Tag Archives: travel

Roque-Gageac, Beynac, Rouffignac

I woke up this morning to a brave calling of swallows echoing across the cliff face, greeting the dawn. It is the same cliff that forms one wall of my room, the other wall of pine sloping sharply up to meet it with a cross bracing of huge and ancient beams cut square. It is very cold. The swallows move in and out of crescendo and light comes in through the two small triangular windows.

Last night I was kept awake by the irony of a rock-pop festival in this tiny medieval village, and then I was kept awake by the cold. I wore my down vest under the covers for a while, then wrapped it around my feet. In between wakings I dreamed of James Crumley, big and shaggy and alcohol soaked, I dreamed he had hired my dad to rebuild and redecorate his record and auto-part store. I dreamed we walked in the desert and I tried to explain just how beautiful it was, just how much I loved it. But I almost never write about the desert, I don’t understand. But I suppose dreams aren’t for understanding.

Maybe it is just that I have found no inspiration beyond photos, I don’t find words hidden seamed up in time’s folds the way I do in London. So I shall work on my dissertation. It is ridiculously beautiful here of course, ancient villages of mellowed golden limestone and narrow winding roads. They are all fortified, on hilltops, castles crowning outcrops and defensible walls blocking cavern faces high up in the cliffs. It was on the edges of the hundred-years war with England, the castle of Beynac-et-cezenac in French hands, that of Castelnaud in English.

We went to see the grotte de Rouffignac yesterday as well. It is a huge cavern, huge. And regular the way most caves are not, carved out by an underground river through stone that must have been very regular. There are no stalactites and stalagmites, though my french did not quite reach to understanding why. The walls are mostly smooth, with a layer of what looks like a conglomerate just above the level of my head, strange rounded multi-armed shapes embedded whole into the walls, grey near the opening, stained a deep orange-red with iron ore deeper inside. You ride a small electric train very deep inside, following where ancient people walked with only torches. Large openings branch to either side, you wonder how they found their way. Past the hollows where ancient cave bears dug their holes to hibernate for the winter, into a rounded cavern where beautiful mammoths and bison were drawn across the roof, only a few feet from the floor, emerging from the deep hole of a cavern to the left that goes far beyond seeing…

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From LA to Glasgow

I rode my bike home on Friday night, a late night train ride and finally I was on my own in the mist and the darkness. The moon hung orange yellow in a wedge just over half full. I love it when the night is like that, the moon is like that. I had been to Grand Ave performances and danced and danced to Very Be Careful, they were as phenomenal as everyone had said they would be, cumbias the way I love them. My legs hurt the next morning but I love to dance outside under the stars…and I love L.A., the diversity of it, the abuelitos and the folks my age and the cholo kids and the two white goth kids and people of every age and race and nationality and idiom there mixing it up, dancing all around the plaza. And dancing cumbias! Chingado! I love it.

Saturday I hung out in echo park in the morning, and then Sunset Junction! Antibalas Afrobeat something or other! Phenomenal! They were amazing live, and though the horrible $15 fee to get in (for suckers) means that hipsters are incredibly over-represented at this great event, still, there’s a mixed up crowd, and lots more dancing…hanging out with Charles who got us in through his apartment and meeting a whole new crew of folks and talking about sci fi and anarchist zines from back in the day and the politics of Vegas and zombies and I don’t even know what else. Such a great afternoon that included bottles of champagne, rum with lime juice, elotes, pupusas, a lot of walking and staying out until I had missed the last train home. Damn. That was sad. Or maybe it’s just sad to live in Norwalk. But Sunday got back to Norwalk late and had to pack desperately and try and finish up everything and…

Here I am! Sleepy, very sleepy. But Scotland. My aunt and uncle’s house smells always the same, and that is impossibly comforting for some reason, like home away from home. I got in really early, will certainly try to never fly Continental again but sometimes for the cheap fares you just have to. Still, the people were nice enough, you can just tell they work for a crap company that is cutting every single corner. But I am here, it feels a bit like home, the rain is falling softly and the world is a colour of green that I had forgotten and Margaret Burt came over for tea and she is one of my absolute favourite people even if I started falling asleep. You’d think it would be Margaret given she is over 70 I believe and brilliant, but no, it was me. I worked for the entirety of two flights editing a manuscript you see, and the damn thing is still not done but close, and I am feeling GOOD about that.  And I get to talk to my little brother tonight and see him tomorrow, and then it’s off to meet new and amazing people and when I took my two hour nap this morning I couldn’t sleep at all for the excitement of thinking about it. New friends and old friends, new ideas and catching up and more new ideas, a jaunt to London and a trip to Aberdeen where I have not yet been, life is very good, though at present I am really looking forward to the hour hitting 8:30 or 9 when I will feel somewhat justified in getting more sleep!