Friday, September 6, 2013

These Diary Excerpts 31/8-5/9

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

I missed the bloody bus. Have to stay in Nice for another night. (Hostel operator informed me that because it was a seasonal bus, and one of the last to run at its time, I probably missed it because it didn't run, due to the driver being disinterested).

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

-Up and at 'em early, gonna make that bus.
-Beautiful bus ride. Got to St. Martin Vesubie by 10:30. This is the Alps. This air, this town. Or should I say village. There are little fountains everywhere, all safe to drink from. The one in the village green has a chemical composition list. Wow. I haven't tasted water this pure and wonderfully cold in a long time. If ever.
Children at play. Tourists in shops. Mostly elderly, like those on the bus up.
-Wearing in the body. New blisters every second. Everything aches a bit. Didn't realize just how out of shape I have become. Sitting in an apple orchard that has been converted into a little restaurant. Making good time, despite everything. Looks like I'll eventually settle to an average of 5kph. That may improve over time. Should be able to knock out 25-30k per good day on the road. (Hah. Ahaha. Ahahahahahaha.)
Funny Sidenote: My beard is coming into its own, now that I've given it a month to grow, and, as with loing hair, I am discovering a whole world of new problems. Drinking is different. Water stays in the hairs now, too. Better for quizzical stroking, though. On the whole, I am quite interested to see what another month of growth will bring.
-Two dudes pull over. One says get in. 15 minutes later, after I am informed that my country has entered yet another 'conflict', I realize we are going the wrong way after the new turn.  Finally get the dudes to stop, and I am 9k south of the turn, as well as about 300m lower. Funnily, it's roughly the same distance as before. Fun adventure. (Never start a journey on a Sunday. Old Irish saying. Wish I had remembered. This is where the fun begins.)
-It's 8. I'm wet (it rained for a while) and sore and too tired to walk much farther today.

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

-Bedded down on a not-so-friendly park bench, but the rain had gotten me wet, as well as the sweat. Didn't realize how cold it would get. All my layers couldn't keep me warm. Snuck in two REM cycles thanks to melatonin. Up by three, not tired enough to counteract the cold, so I hit the road. I have not felt these depths of misery and despair in a great while. The walk was cold, then I would heat up and sweat, then be forced to stop due to exhaustion, freezing me even more.
The result is that now here I am, sitting in a little courtyard in a small village called Roubion, covered in dry sweat, hungry, literally almost exhausted, and with only one major problem (Hahaha). This little village appears to be in short supply of card readers, and I only have 50e in cash at present. THerefore, I may be forced into something drastic, cause I don't think I can walk much further.
Did I mention I gained 800m of elevation on this morning's little 8k jaunt?
Village. Town. Hamlet, even. A small grouping of houses with a few communal shops. Fascinating people. Some of these folks may have been here all their lives.
This would be the place to move to. A small house or apartment, a strong car for the winter snows, and a stack of pens and paper. These people seem so unassuming. Small wonder, considering they are almost completely isolated from the world.
That would be a good life. A hostel to run, a book to write, a lover to warm. Simple pleasures. If the last 24 hours have taught me anything, it's that the basics should never be taken for granted.
-Finally cut through a pass into a new valley. Just walked down, see a sign for Boeil (local village that my map indicates has some quantity to it) that points to a trail. Alright. Walk down a ways.
-Enter pure white and extremely fluffy puppy. Say hi. Wags tail. Start down the path. Follows me. Looks hungry, so I give it a little bread and some water. Keeps following me. 5k later I've reached the road again. Again. Still following me. Walk up to Boeil. Still following me.
Eventually it stops to play with some kids. Reappears later, and a local busybody asks if it's mine. Nope. She calls around based on where I said it found me, and eventually it becomes clear who the dog belongs to. Some women come and collect it.
Goodbye friend. Not much of a conversationalist, but a good listener.
-Took a hotel room. 'Bout to go take a hot bath and a cold beer. Some quality shuteye.
(I gained and lost a total of roughly 1400m this day)

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Holed up in a hotel to rest and recuperate. Backside of right knee is tender. (Everything else was too).

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

My sweat attracts and ungodly qamount of flies and gnats and other small buzzers. Very frustrating while trying to write. Or pee.
Walking the road down. See a trail that is going the same direction. Why not. Pretty views, lovely countryside.
-Small little collection of tiny stone cottages, maybe 7 or 8. Broken down, probably abandoned since the second World War. Strange location. I can't help but look at these miniature houses and wonder about the lives of the people who lived here.
-Came across a few forest keepers. They informed me that the path I was on would lead me to a lovely town that was not in the direction I was wishing to go. I turned around and walked the 2-3k back, then wandered down the road for the afternoon. Knee started to get touchy again, and going straight downhill for 10k was a problem as well. Stopped for a snack, and when I got up again, I knee I didn't have the last 7k in me.
Luckily, the road I was on happens to be a bus route, and the bus was one hour away, so I teetered to the next stop and picked it up. (For those of you wondering, I hadn't taken it early because it only ran once a day in the late afternoon. I got REALLY lucky with this)
-Touet sur Var is a nice enough town. The train comes in a little under two hours, which gives me time for a few drinks and to explore the 'city'. The train should reach Digne by 8:45, which should give me time to grab a hotel for the night. Hopefully.
Wandering around in the mountain villages, I finally have come to realize something. A thing may be bizarre to someone seeing it for the first time, but normal to the point of boring for someone who has seen it all their life. (Familiarity breeds contempt).
-This bistrot I am sitting in has a collection of foreign money up behind the bar. Gave the barman one of my 1$, and he taped it up. Always wanted to do that.
People engaged in the fine art of getting by. One day after another. "What do I do for a living? I live for a living."
For some reason that kind of life seems so wonderful to me. Satisfying in its roughness. The simple pleasures are so much better. Cold water tastes like fine wine. A clean bed feels like the palanquin of an empress.
I should open up a youth hostel. Not sure where though. Somewhere in the U.S.? Maybe take a look through Lonely Planet, see where needs hostel-izing.
I'd need a team.
Karl might help. Perhaps Emilio too. Maybe even somebody from on the road. (Idle thoughts, guys, don't get excited).

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

-This hotel has a piano, and after 2+ months, the first song gave me such a rush.
-Bus for Marseille airport about to leave. Hop on.
-Found a hostel in Mareseille. Nice and cheap, a bit of trouble at first but things smoothed themselves out. I have secured cheap lodging for 5 nights. Plenty of time to explore the city, write some of "---------", and rejuvenate my knee.

Friday, September 6th, 2013

First laundry in a while. Bought some new boots, the old ones were too small. Looking at backpacks, my current one has done a number on my back. Met a cool Australian couple yesterday, the dude had a 10 inch beard that was red and braided. Awesome. They left today, but we had a good long conversation last night.

(I am sharing mostly everything, apart from a few private notes to myself. This is the trial and error phase, as you can see.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

This Bloody Language

I am terribly sortry for the long delays, and especially for this being nothing more than a sign saying hang in there. I am once again on a french keyboard, ands I really cant write on this thing; so until I can find a better keyboard, not to mention a less virus riddled computer, I will leave you all with a short blurb about this bloody language.

Learning a new language is hard. No, really. I am fairly certain most if not all of you reading this have tried to learn another language at some point in your dissolute pasts, and some of you even suceeded. Good for you. Have a beer.

It might even have been easy for some of you. I will admit, I used to think nothing of my rudimentary knowledge of french, having had it ever since my time in Switzerland as a 5 year old. Now that I have had more time to meditate on it, though, I am beginning to appreciate those 6 months more and more, primarily for their timing. For those of you who dont know, the first 6 years or so of your life are a critical phase for the growth of many things, like bones and lungs muscles and varied internal organs. For the lucky few, those 6 months are also the time when your brain starts to grow. More important than this, though, is that, like a plant that gets turned sideways and grows with a 90 degree turn in it, if you are exposed to stuff during those 6 months, it permanently changes the physical makeup of your brain. Or something like that, most of this is coming from half-remembered conversations with my mother. 

The point being, if you learned a language then, its almost too easy to speak it. Like Ryan and Adam, my new friends the yemeni brothers, who are fluently quadra-lingual (Arabic, castilian, spanish, and english). How cool, right? Must have taken them a lot of time to learn that, right? Yea, they did study some since then, but most of it is literally natural for them. 

The other half of this post is really short, because I am 5 sentences away from snapping this keyboard in half. Most of you are native english speakers. Lets say that your brains are computers that are operating on OS 10.7, a macintosh operating system, because I am a hipster. 

Now imagine a friend took your computer, wiped it, and put Windows on it. When you first boot that bad boy up, and instead of that friendly munched-on apple, you see whatever absurd re-imaging of the flag they are using now...

Bricks would be shat.

Its not a perfect analogy, I know, but the point is similar. You would still have your computer, with its old strength, and the same programs, mostly, but nothing feels right, everything is just weird and you dont know how things work.

Like trying to write on a bloody french language keyboard. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

These Diary Entries #2

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
~I'm standing in the middle of yet another pedestrian walkway, listening to a 4-piece band made up of two violins and two accordions doing a cover of a classical song so well know I can't remember its name. A woman just came out of the church across the way and asked them to move because they were too loud. They moved, and barely started up again before three absurdly attractive policewoman (a disproportionately large amount of the female police officers I have seen have been very, very pretty. 4/5, atleast. Maybe it makes their job easier to be pretty, I donno, I don't want to judge, just making an observation) came over and got on their case. I guess accordion bands in the street are too french for the tourists.
~Several openly gay couples. Gotta love big cities.
~It's a battle of the loudspeakers here. I just passed five consecutive sets of massive setups, each one booming its own unique MC or humorously vulgar english song, one of which proclaimed loudly to an audience with more than it's fair share of kids that "I wanna fuck with you."
~I have come across an ascetic. He has written a note in pale white stones across a smoothed expanse of fine gravel. The message is obsucre, some has been blown over and left in disrepair. He sits, cross legged, smoking a hand rolled cigarette.
~A moulin of piled rocks stands four feet tall beside him, with a shorter, presumably incomplete sister next to her. Beside that is a crude shelter, just large enough for him to crawl up inside.
~A young man approaches and speaks words I cannot hear. The ascetic stretches out onhe long, bown leg, reachs into a pocket, and hands the young man a pouch. The young man unravells it, rolls himself a cigarette, and leaves.
~A time passes. The ascetic stands, holding three large stones. He turns, stretches his arms, and juggles. He is not skilled, but that doesn't appear to disturb him. A man behind me calls for his attention, and he stands still for a photograph.
~A time passes. He stands again and walks away. I stay behind, and let my attention wander. The beach is sparsely crowded...(I shortened this section into This Topless Beach)
~Behind me, the crowd continues to circulate. Nobody but me has stayed longer than a few minutes. They ask each other what it is, and tell each other its a poem, a song, in another language, gibberish.
In the distance I can hear the hum of generators and the boom of poorly mixed club music, out of place in the heavy afternoon sun. As I write this, a breeze picks up. Naturally.
~Slowly, passage by passage, I make out the bulk of the message. "The message of all religion is peace" reads one section. "Day after day now no present now past now peace erase the past." "Think about revolution." "The crisis disrupts poor people.""Norway the world is awaking. " "Humanity peace we trust." "Wars crime touch poor crisis no peace fuk you."
It occurs to me that either this 'ascetic' needs to relearn english, or he is simply cracked.
~I just watched a man, a woman, and a dog go by me. The man and the woman were riding on bikes. The dog, a medium sized mutt, was standing on the hunched over back of the man.
~They've been very stupid about this whole thing. Probably 8-10 km of packed beach, and the road next to it is on complete lockdown (for the Tour de France). Nobody gets across. Nobody. There's minimal shade to be had, and the race won't be over for hours yet. Between each flight is anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, which makes me wonder how this is a race. Timed? Who cares it's too hot to care. (I should clarify, I have nothing against biking, but I can't help but laugh at those sperm helmets they wear, Craig I'm looking at you. It seems to me that if they can wear gear scientifically tested to make them faster, and most of them are already using the first 40 years of their life to focus all their energy on something that will likely break their bodies and probably not be that useful to them once they are done, maybe a little juicing isn't totally unreasonable. It's like the olympics, people bust their asses day in and day out for years just to place 16th in an event that a vast majority of humanity probably doesn't care about. Can you imagine if the curling guys were allowed to juice?I'd watch the shit out of that. If we're gonna force these athletes to forgo preparing for a viable career, atleast we can give them the opportunity to literally become superhuman. All I'm saying. This wasn't well thought, so don't hate me please. I love you Craig, and gods know I have nothing but respect tinged with jealousy for you and your casual 25 miles jogs back from the tennis courts.)

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
~I got my hands on a free newspaper, and it looks like I'm in for an undending chain of festivals and events.
~I'm back to washing my clothes by hand, and it's giving me flashbacks of Africa. Ironically, they had a better setup out in the bush than I do in my apartment shower. There's a subtle cultural difference for you, though. Just moved in, and there is a washing bucket in the bathroom and a drying rack on the balconey. I've never handwashed my jeans before, I think it's draining the color.

   "What cannot be thought with the mind, but that whereby the mind can think: Know that alone to be Brahman, the Spirit: and not what people here adore."
                                                                                                -Kena Upanishad

~Boiled the crap out of a bunch of potatoes, carrots, and broccoli, put some scrummy goat cheese on top, called it a stew, and gobbled it up. Still have most of it left, actually. Bloody laundry has taken all day to dry, and because I'm really smart, I washed both of my pants, so I have been stuck inside.
~Got myself pretty badly sunburnt yesterday (during my impromptu 8 mile walk to get around the impassable road). Head, forearms.
~I think I may have damaged my left metatarsal arch.
~(written on a main pedestrian walkway) I think maybe 1/3 of these people are wearing clothing that is wildly inappropriate for them and their body type. On the other end of the specturm, though, every so often somebody will walk by who is an absolute vision.
~These teeming hordes of humanity... I can feel my writer's soul swelling over with inspiration (how's that for conceited? i guess I got caught up in the moment). Each one a story, each story a lifetime, each lifetime a treasure. Would that I could say I thought they were all unique.
~It's remarkable how much one can discern from a single glance. Happy couples, angry couples, couples of convenience. Lonely men, single women, jungry hunters, and the hopelessly out of depth.
~This is the first eim I've lived in a city of consequence. I'd forgotten that. No offense, Columbia and Boone, but let's be serious.
~The Playmakers at Watauga did a sketch during Punchline of '09, I believe it was, with Ethan Woodring and some girl, maybe Jessica Presnell. Regardless of who was in it, it was poorly written and sloppily executed, as per usual for that august collection of thespians (I'm allowed to say that, I was one at one point), but the concept was intriguing. It concerned the idea that exists amongst the more attractive people of this world that, by dint of their being attractive, they must therefore only ever engage in relationships with people of an equally attractive nature. Physically speaking of course. Gods forbid I should open up the can of worms that is the mind of a self-affirming attractive person.

"I'm not going to rape her. I'm going to fuck her."
                                                                                    -Salvador San

~There does';t appear to be much middle ground. Either their clothes are tighter than their own skin, or loose enough to set sail with.
~It occurs to me that women will almost always be inherently more attractive than their partners. Nature of the beast.
~These guys are amazing. I think samba dancers would be hard to pressed to beat the fluidity some of these skaters have. (I asked one of them, a youngish lad of maybe 16, how many hours of practice, and he said about 4 hours a day for 8 months. He was amazing, he did things with inline skates that I still am not are actually possible.)

Thusrday, July 4th, 2013
Happy independence day.
~Went for a swim, water was cold, but imagine it's wonderful come the afternoon sun.
~I think my pseudo-stew has finally reached the end of its lifespan. Starting to taste a bit funky. Well, funkier.

This Topless Beach

Short post, and poorly written, this computer is really slow and has a french keyboard. I wrote in my diary about this, but I can summarize a revelation Ive made concerning boobs.

Boobs are like kangaroos. The first few topless women you see are awesome, just like the first few kangaroos you see when you get to Australia, but after a while, when you start to realize just how many topless women there are, it gets difficult to get excited about them. There are exceptions of course, for the kangaroos who are boxing and for the boobs that are especially perky, but in general, theyre just, you know...

Everywhere. Never thought Id see the day Id got blase about boobs.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

These Diary Excerpts #1

(Italics signifies added during the type up, '~' signifies a jump in time or a skipped passage.)

Sunday, June 30th, 2013
First flight. Still sunday, 11:45pm in the Icelandic airport (Keflavic). What a strange sight, sunlight by midnight.

Monday, July 1st, 2013
Time is a little fuzzy up here in the clouds, but I'm fairly certain it is monday by now. Somewhere, at least. In the meantime, I am about one hour out from Paris, and from thence, a few hours more to reach Nice by midday.
That's when the fun really begins. Things will either be very fortunate, or very much not so, depending upon the helpfulness of the administrating staff of the Estudine.
~Bloody shaking plane makes it hard to write.
~Sitting here in a small coffee niche in Charles-de-Gaulle (airport in Paris), drinking airport price coffee, sweating profusely after a very thorough bag check, and I can't help wonder...
What the hell am I doing?
~Last flight. Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more into the breach.
~This last flight was most enjoyable, I spent it silently observing the most delightful French family. Two little boys who I am now convinced are the definition of "petit gamin" (French phrase for a excitable litte somewhat difficult to translate), a very exhausted mother with a wan but cheerful smile, and a leathery father with salt and pepper hair and an expression as long suffering as his wife's is wan. The younger gamin has yet to successfully get all of the chocolate snack he ate off of his face, something that I think perturbs his mother more than he.
~Well, I'm here, although I'm still not quite sure where here is.

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
I have an apartment now, and, I must say, its not bad for a crappy student apartment. The electricity was bit wonky for a while, but everything is straightened out now. I'm off to walk back into the city now, in search of a clothing store (shirt and shorts, no luck so far), an internet cafe, and adventure.
~Sitting here in a medium sized outdoor cafe (as far as I can tell, there is no other kind here) on a main drag in Nice. The city appears to be swollen with tourists for the Tour de France, which starts at 11am today (supposedly).
~This church is old. I don't know it's name or how old it actually is, but I can feel the years in it. At least, I think I can. Strange, the power of a large quiet place. Ornate inlay of gold colored paint, old paintings of biblical stories adorn statue-riddled niches. Candles, Candles everywhere. A large group of foreigners, mainly children, and the moment is no longer infinite. Camera flashes, cellphone dings, and the general rustle of bags, shoes, and humans.
~Another church. Bigger. Modernized. There is no magic here.

This Silly Country

What a strange place. I have met a clockmaker with a benign essential tremor that would outdo a man with cerebral palsy, I have been to a internet cafe that doesnt accept credit cards, and I am currently on a computer that wouldn't allow me to access Gmail, and suggessted I switch from Chrome to another program. That's Google Chrome. The same source as Gmail. Google Mail. Wouldn't work on Google Chrome.


The apartment in nice on paper, quick to get into, and reasonably shitty. It suits my purposes wonderfully, though. There is a mini kitchen, although I think calling it a kitchen is an insult to kitchens everywhere. The bathroom is fine, I even have my own 'shower'. There is some crappy furniture, just as expected, and the electricity didn't work when I first moved in, but everything is straightened out now.

I forgot to mention the other crazy thing. Guess what today is? 2nd of July. Guess what happens on the 2nd of July? The Tour de France starts on the Nice coast. Guess how many fucks the locals give? Zero. Here's the kicker, though. Guess how many tourists actually saw the event itself? Also zero, because nobody told anybody when it was actually going to start until after it had started. I gave up around 1000 when the vast majority of the people who had "come to see the Tour de France" flocked to a artificial tourist trap set up inland a few blocks.

Anyhow. That's about the size of it. I'm going to start posting separate sections with transcribed excerpts from my diary, which I write in real time. I've removed some of the more personal bits, but what remains may prove interesting to somebody.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Trip Sunday

"Ok, so where all are you going on this trip?"
"What, you mean the thing on sunday when I am going to France and then around the world?"
"Yea, this trip sunday. Where are you going?"

(actual conversation with my mother)

It's 4:24 AM sunday, Boone, time, and shit's getting tight. My bag is almost packed, I have some laundry left in the drier, and I really hope that I get to sleep on at least one of my flights, because I am a tad tired. It should come as no surprise to anyone that it is rather difficult to sleep the night before flying a third of the way around the world without anything remotely resembling return plans.

The first misadventure is already Well Underway. I never successfully arranged for accommodations during the language immersion program, so my plan is as follows:

1. Change many dollars into many euros.
2. Take euros to student housing apartment complex.
3. ???
4. Profit.

I'll also have, you know, a copy of my student identification and a copy of my passport. At least I think I do. Worst comes to worst, I have to slum it in a hostel for a few days. Indeed, first order of business is registering in a hostel Monday morning, so I at least have a place to stay monday night. I am really hoping that the apartment works out, though, because, you know, bachelor pad on the French Riviera during the summertime.

Wink wink.

4:40. Time to go soon. I regret to report that I do not think I will be capable of eating my customary Cinnabon in the Charlotte airport. I say that now, but I'll probably have to eat my own words in the nxt post. Which, by the way, should be by Tuesday at the latest.