With love for everyone

 

On the morning of our last day, we felt the tightness in our stomachs, the sadness of the coming end.  To escape it, we took a metro ride to the north of Paris for the Saturday flea market.  The streets around the station are lined with hawkers trying to move knock off Gucci watches, cheap sunglasses, and train tickets. This is the other Paris.  A big city like any other, full of people struggling to get by selling sneakers, umbrellas, and beach towels that look like a 500 Euro bill. Life really happening in the far shadows of the pristine monuments and tourist throngs.

The flea market itself is a collection of “villages” selling French remnants of bygone times: taxidermy, heavy furniture, maps torn out of books, hats, cloaks, oil paintings of men with mustaches. When we’d had our fill we walked south into Montmarte for a look at Sacre Coeur.  Not only did we find the cathedral and the startling views from atop it’s many steps but we found a wine festival encircling its base.  From the hundreds of stalls selling food and beverage, we selected oysters, grilled chestnuts, and whole baby potatoes roasted with heart-clogging amounts camembert.  See below:


As hard as it was to leave the festival we wanted to walk through the sex district and have a look at the Moulin Rouge, although neither of us have ever seen that movie. Regardless, it’s always fun to walk through a sex district.  This one is fairly tame, mostly theaters offering live shows and sex shops.  Maybe it gets hopping at night, Jon couldn’t really remember from the last time he walked through it 17 years ago.  Here’s a picture of Jon’s oysters instead:

Our final stop before dinner was a the West African street market in the nearby Goutte d’Or.  We don’t  have any pictures that can accurately capture the bustle of people clogging the streets or the women selling strange produce from baskets in their laps and storefronts full of specialty items from Cameroon, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast.  Hyndi even got a lecture from a woman on the street for not saying hello before asking about the unidentifiable small purple vegetables she had for sale.  We don’t have a picture of that, either. We give this market high points on the scale of experientially valid cultural encounters.  Recommended.

That evening we had drinks in a vaguely African/island/tropical bar then ate Thai food.  Mostly we enjoyed our final hours of strolling and remarking on the Parisians and their seemingly endless desire for sitting in front of cafes with their friends over drinks and cigarettes, the hours melting away. More than anything, we were studying them, imprinting their lives on our memories so that we can carry it back home with us.  That’s why we travel,  to bear witness to the beauty of the world and its people and to carry it forward wherever we go.  We love you all.

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