Thursday, October 21, 2010

Defining "Stalagmite" and Braving the Big Bad Wolf

In case you don’t know, guidebooks can be deceiving. I’m sure they don’t mean to be, but really, sometimes, they must get tired of the same old words and decide to throw a few new ones in the mix without thinking about the fact that while it might be a very nice, exciting, excellent word it should not be used unless you really mean it. Take this sentence, just as a random sample, shall we say: “…this village comes as a surprise with its houses perched on what look like enormous stone stalagmites, creating a striking yet serene site (one star).” Ok, have you pictured it yet? All these cute old houses perched on the top of tall up-side-down cones of stone?

Well, lets just say I have an issue with the writer’s idea of a stalagmite.

Les Taillades is a fine little town where two large outcroppings rise about 40 ft above the modern town roads; the stone that is the foundation of the old town is called molasses, a kind of very valuable sandstone, which caused many people to dig away the foundations to their homes. The church and a few homes still claim their original positions, but the rest seem to have dug up their rock and moved to a lower level. I could maybe grant the word “pinnacle” for the base of the old town, but I have to say I was disappointed in the very un-stalagmiteness of the rock.

The old road, with everything else carved out around it.
Park at the base of the church... which is 40 ft above.

As our stop in Les Taillades took much less time than we had anticipated, we decided to head just a little farther down the road to Cavaillon. So far our experience with Cavaillon had been getting lost in it when first trying to find Lacoste on our way from Spain and going very carefully around it ever since. But being right next to it we decided we should see its sights, so we girded up our loins and charged on in. Let’s just say that apparently we have learned a thing or two about driving in Europe, and the big bad wolf really just turned out to be Granny after we got close enough to check out her teeth.

We followed the walking tour of the old town, which was unpleasantly not old—the 1st Century BC Roman arches have been moved to a patch of grass, the church is surrounded by random newer buildings, and the synagogue was closed for construction although the shopping street next to it was, of course, open. We searched a bit in vain for a street of fabric vendors that both Mom and I remembered reading about but now (of course) couldn’t find mention of in the guidebook. Ah, I am sounding too harsh; Cavaillon was a nice town, redone for a new age. But we were happy to return to our ancient village, all though we all agree that the hardest walking we ever do is up the very steep Rue de Four to our house!

Cloister inside a church in Cavaillon

This is our neighbor Martha's dog,
who is very fond of Martha, my mom,
and followed us just past our gate.
In the afternoon, Alan went with his class to Saignon. First they stopped at what the professor called the Garden of Curiosities, a large private garden mostly full of varieties of tomato, along with lots of random, well, curiosities. They continued on to the actual town. Alan spent most of his time wandering towards the tall rock at the top of the city. On the way back, the sunset was picturesque enough to cause the professor to stop for a photo op at Pont Julien.

Having said multiple times that he was going to go out and take night photos in the woods for his fine art project, Alan finally decided to brave the now-cold night air. I went with him, but we didn’t get very far between the long exposures, long writing-to-card times, and battery-sucking cold air! At one house Alan was taking a photo and a dog came over to see us, whining on its side of the fence so sadly because it want to come be with us! The house was dark and I was worried it was cold, but it made me glad to know that our puppy was safe and warm. It’s less than a month now till we get to see Kira!

No comments:

Post a Comment