Pierre the Pumpkin | Halloween 2017 in Montpellier, France | Day of the Dead

Montpellier, and France in general, doesn’t celebrate Halloween, but I do.

I spoke to soon.

Pleasant surprise, last night on Halloween, October 31st, Montpellier’s historic section was full (as usual), yet with a significant number of people in costumes on the mostly pedestrian narrow streets.

And unlike one random secular holiday, France celebrates the ‘Day of the Dead’ which is for them November 1st, for a full week. A week off from school! What?

the joint team grinder, Marlboro tobacco, lighter and OCB papers

grinder, Marlboro tobacco, lighter and OCB papers

As people do often in Montpellier, and in a lot of French towns, they walk around, hence the word promenade – both describing a verb to walk, and a noun, a central commons. Last night after pulling a costume together, I headed into town. Since I had covered a lot of distance bicycling during the day, I raced to catch the tram passing me as I was heading into town, to get on it with my bike. I was surprised and happy to see a group of three girls in costume getting on the train at the same time as I. They proceeded to take one after another selfie. There was another guy sitting alone with a black lace veil and scary looking eyes, when I could see them. He would reveal fangs every once in a while. His head remained straight ahead, perhaps slightly bent down. Duh, he was probably looking at his cell phone. The phone was the only thing out of place as he walked from the train in his black clad macabre nun costume. The train arrived at the central plaza in town by the historical center, la Comedie. Once I maneuvered my bike off at this stop I saw all sorts of costumes.

It was clear that this is one of those rare French towns that clearly does celebrate Halloween. It helps when 25% of the population are students. Sure, it was a small percentage, but this meant an ever flowing bunch of costumes. As I’ve mentioned, people in the town of Montpellier love to stroll, promenade, and certainly tourists as well. They gather in cafes and bars that spill into the streets.

I saw some really pretty scary, realistic looking wounds. wow! Yet only took a few pictures of costumes. There were a bunch of excellent, graphically real looking facial wounds and some very clever home-made costumes. One woman was a walking laundry basket. The group shot I took was because I walked up to a guy with a large metallic looking thing, asking “what is that?”. “I’m a grinder; explaining that they were the joint roller brigade; consisting of the grinder, OCB rolling paper, a pack of Marlboro and a lighter.

Pierre the Pumpkin Halloween in Montpellier, France 2017, where Halloween isn’t celebrated

Today, November 1st isn’t a holiday for me, but it is for France. I was wondering why the copy shop I went to was closed, looking at the sign and knowing it wasn’t that late, perplexed. As I paused on a tree-lined street with my bicycle closer to the center of town, I randomly asked a strolling couple with their two toddlers, “is today a holiday or something?” gesturing at the barricaded shops. They answered, we don’t speak french, we speak English. “It’s the Day of the Dead.” I mean, I knew the kids have a week off from school, but I wasn’t really sure what specific day this holiday landed on. I said, it would be crazy to think of people getting a week off from school for Halloween. I laughed. He’s a diplomat, originally from Flemish Belgium and she’s Turkish. They lingered. We talked for a while. I said I hadn’t remembered Day of the Dead being celebrated in Germany, mentioning I lived in Berlin, knowing they have a large Turkish population. She quickly retorted that Berlin has the largest Turkish population outside of Istanbul. He said “sure, it wouldn’t be celebrated in Germany, they’re Protestant”. Its roots are in the Catholic origins of celebrating ancestors. Their kids speak Flemish (Dutch), Turkish, English and are learning French. The woman’s Turkish name means ‘tree with no roots’. I said, but all trees have roots, and she said exactly. I said, oh, it’s a metaphor. She added that she has always embraced rootlessness, which is why when they met and he was still studying, he decided to become a diplomat so that they could live a lifestyle of travel. They’d lived in Belgrade, Serbia.

The plaza was full of street performers and crowds around them. In this case several groups of break dancing guys with their loud sound system. Each capitalizing on the November 1st holiday, Day of the Dead. I searched the internet and saw November 2nd as the official Day of the Dead, hey, that’s my mother’s birthday; November 2nd. As I continued searching, it turns out that Day of the Dead actually starts on the 31st of October and goes through November 2nd, depending on what culture you participate in and how it’s celebrated. It’s officially on November 1st in France, called La Toussaint, All Saints Day. I found this CBS link showing photographs of this celebration throughout the world, in one form or another. It for the most part is about honoring ancestors. In fact, I hadn’t realized it was such a prominent holiday in Europe. I knew it was a thing in Mexico, but I never knew to what extent. Here’s a good article about its Mexican roots.

paper cut out graffiti

paper cut out graffiti

carol in her halloween costume 2017 to promenade along the montpellier streets

carol in her halloween costume 2017 to promenade along the montpellier streets

decided to grab a pumpkin from the grocery store today

roasted pumpkin seeds

I sure am fond of Pierre

His shape made me spontaneously draw him out.

hIs hat is very shiftable!

Pierre with an Asian cut

This was the spontaneous costume this past saturday

back in March in Santa Fe

Fleuve Lez – Lez River, Montpellier Oct. ’17 Watercolor pastel pencils

I went out with paper a week ago at sunset when I did the first edition sketch of this, then went back today, racing to finish as darkness encroached along the water at Antigone in Montpellier on a warm October day.

Fleuve Lez - Lez River, Montpellier, Watercolor pastel pencils

Fleuve Lez – Lez River, Montpellier Oct. ’17 Watercolor pastel pencils

This Is Not A Love Song | Phone Addiction | lyrics by me

this_is_not_a_love_song shot of the original text

I mentioned that I was going to share these lyrics for “This is Not a Love Song”, once i wrote them. Fortunately i took a picture of what I wrote, because I lost the original piece of paper in a park a day or two later. Just finished typing it and I’ll read it at this poetry slam this evening at Librairie Scrupule

Poésie Slam Scène Ouverte

Poésie Slam Scène Ouverte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s about peoples’ device addiction, in this case, their phones.

 

This is not a love song

… lyrics may evolve from this version!>

no matter where I am
I can’t take my eyes off of you
at home, on my way, no matter what i do
anything, anyone could be near
i wouldn’t notice, have no fear

I’m addicted to you, toujours
Is it love? I’m not quite sure
I use you often, there’s no question
to capture images of myself without hesitation

it doesn’t really matter what else is there
as long as i’m captured, and I can share

this is not a love song
i can’t stand it when you aren’t there
i show you off like you’re my prize
to bring your attention to any eyes

I quickly whip you out wherever i go
just to show you off, you’re very desirable you know
if i could, i’d take a selfie with you
but alas, I can’t ever be in it with you

forever my eyes on you will be
regardless of what is in front of me
you dictate my moves, you alert me too
serendipity & synchronicity are out the window

it doesn’t really matter what else is there
as long as i’m captured, and I can share

i’m sure to display you for all eyes
when you’re not in my hand, i feel deprived
i can’t bare it when you’re not there
like a burning flame, you draw me in to stare
it’s as if no one else exists for me
i even take you with me when i pee

i can’t take my eyes off of you
i’ve waited long enough to have you
nothing and no one will get in the way
my addiction to you is here to stay

when I’m not looking, i am listening
you’re like a magnet in my hand, glistening
tuned-in-to you, wired away
certainly no one else will get in the way

it doesn’t really matter what else is there
as long as i’m captured, and I can share

no spectacle could possibly distract me
yet this obsession is not without a fee
could I live without you? i may be wrong
but without a doubt, this is not a love song

The music will come.

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Montpellier Jardin des Plantes France

Arsene Montpellier

Arsene Montpellier

My intention was to attend a graffiti event in Arceaux, then head to the Jardin des Plantes on this rather humid, warm and temperate day in October. I walked around covering a lot more of the gardens this time. I noticed in addition to the collection of cats who enjoy the gentle admiring attention of the clientele, the incredible richness of the audio. A magnificent collection of birds, fabulous layers of different tones, pitches and rhythms.

Montpellier Jardin des Plantes

Montpellier Jardin des Plantes

As I was making the tour of the entire grounds, i came back to the place where I usually stop and go no further. It was here where my eyes met with an elderly man whom I greeted with a smile and bonjour. And he was delighted to stop and interact. We wound up talking for quite a bit, and then as we were saying good bye a second time after a delightful conversation, I looked at the title of the slim paperback book he had in his hand. I declared, oh Spinoza, philosophy! And right before that I informed him of the different things that I love to do, photos, recording sounds there, writing. I added that my computer was in my backpack, and that I arrived on velo, bicycle, so that I had my office with me. He commented, mobile office. I mentioned that here there’s so much stimulation to the senses; light, rich textures of sounds, feel and to the intellect as well, because the design of nature is so elaborate. I added that this in itself is the concept of GOD, not something manufactured by human beings. And he said, that is exactly what Spinoza says. And he said three words, Theo era natura, let me look this up quickly.

Spinoza’s metaphysics of God is neatly summed up in a phrase that occurs in the Latin (but not the original Dutch) edition of the Ethics: “God, or Nature”, Deus, sive Natura: “That eternal and infinite being we call God, or Nature, acts from the same necessity from which he exists”

emulating nature

emulating nature

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carol keiter, blogger, Nice

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carol, after a swim

carol after a swim and bike to sea

Hitchabout Nice – Antibes – Aix-en-Provence – Arles | back to Montpellier

I think it was the fastest I’ve ever gotten rides in my entire hitchhiking experience. Residing in Montpellier, France, I had decided to hitch to Nice, the day before. I had anticipated it, knowing that my sister and her British husband go there regularly to escape the York, England chill. It was these two who had visited Montpellier several years earlier on a regular basis. That put this town on the map for me. I liked the sound of it. When I’d googled the town back when I suddenly had the proposition to go to the East coast from Taos, New Mexico, I learned that it’s the fastest growing city in France, of which 25% are students that emerge during the academic year. I sort of made the decision to go there in particular, and base myself . I was actually still deliberating on whether Portugal might be a less expensive and lively place to live while I was purchasing the bus ticket from Paris for Montpellier. At some point I decided I wanted to be closer to other countries in Europe and also where I have a semblance of knowledge of the language.

Mont_Saint-Victoire Paul Cézanne

Mont Saint-Victoire notoriously painted by Paul Cézanne among others

Nice, didn’t appear to have any available couches to surf on. The weather which has been continually warm and sunny, dropped about 10 degrees with predicted rain. I decided to go anyway. My bicycle had just been stolen 4 days earlier in the middle of the day around the corner from the cafe I was working in. After the initial discovery, I decided it was a gift for whoever took it. They not only got bad karma, but also a bike that didn’t work. It was hurting my knees because the gears basically didn’t move and I had to get off frequently, to walk up hills. Montpellier is full of them. Many at gradients of 55ª angles.

When I’d arrived in Montpellier the first day I asked a woman sitting on the tram near me “where is the mont”? She discussed it with her friend and decided that she didn’t know. My guess is that the whole town is so hilly that they decided to call it Montpellier, which means mountain. So, the missing bike precluded transport into town outside of the tram TAM, so it was as good a time as any to check out some other places along the Mediterranean. Nice, France is really close to Italy and Switzerland. By the time I finally left the house after consulting google maps to know what destinations to write on a sign, it was going on 2pm. The drive is a little over 3 and a half hours.

I strolled to the end of these outdoor tables with people seated there where I spotted a large white clean piece of cardboard tossed on the ground beyond the tables. I was already steering myself towards this cafe to ask for cardboard. Nice start, I had markers. The entrance to the highway was basically right there. This area was a short walk from where I’d currently been living, conveniently on the edge of town. I noticed several cheap bus lines departing from there, Sabine. I incidentally had been told two days previously that I needed to move out by the end of the month, a day after the bike theft. I had two weeks to decide my next moves. That was another reason to make this trip, a few pairs of ears to discuss my options. I was now less convinced that I wanted to stay in Montpellier. The housing situations had been a challenge.

I watched traffic stopping and starting at a traffic light, and was standing right before an indentation in the road for busses, perfect for cars to pull over. I had written Nice on one side of the sign and was starting to write Aix-en Provence on the other, flipping it up for cars to read both sides, when the first small truck pulled over after only a few lights. I hadn’t been there more than 10 minutes. He’d been working in Montpellier for the day and was on his way to Aix. He’s an Albanian man from Kosovo, his name packed with consonants, Xhemil Iveseldaj.  He’s been living in Aix-en Provence among other members of his family, for 40 years. He was returning from his work week in Montpellier where he stays in a hotel. His boss pays for that, along with his tolls and I guess all travel expenses. He works in such a specialized field, that he’s been accustomed to these long commutes for years, sometimes sweeping countrywide. He’d previously commuted to Paris from Aix, and before that by plane to another town. I learned a fair amount about his life and his two sons. He is one of 7 siblings, five brothers and two sisters. He said in Albania the families tend to be even larger. He said he doesn’t believe in a ‘God’ but in nature. We agreed about that, ‘Nature’ is our ‘god’. I asked if he believes in climate change. We discussed it for quite a while along with other topics.

He had missed his turnoff and I was wondering if I was going to be dropped off in the middle of the highway at an inconvenient place, but he then went back through toll booths, and tracked back to the highway where we were now still heading towards Aix-en-Provence en route to Nice. He’d seen the Aix on my sign. Works every time to have a sign. Xhemil always seemed a bit impatient when coming to any toll, as if seconds shaved off his time were going to critically screw up his day. I guess he was simply in a big hurry to get back home at the end of his workweek. He brought me to a good place where all traffic was heading in the direction of Nice.

I was happy to find a bathroom next to an odd parking garage area where on one side there were buses, ironically, one on its way to Nice. I had covered half the distance already and didn’t bother to approach the bus to ask the driver, preferring to hitch. Someone saw my signs and was yelling out to me from the top story of this large round parking garage building. I ignored him/them. It took about 6 minutes, maybe less, for a car to stop. I heard the responses from above as I was getting into the vehicle. The driver was Olivier, a local who lived in a little town with a great view of this mountain outcropping Saint Vincent from one side. He was on his way to Cannes for the evening. Olivier is an engineer, specifically works on plane engines. He lived in Paris for a stint, said he learned a lot working for Air Bus. He still works for them, and was relieved to move back to his home ground.

Mont Saint-Victoire, Paul Cézanne

Olivier says this landmark outcropping of rock Mont Sainte-Victoire, changes color frequently and has been a feature of many painters.

He and I had a nice rapport. We talked the entire time and really had a lot of similar points of view about the quality of simple things in life that give it value. He dropped me off at a very convenient location at the entrance to highways from Cannes. I was sorry to see him go.

My next ride was with a professional chauffeur, John Christopher. He had made sort of a precarious stop to pick me up. I guess as a local he knows what he can get away with. He was going to pick up his clients on this late afternoon to take them to a fundraiser gala event, hosted for wealthy families who were donating money to hurricane victims in Saint Martin, a French island in the Caribbean. He has worked for this same family exclusively for 15 years. He said that this event was perhaps at a hidden location. He knew that football stars, actors and actresses were going to be there among the very wealthy patrons. He described what these evenings could be like, and how he had to always be available for and and all things that might occur. He might have to make the commute over the bridge to pick up one item left behind, or drop off kids at different places. I enjoyed this little scope into the lives of the upper crust there, from the chauffeur’s point of view. A very gentle guy, he left me off before taking his route to the home of his employer. We left with smiles lingering.

Nice, France first shots - pastry and me

A bridge separated me between where I stood where everyone seemed to be racing to their next destination. I’m guessing I was at St.-Laurent du Var by this bridge. I wondered how long this ride would take, since now I was extraordinarily ‘out of place’. A hitchhiker with a backpack among demonstratively expensive cars and high income drivers. Surprisingly, a car stopped. It was Raphael a medical student in Nice, where he also was raised. He looked distinctively Spanish or Italian. He did me the courtesy of using his phone to dial my contact number and drop me off after crossing into Nice to a very familiar cement way lined with Palm trees before the beach. The Promenade des Anglais is where a demented man drove a truck moving down pedestrians on Bastille Day on the evening of 14 July 2016. The Nice attack killed 86 people and injured 458. Sound familiar? The whole area has since been reinforced to block vehicular traffic, involving bringing in full-grown palm trees with cranes.

historical Nice, France and cemetary

I wound up spending several days in Nice, endowed with lovely weather. Took various local rides ferried to different parts on cool excursions with family into the hills looking back down over the city. I had particularly wanted to see Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Nice page 1 of second group inlaid stones

Nice, France inlaid stones

When it came time to leave, I finally noticed a text message on my cheap French phone, an invitation from a friend I’d met years earlier, who had actually invited me to stay at her and her boyfriend’s place. I texted her back explaining I’d missed seeing her text. In a little while I made my way to make a start, found some cardboard and what appeared to be the entrance to highways. I stood there a short time up in the hills. I saw a dread-headed girl across the street who when she crossed, approached to tell me she’s hitched a lot, and if I’m going to Aix-en-Provence, I’d have better luck down standing down by the water – once again before the Promenade des Anglais. I thanked her and walked down the hill. When I turned the corner I saw a group of people waiting for a bus a hundred yards away. I thought to myself, they’re probably wondering about what I was doing. Within several minutes, my first ride stopped. A smartly dressed man in a nice car on his way to Aix-en-Provence. I laughed to myself at how easy I made it look for the people standing there waiting for a bus. He made a phone call to his wife indicating he was on his way. I mentioned that I’d come from Montpellier to Nice and still was trying to figure out where to land. He mentioned that for using English, Aix-en-Provence would have better opportunities than Montpellier due to its larger influx of British because of the nearby seaport. He convinced me in fact. He said forget Montpellier, it’s mostly a college town, whereas Aix has an English speaking presence and a sophisticated flair.

mazza

mazza

 

Manu

Manu

The text was from a woman whom I’d met with her boyfriend 5 years earlier in Krakow, Poland. I was now getting out of the car upon receiving the text, only half an hour or so from Nice and 100’s of km before where I thought I was going. That was a great timed text, minutes before the Antibes exit. I had a splendid visit with these friends and their wonderful feline creatures. It was the therapy I needed, the playful cats along with friendly and inspiring conversation and inclusion.

Edwige and Bernards in Antibes

Edwige and Bernards in Antibes

 

Edwige, Antibes

Edwige in Antibes

Edwige and Carol Antibes

Edwige and Carol Antibe

I departed from my friends and the kitties in Antibes who I was already missing. Once again I got fantastic rides, two rides from Antibes. A young baker, boulanger, who told me stories of his life and his wife and 2 kids. At the moment that I noticed a sign for a rest stop I asked him whether there was another like it prior to where he was going. He wound up immediately pulling over, because he in fact was getting off soon, where the town was so small he explained I’d probably have very fewer ride possibilities than here at this highway stop. I parted farewell from this sweet guy and was walking into the rest-stop restaurant and showed my signs to the people as I was walking by them. They were a couple, and happened to be driving to Montpellier. I said that that’s where I live, but am going to Aix-en-Provence. They said they could take me there, it’s on the way. I hung with them a bit at the outdoor tables after I returned. We had a few interesting exchanges before getting in the car. A huge lovely white dog accompanied by a man entered the picture. I said, ‘elle est belle’, and the girl laughed, saying she has exactly the same type of dog, whose name is Belle. It’s unusual for a couple to offer a ride, very rare. They have to be really confident with one another, and these two were. Thomas and Gwendoline were very animated. At one point I mentioned out of the blue that I’d like to go to Istanbul, and they laughed, saying they’re going there next Thursday. They each engaged in conversation the entire time. We really connected. He owns 2 businesses in (IT), one which he originally started doing web design and the other advising companies on how to work more efficiently. She isn’t currently working. We talked the whole time, They were on their way to Montpellier to visit his father, and in fact he drove me into the center of Aix-en-Provence which he loves, and Gwendoline had never been.

Eight weeks earlier I wouldn’t have been able to understand but a quarter of what they were saying, now 8/10th percent. She spoke some English cuz she lived a year in New Zealand doing a WWOOF with baby sheep! She visited Australia too. She joked that she’s probably more conservative politically than he. He described that he believed the French president Macron would have more possibility to take a center stage in the global political arena. As we were driving into Aix from the highway, I commented that I believe trees may be more conscious than we are. To my surprise, Thomas the computer guy, heartily agreed, saying that he despises that people believe that they’re at the top of the pyramid of life, when in fact all life forms have intelligence. Thomas so much admires the town, that I decided after walking around a bit that for my saturday night, I’ll stay in Aix-en-Provence, regardless of where I may or may not sleep.

Aix-en-Provence, France

On this late summer Saturday afternoon in the street of Aix-en-Provence  I came upon a group of woman doing a spontaneous dance exercise; an an all female dance troupe. They were doing an improvisation exercise in their practice. I sort of guessed that this is what they were doing. Later when they were less involved in any presentations, I asked a few. One woman with eye that met mine with a sparkle in her eyes and large smile approached me and handed me a flyer.

She was in fact the director who organized this theatrical dance art group. http://cie-mariehelenedesmaris.com

I had decided to stay there regardless of not having looked for couchsurfers. It was a Saturday evening, it’ll be fun. I asked the right couple on my walk, who described several different options, pointing to areas on a map I had of specific areas to find things going on.

I went to a cafe to catch up on writing and organizing my pictures, and wound up hanging there into the late hours, with co-workers and guests. As the evening progressed, I was invited not only to stay that evening, but for an extended length of time, if I was demonstrating that I was doing the work I needed to do. I could now stay at this apartment there in Aix-en-Provence with these two brothers. However that vanquished at the point that the one breached my trust, and caused me to launch myself out back into the streets of Aix with the approaching dawn. It seemed like it might have been the semblance of a good thing, if not for the immediate security violation. One of the brothers was already in bed, it appeared. I was ushered into a room, fine, ah, but wait, no lock on the door. I waited before getting into bed with my pully and pack on by the door. listening for a few moments, when suddenly the door swung open, with me standing right there. I’m sure it surprised him as much as it did me; bursting into the room allegedly having misplaced his cell phone. Not only did this maneuver make me feel quite uncomfortable with the thought of sleeping there, but it also immediately dissolved that opportunity. So, I was heading out from Aix that morning, and still not sure what would define my future. This town hadn’t particularly welcomed me; no couch surfers, no housing possibilities and no tolerance for an opening in a bachelor den that was the epitome of neglect.

 

Arles, France, Nice, hitchabout

I hitched to Arles from Aix-en-Provence that morning. Maybe I’d go to Nimes (Roman ruins in both towns) on the same day.  The two cities located in the Occitanie region of southern France, were an important outpost of the Roman Empire. Nimes is known for its well-preserved monuments such as the Arena of Nîmes, a double-tiered circa-70 A.D. amphitheater still in use for concerts and bullfights. Its Maison Carrée white limestone Roman temple and Pont du Gard tri-level aqueduct are around 2,000 years old. I wound up staying in Arles instead.

Shortly after arriving at a good departure point in Aix, a woman stopped in her sleek car. I assumed the boy of about 11 sitting in the passenger seat was her son. She was an attractive, well dressed, middle aged woman who appeared professional, everything intact.  She was on her way to Nimes. The song that was playing on the alternative rock station was fairly pop, and each of the songs became progressively more hard-edged. The music didn’t seem to go with her appearance at all. The volume was so high that it impeded the ability to talk. When I asked, she staccato answered that she lives in Aix. That was my first and last question in an attempt to engage them in conversation. Her son and she didn’t say a word to one another the entire time.  She drove very fast and agilely on the highway on her way to Nimes, maneuvering efficiently. I was surprised she picked me up at all.  I pictured that she was dropping her son off at a midway point in an agreement with her ex, as they trade time with the child since divorcing. I decided that she was annoyed to have to drive him there, the hour and a half, now wait, 3 hour journey altogether to drop him off in Nimes and return; an invasion on any other activities she might have wanted to do on that Sunday. I didn’t ask. I let them ‘not talk’ to one another or me. I felt sorry for the kid. The music was quite loud. The silence was fierce.

Michael Jackson T-shirt, Always Be Yourself

Michael Jackson T-shirt
Always Be Yourself

I’m sitting in a cafe putting these pages together, sitting near the bathroom entrance. Many people flow by. One guy was waiting in line, a tall Arab guy, I saw in between the edges of his jacket a skeleton, and I said pointing, “is that Michael Jackson”? He said, yes and opened his jacket. I said, trying as I could in French, after multiple plastic surgeries that destroyed his cartilage, he’s now a skeleton. He said, exactly. He and I were both laughing pretty hard at this point as he was now walking into the bathroom, since it wasn’t supposed to be that obvious. I asked him when he came out to get a shot of the shirt, which is even more hilarious, saying below the image ‘Always Be Yourself‘.

In Arles I met a man whose eyes met mine from where he was perched on a balcony of this cloister.  I was like, what, are you WORKing there or what? Later we met on the stairs where he offered me an extra ticket to the last day of the photo exhibit there. He’s local. So, he’d waited until the last day of the exhibit to finally go see it. I had the impression that in this town that flowed regularly for most months of the year with tourists, that it was well stocked with woman accessories.  I wondered whether he took advantage of this, and lead a sort of double life. I was sort of expecting that we’d hang out together more, but he had other plans, probably a dinner gathering, or going home to dinner with his family. He bade his farewell and disappeared into the dusk, cutting through this building. Perhaps I seemed too risky, an American woman who happened into the town and didn’t know where she was going to sleep that night.  It was a nice exhibit. I wound up wandering away from the middle aged man who vanished to walk up a hill to find myself watching bats fluttering about and looking out over the valley, and instead talking to some young North African teenagers.

I had wandered around the periphery of the olympic Roman stadium and along streets in the town looking at the sites. I had gone into a lovely church where I learned some history. It was later, much later that my bed found me.  I was walking around a building and saw this little sort of fenced in courtyard that was merely following the contours of the rounded building. There was a low decorative iron fence around a small curved plot of soil, encasing a few bushes and a tree or two. I spotted large pieces of cardboard neatly wrapped up and tied together stacked vertically on the outside of this area. I learned years ago from a French (North African) truck driver that cardboard can be used to insulate from the cold. (Who I wound up driving with through Italy to Germany where during Ramadan, he’d chain smoke and start drinking his coffee before the sun came up or went down, and had packed a delightful gourmet assortment of foods home-made by his wife who packed them for his holiday fasting). I picked up the cardboard, pulled the pieces out, saw that they weren’t soiled and laid them out to form a platform to lay on. I had no sleeping bag. It wasn’t cold. I felt quite safe there and happy to not have to carry my backpack any more.  A pretty ‘sleepy’ town, I didn’t sense that anyone was going to look for me there. I didn’t sleep, but was comfortable. The night before in Aix-en-Provence I hadn’t slept at all.

I had already decided to stay in Arles that night. It was still pretty warm, September 25th, 2017. Later that evening, my resting place found me.

Arles rockin an auberge cardboard style at the hidden concave of a building

It was the last ride, Phillippe Lu, (great grandparents or grandmother came from China to Cambodia, where his parents were from. It was the intelligent conversation I had with him and his power of persuasion, which now convinced me after all that I should in fact plant myself in Montpellier; offering English courses with all the university separate buildings spreading over the north of town. He said I could make €15 to 20 per lesson. He texted his son to get the coordinates of an umbrella organization for all the universities called CROUS. He helped to give me some wording for a sign to put up. I since had looked up C.R.O.U.S. and gone there several times to get as much information as I could from what I’d written down while riding with him. They had info about housing, the university of lettres (languages) and basically I followed through and later wandered the labyrinthe of different buildings that a part of the university, that spreads across the north part of town that had been 50 years ago, fields. When I’d returned to Montpellier I was now homeless and searching through many different sources, mostly online, for housing. It was on the eve of the beginning of the month that one friend pointed out a site I’d already disregarded, judging that it was too expensive. I told him I’d already looked at that one, and it tends towards more expensive listings. I noticed that my friend had fr.fr in the beginning of the web address and mine us.fr, because I had first viewed it from the United States (I started viewing housing listings from the moment I booked an inexpensive flight). Turns out the subtle difference in the website made a huge difference in what was offered. The local listings offered a category unto themselves, anglophone families looking for English native speakers to live with them for reduced rent in exchange for some prerequisite time and activities. I’ve since found the most remarkably perfect situation, a win-win.

my signs for the return trip

my signs for the return trip

Montpellier Zoo, Jardin des Plantes

Montpellier Zoo Jardin des Plantes and street pics

It started, or rather was continuing a year ago in another desert, in the high desert of New Mexico, bordering Colorado. Luna was Bill Light’s dog, who built his home in the canyon 5,000 feet above Santa Fe, New Mexico en route to the ski area. His wife had died a few years earlier. I stayed for several months in a cabin adjacent to his home which he built for his daughter. I lived there in the autumn of 2016.

I quickly became a fan of going on walks with his dog Luna. She was a fan of walks as well, and would actually come over to the cabin and tap on the door with her foot. Wow! She absolutely loved the excursion off the property and a long a path cutting through a narrow valley to the National Forest land. In the late summer twice with Luna, I was exposed to bears. It was because Luna discovered them, and barked them into submission.

 

Luna, Bill Light's, Santa Fe New Mexico 2015

Luna my friend at Bill Light’s cabin in Santa Fe New Mexico 2015

I lived in the cabin next to Bill Light’s home in my first months above Santa Fe, New Mexico where my nice landings began. Luna and I would cut through trails up to the National Forest land and then either move further into the canyon’s or launch up to the ridge. These became my sketching/water color excursions. Luna launched and climbed the hill with ease and I followed.

Bill who had an earlier bought with cancer which had gone into recess, got it again, and died from pneumonia since I had moved out. It’s a strange thing that he was there and actively doing all sorts of things, and now gone. I don’t know what happened with Luna, certainly she was completely at home in the mountains. I hope a neighbor took her in. Besides seeing lots of deer in the late summer and the few incidences with Luna barking a bear and her cubs up a tree, I would mt. bike into town from there, regularly. I cycled 7 miles up 5,000 feet to get to the property. I never used any bike lights or reflectors, despite the fact that there were no street lamps. My eyes would adjust whether it was a new or full moon. i figured it was a good way to balance out staring into a computer screen. I find a bike wherever I go and also animals that I love. Now there are stray cats where I am, and I’ve just landed, with muscle and sweat and help with several bike mechanics, a bike that I am delighted to ride.

Now there’s no dog present like in Santa Fe and the ones I affectionately grew acquainted with and loved immediately in Taos, New Mexico the following spring. There are a bunch of stray cats however here in Montpellier. It occurred to me to look for a used bike at this place I’d become a member of months earlier. Le Vieux Biclou. After asking a guy in the street when I knew I was in the vicinity of the bike shop if he knew of where it’s located, it turned out he was on his way there. There I spotted the mt. bike I wanted, and the following day during opening hours learned of its one major obstacle; a seat post jammed all the way down that wouldn’t budge. Several technicians, pounding and myself instructed to scrape off the rust of the now ejected post, and a day later going to another bike shop to get a lock appropriate for the rampant bike thievery in this town, I purchased bolts to replace the quick release wheels and seat, and was assisted in mounting the lock to the frame. After riding it the second time i realized that this bike runs flawlessly, enabling me to climb any steep slope with ease. Stoked!

I’ve since made my signs and printed them and edited my contact cards. I wanted to get this blog out, put up the signs in various excursions, and begin today on a singular path to complete my book between my father and mother’s birthdays. That’s pretty immediate. The difference, no noose around my neck to pay a rent that squelches my time and psyche.

And as is typical, I ask for donations. Thanks! PayPal Donate Button  Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

carol keiter, blogger, Nice

blogger in Nice

Simpson’s 2000 Episode Trump Buying the US Presidential Election

http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/news/watch-the-simpsons-clowns-donald-trump-in-new-short-20150708

Simpsons episode Trump Homer paid to vote

Simpsons episode Trump Homer paid to vote from Rolling Stones article

So, I’ve had some kind of magical things happen with me, as well as hitting walls, or fear of hitting walls, of bureaucracy. Fear typically is of something one anticipates, even before hit happens, no? I’ve been warned as far as housing goes, about all of the things that one has to submit and prove; income source, bank accounts…

I decided that some things have happened in an uncanny way that have enabled me to do certain things, and I’m going to keep going with the serendipity.

The other day I went to look at a room in a group house, and because the addresses are not just even/odd on either side of the street, but the numbers don’t coincide directly. So I first was looking for this number and I thought, is this a joke, a cemetery? And then I found what I thought was the address, as this gate for automobile traffic was closing. I quickly slipped in. This place had several different numbered buildings. My directions were to go to building 3. Turns out, after not finding the name and getting some residents to make a phone call for me, and then waiting outside of the building, that someone else came out (probably who was watching me standing there) to tell me that this was not the address. Turns out that ‘bis 42’ meant, until 42, but not that specific number.

So I eventually go down the street and find this correct address.

It was later that day that I randomly wandered around different streets looking for a company with the logo of the phone I use to get assistance. I finally found a phone store, which pointed me around the corner to another place with computers to rent and phone stuff. Turns out that the phone had indeed already been registered by the Asian woman in the shop in Paris where I bought it. It was ‘false information’ from a man in a small mom & pop shop days earlier who gave me whatever information he felt like, just to dismiss me, and have some kind of answer, saying it wasn’t possible to charge this phone. ? It was because weeks earlier I had purchased an espresso in this tiny shop in my old neighborhood that this 12 or 13 year old kid remembered me who happened to be in this computer shop. I had been kind to him and I’m sure different from their usual clientele (sort of an Arab enclave). He was in this shop because his dad is a friend of the owner. He suddenly indulged in using the computers there (with the ok of the guy behind the desk) to help me; looked up on the computer the info, then walked with me to a shop that sells the credit for the phone (which was literally closing at that moment), then punched in the number…he did all of this stuff which would have taken me with the language barrier quite a lot longer, so that now I had a functioning phone. Monsif is his name. A very smart and precocious kid that volunteered his time, simply because he remembered me from this other neighborhood.

So, today I’m leaving the doctor’s office where i had my stitches taken out. I’m delighted that he mentioned that the med student who did this had done a good job, and all looked well. I had been bicycling on random streets and decided to walk back to enter into this courtyard where I saw a building that said something about green technology. I walked away, but was still standing in this arched entrance when a man walked towards the street from the courtyard. I asked him about this business, and he said, “c’est en fait une longue histoire.. well, it’s a long story.

He spoke in French. 20, 25 minutes later, this Arab man from North Africa first talked about how these companies are not given subsidies, not very supported by the government. And that this is due to corruption. He said it’s the same all over Europe as in the United States. The profit motive has tentacles reaching into the media, which control everything. And that people are like marionettes, completely distracted, thinking about their phones, sports, material things and simply not really thinking for themselves. He was talking about how this corruption all started with the Illuminati around 1784, (sometime in the 18th century) and that only a few people control most of the wealth of the world. That wars and destruction are all part of the same modus operandi. Frankly, except for the religious views he espoused (I always have a problem with these stark devisions describing God and Satan) and don’t quite believe in a final judgement day…However I fully embrace what he was saying about having transparence, of being consciously aware and making choices between good and bad, right and wrong and that each person is capable of this. That the more a person lies and compromises, the less peace they will have between their heart and mind.

So it was this dude that said that back in the year 2000 there’s an episode on the Simpson’s about Trump. This article from the Guardian “the episode of The Simpsons that in 2000 foresaw such a laughable outcome has begun looking unnervingly prescient”.

Simpsons writer says President Trump episode was ‘warning to US’

So, I just looked up 2000 Simpsons and Trump popped up. Holy F S, I hadn’t known about it. 16 years ago, https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/mar/17/simpsons-president-trump-prediction-was-meant-as-warning-to-us

I presently can’t access the original “Bart to the Future” episode here in France, which first aired on 19 March 2000

Simpsons 2000 episode President Trump warning the Guardian

Simpsons 2000 episode President Trump warning the Guardian

After leaving him, walking into a general engineering school and presenting myself as someone who can use language skills. It was lunch time and one of the secretaries called the language director, a British woman, who came out to inform me that she’s filled her positions, but will keep my CV on file if I send it to her. The secretary was like ‘Radar’, in that she had already proactively written her email down too as she asked her to do it. And so I returned to home, and put together a cover letter, edited a few things on my resume (somehow I forgot to tell her when she asked if I have teaching experience, that I endured a year as a substitute teacher at the Santa Fe Public School system) which is in itself, rather epic, in that it’s a huge psychological test, each new day, with students that tell you, we already did that, as they opened up their phones or read Animé magazines, depending on the age level.

Anyway, I put together my cover letter and sent a resume link as well as one within the text of my email, and sent it. Now I’ve come back to this cafe with WiFi that I like, and hadn’t realized that it’s adjacent to this Jardin des Plantes of Montpellier, which I never had located, but had walked by numerous times, not having come from the angle where I saw the sign.

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Carol Keiter the blogger on return hitch from Taos to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Carol Keiter the blogger on return hitch from Taos to Santa Fe, New Mexico

carol keiter blogger card

carol keiter blogger card