued this way, moving slowly, seeing everything, taking pictures and asking questions with her beautiful smile and intelligent eyes.

We went down to take pictures in the port.
Boats with seagull
I am pleased with this photo, flying gull and pail in midair! DK
"Call me Ishmael"
Nets and boats
dawn with hat
Fish lunch on the wharf
In the Gallery Yesterday on the way to find lunch at a place on the beach we stopped in front of a gallery and pondered going in. The stuff outside was not that good, but we followed Isabelle inside. When we came out some time later, we had found out about Roman, a retired military guy from one of the elite parachutist groups, who had worked at the UN as a bodyguard; also his wife, Linda, who was a hip-hop dancer and teacher. We had a round of mint tea together while they ignored other customers who came into the shop and we showed them one of our videos from the iPad. We talked of New York, San Francisco, Paris and present politics in France.
After we left, they showed us their small hotel, made from two eighteenth century riads. Another one of the magical places. Isabelle thought it a little too dark downstairs. I liked it and thought the dark might be welcome when summer comes.

Buying Wine in Essaouira

I walked into the wine store where there were four guys behind the u-shaped counter and no one said hello. This was different. Actually, what happened was there was no one for me to say hello to because no one looked at me. This is really different. I am usually treated by the shop keepers like their long lost friend. Finally I found a guy reading the paper on the wine side and chirped out "Bon Soir" to get the ball rolling. So I bought my bottle and he seemed to remember me because he asked me "Deux?" because twice before in there I had taken home two bottles.

Other things in Essaouira

I finally bought a gift, or got roped into buying something. If you go slowly in the souks you are doomed and I was hanging out while Dawn and Isabelle were looking at some things in a Berbère shop. I ended up in this shop looking at the same old stuff I had been looking at for three weeks. I ended up buying the most interesting thing I saw, a small jar. Because there have been few customers lately, many shopkeepers bargain by adding things rather than lowering the price. He had not had a sale for three days. When I gave him the money, he circled it once around his head.
The Mellah

We stumbled into a section of the medina that really shocked us. Part of the mellah, the old jewish section, it like a combination of London during the blitz and the Bronx. There were buildings with the insides of the apartmentss hanging and exposed. Others parts had been bulldozed flat and I assume waiting for new buildings. In the meantime, a few squatters have moved in. There is a synagogue here that people can visit if a passerby will call the caretaker to let them in.

The Bonheur des Dames


The Bonheur des Dames. This is the restaurant where I wrote some of the first part of Essaouira. When Dawn and Isabelle arrived, we all stayed for lunch. We ordered the same things that we usually do, but the meal was different. It began with a shot glasses of puréed carrots on top of puréed beets, a beautiful tasty amuse geuele. After that everything was bigger and very tasty with beautiful desserts. At the end end they threw in a round of mint tea.

Another Place to Eat.

The other lunch was also in a courtyard, not far away, but with large trees with tables scattered beneath them. Isabelle discovered it and took us there. In the doorway was a guy and a grill. Here, they did not speak French so we ate what we could communicate, three brochettes of chicken. Someone appeared with some paper placemats and napkins of a a placemat torn in four. First the salad Moroccan, then chicken which was good with some organs alongside, all with a bottle of water. We ordered thé à la menthe, which I poured, being the man of the house. At the end, $15. All this accompanied by an amplified sermon from the mosque next door.

What I found interesting was I don't think they owned any food. Once we ordered, they went out into the market and got the salad and the raw chicken and a bottle of water. Even the mint tea came from elsewhere, explaining the guys we had seen walking up and down the streets with a trays of mint tea. I assumed they paid them after we paid. This is raw cash business with nothing written down, and very little capital expense, except the grill and the charcoal.


I developed a toothache and when we were in the souk, we found a herbalist selling all kinds of remedies. He showed Isabelle something for her cough which she has had all her life. He put some herbs and things in a small bag, twisted it tight, rubbed it hard and placed against her nostril to breath. We all tried it. Quite a powerful sensation in the nose. He recommended for me a concoction of thirteen things that I was to put in water and use as a mouth rinse or a tea. He told me that I was to use it as a tea only every two days because it was so strong, so I decided to use it topically. In water, it turned a beautiful green color and worked like a charm which it might have been. Dawn took a picture of the display.
The herb man selling Isabelle a decongestant herb combo
Herbalist's wares
Herbs to make you smile, to make you thin, to relieve gas...
Taros roof view
Another fave shot of mine, from the Taros rooftop - DK
Dawn with hat
A large hat lent to me by the restaurant. I forgot mine!
the port
Stephen's nice shot of the port and the ocean. also from Taros rooftop
The Taros is the watering hole for the elite of Essaouira. It was the first time we ran into a metal detecting gate at an entrance to an establishment. It is a multi-level with various terraces on their roofs. They carry a supply of hats to lend to customer who forget their own. It has beautiful views of the plaza, the medina roofs, the port, and the sea. A place for a half bottle of wine and a free plate of olives.

Leaving Essaouira

Plans have been adapted. It is more difficult to go from Morocco to France now, at least on Transavia airline. You only get a seat confirmation online and then you have to get a boarding pass at the ticket counter before going through passport control and then security. Airlines are recommending getting to the airports four hours before your flight is scheduled. This made it crazy for Isabelle to try to do it in the morning from Essaouira, so she took the "Confort Plus" bus in order to stay at an Ibis Hotel the evening before her departure near the bus station and the airport. The bus has only three seats across in a one-two configuration. Videos, water bottles, lay back seats, only half the seats that our bus will have. Yes, we are leaving Essaouira, taking a bus to Marrakech and then taking the train to Casablanca. If Cristina, our new host, isn't there to greet us, we have instructions about the lock box and directions to our room.
Train window
From the train
Train window
From the train
Train window
From the train
Train window
From the train
Three hours on the bus from Essaouira, and it was fascinating to see what a few days of rain did to the incredibly arid countryside. Like the fuzz of whiskers on a pubescent boy's cheek, a nice green fuzz covered the dry, red earth. The sheep and goats had something real to munch on while the olive and argan trees looked happier than two weeks earlier when we took the bus out to the coast.

We got to see a quick glimpse of the tree climbing goats. There were about 15 of them eating away at the leaves. The branches are nearly horizontal. We had heard about them, now we have seen them and that's all we know. JSB

The train ride from Marrakesh to Casa was also fascinating. Broad expanses of desert-like terrain, cactus, an occasional small Adobe village dotted the terrain. There were some farms, mostly olives and argan, but some irrigated veggies, I think, as well. There were also abandoned villages, and mountains as a backdrop to all this. Often I would see a herd of sheep managed by a shepherd in clothes that we saw from Biblical times in Sunday school pictures...the same long djeballa and hood or head wrap, the same stick to protect the sheep. We have seen people on donkeys, a mother dressed not unlike the proverbial Mary in the New Testament , perhaps with a child seated on the donkey in front of her. While this sounds like an ancient scene, the terrain was also punctuated by an autoroute and high tension electrical wires.

Such is the nature of contrast in this country. As mentioned earlier, I have not been totally comfortable with the assertive nature of people selling in the souks, drawing you in to learn something about the history of the Berbers, the Tuaregs, the Arabs, drawing you in "simply to look" at their crafts, and then of course selling like crazy. At the same time, I have begun to feel that we should be "bargaining" to pay more than most of them ask rather than less because most of us who can afford to travel have so much more materially than the sellers in the souks do. Yet, as our current host in Casablanca pointed out, and she was married to a Moroccan, most Moroccan families live more in the present and with less stuff than we do, share everything they have with each other and their derb (alley) neighbors, and don't worry so much about the future. When Isabelle was with us, she was much more relaxed about engaging in conversations with shop owners, street vendors, etc....and she bought a lot, mostly as gifts. She slowed me down and had me look at my behavior through other eyes.


Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore...or even Morocco, so it feels. Casablanca is a modern, very European/American city. Its 20th century architecture, wealth, and speed make me feel like I am entering a large American metropolis, with its Radio Shacks and Starbucks, etc. We arrived in the pouring rain and shared a taxi with a woman who teaches Berber children in Ouarzazate and said she would have invited us to stay with her "for free" because she believes in the necessity of travel and sharing cultures. In fact, she lamented the fact that because of recent events, Moroccans cannot get a visa to visit the United States, even if they can afford to travel there, which it seems that many Moroccans in Casa can do.

We went to a place called Paul in Casa for a light supper last night. It was like being in a French café (in fact it is a French chain, but the food here is reputedly better than most Paul cafés in France.) The fish soup was classic and fabulous, the Gallette Sarrasin excellent. The place was filled with young hip locals, Arab, French, a cosmopolitan mix. There was only one headscarf in the place. The bread was great. The only reminder that we were in Morocco is that you couldn't drink a glass of wine there. Part of me loved being in this more familiar atmosphere with food that I had missed, although the Moroccan cuisine has generally been wonderful. Part of me said, "Where am I?" I missed the maze of medina streets, the rugs hanging everywhere, the predominance of traditional clothes, the fresh orange juice vendors, the lack of cars, I even missed dodging the bikes and motos. So I think I am appropriately culturally confused! Having been reading more about this country, I am now a bit sad that we are not getting to Fez and didn't stick our necks out to take a trip into the desert. Stephen would return here for those experiences, but I am still not sure. I have a lot of brain-sifting to do, I guess. Street View

We are staying in the upscale neighborhood of Anfa, in a beautiful Bauhaus type home that feels like an art gallery displaying mostly Cristina's Moroccan ex-husband's paintings. She is a like-minded soul, a meditator and yoga teacher who grew up in Genoa on the Ligurian coast of Italy, close to Bogliasco where Stephen and I spent a wonderful month as artists-in-residence in 2010. She has pointed me towards a new artist residency program for dance here which we will check out this week. She also has a British friend coming in this evening, and she has invited us to join them for dinner and then to share some of our videos. It is always touching when people show an interest in our work. Dawn on ladder To clarify, the roof of our house is flat and is in the sun all day so that is where much of laundry is hung. Also there are two beehives, some vegetables and herbs growing, a swinging settee and space for yoga. However, I stopped doing yoga up there because although it is the end of their season, there were still a few sleepy bees that tended to crawl towards my yoga mat. Gently as I could push them away with a slipper, they still headed back in my direction...so I went downstairs. Not actually stairs, but by an outside ladder that you see in the photo to the left. Above it is a pulley arm that is used to bring the laundry up and down.
We have read several Trip Advisor reviews that are fairly negative about Casablanca as a city. For us, l think the order in which we visited Morocco was important. Flying in over Marrakech, I felt it was the most exotic place I had ever been. Spending the first three weeks in the old medinas of Marrakech and Essaouira, in the full thrall of that exoticism, somehow prepared us to appreciate Casa in a different way. The twentieth century architecture and French influence is immense, yet it is still, or again, Arab. Most of the streets that were given French names originally have been changed to honor various Moroccan dignitaries.

Yesterday, we walked through the old medina here. Many online reviewers felt it was a kind of dangerous, trashy slum. It was perhaps the most authentic of medinas that we have been in because they were not selling tourist wares, only fruits, veggies, chickens and necessary household goods. There were no other Europeans in sight, and several people said "welcome to Morocco" without trying to sell us a thing! One woman about my age in traditional dress actually blew me a kiss and smiled which I interpreted as a sign of appreciation for walking through her neighborhood. Our host, Cristina, confirmed this interpretation. Yes, it is the area where "poor" people live, but as Cristina pointed out, these folks are rich in family, friends and a kind of generous communal living. The contrast in material wealth was heightened by neighborhoods like Val d'Anfa with its beautifully maintained, architecturally stunning homes and gardens and high level shops and restaurants. Don't get me wrong, we have enjoyed living in this neighborhood and living a little more "upscale" than we normally do on our trips. You know what they say about variety....and the spice of life is everywhere in Morocco.

After lunch at a restaurant called Milasia, we were walking home and I saw in a store window a fruit of the loom T-shirt for $3. But what a store. It was all Marques, that is, famous trade marks. Dunhill, Bang and Olufson, other electronics devices. I don't really know whether they were counterfeit, but I found a T-shirt in a nice color in my size and bought it. I selected from a cardboard box that the woman pulled out from underneath the cash register. I bought it because I needed one to replace the shirt that jettisoned in Guadeloupe. It went into Raymonise's rag bag.

Beach We grabbed a taxi to the beach and because we shared half the trip with two young men it cost us $1.50 with tip. We have taken some pictures. We found it beautiful, not pristine, but it is in the middle of a city with four million people. Lots of soccer games with some being organized. We saw a group of soccer players who had lined out half a field, but it was the right half (or left). I have never seen that before. Beach Resort
An in-town Beach Resort Our walk continued through the club and lounge district. The clubs were sporting clubs with little soccer fields, basket ball courts, lap pools and inside I am sure fancy gyms. The beach clubs had public restaurants but then cabanas for their members, beaches or pools. Understated but luxurious, with menu prices to match.

We were drawn into a mall, first by the fact that it was hidden from us, the road that we were on was at the roof level of what turned out to be a three story building, secondly, there seemed to be a resort village below that stretched out to the beach, and thirdly, Dawn wanted a fruit smoothie. We noticed that at the entrance they were stopping cars to look at the driver and use one of those long handle mirrors to look under the car.

Taxis were a learning experience. You got cheated if you were in a hurry or didn't have the right change, but it was for a dollar or two and we learned fast enough.

Hassan II Mosque

Dawn worked hard to get these pictures of the over the top Hassan II Mosque. It is one of the few mosques in the world that is open to the general public. While some people think it is not worth the money and time to take the tour of the big mosque, Hassan II, we were glad that we did. Built between 1987 and 1993, it is quite an architectural, design and engineering feat. Other than the glass chandeliers from Venice, all the materials and all the workers were Moroccan. Our guide insisted that the money all came from "donations," but I think those donations may have been a form of graduated tax, depending on income.

Hassan II Mosque

Prayer Hall
Hassan II Mosque
Hassan II
Hassan II Mosque
Hassan II
Hassan II Mosque
Hassan II Mineret
Hassan II Mosque

A Version of the Review of Cristina's>

Christina's house Dawn, mostly: Cristina's home is lovely, filled with art and a great library. I think that the red bathroom is my favorite of all the bathrooms I have visited in the last couple of years. She is the perfect host and our week in Casablanca was quite wonderful because of her. Because we shared some common interests and had the time, she took us to a couple of cultural events that we would not have otherwise known about. We also met other interesting guests there, some who are regulars coming from France on business. Touria, her helper, is a delight.

On the map, the green oasis looks far from things but it is not. A few dollar cab ride will take you anywhere you want.

When we arrived, we were in a bit of a culture shock, having lived in the old medinas of Marrakech and Essaouira for the prior three weeks. However, the 20th century architecture, Art Deco, Bauhaus, etc. was wonderful to see. In Anfa, the neighborhood of the Green Oasis, there are some spectacularly designed homes and gardens...21st century. So it is good to see how contemporary, professional Moroccans and European expats live after having spent much time in what feels like an older, less urban culture. Casa also has flavor of the USA with its big stores and international chains, but in malls that are beautifully designed.

If you want a beautiful location from which to explore a cosmopolitan, European yet still Moroccan city, and a fascinating, generous host, Cristina's home is the place to go
We were attracted by these stairs in Christina's house and spent two late afternoons shooting videos. When we get home we will take a look.
The Titans is a bar in Casa that is owned by a French woman and it welcomes everyone. Cristina took us there after the event where two guys talked about dance in fast French (Is there any other kind?) for an hour, so I really needed a drink and some tapas. We jammed ourselves into someone's table and organized some beer and two plates. Young, old, all the sexual persuasions, smoke throughout. A waiter who didn't wait but moved around the place at great speed with beers, empties and chairs when needed. No chit chat, just business. I have a hazy memory of some upper west side joints in NYC before I was legal where this place would fit in. Just no waiting.

The second event the next night was better. Three performers/choreographers, each with their writer. The middle one, a woman from Spain, could really move. She was performing in the seats as the audience was sitting on the stage. I never confuse a performer who can move her body fast or quickly with power with someone who moves their limbs fast in an illusion of speed. It was hard to see because of some feeble tech work, but it was still very much okay.

The first night was mostly a talking heads affair with one film from 1987 shown in which the choreographer Bernardo Montet performed. As a project in choreographer/writer collaboration, a narrative about demonstrations in Bologna in the 60's was added to the film. The writer himself was not present so another man read his comments/questions, very fast, and luckily Bernardo answered very deliberately...slowly and clearly. I was deeply impressed by one story he told about studying in Japan with the great Butoh master, Kazuo Ohno, I believe back in the 80's. He said that experience made him question everything about what he had been doing as a dancer up until then. "Spectacles", choreographed performances on stage, felt irrelevant to him. It took him two years of not producing anything to come back to moving, but in a very different way...looking deeply inward and waiting for the true move to come through his body. In his performance the next night, one could feel the intensity of his deliberate and "on the spot" (to quote the title of my improv class) choices.
Yes, but I think that if you think about a true move you will be lost in a morass of judgments which can create a kind of constipated movement. An experienced mover, like Benardo, can give it a feeling of power, which other dancers, myself included, have struggled to achieve.

I taught an improvisation where someone would start dancing in a circle until another dancer would replace them when they thought they had mentally predicted a move. It quickly because a situation where trying to be unusual made you predictable. Soon, predictable and unpredictable became the same and unmeaningful. I never found or even looked for a solution, but it seems that you just let the present moment make the decision and it will be true enough.

Okay, WARNING in particular to my friends Martha and Nancy who are quite involved with animal rescue projects: maybe you want to skip this section.

Cat Cats: All three Moroccan cities we visited have huge populations of stray cats. I asked a couple of people if there was any program or agency to help them, in particular to neuter them so they would not keep producing litters. The healer in Marrakech that Stephen spoke with claimed that there was a program for sterilization, but I doubt it as we saw plenty of kittens too. We saw all kinds of behavior in relation to these cats. Some people had a regular place and time to feed them, others just shooed them out of their shops and restaurants. Some cats looked healthy, but many looked scrawny and unhealthy. Stephen pointed out that they provide a service to the cities because we saw no rodents anywhere in spite of areas where garbage collected, waiting for pickup.

My strangest feline encounter was when we went into a very upscale patisserie in Casablanca, just to try it once since they apparently had places in four cities that we have been to: Fontainebleau, Paris, Kyoto, and Casablanca. We ordered two cafés au lait and one pastry. That cost about the same as a good lunch for two in Essaouira! After ordering, we changed tables to avoid a cigar smoker. I sat down on a banquette and next to me was a sweet kitty who practically blended into the upholstery with her coloring. First I thought she must belong to the three young women sitting next to us, and smoking continuously, but they took no notice of the cat. So I think this kitty was a clever stray who crept into an upscale terrace seating area and had an intuitive sense of her own camouflage.
We walked to Rick's Cafe. It was closed, so we never went. We try a touristy thing every once in a while, but here we were saved by their afternoon closing.

Cristina told us to go see Mustafa in the Habous if we wanted to talk about rugs. We couldn't find him, but when we asked another rug guy where his stall was, he reluctantly took us there. Mustafa was away, perhaps at prayer, but we were told to wait and he returned in ten minutes. When we said we were friends of Cristina's he insisted in going off to make tea and we waited another ten minutes.

It was a fascinating exploration of rug making in Morocco. Then after showing him pictures of my Mexican rug, he showed us the similarities in the symbols in mine and the ones made in the East. One idea would lead to another and another rug would be pulled off the shelf. He had old ones and new ones and it was certainly true what Cristina had told us, he loved them all. And by the time we left there was a waist high pile on the floor. Over the next four days we noticed that all Cristina's rugs came from Mustafa. We could just tell by their elements and their color. Nothing flashy, but they all demanded a second look.

This brings us to the end of Casablanca. Despite it's being scorned by all, tourist guides and Moroccans (They all made the same face when we mentioned that we were going there), we enjoyed it. We are now pointing toward Provence in France.

Southern France, March & April - 2016

Tomorrow night, we are going to a local presentation in the salle des fêtes, the town's multipurpose room, of tapas and a Flamenco troupe from Marseilles. We will report.

Les Alpilles
After changing continents again, We are now in Provence, at Véronique's house in Le Paradou

Just a quick note to say how happy I am to be back in Provence. We have taken two stunning walks in the Alpilles. Even "off season," the light is stunning, setting off the light greens of the olive orchards against the dark green forest trees and the almost white, craggy outcroppings and cliffs.

Le Paradou

About Dawn's discussion about home: It's home when it feels like home. And France, especially the places we have been, feels like home. Getting picked up at the airport made Le Paradou feel like returning home even more so. Véronique, returning from Algeria after attending some ceremonies honoring Malek, was staying in Paradou so she was able to. Thank you Véronique. We crossed paths for a few days. and it was great to see her. She will be returning the to deal with some bureaucratic mess about changing a window in the writers's studio that she is creating next door the same day we leave Paradou for Goult. We will all have lunch together to celebrate Dawn's birthday.

There should be a moratorium on our writing about outdoor markets, so I won't, but I have added a picture of some beautiful cabbage.

standing in the windIt may not be all that warm here yet, but the light and color are so beautiful. Walking through the olive groves with that pale green against the dark green pines and cyprus , I see everything through the eyes of Cézanne or Van Gogh. Oh, I wish I were a painter! However, I often say that there is already too much choreography in the world...so no one needs another Dawn Kramer dance, but there are clearly many more paintings in this world than dances, so the world likely does not need Dawn to become a painter either.

Still, when a great artist such as the two mentioned creates a physical/emotional sense of place as they do, millions of art-viewers can sense that place, can "be" in the artist's "there" without even setting foot in Provence. Ah, I bow to the power or art, the power of place, and to the wisdom of the French to preserve the varied beauties of their country. From Ile-de-France to Brittany to the Loire to Bordeaux, Bergerac, Burgundy, the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Rhone, the Côte d'Azur, the Lot, the Dordogne, the Tarn, to Provence...we have enjoyed the landscapes, villages, cities and people of so many regions. I mention the people because I know that many Americans find the French unfriendly. However, a smile, an attempt at the language, and an appreciation for the locale or its produce go a long way in gaining positive social interactions.

For instance, we were at the Mairie in the small town of Le Paradou last Monday. I was writing a thought honoring International Women's Day to be posted with many others on the olive tree in the town center. An energetic man named Jean-Paul greeted us warmly and told us about the Flamenco group coming from Marseille the following Saturday and we should call him to reserve a table at the local Salle Polyvalente (multi-purpose room). When we arrived there Saturday, there was already an astonishingly huge crowd, lined up to purchase tickets and get their tapas (which turned out to be enough charcuterie fto last me a lifetime.) Jean-Paul greeted us warmly and said how touched he was that we would attend a local, community event like this. Also, he thoughtfully had us seated at a small table with another bureaucrat from the Mairie (Mayor's Offie) and his wife who spoke quite good English.

While it took a very long time in line to actually get our tapas, we were finally seated and the show began. Both having spent a fair amount of time with Ramon, Claire, Isaac and Nino, and seeing their fabulous Flamenco dancing, Stephen and I were trying hard to withhold judgement. Well, the foursome that danced first seemed like pretty good students to me. However, when Maria Perez herself got up from her chair where she had been doing palmas with the musicians, something magical happened. She began with a slow, simple intensity, eyes down, elegant posture, a deliberate movement of the hand, and evolved into passionate, clear percussive footwork. At the break, Stephen and I both said the same thing: truly a "true move." Moreover, the musicians were wonderful, with those loud raspy voices and a guitarist who played flamenco like we have never heard it before.
dawn, waiting to Facetime
We went to a cafe to use their wifi to facetime Tess and Sydney, but somehow it did not work. We don't know why. I took this picture while Dawn was waiting. What is she thinking?

We are in great country for hiking, especially at this time of year when it is not too hot. There are lots of hiking maps in this house, like the ones we have used when hiking in the Luberon or the Lot. After three unsuccessful attempts at finding different hiking routes, we eventually saw the fine print on the map: This map was made in 1989! Much has changed since then, especially the amount of formerly public property that is now in private hands.

Quarry in a hike
The Quarry
Mt Paon
Mt. Paon, on our third and final attempt. The View
Mt Paon
Stephen on the edge
Mt Paon
Dawn at the Top

So there were many barred roads and paths with "Do not enter" signs on them. So we went to the tourist office in Maussane. They gave us some print-outs of four different hikes with detailed walking directions. We finally took one that brought us into the craggy Alpilles themselves. It was a beautiful hike, and it felt so remote. The only people we saw were a bunch of schoolchildren with their teachers, on a supervised hike, perhaps to the water-filled quarry. Their teachers reminded the kids to say "Bonjour" to us, and a couple of them complimented Stephen on his "beau chapeau." Since he bought a brown leather cowboy-like hat in Morocco, everyone thinks he is from Texas!

A Day

In the corner of a patio in Le Paradou Stephen:
This morning I cleaned a vacuum cleaner only to discover that we were out of bags. An e-mail to Véronique and an Internet search sent us out to St. Martin du Crau to look for a super-marché that might have some. After two stores we had no luck and had to return to drop Dawn off at zumba class. I left the iPad at home so my plans to write next to a beer in the Cafe de la Fontaine were scrapped and I returned home and worked on the zinc countertop in the kitchen. That has been my project for occasional moments.
Fireplace with Ricards
It rained all day so after I picked up Dawn I laid a fire. Dinner will be leftovers from last night's beef with local vegetables stew. It is my turn to pick a movie from the house collection. Woven into all this was some meditation, reading, financial logging and checking, lunch, and it all began with breakfast. In the end we didn't watch a movie but listened to Ravel and Monteverdi. On the way to bed I made the IDTGV website work long enough to buy two tickets from Avignon to Paris and get them on the iPad. That reservation is the last plank on the road that we built for our trip. Well, not quite. There are two bus trips, one to drop off our car in Cavaillon and then another to pick up a second rental in Avignon, but that is for the next episode.

Arles andEygalières

Last Sunday we went to a beautiful concert in Arles. It was a group called Le Concert de la Loge Olympique, named after a chamber group founded in 1783! It was like four string quartets put together, minus one viola as there were fifteen players onstage. They played a short piece by Boccherini(1743-1805), and one by Corselli, whom we were not familiar with (1705-1778). The highlight was Boccherini's long Stabat Mater, masterfully and movingly sung by a Portuguese soprano named Eduarda Melo. Although neither Stephen nor I has been an observant Christian for years, we always appreciate and marvel at the sheer quantity and beauty of so much religious art and music. The words were written in the 13th century, maybe by a Franciscan friar, or maybe by Pope Innocent III, and many composers have set the words to music since then. The words are basically about Mary's suffering while standing at the foot of the cross. You don't have to be a Christian to imagine a mother's pain around her offspring's death. It was sung in Latin with French subtitles projected as well as printed in the program.
Cloister in Arles
This is not the first timethat we have been in Arles, but it had been twenty years ago. This cloister is connected to a church with a famous tympanum over its main door. It is in the process of being restored. It is beautiful and quiet. We visited the cloister not when we went to the concert but before we picked up our rental car.

We love contemporary music and embrace new forms and new technologies. Still, when a group of people assembles and uses nothing but wood, strings, physical prowess, breath, voice, and soul to make such live, acoustic beauty, it brings tears to my eyes. With all the excellent technologies we have to hear music reproduced, the live event still carries so much power.

Dawn at a view platz
We had to go look at Eygalières, a small hill town in the eastern Alpillres because Adam and his family had stayed there for a few days on one of their jaunts around France and Italy.

We went on market day and had a great time. It is a very welcoming town. We had a coffee to warm up and then visited all the vendors. Someone was passing out pieces of paper with poems on them to try to interest us in a book of poetry that was for sale.

Here, we have walked up the hill a little and are rewarded with a great view.

Our last day has arrived. We had a wonderful lunch with Véronique, as we had planned, and even got to eat outside on the patio. Dawn was down to her t-shirt and perspiring. After coffee we were ready to leave and all that was left to do was to have a group hug and get in the car and head for Goult.



A Wednesday

I had been thinking about this day for weeks. How to get to Cavaillon to return the rental car and then get back to Goult where we have been for two days. The first thing you need to know that Goult is on top of a hill and it is kind of small so all of the buses that say they stop in Goult actually stop in Lumiéres down on the highway between Apt and Avignon. It is about a four minute drive up the hill on one of those twisty curvy roads. The next thing is that the Hertz place is not actually in Cavaillon but in an industrial park southeast. The last thing you need to know is there is going to be a lot of luck involved.

I did find a bus, (line 15.2). It started in Cavaillon and wandered its way to Apt a couple of times a day. On Wednesdays and Saturdays the 12:40 bus actually climbed the hill to our town. It would take 38 minutes. It would do it on the other days of the week, but only after 6:00 PM.

Hertz Today is Wednesday, I had made the arrangement about returning the car before I knew about the bus schedule. The first bit of luck.

Things went pretty smoothly, if a little oddly. We found a gas station to top off the tank. It was full serve, so all we had to do was pull up to the right pump and a very congenial young man would pump our gas. Next we drove into the country to find the Hertz place. The photo is of the only sign on the road that indicates that we have arrived. It is in French, but that little word in yellow near the bottom isn't and it says hertz. It was some kind of repair place and the return went smoothly and the cab came and took us to the bus station. The driver was playing Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.

The bus arrived right on schedule, but after we paid our four euros and went to find a seat we saw that the bus was full of middle school students. Someone was playing music but most had their earbuds in and were concentrating on their devices. The driver performed what seemed to me to be bus gymnastics, at some point he went around the block to pick up one student from a school. At another stop he did a K turn so that he could back down the road to another bus stop. He weaved his way down the road between parked cars sometimes going straight through rotaries, bumping over the low curbs. He left the main road often to drop kids off near their housing developments. Then finally, he did what the schedule promised. He climbed the hill, drove over the rotary near our house and pulled to a stop in front of our boulangerie. We were back.

Windmill in Goult Goult is cool. It has four or five restaurants, more may appear as the spring rolls on, one epicerie for vegetables, fruits, wine, beer and cheese. The butcher is next door to the epeicerie with his cuts of meat and long line on the Saturday before Easter. He was out of leg of lamb. Quelle catastrophe! We were there for some time before ordering our chicken and duck breast. I was thinking a whole chicken for Easter, but they were a little too whole, having both the heads and feet on them, so I got the same thing I have been getting, chicken quarters for the convection oven in our house. But we are still touring the town.


We are living at the lower end of town in a renovated classic stone, wide-beamed house like so many in rural France. It has a good fireplace which we are enjoying on this chilly, rainy, Easter Sunday. Yesterday was brilliantly sunny and beautiful so we took a four-hour hike that had some very steep ups and downs. Actually, just walking up to the other end of town is a bit of an uphill hike as Goult, like so many old villages, was built at the top of a hill and fortified against the centuries of invaders that seemed to plague Gaul in the Middle Ages. The stonework is amazing around here. Walls without mortar everywhere, and bories which are usually conical shaped stone buildings that may have housed grain and/or animals and also used as shelters. Some have been repaired to an extent and may be used as hikers' shelters today. While most walls are formed from flat-ish rocks laid horizontally, they often have flat rocks leaning against each other, almost vertically, at the tops of the walls. Intermittently one finds a diagonal design of rock placement called arêtes de poisson, looking like the tails of fish nested in each other. One local history buff thinks these may have been made by Muslim masons who might have had to help build these walls after they were captured by the Christians. This speculation is based on the fact that Christian prisoners helped build the Alhambra in Spain when it was under Moorish rule. Dunno. View out window Aurélie owns this house. Amélie manages and cleans it. Emilie is a local whose dad's house we almost rented. We are trying to set up a time for a drink at the Cafe de la Poste with Emilie. Meanwhile we are inundated with three-syllable female French names ending in the same sound. Not easy to keep them all straight! As is often the case with Airbnb rentals, we have not met the owner, Aurélie, in person. She is a fashion designer living in London. Given that and the fact that she grew up in Goult, I thought she would be the person to ask if the one hair salon in town might actually be able to help me out since my hair had desperately overgrown and was showing a bit more grey than I am accustomed to.

A Haircut

As my women friends know, once you find someone who can cut your hair the way you like it, you never go elsewhere. I have been going to Gina at Salon Capri for at least fifteen years. She has been named "the Best of Boston" many a time....But I was desperate. So when Aurélie emailed that Valérie or Agnès had the experience that I could trust, I went up there with a couple of photos of my good haircut and asked what they could do.

The two of them conferred about a little temporary color boost, and Valérie took on the responsibility of the cut. She was afraid to go too short since this was the first time my regular person was not handling the scissors. Another woman handled the nitty-gritty of color application, shampoo and drying. They all did a very nice job. It is not the cut I would have had with Gina, but it is very good and will keep me feeling much better until I am back in Boston. Moreover, it was about a third of the price that one pays in Boston. I also found out that it was Aurélie's mother who established the business twenty or so years ago with Valérie and Agnès so I guess it is no surprise that the original business owner's daughter would recommend it! While I was there, another woman was finishing up, and a young boy and four men got their hair cut as well. Given that the town's population hovers around 1200 people, I would bet that that Valérie and Agnès see all of them at least once a year.

It is not Gina's work, but it is very good. Little differences in the way that the hair is cut make the difference in the way it looks. We are now ready to make a video for the Reach Program's gathering without Dawn's haircut going from one to the other in the edits.
Although it has been a little cold, we have enjoyed this first week here, going to the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday night, watching the village get ready for tourist season as they enjoy the ease with which they get a table for an evening drink at the Cafe. We are watching the grass grow and flowers bloom and seeing the tree buds nearly bubble with the spring energy that will cover the countryside with a green mist of new leaves. We have been reading menus outside the restaurants, but haven't tried one yet. Perhaps after Easter week their prices will relax a little.

To finish up the tour, there is a chateau on the top that is privately owned. Some of the people who have stayed here at the house have gone to weddings there. There is also a windmill that has been restored. From there, a trail goes down to the terraces where olive and almond trees have been grown, off and on as the economy oscillates, for a thousand years.

Before Dawn and I sit in the morning, she sometimes asks me, "Any thoughts?". Yesterday I had one. If you want to be happier, more generous and perhaps even more "successful," you have to be less of yourself when you are making decisions. I have said in the past,"Let the room decide". Ask what is needed rather than what do I want to do. It seems more interesting to be in the present, being aware of as much as I can in order to make choices, rather than acting in a way to satisfy my own needs which on closer examination seem to bubble out of nowhere, created by some entity that I cannot really prove is me at this moment. I feel freer on the occasions when I am open to the needs of the situation. The complexity is more fun than the rigidity of my own desires. My meditation practice now consists of practicing being aware of everything.
Fruit Trees
Fruit Trees in Bloom. We did a few stops along the road to find this shot. Nice work by Dawn.
Sculpture in La Coste, a small town across the valley from us. This is at the chateau on the top of the hill, once owned by the Marquis de Sade. The town is half taken over by aa American Art School for their semester abroad. I am peeking around the base to give some idea of scale.
Menèrbe, the town made famous by Peter Mayle's "AYear in Provence". We found a very sympathique restaurant with a great view from their small terrace. This shot is trying to show the new fallen snow on the of Mt. Ventoux, a rarity this late in the year. It was gone by the end of the day.


Goult 2

The first or second day that we arrived in Goult, I noticed that there was a half a baguette in the garden. It remained there for a couple of days. I couldn't quite find the reasoning behind this. All I know is that if the bread was left out for the birds because it was stale, the birds have the same attitude toward stale bread that the French do. Distain.

I got a nice response about my paragraph on sitting from a reader who used the word openness. I could always ask myself the question, "Am I open enough?" Openness takes you down an interesting road empty of many of the things that we have been accustomed to having around. But it turns out that many other things fill in, like how I cook dinner is just as important as what I cook. I can go on to say that how I feel is as important as what I feel. I mean what are the details of my feeling. Now I am looking at what I previously thought was me. If I have divided myself into two beings, it is not important to know which one is me, I just have to throw doubt on the subject. Being able to observe myself makes it easier to see someone else as who they are at this particular moment not just as the blower of my emotional whistles. Not quite as exciting but it often brings a smile to my face. And that is a good thing.

Today, I am at the MegaForm gym, sitting at the coffee bar while Dawn takes a Zumba class. You can always find one because there is one website to go to where you just put in your location anywhere in the world and the site returns the place and times of classes within 5, 10, 20 or 50 miles where you are.

About the Zumba class: I know that loud music is part of the Zumba tradition, but this was WAY too loud, and I couldn't find the earplugs that I carry around in my bag. The lighting consisted of flashing colored lights, the teacher was on a stage, and everyone knew all the routines, some of which were familiar, some with complex direction changes. It felt good to move hard and work up a sweat, but I decided not to return; just not my style. So back to home yoga and hiking.


The Lamber Collection

The getting the second rental car went as planned so well it was boring. The Lambert Collection was bigger and more interesting than we thought it would be. We came into Avignon early so we could visit the museum before we went out to the TGV station to pick up our car.

You don't expect to see 100 to 200 photographs by Andres Serrano. His American series, the Cubans, the churches, the nuns, the bodily fluids section. Downstairs, cut off from minors, were the bodily excrement, sex, morgue series. They are all big, bold and beautiful. Dawn wonders while he didn't do a series on birth.
There were other artists, usually a few too many of each.

It was drizzling when we approached the entry to the Lambert Collection. In the courtyard was a series of twisted, maybe Mylar, strips, hung vertically, anchored by nearly invisible fishing line. They danced in the breeze and rain, changing colors and imagery. After a closer look from inside the gallery we could see that the changing colors and patterns were reflections of the environment on the strips. The artist is Polish, named Balka, someone we had never heard of but really appreciated.
Inside, my favorite was an installation involving three artists. Sol LeWitt painted the walls in bold geometric patterns, Giulio Paolini installed a kind of painter's easel as homage to Cézanne, and the American Louise Lawler provided a sound installation called Bird Songs. It was haunting and realistic sound. Eventually one finds out that the bird calls were all made by Louise, and they were sonic variations on about fifteen names of famous male artists of the twentieth century. Heard this way, it was not only funny, but also a feminist statement about gender and fame in the arts.

Bird Calls on Vimeo.

Back to the car, I am embarrassed to say that we are driving a diesel Polo. The woman at the counter mentioned it at the last minute of our getting the rental car and I didn't have the fortitude to start over or pay a lot more for a different car. We do have a GPS which is interesting but the car also shuts off its motor when it thinks it can save fuel. You restart the car by letting out the clutch, sometimes. It has stranded me in a rotary and after speed bumps where I have left the clutch in too long while I decide what to do. Also it keeps things interesting.


Twelve Years Ago in our Old Travelogue

We find no restaurant once we are in town. We walk around with our packs and in ten minutes we have gone through the whole village, no restaurant, no nothing except one phone booth, so we call again. Not exactly in he says, but next to it, down on the main road. In fact, as we leave the town, we see it right below us, but there is no direct route, so we are going to have to circle back down the road the way we had come then get out to the by-pass by another road. I was kind of quiet as we retraced our steps. I knew this downhill on pavement was the worst for Dawn's shins, I figured that after lunch we were going to have to climb again through town to get to our next destination. We were now hiking in the hottest part of the day, I couldn't figure out who to blame. Like I said I was kind of quiet.

As I came up the entrance to the Auberge de Lioux, I saw that it was empty except for two places that were set for us on the terrace. Placemats, glasses with napkins standing up in them, and a basket of bread. My heart melted. This small symbol of hospitality reached out to me and made everything all right.

And all right it was, as for the next hour and a half we ate a wonderful meal in a kind of touristic bliss as we discovered the meal only as it was served, having no idea of what was coming or when the meal would be over or even how much it would cost. It had to be the best meal I ever had that was cooked and served by someone in bare feet.
We visited the Auberge de Lioux on the Monday before, just to see if it was still there and if the same guy was the patron. I pretty much knew right away that it was the same man, by his laid-back style, but asked just to be sure. He said he had been there for 25 years so I told him that we had had lunch there twelve years ago on a twelve-day gite to gite hike and that we wanted to have a little nostalgia trip by having lunch there again...and could we come Wednesday because the weather forecast was better. He said "Sure, or Thursday." I asked "preferez-vous jeudi?" He said Wednesday or Thursday would be fine.

That was twelve years ago. And we went back. Some things changed, some had not. We were still the only people there for lunch, although there was a regular who was sitting at the bar, we still didn't have any control over what we ate, we still didn't know what it was going to cost. And we still don't know his name. And we still hiked to the restaurant and away, but this time it was a level forty-five minute walk each way, instead of lunch in the middle of our longest, hottest day. This time he had slippers on as he served us, but he was back in bare feet once he was behind the bar. We did find out that he had spent some in the Caribbean.
What surprised me was that I thought that after twelve years with a lot more travel experience under our belts the lunch would have been different. Why weren't we more in charge? We regressed a little I think. But it was always his way of answering with something that wasn't an answer. Over aperitifs we decided to embrace the bizarre, which is what we did.
A couple of days later, driving by on the way home from St. Saturnin, we saw that the place was full of people in motorcycle gear, sitting outside eating and drinking. I was glad to see that he has a successful business and it might be there if we return and this time I plan that we get to eat something Dawn likes.

lioux at the bar
When we arrived on Wednesday after our short, pleasant hike, we sat at a table outside, and the sun came out. We really wanted to eat outside, but we noticed that he had made a fire in the wood stove because it had been cold that morning, and I could tell that he would prefer serving us at a distance of ten steps from the kitchen rather than having to open another door and go outside, maybe twenty steps. So we took our aperitif outside and went inside for the meal. I was kind of hoping for the chicken, Antilles style, but our main course turned out to be a bowl of white rice and a huge bowl of baby octopus, which he proudly announced in English...not something I ever would have ordered. Once over my squeamishness, it actually tasted pretty good, with a strong, rich sauce. There was no way we could eat it all. I was glad we saved room for the cheese plate and tarte aux poires for dessert. We managed to get a picture of him but could never really engage him in conversation. I think he was amused by our sentimental journey back to his place. As we shook hands, we said "Well maybe in another twelve years...." But all acknowledged that this might be "good-bye" as he is at least our age.

Looking Around

In fact, this business of coming to grips with our age made us decide to visit most of the beautiful old villages around here since we may never be back again. So we drive, park outside a town, walk in and about, or sometimes take a hike from one village to another as we did from Vaugines to Curcuron, two of the places where the films, Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring, were made.

Cucheron, another beautiful town
Some willows on a hike from Goult
Fountain de Vaucluse
Fontaine la Vaucluse
Fontaine la Vaucluse
Gordes, a very touristy place. The town was shelled from this location during the Second World War.
A picture of Stephen taking a picture before heading into St. Saturnin for a beer
The Ochre of Roussillon from the town
The Art of Roussillon
We also visited Lourmarin, quite a bit larger with a population of British and French families on spring vacation. We returned for a coffe on the way to Aix.

Fontaine la Vaucluse is deservedly a big tourist attraction as we joined a kind of pilgrimage to the underground source of the river Sorgues. This is the deepest, most prolific water source in Europe. Jacques Cousteau allegedly tried to find the bottom, but it was too deep even for this intrepid diver. He was nearly killed by a faulty tank compressor. The town was built in a kind of canyon, between steep rock walls, hence the name "closed valley," (Vaucluse) which ultimately became the name of the entire region. The river rushes over bright green plants, not algae, so the color is magnificent. Check out the photo above. Looks like a Monet painting, very green with a few ducks in the lower right corner!

I have discovered a kind of "marking" behavior in myself when it comes to these towns. I like to have a beer or a glass of wine sitting outside in a nice bar or cafe. Dawn likes it to be in the sun. Seems to make the visit complete. Also, when I have time to plan I try to put the visit in the middle of a hike. So once we have decided on the place we get out the hiking map and find a parking place on a trail that leads into town.

Some trails are on roads, we avoid them. Visiting St. Saturnin involved parking in a spot almost two hours away and a thousand feet higher. We wandered in past the old walls and 11th century church and walked down its Rue de la Republic to a bar that I knew would be there. Anyone can order a beer in French. "Deux demi-pressions, s'il vous plait" will get you two drafts. I knew it would be there, because twelve years ago Dawn and I had sat outside at a hotel across the small square and drank a couple of pitchers of wine while looking at this bar, "Bar des Amis". Good to go back.

Dawn led us back up the hill and after stopping to finish our snacks, she found her rhythm of breathing and stepping and we really motored our way. The up time and down time were nearly the same which is rare when I am hiking.

Véronique told us we should go see the Chateau La Coste. We decided it was too expensive, but when we got the same advice from an American who has a house in Provence, we took it. Glad we did.

We were heading to Aix anyway, and the weather forecast was great so we decided to check out the vast sculpture park that wanders through the vineyards in this very upscale setting. One of my favorite ways to encounter art, especially sculpture and built environments, is to walk through a beautiful place and come upon something either totally unexpected or so perfectly OF the place that you know the artist contemplated deeply the site and materials before making the work. This is always the case with Andy Goldsworthy. Our intrepid readers may remember how wowed we were by his four installations in the Presidio in San Francisco. Here he made a piece called Oak Room. Installed in a hillside with a narrow opening, the walls are lined with oak logs woven together and getting progressively smaller as they go up the walls until the center of the conical ceiling looks like a large bird's nest. I presume the logs came from what was already cut in order to plant the vineyard. Like the powder house installation in The Presidio in San Francisco, you really can't see it at all unless you wait for your pupils to dilate, adjusting from the bright sun outside to the relative darkness within.
Goldsworthy Oak Room
The Oak Room by Andy Goldsworthy
Tadao Ando'recycle piece
The arches are misbuilt
Bowl Spyder
Louise Bourgeoise
Another piece that acted similarly for me was Tadao Ando's Chapelle. He surrounded an old stone chapel with glass walls and a dark roof. Inside were simple benches and an empty altar-like piece of furniture. When you close the door behind you, it is again very dark. As you sit, you begin to see light through the altar and images of green foliage reflected in the edges of the altar. When you go behind the altar, you find three small ground-level apertures in the stone wall that are the light sources, and I think that mirrors built in to the edges of the altar reflect the green foliage from outside those small, low windows. If you stand and look even longer, a simple cross appears on the wall over the altar. I have no idea if the artist is Christian. With a Japanese name, he is more likely Buddhist, but religion as such seems irrelevant to the beauty of the experience. Ando has re-visioned a space traditionally made for prayer and asks us to take time, to really look, and to contemplate both outside and inside ourselves.


http://chateau-la-coste.com/en/walk/   http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-10698956

Above are links to the website and a BBC article.

He is also building a five star hotel and a wine making school. As it says in the BBC article, at one point he was considering having it not open to the public. The five most prestigious architects in the world are involved. The parking lot is buried in a building with a reflecting pool on top. It is beyond elegant. Not all the art was good, a group of foxes by the front man for REM comes to mind, but a very large percentage was.

Dawn hanging in Aix

hanging in Aix
The reason we went to Aix-en-Provence was to see a public rehearsal of a prominent dance company, directed by Angelin Preljocaj. They are celebrating their thirtieth year with an upcoming tour that includes the Joyce Theatre in NYC later this month. About ten years ago, the Ministry of Culture and others built the Pavilion Noir expressly as a rehearsal, performing and teaching space for this company. They install dance companies all over France, and even though cultural support is less than it was, I could only gape in amazement at such a nice setup, not to mention dancers and administrators on salary and a rehearsal mistress.. It was basically a "cleaning" rehearsal for the piece that was set to go on tour. They did some very nice contact work, and the four dancers were lovely. Unfortunately the choreographer was not present, but his rehearsal mistress ran the event.

Family Emergency

When there is a family emergency, it is really hard to be thousands of miles and nine time zones away. Our lovely Lily, almost eight-year-old granddaughter in San Francisco, has badly broke and dislocated her right arm in a playground fall. She's a trooper, but she's had a lot of pain, and her wonderful mom, my daughter Amber has had very little sleep. There has been some family help out there, but if I were home in Boston, I would have headed out there ASAP. Amber's dad and Stephen and I want to help Amber by hiring a household helper and/or home health worker. However, if none of these feel like the right fit for them, I will likely head to San Francisco early next week, once we have gotten up to Paris tomorrow. Things seem to be looking up a bit today, and Amber does not want to ask me to change travel plans abruptly, but still...once a mom, always a mom.

Well, and if I leave Stephen in Paris all by himself, you will have to stay tuned to see how he likes all the sports bars and the Moulin Rouge...

Stephen: I was just teasing her about the sports bars. I have never been to Paris without Dawn. What it would be like to be without her I have no idea.

We have been sitting at the Cafe de la Poste in Goult for the past hour or so. Writing and talking. We seem to be surrounded by characters from a French movie. The two white haired philosophers, the young couple exchanging occasional kisses, the guy with his bulldog who always sits at the same table, a bunch of contractors, most speak French some English. They come and go all managed by the Vietnamese waiter. He speaks all the necessary languages and greets everyone, some with the local three kiss greeting. I make the smallest gesture possible as he leaves the terrace with a full tray of empties, and am rewarded with another round of what we are drinking. Almost, Dawn's rosé is replaced with a white. Nobody is perfect.

Dawn's attention has been on Lily lately so we have had less energy for our town Goult. I think we have waited for them to come to us and have not been as forward as perhaps we should have been. We probably should have made a daily appearance at the cafe. So we have been a little isolated. But really enjoying our house and our walks in the country and our sitting in the morning. And cooking. We have not been supporting the local restaurants. We have a pressure cooker for the artichokes, a multi oven for fish, a espresso machine, pots galore, hundreds of glasses, a fireplace, the most comfortable bed I have slept in in a while. The leaves are bursting and we are a little sad to leave even though we are headed to Paris. It warmed up and is still warming up. Paris will be a little cooler.

We will see.

En Route

We are are en route to Paris on the TGV, the fast train, although it is a half hour behind schedule because apparently someone had an accident when boarding in Nice. We didn't get any details, just the request to be patient and understanding. Well, of course. (The next day we got an apologetic email from the TGV people for the lateness of the train, saying that the emergency team and their team did their best to keep the delay under one hour, and it was only about a half hour.)

It always amazes me how much of France is rural. As we go north, the countryside is beginning to get flatter, the farms more modern wth lots of cows and sheep. All that fabulous cheese has to originate somewhere. This reminds me of a brief interchange we had with Dominique, the father of the woman who owns the house we rented, and a man who was helping to prune the fig tree on the property. When they saw us walk off with shopping bags on a Thursday morning, they asked if we were going to the local Marché. What followed was various oohing and aahing about the strawberries and asparagus at this time of year. Although like in the USA, there are plenty of imported, off-season fruits and veggies available, there is still a great appreciation for cooking and eating according to the season.

Paris Again - April and May

Coming into the Garden

We are living on the ground floor of a building in the back of a courtyard. To the left is a picture of coming into the courtyard garden. It seems to to be a community garden, but I learned later that Pierrick did most of the work building it out of found materials. There is a table for two right outside, but we share it with everyone in the building. It is a new experience opening our outside door to this very cute space with no elevators or stairs. We eased our transition into urban Table in Garden life by buying some sandwiches and picnicking in the Jardin de Luxembourg, followed by a walk in the Bois de Boulogne. Now we are writing in the Naguerre, a bar/cafe on our street, standing at the bar because it is a dollar cheaper a round, but it also keeps us in the thick of things. We shared the bar with a couple of very cute kids and their dad. Next is shopping for dinner. We have a 21st century kitchen and a good market here so cooking is a pleasure.

The next day we had a day that looked like errands but it was not. We took our favorite bus now the 58, to Saint André des Arts to look at a Gallery that was exhibiting drawings from a book that we began to see all over Paris, 750 Ans (Years). The artist created a fictitious building and drew it as it might have appeared throughout the tumultuous events of Paris. In the last one, the building is covered with Je Suis Charley signs. On the way to our next galerie we passed Notre Dame and since the line was short, we went in. I think we feel that everyone who is in Paris should go to the Cathedral. You don't have have to read any of the history or try to understand the stories, but just take in the space. To us it seems magical, a striving for beauty.

Bois de Boulogne Stopping by the cathedral made us too late for the exhibition at the College des Bernardins, but we did get a chance to rest our feet and admire the entrance space of a converted monastery. Next, it was flowers for Isabelle. We were headed to her house for dinner. She loves white flowers and a beautiful cut stem of white orchids leapt out at me when we entered the shop. Then on to the Petit Cardinal for drinks with Pascal. He was on his way to work so a Perrier with lemon was his choice while we drank wine. Business is up in the hotels of Paris. Pascal works in a couple of hotels as he works on his novel. He says that since we saw him in February, occupancy rates have gone from twenty to seventy percent. Some of his hotels normally would have one hundred percent, so it is not perfect but better.

On to Isabelle's and Jean's. There were eight of us for dinner. Our hosts, Maggie and Ghislain, Ghislain's two sisters, and us. Normally I would have some editing help, to get all the names and spelt correctly, but more of that later. The hours flew by with delicious food, a beautiful bottle of wine that Ghislain brought, wonderful conversation in a a warm bath of friendship, old and new. We charged out at eleven so we could make our two buses home.

We continued the country scene for one more day by going to the Park Montsouris to have lunch. A cute park in the south of Paris.


But then culture begins to take over as we meet Isabelle at the Théâtre de la Ville for a performance of "Rice" by the Cloudgate Dance Company of Taiwan. Sitting in the second row, I was impressed with the power and center of the dancers, especially the woman. They remind me of the Martha Graham Company, not in technique, although there are similarities, but because I can feel the awe that people felt in the twenties and thirties when modern dance was born. Dance moved from the ethereal to the guttural. The dancer taking on all the strengths of the animal kingdom, but with a human clarity. Magic was everywhere.

Paris sans Dawn

Have taken a break from writing in a right bank bar to hear a Baroque counter-tenor concert and am now back on my street having the same beer that I had last night in the restaurant where Dawn and I had our last meal in Paris together. So I guess it is time to spill the beans. Dawn left Paris this morning on an Aer Lingus jet to Dublin with a change to San Francisco. She will land in about four hours (fourteen hours in all,) Inch'Allah. Lily, her granddaughter, broke her arm and dislocated her elbow a week or two ago in a playground apparatus fall and it has become obvious that they need Dawn out there to be another loving heart and an extra pair of loving hands. So she will be there probably for a week and come home in time for her book group the day after I fly in from Paris,.

I have no place else to live so I am staying in Paris by myself. Not actually alone. Here at the bar I've got Bruce and Bob Dylan on the sound system. Music is probably America's biggest export. I am headed over to Isabelle's tomorrow afternoon to help her with her computer to straighten out her photos.

(Now Dylan singing Like a Rolling Stone)

There is a possible art deal in the making if I have the courage. Do I go back to the Voyageur where Mommed and Isma only speak French. If we get a nice day, my Navigo will take me to Versailles. And there are still those sports bars.

(Moved on to that Cat Stevens classic and now No Woman, No Pride)

We went back to the Voyageur. Mommed did get our postcard from Marocco. He might be the only one. Isma, the young woman who works there came in. She looked great with a new hairdo. It is also a strange experience. There is immense affection between us but I am not sure what else, so I am just going to say for now maybe that is enough. Maybe for the world a little more affection would be good. Love and understanding could follow, but for now we could just have a little affection, for everyone.

Paris has been chilly and as Dawn left the temperature dropped some more.

(Cat Stevens is back with It's a Wild World.)

Coming back from Charles de Gaulle by myself duplicated a trip that I made back in the eighties when I came to meet Dawn in Paris at the Gare de Nord. Radial Engine This time of course she wasn't there. Well actually the first time she wasn't there either. It took us an hour to find each other. But today I had nobody to find so I headed out to the Saint Ouen Marché de Puces. It is thought to be the largest flea market in the world. I went into two out of the seventeen markets, maybe 300 vendors in each market.

(Ricky Nelson's Lonesome Town is up)

I saw a circular ten cylinder Curtiss-Wright airplane engine from the thirties. It is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in any kind of gallery or museum.


Stéphane Thidet is the name of the artist and he called this installation "Solitaire". Two rotating branches each trailing a "toe" in the black water that covers the floor of the chapel. They get one light apiece. They are so quiet that they suck the sounds that are coming from the next room out of my ears. The water seems a hundred years deep as the reflected creature lurks far below. Who is the dancer whose shadow progresses against the back wall, flinging her leg back in attitude? Every time is exactly the same and every time you see and feel a different world. A wraith swooning, a creature looking at its own beastly reflection, a shadow playing with the shadow that reflects off the water. Always the same, always different, always the same, always different.

College des Bernardins from on Vimeo.

There is always a place to have a coffee. Today, right outside the gallery in the gothic entrance hall. I did notice that they had a Nespresso machine (the one with the capsules) rather than an espresso machine. BernardinsOur second sighting.

I was headed over to Isabelle's to help her organize her photos on her laptop and took the opportunity to see this exposition that we missed last week. I may make a video with some clips that I shot when I get home.

Continuing Dawn's investigation, home can be a place that calls you, that lures you with its garden to putter in, it's gutters to clean, its computer to edit on and its comfortable bed to sleep in. A nest to live and work in. Paris is the anti-home. It lures you out. It wants to dance with you and show off its wares. It is always opening, always closing. You will always be missing something in Paris. The double edged sword.

Coming out of Isabelle's, I forgot to use the toilet, so I stopped in at Le Petit Cardinal. Coming upstairs from the toilets, I decided to have a Côte du Rhône. By the time I got my glass Pascal walked over, sat down next to me and apologized for leaving us with the tab for his Perrier the other evening. I said it is never a problem, but he saw it as rude. I told him that I wanted to wait to visit his friend Bruno's studio until Dawn and I were in Paris together. I also told him that I thought I would invite Jean, but I was getting cold feet about that. Pascal said that Bruno could handle anyone's comments. It seems a situation très complicated. Pascal left first and later when I went to leave, I found my wine paid for.

Jean Moulin was a Resistance hero who was sent by de Gaulle to France from England to bring all the resistance groups together. There is a museum about the Resistance named after him and since it is in my neighborhood I walked over there. France during the war is a very complicated issue. There were lots of Frances. The occupied France, the Vichy Government in the South, the Free France based in London and then Algeria. The museum itself is dark and hard to find and a little depressing. I think they told the true story but the Resistance was a small group and the rest of France was a large group.

I have uploaded a document called Allied Plans to Occupy France, 1942-1944. ©1991 Ted Rall. It is one person's idea of how liberation of France occurred. The document says that the U.S. planned to occupy France in the same way that it did Italy.

I went to the Louvre, mostly to see an exhibition of the work of Hubert Robert. I was going to go with Isabelle and Jean, but their plans changed. When the Louvre puts on a show, they can really put on a show. It was a huge collection of his work. I think when the Louvre asks to borrow a painting from your collection or museum, it would be a brave director to turn them down. It would mean not being able to borrow from them which would shut you out from making your own exhibitions since they have so much. He is the guy that painted ruins, mostly Roman, and you would recognize his work if you saw it. Most of what I know about European painting is about the impressionists and it is good to see one of the earlier painters.


Garden Window I gave a party. It was an idea that we started before Dawn left. It happened because I was talking to Dawn with my head out the window in the photo to the left to get more cell phone bars when Johanna and Pierrick came by. After I said goodbye to Dawn the idea just sort of came out. Not right at the moment I said because I had no food or wine, but maybe we could share some wine in the garden/courtyard at the little table outside my window. Maybe Thursday, the weather looks good.

On Thursday I bought some cheese, ham, bread and some raw shrimp plus a rosé to backup the bottler of nice French wine. that they said they would bring. When they arrived there was a bustle of activity with the glasses and food coming out the window, getting the corkscrew, then pouring and toasting. I made Dawn present at the party by showing Mémoire. Then I found out that Johanna was a filmmaker and we looked at her work online. She now gets commissions to do what she wants. We watched a tribute to Scarlet Johansson. Other people stopped by on their way through the courtyard on the way home, first Etienne, then Justine. They both went upstairs to bring down a little food and I went in to get more glasses. It turns out that Etienne is writing a novel about his family from Limousin, Pierrick is a poet and Justine is a skin doctor. The conversation was in both languages and everybody helped everybody and ideas were communicated. We talked about work, about writing, about families, about the Paris bubble. Etienne went upstairs again and brought down the last of his grandfather's plum eau de vie and some shot glasses, and we all drank with another toast. I asked him if he knew the recipe so that he could continue the tradition. He said yes which relieved me. I didn't want to drink the last of a man's work. The evening ended in another bustle of cleanup and passing things back in the window. After everyone left, I ate the shrimp that I didn't have time to cook and fairly soon after went to bed. During the party I found out that the Garden in the courtyard has mostly been made by Pierrick and I said I would like to make a contribution. The end result is that the garden has a new Azalea bush on the side next to the apartment.You can see it above in the photo of the table.

The Wrap Up

Retirement Home This week is easy. A long walk through Paris on May 1 which is Labor Day in much of the world. It is also lily of the valley day so there is someone selling the flowers every couple of feet.
Here is a photo of a retirement home in the heart of the fourteenth. Just a beautiful place. Everyone is out, the streets and parks are overflowing with families. I strolled through the Contemporary Art Fair that installs itself in Place Bastille every year. Last year we missed it because we went to Fontainebleau for an out of the city break. There was an amazing amount of good stuff, but luckily nothing leapt out and grabbed me. The fair's tents are set up along the canal St. Martin, and in the plaza itself the worker organizations had set up stations with half of them having music either live or recorded. On the steps of the Opera Bastille itself is a hundred piece brass band playing away I don't know what. I think it was a just come and play event because the band wasn't organized by instrument. Richard Lenoir People probably just played next to their friends. A good time was had by all. It was quite a job for the conductor. I couldn't see him, he was hidden by the crowd, but I knew he was there because all the players were focused on him.

Then it was down Richard Lenoir, past the Bataclan (I couldn't take a picture. It just seems wrong to me.) to the Place de la Republique. A younger crowd having a relaxed day.

To get home I took a bus to the Luxemburg Gardens and walked through. This has been my spiritual center of Paris. The citizens of Paris were out in force, Luxemburg Gardens

Paris, as we all know, would have been more fun with Dawn there, but it wasn't bad by myself. It seemed sympathetic to my plight and did the best it could.

France, I guess we'll come back until we do it right. It pulls us with its food and wine and people. My language skills have gone up one small notch, but they need more improvement. I can now hear the price of things when I ask for it, though I did miss the ten centimes the other day. I did help an American woman and her granddaughter when they were trying to discuss cheese with the fromagier. She couldn't remember the word for strong.

Also, we need to make more connections in order to make any place that we are feel like home.

Morocco - if I could arrange it, I'd be tempted to go live in the mountains for a month, but it might take more courage than I could muster.

Guadeloupe, firstly and lastly. - Looking back through this trip, we remember it as a beautiful place that put few demands on us. There was time to meditate, time for a swim., time to read. When we woke up it was always 72 degrees, mid afternoon it was 82. One day might be cloudier or rainier, but the island was always easy on us.

What are our next travels? We don't know and I am not going to speculate without Dawn here, but we are taking suggestions. We are learning that we would like a few more contacts at the places we go to, writers, videographers, dancers, whatever.

Paris to Dublin to San Francisco is a long trip. It is made somewhat easier by going through American customs at the Dublin airport so by the time you land in San Francisco (or anywhere else in the States), you just claim your bag and walk out. While I missed an interesting week in Paris, I am glad that my last eight days of this trip were spent with my San Francisco family. Lily is gradually healing, and I was able to help celebrate her eighth birthday on May 2.

No matter how many times I have flown across the country, when it is a clear day like yesterday, I cannot watch a movie or read much of a book. To look down from 30,000 feet at the Pacific Coast, the Sierras, the Grand Canyon, the red rock country and desert, then the snow-covered Rockies is still astounding. How vast and varied is the American West! It was another long trip, from SFO to LAX, then to Boston, so I was very happy and grateful that Stephen had gotten our car running, took a day getting the insurance reinstated and managed to get new plates just before the RMV closed. It was great to see him, and it feels good to be homei in spite of this cold weather. It is my fourth spring this year! First in Provence, then in Paris, then in San Francisco, and now here in Boston.
Dawn and Stephen
Thank you very much for reading and commenting once in a while. It was a pleasure to write.
Dawn and Stephen

Introduction   Guadeloupe    A Week in Paris    Morocco     Southern France    Paris Again

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