Friday, February 03, 2006

2.5 years ago i was in a clothing store in camden town, and i heard a song that i decided i wanted to have for my own. so i scribbled down the chorus to search for later, because everyone who worked there looked way too cool for my blood, and would certainly have had me escorted out for having the gall of even asking them a question. found out what the song was. searched for it.

today, 2.5 years later, i've finally gotten a copy of it. somehow it turns out that this song's ridiculously difficult to find. but it's okay, because now it's mine. with all the music i've gathered in the last month, my next few radio shows could potentially be awesome. chances are they'll just be mediocrely average.

we learn learn by by by repetition.

so here's what happened in the last third of my trip:

i met cavemen. we became jolly good mates. some of them are great musicians. all of them are a bunch of fun. i made friends with likal. he met the cavemen, too. they tried to play the pity game, trying to get money, until they saw me. then they invited us to go dumpster diving for a feast the next night. unfortunately i already had plans. next time. we carried likal's drum kit across town one night, after which i had a most fulfilling meal of broccoli and pasta and chocolate and tea and bread and salad. his flatmates made me miss mine. his flatmate's cat is leaner than mine. about an equal mooch, however. i visited the cavemen another day, bringing gifts of fruit. after, we went to the market together. i bought food. they bought drinks. they bought me drinks. after three cafés con cognac, it was the caffeine that was more the problem later on in the day, when my body went into withdrawel. we played music and told stories in a plaza for a few hours. that night ian and xoana had a mini-fiesta. i made stir-fry that was a brilliant hit. the secret's in the oyster sauce and yeast. thank you for that tip, freya! i carried on conversations in french and spanish. people played the accordian and guitar.

the next day i took the train from granada to madrid. likal insisted i stay with his friend. "i know you're able to manage on your own and i'm sure you've got no problem staying in a train station all night, but it's 9 hours and you're going to stay at my friend's house!" he said. i laughed. before sunset was shown on the train. i had the option of watching it in catalan or spanish. i chose spanish. carlos picked me up at 11:16pm -- "the perfect time!" we ate chorizo and bread and jámon and animal-shaped (dinosaur-shaped?) chicken nuggets and watched "PERDIDO", after carlos and his (hot) flatmate had a long discussion about carpooling. "oh carlos carlos carlos," he kept on saying. it was aggravation without the emotion. it was all i could do to try not to laugh. i found out what galician sounds like. we only spoke spanish.

the next morning carlos came with me to the train station. he asked me to write out why i like to travel. when i'd written it out, he went over my mistakes in spanish, but most of them were "well, this is okay, but this would have been better." in other words, i wasn't wrong in any way. just not right enough. that's good enough for an 8 year break after 3 half-years of spanish classes. we bonded over our love of the limbo time of travelling. he told me that when i decided to skip my plane ticket home, if i wanted to come back to madrid he'd be happy to show me around. he figured me out pretty well pretty quickly. on the train to biarritz, they showed before sunset in spanish again. i watched it again. in spanish. i understood more of it that time.

when i got to hendaye, i thought i was still in spain. turns out i was in france. fortunately the train people speak both languages out there. met a physiotherapist from morocco. apparently it's $10 a session down there. he suggested i go to morocco on holiday in order to get cheap physio in the future. not a bad idea.

ivana was at the station when i arrived in biarritz. the day after, i couldn't remember what platform we'd been on, or walking out through the station. all i could remember was seeing ivana, giving her a hug, and being thrilled to see her.

we stayed in a youth hostel. we figure that it's only because we found her house key outside that the on-duty manager "found" us a room. we saw the ocean. we ate at a pizzeria, beside an older couple who fed their terrier food scraps beneath the table. i spent forever staring out at the waves. we ignored the "inter-dit" signs. we took public transit to the next town, only partially by accident. we saw W-Chiens gardens. we ate fries with mayo, and drank 7Euro coffee on the seashore, and walked out onto the rocks surrounded by crashing waves, and watched surfers with death wishes.

we headed to bordeaux and i found out what her life's been like for the last long while. i got to sleep up in the loft. chocolate became a staple food. i met her friends at rio pongo, an african restaurant that spoils their customers with bountiful food and fruit and drink. i got ivana's cold. i met eric, the american who'd lived in prague. we bonded over funny-sounding names and a craving for smazeny syr. i got new sources for french music. i explored bordeaux. a little old lady of 80 years helped me when i was lost. she walked 7km every day for exercise and explained every building we walked past on the way to the tram.

ivana's mother was the victim of an airline strike, and ultimately ended up in paris 24 hours later than expected. while we thought she'd only be 5 hours late (but still missing her train to bordeaux) we rented a car and headed out on a road trip to rescue her. we listened to portuguese at rest stops. we played french radio and old spanish pop music. we had the typical SarahIvana-style road trip. we got to paris quicker than anyone said we would, and preened. we visited tours and an old friend of hers. we didn't get lost leaving tours. we drove in paris, found parking in paris, peed on the side of the road in paris, ate at a quick burger's in paris, all in eric's favourite part of paris. and then we left to make it to shauna's at a reasonable hour. we missed the turnoff and ended up at eurodisney briefly. shauna talked our ears off and i did my best to not pass out from sickness and exhaustion while she was still talking. we had chocopains and coffee in a café and drank mango juice. we went to the airport. ivana's mother was delayed another two hours. we went to roissy and stayed in the car because it was too cold to go outside. we went back. the terminal was shut down due to abandoned luggage that, the security guard explained to me with gestures, could go "ka-boom". when her mother finally arrived, her luggage didn't. while they tried to sort that out, i encountered french firemen, and french policemen. the policemen wanted me to move. we finally left. we went through poissy. and de bussy. and versailles. and the rocade. and went onwards to bordeaux. via tours. because i had to email a file. it was stupidly difficult to find an internet café. but the fellows at the gyro place were fun. we saw a falling star. we had a driving buddy who looked like santa clause. we saw roman art on the side of the road. i kept falling asleep, again, more due to illness than anything else. goddamn fucking cold. but mother and daughter had time to bond.

ivana's mother was traumatised by ivana's living conditions (which aren't actually that bad). her anxiety woke me up one morning. i spent early mornings keeping her company and trying to get her to think about happier things. my understanding of croatian increased exponentially. we made good use of the soldes. i got fancy clothes. i looked into buying a clarinet. but saved that joyful loss of money for a later date.

went to paris. highly recommend the woodstock hostel. it sounds more hippie-ish than it is, but it's one of the best i've ever stayed at. the cat's named jesus. befriended a bright-eyed german girl in love with a tunisian, a swiss graphic artist trying to find her stage, a danish couple on holiday, a swedish couple trying to find a home, dutch sisters on a shopping holiday, an austrian who gave up a promising economics career to work in a hostel and meet people and live in a place he loves and be happy, and a french woman who may or may not have a life beyond what i saw. i spent more money than i should have at the marchés des puces, got a free bracelet for being a pretty girl, walked over and around montmartre, found an amazing experimental music store, put up CJSF stickers around town, spoke french, ate baguettes, bought a book at shakespeare&co. and thought of agnes, spoke spanish with random hostellers, searched for the new holden album to no avail, ate surprisingly tasty home-cooked meals at the hostel, and slept under a skylight looking at stars.

my ticket told me that i had to be there 2 hours before my flight. so i went early. elisa the german kept me company. the flight had no boarding gate listed until 30 minutes before the flight was ready to leave. so i spent a long time sitting in the hallway, time that could have been spent going to the music store that i knew would have the music i was searching for. but oh well. next time. strange being in a place where stores are closed not only one but two days a week. discovered that british airways are swanky folks to fly with. met a fellow who'd been in dubai and told me how wonderful it is there and that i should get a job there -- but before 2010, when the oil runs out. the kid sitting in front of us was the most amazingly quiet child i've ever seen on a plane. i had my own private tv screen and watched many movies. i had a profoundly moving moment watching the reese witherspoon movie. and i reminded myself that i do enjoy watching ralph fiennes act. i often forget that i saw him performing in an ibsen play when i was in london the first time. he was good then, too. i heard a clarinet concerto on the radio and took it as a further sign that i'm to learn how to play it this year. i only slept a little bit.

and then i landed and saw my dad and found out trudy's mother died while my mother was in australia and things are all the same and nothing's changed and it's not unreasonable for there to be valentine's candies everywhere because it's not over a month away, it's 2 weeks away. and now everything begins to feel like a dream and i want to get emails back from the people i met abroad because they'll validate my memories and prove to me that they were real. and even though i came back with terrific posture and feeling truly happy (which i realised was a foreign feeling for this setting), it's disappearing but i'm trying to hold onto them and trying to remember all the plans i made for myself while i was away.

and now i listen to a lot more music in foreign languages. and rachel and i are going to run away to spain again soon. i just need to figure out how to transport my kitty cat out there, too.

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