Bits of the trip

January 15, 2015

Back home, well home but no home yet. I am awaiting answers I meet friends tonight and maybe before long I’ll have a room-place to call home for a while. My head is still in travels and other worlds… This journey has been good for me. We had all sorts of adventures, we froze, went up and down hills, towns and mountains, walked, saw, talked, thought, shared, met new people we will never forget.

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I came back stronger. For the first time in a long time I feel strong. It is a good feeling. I have images in my mind of so many things. Like the garbage bags in Spain that looked like someone curled into the sidewalk trying to sleep. Like the dog looking out the window of the second floor like a person, like the never ending waves of the Atlantic. The words too, the words of Serge, Albertina, Jean, Natalia, Ricky (his words and his voice!). I can feel the cold of the night in Paris as we tried to hitch a ride unsuccessfully, then the heat of the endless shower I took in the hotel room that looked like a mental hospital ward that I rented for a night. The faces of thousands of French drivers, spinning around a round point, cursing us, ignoring us, fearing us, gesticulating at us from behind their windshields in a so very French way as our thumbs obstinately stayed up and our hopes were going down. The sun in Porto, the art in Barcelona, the woods up the hill in Barcelona, putting our hands in the North sea in La Hague, then into the Mediterranean and finally into the Atlantic. The impossibly cold but and as impossibly magical night in Lyon when we walked the old city ooh and ahwing at the wonders of its buildings and places awaiting for an early morning bus. The taste of a croissant from “Le Péché Mignon” boulangerie, as it expanded in my mouth while in Carcassonne. The sight and feel of the river that flows through Carcassonne. The friendliness of the crepe guy at “La Porte d’Italie” in Paris. The way my body at one point finally just said: “OK, I’ll be strong and stop complaining about all these kilometers…”

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I didn’t write as I normally do… we went non-stop. Had to. But here are some bits and stories:

The Crippled Barcelona Lady

Oh shock… I tried to help, and failed so badly. I was walking down this beautiful Barcelona street when I saw this woman with a marchette, trying to open a building door to get out, the marchette clumsily in the way, so I approached full of good intentions and good will and reached and pushed to open the door for her but too late I realized that within a micro moment, inescapably she was toppling backwards, falling, her head going to hit the ground. I was totally horrified and totally helpless. Noooooooo!!!!!! is what I thought… She fell lightly, with a feathery plop she hit the ground. She was very small, frail, elderly, wearing a green coat, she had dyed brown hair, I was completely petrified in horror at the same time my mind working overtime thinking of law suits, about me killing an old woman, about the helplessness I felt as she fell while and I was stuck between the walker the door and unable to help her. MY good will turning into an evil deed.

What did I just do?!!? I rushed to her side. Her motions were slow, her eyes fixedly staring ahead, then she focused on me, said something that I could not understand. All I could say was “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I was trying to help…” I brought her to a seated position, she asked something, her hand going to the back of her head … sangre.. she asked. No, no there is no blood… “no sangre” I said lamely. Then her eyes took a malignant expression, mean, angry, bitter, Her eyes like daggers…she laid into me with Spanish curses. I know. Some things don`t need dictionaries to be understood. she was just going on about how stupid I am. She said: “loco” making the unmistakable angular circular motion of the hand by the side of the head that means crazy. I was mortified. I so wished I could communicate but no. I was glad she could speak but also mortified about the result of my actions. I tried to help her up, she shooed me away angrily, her tone like a knife. Since I could not do anything I left hurriedly, shamed, guilty. I turned the next corner tears rolling down my face. OMG, OMG, OMG… Doesn’t matter how good your intentions are. You can really turn your fate and another`s in an instant.

***

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The Atlantic

Porto’s memories could be summed up in Albertina and the Atlantic. I went back to the Atlantic, everyday. Wild child crashing on the rocks, its racing waves rushing as if trying to reach some finish line, the spray lifting, the white froth like mad lace weaving and undoing itself. I could not pull myself away from this spectacular show, feeling restless and sad when I did. Oh the sound, the smell, the air… We took our shoes off, yes it’s January but it had to be done, we had to feel the bite of the ice water on our bare skins. Oh to become a molecule of water and celebrate life like this. Smash and spray up, like in a dance all of us water molecules. Oh to return to a primal form. Exist as this infinitely minimalist expression of life, floating, being one with this massive entity. Being everything all at once… the infinitesimally tiny and the impossibly huge.

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After that, when I begrudgingly come back to the street, the cement, the humanity, I feel almost angry. All that noise and human useless complexities that mean nothing, things that are there just to make us think we`re important, that our daily doings mean so much in the scheme of the universe. Busy. Necessary. But we’re not. We’re unimportant multi-cellular structures in a dog eat dog system, where one must eat another in order to survive, and we survive, but why? Because we feel we must? Because we were born? I walk and tears come up, the body feels tight, uncomfortable, useless, and every person around; the women in their noisy heels, stupid make-up, like animals in a mating ritual, attempting to achieve the societally dictated prettiness, acceptability, wearing poisonous perfumes… and the males full of this primal pride and chest pounding instinct, strutting around importantly no matter what demographic they belong to… it all seems so pointless. Stupid. I feel a huge sadness, a longing for a bare placeless place where all the artifices and lies have gone. I feel a need to be erased from this mad world. To be back Home… But I catch myself. Wipe the tear. No one could possibly understand and it’s not fair to my travel companion for me to dwell in these shadowy rememberings of things that no one accepts as real.

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***

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Porte D’Italie

We never got a ride. We spent 4, 5 hours the first night, frozen solid, with a sign saying “Sud” (South) we were trying to head to Carcassonne in the South of France for a concert I was to play on Friday night. We walked around some and I lost my courage and walked in a “Ibis Budget Hotel” lobby at this point not caring anymore about spending the very little money I have for this trip.

We walk inside and a strange sensation grabs us both
“This looks like it was a hospital…”

“It sure does.”

We walk up the red tile stairs and face the lobby, but it’s not a lobby it’s a hospital reception desk. Unmistakably.

“How much for a room?”

“90 Euros plus 8 Euros fee…”

“Ah Merci, it’s too much for us. Can we sit and use the internet for a little bit?”

“Oui, oui, allez-y…” But a few moments later he asks: “Combien êtes vous prêts à payer? Je pourrais vous faire le special internet a 65 Euros.”

“Uh non merci, c’est plus que ce qu’on peut faire.”

I had had thought that my maximum amount would be 50 Euros, he’s offering the room for 65, but 15 Euros for us means 1.5 day of food… In all truth, 50 is insanely expensive for my budget, not affordable. so I said no and asked if we could use the internet to try to figure out what to do next. We barely sat down on the black couch that the receptionist offers:

“I’ll do it for 50 Euros, but you have to leave before noon.”

“D’accord.”

“Chambre 406”

“Merci” He hands me the plastic card key that has a little bit of paper with 406 written on it taped to the card.

We find the stainless steel elevator that still says `hospital’ and we go up. I’m so cold. There is a point where all reluctance to spend money disappears. That point can vary greatly depending on fatigue, hunger, mood, length of day, amount of KM covered in the last 24 hours. I guess I could have waited longer but I didn’t want to could not. We get to the 4th floor and find our door, fumble with the key card then get the green light and enter.

Wow. There were spirits in there, there were energies of the ills and diseases in there, you could almost hear a heart rate monitor beep. It was spartan, not a hint of character. The white bed, everything immaculate, the size of the room, the little counter imbeded in the wall, the high set TV rack hung up high near the ceiling, the sad rectangular window, i had not realized until now how the design of a hospital room is so typical. In the bathroom, completely tiled, there is a hospital chair of white plastic and round tubing, you know the ones with the middle of the seat cut out for people who cannot get up to shit… all white. All immaculate. All sterilized looking and absolutely creepy. But there was HOT water, endless hot water and with it we increased our carbon footprint greatly by taking this double digit time shower. And there was a bed with crisp sheets and blankets and we promised to get up early and raise our thumbs up again tomorrow and vowed that we would conquer the frigidity of Parisian drivers and get a ride to Lyon.

***

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