Sunday, March 22, 2009

carcassonne and sad news by k

a few people have asked me why i haven't been blogging lately. i guess i was too preoccupied with the decision of whether to stay or go, and i didn't want to go on and on like a broken record. so i stayed silent.

but here i am, in another new place and feeling like writing. earlier i was feeling like writing about this medieval town in the south of france, carcassonne, but now the sad news i just got feels more pressing. i just heard that one of my cousins from munich, eugenie, has a brain tumor. it's advanced and she is going to die. probably sooner than later. she is the daughter of my father's oldest brother, wolfram. wolfram was the first of six kids. when he was one or two he got menigitis and ended up deaf. obviously that impacted the life he lead and leads. he is a humble and loving man. his wife died not long ago of cancer. it's unfair that he will now lose his daughter. it's unfair that she will now leave her father, her husband and her two kids, who are fortunately in their twenties. life is not fair. i feel so sad for all of them. so very sad.

and yet, here i sit in carcassone, in the strange little house we rented for two days. i have my children sitting here watching a tv show on the computer, and barak and my mom upstairs reading. the sun is shining, the sky is bright blue. we had breakfast on a plaza, walked through the castle and fortifications, strolled through the "new" town (pretty damn old itself), watched arel and dorian get drenched by fountains that shoot out water randomly. how can i be so lucky?

it's charming here, but when you read of the history of this place there has also been a lot of pain. it is easy to forget that, though, when you walk through the perfectly taken care of unesco world heritage site that is carcassonne. it's old, but there is no tension to be felt here. not like jerusalem. it's so touristy and sheltered that none of the current tensions in france over unemployment, racism, immigration, etc. are felt here. this is not real life. and yet real life was lived here. strange. i refuse to visit the musuem of torture, even though it is a very real piece of history.

but i did agree to go to the castle. when we went to buy tickets this morning, the booth was closed. my mom had read that it opened at 9:30 on sunday, and it was already 10:30 when we arrived. and we saw there were people in there. turns out the woman who sells tickets was on a cigarette break. just like that! this is a major tourist destination and the only person selling tickets decides to close down for ten minutes to have a cigarette! some things are still very different and i suppose that's a good thing.

kids get free do the unemployed. my mom and i thought that was a good thing. barak thought differently. he sees (at least this is what i understood) it as rewarding unemployment and taking away the incentive to find work. of course, it was a pain having to fight all the unemployed people in the castle to get to see the sights! just kidding, as my mom and i pointed out, there is probably not a great exodus of unemployed people heading here to visit the castle and save the 8 euros. interesting difference...another thing that would never happen in the united states!

another fun travel fact...the french apparently eat pretzels (you can buy them here). the spanish don't. dorian is happy. happy with pretzels and crepes with nutella.