miles and miles of miles and miles. paris and africa.

to start at the beginning and work thru two weeks of complete insanity would be too much. but ill try to keep you entertained. as always, this is for me and now cass and not you.  i caught a late flight to la in order to fly to paris because it was cheaper to go that route plus who wouldnt wanna fly with cassandra all the way over there.  she picked me up on her bike from lax and it was already cold.  i thought, sure, quick ride to riverside to see the womens exhibit.  what i didnt know about it was that its all uphill and 70 miles away meaning, it only got colder and i wasnt ready for it.  but whatever, in support, i smiled thru it and shivered the entire time we were there.  saw some sf folks and met some of cass' old classmates from high school. she went to high school there and it wa the holidays, so they were all in town. the ride back to her place in la was longer and colder. we made it thru what felt like 40 degrees for over an hour.  off to sleep and up before dawn to catch the taxi to the airport to start the trek over to paris.  with a quick stop in texas, i ate a bunch of melatonin so i could sleep.  away i went. we ended up circling over paris for an hour with the pilot saying its too windy to land, were headed to frankfurt to wait it out.  we sat on the runway there for over two hours until the told us they were gonna let us off and we had to catch a 9 hour bus to paris.  after the hour of circling, over 2 hours on the runway, 2 more hours until our bus departed and the 9 hours to get back to paris, we over doubled our flight to france and ended up getting to our hotel at 11pm on christmas eve.  it was over 30 hours of traveling to go what should have taken a total of only 13.  dont matter, were down for the adventure.  the bus was pretty rad simply because it was a double decker sort and we had the upstairs front seats. so it sorta felt like we were flying...at 100kph the entire way. brutal. 

after we bussed to paris, trained into town and cabbed to our hotel in the rain, we slept and woke up to this view. the river siene.  flows thru oldtown paris in which the city was built around.  its fuckin cute. this was shot christmas day at 8 or 9? so 11pm christmas eve or midnight california time. this morning, we started walking...and we walked to what seemed like around the world before the two weeks were over.  all good... cause id have gained 10 more pounds than i ended up with by the end of the trip.  from here, we walked to the metro and found our transfer and stop that we needed to link up with louis who was to host us for the remainder of our trip in france.  back above ground, we guessed the right way towards his house and as we were walking up, the familiar rumble of a sportster came around the corner.  had to be him. voila! "around the corner and ill let ya in." home base.  and quite the home it is. beautiful flat in the 16th district of paris.  with a prepared meal, he fed us, the tour given, he handed us the keys and more or less just simply said, have fun while youre here.  with the first day being play catch up on sleep we kept it a bit mellow.  bus to the eiffel tower and stirring thru the christmas crowd to have a look. 

this things god damn tall.  someone, cass maybe, told me that the sutro towers on twin peaks are taller... i still dont believe it but youre also not supposed to go to the sutro tower so maybe that things taller than i think.  doesnt matter.  were on mars anyhow and ill probably only see this thing once.  twice might be a waste of time simply due to the fact that theres more to see around the world than we all have time for anyhow. this trip recharged that travellin bone ive yet to lose touch with... its been lying dormant due to my job and driving, but this was complete insanity.  paris is the sturdiest city ive ever seen.  everything is limestone or marble, every building is 6-8 storys tall, and everything is so damn close together.  i love it.  after the tower, we walked back to louis's house and ate some dinner. i think cass was feeling sick so we fed her duck liver, cheese and bread.  in a haze, she loved it and i did too.  after that louis showed me all of his leather tooling and the machines. and what do ya know... there was an ol dave herr painting hanging on the wall. never too far from home i suppose.  how they got it to mars is beyond belief.  anyhow.  i went to bed.

early the next morning, we made it outta the house and somehow ended up at the entry way to the catacombs.  youve all heard about it but to never walk thru it, one would never fully understand its immensity.  with bones as old as 1200 years buried some 300+ feet below the surface of town, it goes on forever and ever.  theres documentaced case of people getting lost down there and dying due to losing their way back up.  the paris underground is unlike anything ive seen or heard of.  massive and completely unreal.

this is about a mile in to walking down a path after path of stacked femurs and skull patterns.  all the other reamins are simply piled up behind. finger bones, jaw bones, ribs, and more.  it just kept going and going... the story goes, they needed more room for more people, so they unearthed all of the cemeteries and put em down here in the quarries where they pulled all the stones for all the buildings.  anyhow, if youre even still reading this, heres a link for an NPR and NATGEO story on what lies beneath the sidewalks of paris. CLICK HERE: PARIS UNDERGROUND

after the catacombs we walked over to notre dame. and no its not just a college in central indiana with very few skate spots.  i knew this but did not know the immensity of the place.  completed 850 years ago, i was in awe.  i was speechless.  being back in the states, driving around oakland and berkeley, i laugh at the designs and lack of attention to detail we use here.  what the built 900+ years ago compared to whats being put up now... its just unmeasurable, uncomprehendable. 

outside at sunset. its maybe 20 storys tall.  there is no repetition on the entire building.  its one off time and time again, all carved out of limestone and preserved so well.

inside it only gets better.  with the golden light pouring thru the stained glass, not pictured, the 6ft tall candles at the end of the bulding and all of the arches... i immediately thought back then it was all candles, you couldnt possibly light all of this stuff up, it was hidden in darkness for hundreds of years... i can only imagine what it looked like if you were to have gone to mass here for decades in the dark and then one day after it was wired, boom, everything important was now lit... just another bit of insanity amongst this trip.

i have no idea what night we went past the louvre, but its one of the nights.  it was cold and windy but i found a pedestal to do a long exposure.  with hundreds of people milling about, i had to turn it to the right to get a few stragglers out of the frame.  this night, the hours surrounding this photo, i had no idea what i was in after we stepped inside a few short days later. the contrast of the old and new structures works so well in person if  youre even doubting it here and now...

i grew up with a black statue of this rodin piece in my house.  it was simple and small but it was nearly the same thing.  so when i saw that the rodin museum was here, i had to go.  nostalgia on wheels or some shit.  what i didnt know was how much work this guy was able to accomplish in his lifetime.  with casting everything in bronze, one can only imagine how many years and years he must have worked on this stuff... also, unknowingly this is his grave, his tomb, his bones were mere feet from my feet... the one thing i cant explain is why he placed an omlet of a haircut on his head.  coulda been a whole lot better... but this is near perfect. 

heres cass.  its on my first train ride ever.  not that big of deal, but here we are going to the vatry/paris airport.  so one would think, its near paris. ... wrong, its over half way to belgium some 150 miles outside of paris.  but we were headed there to catch a flight to marrakesh morocco africa.  holy shit.  paris is one thing, but you see, read and hear about people going there, movies are filmed there and so on.  africa?  never thought in my life i would make it here.  but here we go.  ryan air flight whatever for 5 hours and touch down.  the most beautiful airport ive ever seen.  google it.

after we landed in marrakesh, we grabbed a cab to town and just went straight to the town plaza.  with no hotel or hostel reservations i was kinda nervous simply based on it being 10 or 11pm already, but as we walked up, the drums and chanting got louder, the smells of spices and cooked foods got stronger, i didnt have a care in the world where we ended up sleeping.  we walked around all of the food tents or restaurants, found the smokiest one and sat down.  bread, sausage, chicken, and beef all went down with the sweetest green tea ive ever had.  welcome back sugar fiend.  after the food, we walked around the souks/shops as they were closing up.  and we kept walking even after they were all closed.  at the end of one of the tunnels thru the slums, there was a single strand of multi colored christmas lights.  "thats it!" cass said.  the riad she had stayed at three years prior.  perfect, its 2am, lets see whats up and get to sleep. done. signed in, we opted for a room with a bed wider than 18 inches and had our own bathroom.  no hot water, but who cares...

walking too and from our room each day, we passed this little shop that sold a few lights and shades.  it looked neat in the dark so i stopped and shot this...

somewhere in the middle of it all.  all of the hallways with poorly constructed tin roofs look the same to outsiders who cant read much of the writing on the walls. this was after the shops closed one night and everyone was headed home after eating in the town center.  during the day time, all of the doors are opened and there is stuff spewing out at every angle, hanging from every rafter and the pressure is unsurmountable to buy buy buy... beings so far from home never felt so good.

out of order, here is the riad where we stayed and theres that single strand of lights... with cass' silhouette.

these guys were everywhere and i can only shoot crooked photos.  name every spice and ill pay for your ticket over there.

"i need a masque" the importance of a televised education.  being there for the first time compared to living there... i understand. but damn, every room has their own satellite. the importance of a televised god.

one of the miles of the souks.  shop after shop after shop.  a lot of it is imported and theres fake branding everywhere, but then theres these dudes as seen below... carving carving carving...

i felt horrible taking photos like this with out offering to throw some change their way, but i didnt have any.  so i didnt and i quickly shot this and ran off.  the wood chips on the floor are the best part.  selling their time, selling their sweat, selling their lives.

everything... and i honestly can say almost 100% of every door, wall, window sill it ornate.  there is so much work put into everything.  there are your typical bland walls, butso few and far between...

more more more... more more more... more more more...

at this point, i forget simply because of everything else we did.  but i believe this to be some old palace... that was once a school of some sort? had dorms with windows that had views of other walls 4 inches away. 

the smoke coming out of the doorway was what drew me to this... if i could of moved that scooter down the way i would have.  but its there and its part of it, right?  whatever.  i dude came blasting around the corner behind me and nearly clipped me straight on... he managed to rip past and miss the wall to my right as well. 

one windy sunset overlooking the plaza.  the rule of thumb here is that no other buildings being built near any masque is allowed to be taller than the tallest palm treet by the masque... so as you can see... the muslim god has some damn fine power.

this was taken from the doorway of our riad. if it was daylight it was always this busy.  always.

yup, a cobra.

cass, stand here.  for an hour.  no, you get 15 seconds. okay.

the morning we flew out, we got up at 5 or some time before sunrise.  it was frigid so we found coffee and tea. while the city awoke.  i wasnt ready to shoot this but he was lookin my way for just a brief second, so its soft, but its here...

same angle as the photo above but a different dude.  chicken delivery. see the photo below.

a whole damn cart of chickens.  fresher than anything you will eat here in the states and probably not fed hormones and steroids either.

okay now stand here for an hour.  no, you get 20 seconds. okay.

father and son.  handed down. 

more catacombs.  no bones here... entry way.


the souks silhouette.

after she heard the shutter release, she scurried off into the darkness. 

and thats all...


Sandra Jean said...

Incredible Lee. I love everything about this. So good to see Cass in the photos. You are a true artist. Thank you for sharing.

WhitelinePsycho said...

Best travel-logue ever, complete, breathtaking, inspiring, visceral, unsane, thanks.