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1984 2 of 3

TUESDAY, JULY 31: Wake at 5:30 to noises in alley and 7:30 to HEAVY RAIN. Do C & D in Michelin to 9, shave, breakfast, pay bill, and out at 9:40 to Hotel Pince. It opens at 9:55, not much of note except a lovely little head of Selinus from Greece, prints from Japan, embroidered silks from China (grand Mandarin hem), and lacquered wood from Japan. Out at 10:20, buying book and hearing of Lenepveu, seeing pictures of head from Fontevrault, and dashing in HEAVY rain to Beaux Arts Museum for 1F, religious part having only Ingres and SAME head, paintings not much at ALL upstairs. Out at 10:40 and to hotel and station and on train at 11:05, BACKWARD seat that I change to FRONT to take long shot of Saumur. Angers hidden because train's in a trench, Saumur only clear for moments. Usse and Villandry hidden by near trees, great distance, and inconspicuousness; Langeais hidden by junky near buildings and literal junkyards, VERY unpleasant. Fontevrault, Chinon, and Azay-le-Rideau MUCH too distant. Woman passes in aisle of train; I expect her to be carrying a jerky bag and follow along her arm to be met full in the face by a charming 8 or 9-year-old girl, blond, long-faced, solemn, and totally focussed on me from the first moment she passed the chair-back. I could almost believe in reincarnation: here was a lover in a former or future life, whatever gender, who at some level KNEW I would be there and focussed ALL her soul into her single glance. Possibly fifteen years from now I shall meet a beautiful young woman who will say "I remember seeing you on a train going to Grenoble," and I would hope, thanks to the intensity of her stare, to in fact remember her. Sadly, lots of overflow from second class hang around the first-class car, and boarding at Tours is a melange of people looking for non-reserved seats that haven't been claimed until Nantes or Angers. Awful English-looking woman next to me rustles bags and unwraps a sandwich to eat on the way. Long stop outside Tours at 12:20 AM. Chenonceaux close (GREAT view of parking lot) but the castle is COMPLETELY encased in trees. Reminded here of all the barns, garages, storage depots, and even HOUSES dug into CLIFFSIDE along the valley. Really raining into Bourges at 1:45. Ask for Troyes and it takes 7 or 9 hours!! Change to Nancy in 7 hours, better for MORE. AND reserve on TGV to Nimes on the third! Check into hotel (hall TOTALLY black and concierge laughs at me, then goes up with me, opens the door to the JOHN, and says "Il etais completement noir!" as I said. Back to station 2:25-2:45 to get two SMOKING seats before I "correct" him. ("Vous n'avez pas DEMANDEZ." "Lamentable" (under his breath)). Back to hotel for key for JACKET and out) through RAINY city (rivers are nice in rain, though) to Palais Jacques Coeur to find Musee Berry CLOSED until 10AM tomorrow (when I leave) so only their GUIDED tour (and SALES desk CLOSED Tuesday and Wednesday!) at 3:15 and then ONLY Hotel Lallement (combo for 3 for 11:50F. Jacques Coeur alone 5.80F). Sit in comfortable chair in steamy lobby and write this. [Don't forget Brittany REDheads, AND Harry Von Zell dubbed into FRENCH!] Fairly clear guide through furnished chateau, but the "charpente" of the "inverted ships" is spectacularest. Lots of details and few questions, up and down stairs and under ORIGINAL roof. Out at 4:10 guided by guide to Hotel Lallemant, and for a second I think it's the SAME guide, but only a lookalike. Here the kick is given by vitrines of old toys and games and "women's work" and story of revolution. Mostly bare rooms, but it's interesting. Out at 5:05 to Cathedral and climb tour in rain and down into crypt. Getting tired toward 6, so I wander looking for restaurant (after finding Tower of Echevin) and end at Piq'Assiette at 7 for good tomatoes, just passable sweetbreads, and AWFUL mushed spinach and potato, and 1/2 liter of wine, all for 70F. Out for the only "good" show in town: "Search for the Green Diamond" and it's pretty bad--people are so UGLY; and the fact that George Pierson RECOMMENDED it is even odder. Small crowd, as before, but fewer ads. Out at 10 and back to hotel, still not quite dark, and brush teeth and get to bed at 11.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1: Up at 7 and then 7:30 to shower and out to breakfast at 8:10 and out at 8:30 to LOVELY sunshine in Pres Fichaux for pictures, then to Archbishop's Garden, and around cathedral and streets for more shots; fellow from Jacques Coeur REMEMBERS me and lets me photo tower. To hotel for bag at 10, going up to piss, and to station to find I should take train to Lyon. Onto platform and wait and wait, but it doesn't come until 10 minutes late (and I even reset my watch to match station's time) and leaves even later. Conductor assures me that train to Nevers is a "correspondence." We get into Saincaize at 10:52 and I dash down the platform, asking engineer to be sure, and get through to be only one in 24-seat first class, leaving at 10:57! Then an Edgardo-smile tells me that THIS train continues to Dijon. "Pas de problem." Get in at 11:06 (glad I DON'T have to sweat 11:04 departure) and three singles join car, now 1/6 full: in fact one IN each quarter of seats! BZ ( ) Leave at 11:10. 1:07 stop in Chagny, fond memories of Lameloise two years ago with Paul. Into Dijon at 1:50 and decide to just EAT and have LOVELY large salad, GREAT VOLUMES of sweetbreads and peas, 1/3 liter Cote-du-Rhone wine, and chocolate mousse for 70F including 2F tip! Wonderful! Dash out at 2:38 to correct track and forward to correct car at 2:41 and into TOTALLY EMPTY COMPARTMENT at train-start of 2:42. DELIGHTFULLY happy on long ride up to Nancy, debating continuing to Metz only briefly, and ONLY flaw is fat-assed girl who insists on standing in hall blocking my OTHER window's view. Sadly, too, totally clear sky of this AM is now somewhat DARKLY cloudy. Thinking of Tour D'Argent tomorrow. Toul looks like an old WALLED city in Guide. Rather TIRED at 5PM---too much lunch! Into LARGE city at 5:15 and walk toward the Crystal Hotel, fairly far, and see a sign for the Hotel Foch. It appears quiet and I pay 98 + 15 = 113F for douche and petit dejeuner. Up to room with shower installed like an armoire, glance through all the starred sites to see they're ALL 10-2, 2-6, and now at 5:35 it's just two hours of sightseeing left! Out to follow pedestrians across plaza ("Door's open all night," he says) and on main street I'm impressed by the SIZE and MASCULINITY of the young males. Blood mixtures? Into dreary cathedral, needing work and getting it only on the roadway OUTSIDE, and left to Stanislaw Place. Maybe it's because it's Polish, but it always seems more NOTEWORTHY than particularly LOVELY. Through triumphal arch and wrote hours of Beaux Arts and Lorraine Museum and photo Coffre Gate and Pepiniere. Crowd teases chimp, who splashes water back at them. Three lionesses pace, and an Arabic boy obligingly scratches the neck of a full-uddered goat. There are kiddy rides and eating booths, a rose garden and treed lanes and a large fountain playing hide-and-seek with the sun through clouds, but it's NOT as neat as the gardens of Nantes or Angers. Back to Stanislaw and sit with a DARK Panache Blanc for 7F from 6:55 to 7:50, then just get TIRED of tourists and motorcyclists parking practically in the basin of the Aphrodite fountain, and decide to see what movies are playing. None. Back to plaza and sit for 45 minutes watching two gay (?) guys sniff each other out and sexy packs of boys with one arresting outrigger in each 7-8. Tired here and go one last around for Stanislaw, and decide to look at Michelin one-stars. Both closed, but La Gastrolatre has two Gault-Millet toques and 15 points, so I have terrine of tiny Breton fish in mediocre tomato and good cream sauce, half of a full bottle of Cote-du-Toul Gres wine for 45F, (on 120F menu) and Potee Lorraine with a small piece of FABULOUS pork and sausages and potatoes and STRINGY poirreau, but not THAT much that I'm overfull. Request (of Mme. Tansy) a TASTE of Bergamot sorbet et ses caramel, which is "tres fort" as she says, and a Saboyan over fruit has WHOLE fruit. Stagger back to hotel at 11:15PM.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 2: But hard to sleep with people SCREAMING below and banging doors and hollering in the halls. Curse and finally drop off to sleep. Shower on waking at 8AM and breakfast almost alone in sunny room and out at 9:30 to photo sun-bright place and sit on steps waiting til museum opens at 10AM. From prehistory to Roman times and some 4th Century stonework and stuff from old archbishops from 900, one climbs to 15th Century paintings of parties IN THIS CASTLE and stuff from the dwellers and portraits of people and place-settings and china and beds and when no more can be assimilated there's a whole room of clocks and watches taken apart to show their workings, old microscopes and telescopes and machines for making circles, elaborate wood carvings from Germany, Limoges and Sevres china, and ivory carvings and religious artifacts. Bedrooms as lived in, more about the Polish king, then lots of stuff on Napoleon. Stifling in their QUANTITY. But they have NOTHING to buy except two postcards for their de la Tours, and even of their de la Tour COPIES. Dash to Beaux Arts, after detour to Hotel de Ville to see "single piece wrought staircase" , grand. Modern downstairs (and on mezzanine) and old upstairs, some nice, but nothing great and lots closed. Out at 11:40 after two MORE cards and to Rotisserie de Chapon Fin for GREAT lunch: Cardinal (?) aperitif with bread and cheese, roquefort (GOOD) salad with uncooked bacon (bad) and lettuce, then lamb with carrots and potatoes, WITH white wine, then GREAT fromage a la creme ("Sucree or non sucree?" "Sais PAS!" "Je le servi sur la cote." "Bien.") And I LIKED it a LOT. THEN an apricot tarte, and ALL for 115F! GREAT! Leave 1:45 and back to hotel rather fast (hitting back of right hand on sign and getting a sting for a few hours from damaged nerves) for 2:04 train to Paris, moving from "part window" to FULL window for increasingly cloudy trip to Paris, slightly late by 5:10. BUSY metro back, paranoid again, and back at 5:40 to phone Grand Hotel de Balcon---no Groomes! I strip and wash shirts and socks and Rebekah calls in French and asks for JJ and I say "He's back at 8" and she says, "Et peut etre vous etes Robert Zolnerzak?" I laugh and she giggles. In Hotel des MINES: other DIDN'T GET the PAID reservation! They come for drinks at 8. I'm JUST ready and we have water and JJ's in at 8:15. We chat, park on bridge and get into gold elevator at 8:40. VERY PRETTY and deluxe place, but SILVER menu HARD to read and awkward with only MALCOLM with prices! BY CHANCE Malcolm and JJ want "Caneton Tour D'Argent" and there MUST be 2! I have "Caneton Fleurs de Chine" and Rebekah another duck, and it's GOOD but not SPECTACULAR, particularly for about $70 each! Out at 12, NOT stuffed, to their hotel and back to bed at 1, really EXHAUSTED again.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3: Wake with JJ at 7:30, then up at 8:15 to chat and he gives me forms to pick up Tunisia tickets. I'm still full so I don't eat, but I refill my pill bottles, call American Embassy (I'd remember THAT name" and "We'll send anything we find to the HOME address>") and get out in POURING rain at 9:45 to find tickets NOT in yet, and around to change $300 for 2626.30F and back to repack everything AGAIN and rush out at 11 and get two trains to get to station JUST at 11:35 and find way to the TGV, but car 13 is ALL the way at the front end of the platform, so I get there JUST at 11:41, and train pulls out at 11:43. There's seldom an impression of REAL speed, rather "just a bit faster than a regular train," and OFTEN JUST as fast. Tick off stops, having moved one seat BACK (and MY seat taken by girl ACROSS in AISLE seat), and sky gradually clears to heat and we make up our little lost time. PEAK of mountain to "left" of Valence. Off in Nimes at 4:02 EXACT and see "Hotel de Paris" and go THERE though it's ONE star and AWFUL, even for 100F! [Make list of Aperitifs: Ricard, Pernod, Dubonnet, Muscat, Martini, St. Raphael, Guignolet (cherry and LOVELY), Porto, Lillet Blanc, Ambassadeur, Suze, and Cinzano] Dump hag, however (I'll worry about it LATER), and try Beaux Arts FIRST (a real MISTAKE)(since it's open til 7 and I could have seen anything ELSE in that BRIGHT light and heat) for an all-Klee exhibit 4:10-4:50, regular works "en travaile" and find Museum of Vieux Nimes is closed (which appears to be no real loss since Michelin doesn't even LIST it). Out to Arena and heat and fatigue REALLY get to me. I climb to top for a picture (book 15F) and down to walk shady Victor Hugo for Maison Carree---not MUCH inside, and then try to dash around to Archeology at 5:45 to find them closing. So I HAVE to stay tomorrow morning, so I plop down at a sidewalk cafe at 6 and sit til 8! Maybe the waiter was pissed at me, but MAYBE he just LET me watch ALL the SEXY MALE legs pass by in short shorts---German, English, American, French, hippy, etc. Squalling kids, too. Try Pschitt Limonade and it's not so great [I write this after COPYING lovely aperitif list at Lourdes restaurant 24 hours later.] Ask what "syrop" he has and then try "concentrees" and he said "fraises, framboises, grenadine" as if I SHOULD know, so I try a grenadine and it's ALMOST tasteless. Might have SOME zing taken STRAIGHT. Drink all water and listen to increasingly awful motorcycle noise as restaurants begin to come out. Decide to walk to park, closed by "Charles Bolling jazz rehearsal" and glance listlessly at fountains and wander back to center of town to be attracted by sign for "Au grande verre" which turns on the door into "Au grande respire." I enter to a party of seven and a single guy. Woman at head of party shouts "Jean-Luc" as I stand, waiting, and a bustling host shows me my solitary table. Pate (self-served) is good, wine is red only, AGAIN from FULL bottle ("but don't take MORE than half!" he jokes), and veal and rice good enough. Again the lovely fromage a la creme for dessert, and the whole thing is 80F. Stagger back to hotel about 11:30 and drop into bed---teeth not cleaned LAST night OR tonight. Dog barks, some train sounds, rather warm and the john STINKS, but the place isn't bad and I drop to sleep at once.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4: Up at 6:45 and out of bed at 8:15 to shower and get out breakfastless to be at Archeology at dot of 9. they have to turn on lights for me, and Jesuit Chapel is just LOADED with old carved (and uncatalogued) STONE. Through by 9:45, blown glass invented in SYRIA about 100AD. Some vases with one-stroke cocks as long as the torso. One nice torso of athlete about three inches tall. Through town to Square House for photo in sunlight, then dash up hill to Magno Tour and RACE to top by 9:55, VERY tired, snapping pictures without labeling, and hope for cab but get none, and RACE to hotel by 10:22. [I copy three-star Michelin Pyrenees sites: Lourdes, La Bigorre, Pau, Le Bearn, South of Pau, Haut Ossau, Haute Soule, Pays Basque, Le Comminges, Pays de Foix, and Andorra. Meal for 67F: Guignolet aperitif for 8.5F, Hostelerie 1/2 red for 9.75F, and 47F for tomato-noodle soup, fried herbed bread, cheese knish, escallope de veau panee, frites, salad, ice cream] Pant up to room, exhausted, heart pounding, hot and sweaty, grab dop into bag and drop key and run across street to station at 10:23 by ONE clock and 10:24 by NEXT. Find platform and jump aboard ANY car, and it even MOVES some, then stops for more people. I find I must go six cars AHEAD to get to car to Tarbes, otherwise I'm going to Bordeaux! Dash OUTSIDE and find a seat on the aisle in a jammed car, then as we move I ask conductor where first class is and AGAIN he stares at me as if I should KNOW and says "Voiture 28, la deuxieme voiture." Go past JAMMED cars, people standing in hallways with bags, and car 28 is FREE of standees, but few free seats until I see an empty window going forward and find it was reserved in Nimes and NOT TAKEN. Sit, saying "Si l'on vienne, je pars," and Grandma, Aunt, Mam, and darling girl (about 11-12) smile and nod. Find bar six cars away, so at 11:45 at Beziers I dash OUTSIDE for a 30F salad/ham/beer/roll brunch in the stuffy bar and at Narbonne dash back (meeting mamma and daughter who walked through cars) to car with a bottle of water which I DRINK on the way, rather unusual for me. Find the air conditioning works ONLY if the door is CLOSED. Clouds up and RAINS along the way, little in the line of real sights until some nice rolling slopes getting into Lourdes. Off at 4, having put pants on over shorts for the coolth. [Find it's MICHAEL Nostradamus, from St. Remy 1503-1060.] Exit at Pelerin's gate (not Malades) and try a closed "Chambres" place before going across street for 2-star Beausejour for 78 + 14 = 92F, and then find there's not even a shower on the FLOOR. No matter: drop bag and don jacket and take umbrella and out to booth that talks of "Grottos of Betarram" and get a 5.5F ticket that turns out to go through TOWN, LOADED with tourists (like every August, says the driver) and get off at foot of CHURCH for BERNADETTE'S grotto. Oh well. Pick up English map and EVERYONE is just smiling like they've been through EST. To grotto and touch stones and drink water and take pictures and tour crypt church and ABOVE church and St. Pius X UNDERGROUND and MIDDLE church, and back to street to Ledis and up three flights at 6:50 for 47F menu (listed earlier) and GOOD food and 9-member Italian family and 3-member French with Green Guide to Pyrenees, and out full of GOOD Guignolet and 1/2 wine at 8:10. To church to find procession at 9, and look at tent of YOUNG, separated THERE, and a group saying their OWN rosary, and amplified voices in French, English, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian (oh, I forgot my ENGLISH slide show at 5:45 from smiling English-speaking GERMAN guide and get SNCF MAP of routes into the Pyrenees!), and others, including Latin and Scottish, more CONFUSING than helpful. Climb staircase and it's GREAT with 10,000 candles til 9:45. Walk SHORT way back to hotel, jerk off, and collapse into deepest sleep at 11:10 PM.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 5: Wake at 7:15 and up at 8, still tired, and down to breakfast 8:30-8:45, catching up on writing, and pack and to information booth to find that NOTHING goes anywhere this Sunday morning. Look at schedules from Toulouse south on train that I can catch at 9:52, but then see that I can go WEST at 9:41 and it's 9:30! Dash to hotel for bag and to station to write and aboard 9:42 train in SLEEPING compartment (weather just SLIGHTLY less cloudy than yesterday) and off at 10:15 in Pau to find I missed a trip to the high lake at 9:50! Next "out" to Oleron at 1:50, which I hear as DOUZE heures moins dix not DEUX heures moin dix. CONFUSING. Get three franc pieces for 2.95F! and check bag. Up to town at 10:30. Nice park at top but FAR peaks are clouded. Over to Chateau de Pau and find tour just started---well! for furniture, tapestries, woodwork, fireplaces, niche-ornaments, paintings, displays, china, armoires, chests, beds, damasks, and bronzes it ranks tops among ALL I've seen. START with Henry IV exhibit that by GLORIFYING his childhood makes me think he must have been HATED as an adult and king! Then a Bearaise Museum from 11:55 to 12:20 and out to buy a book for 30F and take photos and find that two one-star restaurants ARE Closed Sunday and end at Regalty with Thon Frais Basquaise for 50F and pichet of white wine for 9 for 59F and 1F tip for 60F for GOOD meal in shade til 1:20, down to find two-car train to Oleron waiting, and I'm only one in 8-seat first class out at 1:50. Not exciting but then on bus at 2:30 and when "helper" moves to a regular seat I got to JUMP seat and it's LOVELY, enabling picture of OLD castle (people AT Fort du Portelat---Petain imprisoned in WWI by British) built into cliff just before Col de Somport and customs at 3:35 and he TAKES my passport as I catch up to date for first time in LONG time at 3:45, earplugged against AWFUL spate of loud American music from cassette of driver. I have to jump up and down as others leave, but view is quite worth it. To actual BORDER at 4:10, Canfranc BEYOND yet. Through Candanche, big ski resort, and Canfranc is only a TRAIN STATION to Spain. CHANGE busses at 4:30 and RIGHT BACK, getting SPANISH exit stamp at 4:45! Nod out a bit on the way back. Can't even blame it on the altitude since it was barely 1000 meters---no, it was 1632 meters which is 4900 FEET! Cloudier (driver says it's USUALLY sunnier on the Spanish side) and a bit of rain on the way back, but clear in Oleron. Too fatigues to even SERIOUSLY consider the whim of hiring the stopped taxi to see the ** facade on the church we passed BEHIND in the 15 minutes left before what appears to be the SAME two-car train leaves again for Pau at 18:33. THEN wait for the 8:11 to Lourdes? Or go more west? As train pulls out of Oleron at 6:35, Lourdes still seems best bet with all those TOURS to MOST spectacular spots! In at 7:15 and the next train to Lourdes IS 8:11, so (ugh) I decide to eat in Terminus Restaurant (indeed!). Chicken looks SO awful I get roast beef, awfully underdone but rather good nonetheless, and salad and frites and cucumber salad and apple tart (awful) and melon for 63.50F, a real crime. But it passes the time, and 8:11 pulls out with ME in a non-smoking ALONE at 8:13. Into Lourdes at 8:45 and check into Hotel Terminus for 130F and get douche AND WC. Back "across-bridge" way TO basilica even LONGER than other way and JUST as touristy. Get there at 9:15 JUST as announcement "Let procession commence" is made, and THIS time, rather than being barely 1 1/8 row of sick (maybe the rain last night put them off?) the WHOLE FRONT THIRD of the arena becomes FILLED with the chairs and beds (some in RED, with RED candle-holders---the SERIOUSLY ill?) and the rest FILLS with people at last by 10:10, though SOME of the sick began LEAVING at 9:50. Still impressive, and German carrying a child has a RADIANT smile. Try another "shortcut" and get stuck in a HOSPITAL from which they must open a GATE to let us out, and I walk ALL AROUND the city and get back by 11:10, again really exhausted, getting at DOUBLE earplugs to be SURE to sleep and drop RIGHT off by 11:20.

MONDAY, AUGUST 6: Wake at 12:30, 6:30, and up at 6:50 with dreams: 1) Two cards or one card maing(?) on pulley, 2) Michael Blackburn feeling my crotch, 3) car-full of people to "island" for "breakfast."Breakfast 7:30-7:45 and they GET me a reservation for Artouste for 65F. HALF day? Told to go down street to "Gare Touristique Jeanne D'Arc" and there a frantic woman finds me and says I must CHANGE. On one bus at 7:56 and to OTHER station (near Church) at 8 and get on buss's FRONT seat again and leave through Eaux-Bonnes and LOTS of fog to Artouste (dammed lake) at 9:30 and up foggy telepherique (and a STOP with PANICKED girls---and LOTS of women vomited into plastic bags on the bus) to 10AM: highest train in Europe, with OPEN sides and I'm behind a plastic front to hope to cut down wind, alone in front seat, and we start NOW at 10:07AM! But it CLEARS and we reach Lac Artouste at 11AM at 1991 meters. Then one must climb ten MORE minutes to the lake, gradually clearing, VERY nice blue, LARGE fish swimming, fishermen, waterfalls, snow TOUCHING lake, so "at 2000 meters" in August! Stand and gaze and take pictures and buy two chocolate bars (I THOUGHT he said we stop in some VILLAGE for lunch, but I may be wrong and I want SOMETHING to eat if we don't stop until 5PM. Forgot pills. Down at 12 and grab LAST seat---advantage of being alone: I can get photos from EITHER side. At 12:16 they announce collection of tickets. Strangely, there are a fair number of mentally retarded---well, NOT so strange, as tour comes from Lourdes! Could INCREASING crowds be in honor of NOVENA (9 days?) of feast on 8/14? If so, we're IN it! Just have to ADMIRE their method of ALLOWING CROWD flow. Now 12:19 and woman RUNS up with tickets for lip-pulling, hooting, dark-eyed idiot. Sun will be BEHIND on way back! Trees higher up. Driver says Lourdes gets VERY little snow, maybe 10 cm/year. Growing season from April to mid-November! Now lovely FLEECY clouds as others leave first at 12:26 and we follow at 12:27. 2886 meter Pic du Midi d'Ossau--seen on way DOWN, pictures 33-36 AFTER Lac Artouste. Into bus 1:45 (gate) after returning by 1:20. Then drive to Col de Portalet through "pastureland" and cows and sheep WAY up and "houses where shepherd's sleep" and shops, until border at 2:15. I take CLEAR pictures of Pic du Midi d'Ossau and then to shops to pick up MORE chocolate for 13F (2 bars for 13F on the TOP were GREAT) and a sunhat (that I forgot in Brooklyn) for 17F (less than $2) and a bottle of Guignolet for 20F (!) and then take photo SOUTH into SPAIN, then to restaurant for omelet and pichet of vin blanc DOUCE for 28F and back on bus at 3:50 LOADED in TWO senses, but feeling GREAT. Road back swings along and stops in tiny villages where I buy Pyrenees book for 12F and look at cheese. Try for Pastis d'Ossau (but they're out) and have a Gateau de Myrtille for 3.5F. Back into bus to be dropped AT HOTEL by cheery driver getting smiles from cute guys in the back I hadn't even SEEN earlier. Into hotel to COLLAPSE for a half hour, then up to close shutters and jerk off with mirrors from 7-7:30, then just CAN'T seem to get going, so at 8:15 I simply GO TO SLEEP, tossing a TINY bit, but going right off.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 7: Wake at 6:30, over ten hours, having had strange dreams of vague sex. Shower and breakfast at 7:15, having asked clerk and he ASSURES me that the afternoon trip to Gavernie includes the Cirque. Lift the cup of chocolate and there's an ant, small and black. Lift the fork and there are two OTHERS. Brush them off and lift the napkin to a DOZEN. Take the tray into the next room and take jelly back, and MORE swarm out of a HOLE in the top! Complain and get new jam, waitress taking it TOTALLY calmly. Up to brush teeth and put things away and out at 8:05 to go to lower station and buy 27F ticket for 8:30 bus to Betarram. Leave to other station (town ALWAYS crowded, ALL houses are hotels) and get more people, then at 8:40 I take my jumpseat. Out of town yet ANOTHER way, and then join old road through St-Pe, which THIS driver does NOT bother to explain is argot for St. Pierre. NICE SUNNY CLEAR day! Into Grotto-home at 9:10, having to buy ANOTHER 26F ticket for GROTTOS! We're two into four-seat telepherique at 9:20, and a BUMPIER, JANGLIER, NOISIER, OLDER, even in MIDFLIGHT, set of cars there NEVER were. AND we DESCEND as much as we go UP, so a ROAD could just as easily take us AROUND as UP and DOWN. SO far it's only a GIMMICK. Five minute ride, then another five- minute wait before descending at 9:30 and waiting another ten minutes before following guide goes FIRST into cave, but then it disintegrates as another group joins us and we BARELY squeeze into boat and every place seems filled on tour that leaves at 10:45. The cave is nice but PEOPLE aren't! Quick train in three minutes that pulls the stops out: starts with a jerk, stops in the middle, becomes "runaway" and a real roller-coaster ride, and finally it's "lights out" before exiting into the sunlight. Buy 12 slides BETTER than those on display for 18F and out at 10:55 to write this while waiting for bus to fill. Rather nice formations and lighting and "transparent rock" and living AND dead and rushing waters and huge ceilings, all one needs is to remove the PEOPLE. I grump through passage about kids BEHIND always rushing and pushing, kid AHEAD always lashing out with backward karate kick that's never well-aimed, and people shouting, JUMPING on the concrete and metal floorboards to make as MUCH noise as possible, and chatting during the guide's explanations. Then the SECOND group joins to make it REALLY impossible. Lots of busses at the end, and it's good I didn't BELIEVE the guy at station who said it would be finished at 11---it's that and the bus isn't filled yet. At least with photos forbidden and 12 slides I didn't use a half-roll of film! Back at 11:35 after leaving at 11:10, and he takes me TO hotel. I must change from room 18 (at 130F) to room 60 (at 87.50F) because it's taken tonight and tomorrow is FULL. Get (first g as in "plage" and et as in "jet") is a drink with MINT, and AWFUL! CORBIERE is sweet white "vin du pays" and WONDERFUL (13F for 1/2 liter!) Bus #610 to Gavarnie at 1:30. GREAT lunch for $7! Hors d'oeuvres (carrots, lebanon bologna, rice and sliced hard egg), LOVELY slice of veal fried, GREAT green beans with EXTRA butter, 1/2 liter (50 cl) of GREAT Corbiere douce, AND 8.8F for AWFUL Get, but ALL for LESS than $7: 60F. Three missing and "last call" at 1:35. I'm feeling GREAT: PAS DE problems! We get to other station and a CROWD rushes us, in fact an old woman says she CAN'T sit in the back and I fear for MY seat, but he tells her to sit in MIDDLE jumpseat behind me, and she LATER moves to back. Chasm-y ride to Gavarnie, and Pont Napoleon is another real circus of tourists. On and on to crowded Gavarnie at 3:45: "Hotel 6 km and falls 9km" and I dash off in dust and heat and horse manure and other tourists. Rapid progress (faster than horses), but TIRING. Gobble chocolate and take pictures and push push push. Shoes standing up well, and the shirtless tanned bare-legged males offer lots of visual solace. To hotel (beyond which stupid people STILL take dogs!) and beyond to large rock on barren prairie, great views of un-clouded snowfields BELOW me, people playing. Closest at 4:45 and soak in huge Gavarnie fall, then head back away from sun, feeling cooler and relaxed downhill. Watch clouds coming up behind and sunset coming early, lots of horses and asses having to be restrained from running downhill as small riders cry out in panic and sharp hooves stumble as horses veer from right to left regardless of walkers. Finally back to bus at 5:40 and he says I have ten minutes to drink, so I down a carafe of water and a bottle of beer for 11F including 1F tip. Onto bus and back in haze, past "chaos" of rocks from 1650? earthquake. Clear and beautiful going down, lots of pictures. Leave everyone off and AGAIN I'm left AT DOOR of hotel at 7:15. Jerk off fairly quickly and dress at 8:15 to PHOTO procession, and get to parapet at 8:30. [A sheep on a leash tied to a tree!] [Port d'Envalira is 2409 meters: 7500 feet! The HEIGHTS are only 28-2900 meters! Wander Ax: art in Hotel Royal Thermes; john-water SMELLS of sulfur.] "Led" toward right, but the parapet is SOLIDLY blocked. I debate standing DOWN stairs, wondering why they haven't brought up that GATE yet, and a guard arrives to swing the gate AWAY from the wall where people are jammed! I see that must FREE the wall! Slip along the gate and squeeze BEHIND it as it swings out, and the crush surges AROUND me but I'm SQUARELY in place. When I STAND, Italian women behind me moan and complain; when I stretch, they moan ironically, "Que Stanco!! poverino!!" Take 6-7 shots, but sadly the crowd is SMALL again: barely 1 1/2 rows of sick and HARDLY a square-full, though they DO manage to "finish" their processing from 9:40 to 10:10. Well, I DID it. Wonder streets looking for a meal and settle for a croque monsieur and a formidable that must be a LITER, in a HEAVY glass. People look at me and I look at a LOT of PEOPLE. Undoubtedly one of THE strangest evenings I've ever seen. Out-Felliniing Fellini: Lourdes after-dark, after-rosary: bleached-blond boy about twelve in tightest red denim scouting out "good" place for his graying father. Italian families, 8.9 female, none of them knowing what to do with tits and ass but all of them showing it and all of them WANTING THEM USED! Young priests sauntering in cassocks with pretty young boys (ONLY one to one!). A daughter with exactly the turned-up nose and turned -down mouth of the following MOTHER and THEN a daughter with the HOOK-nose and turned-UP mouth of the FATHER, who follows. Italian old women so ugly even Fellini would turn them down as being unlikely: slicked-back phony-black hair, enormous milk-legs white, stuffed into tiny sandals which they overflow in all directions, tits sticking out ONE way, ass the other, but which such hideous angles connecting the two that even God would blush. A boy of Grecian Profile (GP) and tiny piglike eyes and a cherub's curved mouth exuding both a SENSUALITY that would make Fabian's discoverer CREAM, but a nail- and KNUCKLE-gnawing paranoia that would make Mary HERSELF nervous! Tight corduroys bent over a Citroen with three STRANGE males---the STRANGEST a Patrician beauty in back too nervous to even communicate. I with my Formidable, which here must be at LEAST a liter-and-a-half, laughed at by the fat German couple who BOTH caress the mop-handled lap dog with the pink hair-ribbon. The UGLY forward-slanted man in white stalking the streets "on God's business" but ACHING for sin; the FRIENDS of "Greek-profile": UGLY, with a directness GP could envy, and "plain" with a CONFIDENCE that could win anyone anything, but which GP OBVIOUSLY LACKS, making ANY dealing with him TERRIBLY dangerous. And the tiny-waisted waiters, and the glassed INTELLIGENT waiter-friend of GP and twosome. ENDLESS. The Chartreuse trio to my left and the "faithful wife" to the right. And ALL with novena-candles and souls READY for sin! And I write this gorged on beer and EATING Lindt's SINFUL milk chocolate to 11:57PM! What GP HAD was a COCTEAU-head with a hurt, burnt fragility that would SHATTER at ANY attempt at USE! Restaurant about 10:20-11:40, almost CLOSING street, and to bed about 12:05.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8: Wake at 6:30 and back to sleep after shitting, then up at 8:30 and see where to go NEXT. Montrejeu seems to offer little, so it's Toulouse---I debate the 9:11 for a MOMENT, but settle for 9:52. Down for breakfast and up to brush teeth and shave and pack and down to pay 390.5F (down from 400+ when she charged me THREE nights at 130F) and get to station. It had been raining HARD during breakfast, but now scattered drops as train pulls in about when I do. Widely spaced first-class cars, and I get a forward-facing AISLE seat in a compartment where a girl loading two older women bitched that the two windows she'd reserved a MONTH ago weren't posted. When the window occupants flashed what my have been a "retired railroad official" card, I fantasized that the trio was BUMPED for the VIP duo. Ride through varied clouds and sun to Toulouse at 11:58, and into station to find that I get a BUS to Andorra from Ax-les-Thermes, returning tomorrow to Toulouse by 4:40PM, then Paris. Chamonix and Annency and that whole REGION can be another TRIP. See a sign for Pizza Croque 9F and decide it's something new, but she points and says "THIS is pizza, THAT is croque." She barely warms the bottom of a croque and I pay 20F for that and a bottle of rose, taking a plastic cup for the train and get on the two-car train with a French (?) woman and Canadian man just married, and a CUTE guy who sadly gets off early, squelching my fantasy that he and I share a room in Andorra! Off after ten stops and cloudy skies in Ax at 2:03. Bus IS at 3:55, so I PACK bath stuff and CHECK sack for 3F and wander into a sunny/cloudy/lovely Ax. Tourist office closed, square boasts Royal Thermes Hotel and a romantic painting exhibit, then to a thoroughly modern church with an angular Christ. Then up roaring stream to sit for a bit in Tuck park and admire the torrent. Then gaze at GLORIOUS dahlias in a garden, the rest of it rather decrepit, but are those SEQUOIAS? Enormous, anyway. Back to town and station to board the bus at 3:45; driver says he has to wait for next tram. It also starts POURING rain at 4PM. Will I be WARM enough? Bus off at 4:10 for 32F (I had 31!), six of us INCLUDING Driver aboard, radio on LOUD for three women in back. Bus DOES stop at L'Hospitalet for 28F, so I "lost" 4F but NOT taking train to THERE (but Ax was NICER). At 4:40 we're 13 on the bus, including the driver. Mountains appear under BLUE sky at the end of the valley, and it starts clearing. Is there hope? I glance through "Intervue" magazine and it's not much. Off at 4:45. SNOWING at 5PM. 5:05 stop at INCREDIBLE hotel/shopping center of Pas de la Casa (in Spanish). Traffic jams, the "international" set, sweaters and gloves over bare legs. WILD scene, but TOTALLY commercial and NO beauty. We get WAVED PAST customs. Hope I can get a stamp on the way BACK! Through Canillo and Encamp before Andorra-le-Vella; 6:05 in slow traffic til ?? Andorra-le-Vella only 10 km from Spain. Reach Escaldes Engordeny, 2.5 km from ALV, at 6:30! 2 km at 6:35, MUST be faster to walk: but TOURING is seeing how it comes out---except for lung cancer of constantly smoking and coughing "punk" girl behind me. Complete tie-up in city, everyone shopping, bags on curb right out to the street, and lots of Patek-Philippe, Courreges, and other "name" brands. At "Place des Arcades" at 7:15 and driver takes me to a "special" hotel that has only a LARGE room left. I say no and wander hilltop Gendarmerie and valley-view beyond, but it's too COLD to walk and I try a few more places and finally Hotel Nord has a room for 40F! TINY room and SMALL bed, but clean john and I crap and get out to find Restaurant Quebec to eat good cold-cut hors d'oeuvres, GOOD pork and fries, and AWFUL whole apple and mediocre rose, all for 60F. Out at 8:15, having eaten fast like everyone else, and the FEEL of the place is so awful that I'm glad I got the EARLIER time of 8:15 to aim for leaving. Walk a few more blocks trying to find SOMETHING to look at, but it's all frantic people and shopping bags and now-closed shops, so I just go back to hotel and crawl into bed with earplugs. Someone enters next door and the walls are cardboard. Toss a bit but get to sleep OK, up again at 10:30 and again at 2:30 to piss and drink water, again in a DRY humidity that saps liquids. At least I'll be rested for the Tunis trip!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 9: Dreams: 1) Dahlia-like flowers wilt and mat into felt-like silken slabs of close-knit brilliant color. 2) Some girl like Robin Magid is getting married and someone like George Pierson offers her a wedding gift for her husband of a $1.50 belt and I bristle at the suggestion that I could get her father a shirt or jacket--that would cost MORE. 3) A Western thriller ends with the sheriff facing down three gunmen aiming at him with their pistols. The scene fades to a final scene in which the sheriff, obviously alive, asks with amusement "You think it wouldn't turn out OK?" Up at 7:10 and wash and brush teeth and out at 7:45 having shit a bit, and the restaurant is CLOSED. Leave 40F and key on shelf! Stand waiting for bus in cold from 8 to 8:14 and push on first for my front seat again. Good! NO traffic on the way out AT all. Was waved through on the way in and it's so commercial I figure I'll have an excuse NOT to have an exit stamp in my passport. Radio keeps on talking about the snow from "north northwest" and how it looks like winter already and there's such heavy fog on the hills I fantasize there was a good REASON to leave early: by the 11AM bus the summit might be iced in and no one would be able to leave for a week. Try to take few pictures (my last roll of film until tomorrow) but the idea that this is my ONLY time in Andorra leads me to take the pictures I was on the wrong side for yesterday: the curved arches of the "new" church and the "old" church that's right at the road. Fear that the dim light will show the speed enough that the motion of the bus will blur the shot, but that's part of the trip too. Guys behind smoke and keep jabbing me in the back with their knees. No line coming in or going out of the border at THIS hour. 9:30 at Pas de la Casa for 10-minute rest. Total snow around. Leave 9:38 and actually have to show my passport. Two guys behind have to get out for some paper-checks. Small line of cars coming in at 9:45. Earplugs in against the radio (in FRONT on this model) and the people-chatter (in French rather than the liquid Portuguese-sounding Spanish of the trip in), munching on my chocolate bars to make up for breakfastlessness. Thank goodness driver puts HEAT on; lots of cold sitting in front of the door. Debate ASKING for a passport-stamp, but it's somehow more colorful NOT to have one having BEEN there. Traffic descends into a solid bank of fog. Cop comes out and says it'll be a few minutes more. Radio coming UP was all Spanish, going back all FRENCH. Planned? Still can't get over people in SHORT sleeves and shorts in SNOW, as if INSISTING it be WARM. Or they're TOUGH. Car in front gets its trunk thoroughly searched, but a loaded bus cruises past easily. And DRIVER coughs, frowns, rubs his nose, clears his throat, coughs harder, and lights a new cigarette from his old. Long lines of piss-yellow headlights waiting up the hill for entry. What it must be like on a weekend! Pullmantour from Valence pulls over and cops looks through luggage compartment for ten seconds, then bus starts, THEN closes compartment, and continues. Phone calls and papers shuffled inside customs' windows. "Chief" talks with an unlit cigarette batting up and down from the CENTER of his lips as he somehow TALKS. Another car's driver pulled over to FRENCH customs across the STREET. 10AM and ANOTHER phonecall make with a third hand referring to some passports. Driver collects fares: 25 of us (including "detained" two). 10:05 forms being filled in window, phonecall continues. 10:06, they're back (drat). Finally below MOST of clouds at 10:20. Clouds STILL follow, however. Two guys exit at L'Hospitalet. Into Ax at 10:55, raining. Over to restaurant Terminus but they'll serve only sandwiches, not an omelette. I'd rather wait til a good lunch in Toulouse. Piss and find others boarding train, waiting, so I get bag and switch stuff back into dop kit and break open the Guignolet, really more a PORT than a liquor or wine, and decide an afternoon and night in Toulouse will be nice. Two three-star, two two-star, and four one-star sights. Heat and light come on at 11:25, good: my FEET are cold. Still raining outside, but with Guignolet warming INSIDE, things look brighter as I write this at 11:35. Read some of OBE and "leave" at 11:50 (Ax, not my body!). Dark ride and I REALLY debate going through to Paris to get used to the HEAT, but make my reservation on the TGV tomorrow and pay 100F for REPAS (new to me): if I eat MORE, I pay; if I eat LESS, they refund. Then out to check a couple of hotels and Hotel Europe a REAL find for 98F including douche, on TERRACE, which confuses me at first. Drop off bag and head for Augustinian Museum, first eating gristly-but-good gigot en brochette garni and two beers for 51F at Le Pensez-y? from 2:20-3. Augustinian staggering from old capitals from Dimune and Rieux and others, statues with LOTS of colors, huge room of awful paintings that might include an Ingres or Velvet Breughel. There til 4:45, then dash out for two-star Natural History Museum, an INCREDIBLE melange of JAMMED-in birds, skeletons, antlers, and, right next to the whale, over 300 PENIS bones, next to an equal display of HYOID bones (female?)(no, find on 9/14 that it's the bone at the base of the TONGUE---now I can see why they were displayed together!). Displays of mines and minerals from the region, and then ACRES of stones, reproductions of famous stone-age carvings, some nice almost-vanished REAL carvings on antlers and stones, and some terra cotta cave animals that I THINK were real, about two-foot long bisons. Mushrooms and shells and coral and eggs by the thousand---truly staggering. And moldy old stuffed elephant, lion, zebra, rhino, and bear all in DREADFUL condition. Out at 5:45, bypassing the gardens and skirting the Royal Gardens (and Palace?). I drop into the misshaped cathedral , photo the worked-on Dupuy Museum, and when it starts raining I dash past the uninteresting-from-outside Capitol and get to St. Sernan, which JUST closes its crypt and painting-lined ambulatory at 6PM, and look at Romanesque arches and then out to search for Jacobins, past incredible gate of Lycee Pierre Fermat, and get into cloisters (church rather void, like Saint Chapelle) to sound of violins and guitar of Art Festival Trio. Sit enwrapt from 6:15 to 6:45, gentle rain, quiet bricks, nice music. Then out to Rue Metz and dreary river and bridge and mossed-over Ecole des Beaux Arts and OLD Eglise Daurode and then to Hotel Assezat for last photo of day at 7PM and to sit next to Christopher Reeve-head lookalike and have an aperitif for 7F and at 8 wander THROUGH Capital and see Restaurant Richelieu and decide it's OK. The appetizer of avocado and mushrooms is fabulous and large, as is the steak in red pepper and potatoes, would that the steak have been better done (told the brochette to go back for more cooking this afternoon) and have less gristle. The Coupe Richelieu wasn't bad: a LOT of cream and cassis sorbet, and other liquors, if any, were lost in shuffle. Wine OK, but whole bill of 85F a BIT much when compared to OTHER feasts. Wander back to hotel and take a GREAT shower until 10PM and get to sleep, not using a GREAT floor-length mirror to jerk off with.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 10: Wake at 2:30 to piss and then at 7 to wash and repack. Breakfast and pay at 7:45, then back to St. Sernan to look at arches again (no special tour of ambulatory, drat) and then look for a change but FIND none. To hotel to wash and get bag and to station at 9AM and train is almost empty, good seat as train leaves at 9:10. Carcassonne veiled in fog. Sunflowers, burnt black from facing the sun, nod on their stems. Wonder when "hypermarket" will supersede "supermarket" in the US? By the time we hit Beziers we're totally full. Out at Montpelier at 11:25, still foggy, and FIRST change place (information says "Anywhere." Yeah?) I hit (Credit Nord) pays 8.45F. I'm SURE I can get better. Try another: "Down near Comedia" (where I was). Down side streets and catch "Banque." In to find 8.68 center CLOSED. "Try across the street." THEY change me IMMEDIATELY for 8.68 for $300 for 2604F, saving me 845 x 3 = 2535, thus 2604 - 2535 = 69 francs, over $8, so WORTH the eight minutes' extra walk. A SLIGHT case of nerves this morning: my SECOND Friday since the theft. Back to station at 12 and to Quai 2 to Voiture 2 (at the head) and the car is COMPLETELY empty for 12:17 departure, EVEN at 12:08 as I write this. Change to full-window FORWARD-going seat, as it seems I have the CAR to myself. At seat 11, any move I made in the aisle opened the door! Starts raining pretty hard at 12:13. And at 12:19 we pull out and car is STILL EMPTY! The ride seems ENTIRELY through farmland, great sweeping loops past corn and wheat. Lunch for 136F is poor for the money, particularly tiny mutton chop. Drink Guignolet and feel happy. One other person joins. Into Paris at 5:10 and find that DIRECT route to Bordeaux is best. Push past Arab trying to sell 2.3F second-class ticket for 4F. "Home" to talk to Linda for half an hour and call Paul to find his brother's been delayed. Wash clothes and shower and put things away as JJ arrives at 8 and Paul at 8:15. We chat and dine at Les Vieux Metiers for 800F, Paul and I split it because tour agency made JJ drive IN from work this afternoon to pick up tickets after saying they'd be available at office tomorrow. Beaune Premier Cru wine not as good as Cote de Beaune, JJ's preferred Burgundy. Drive for half an hour trying to get to Paul's hotel on a one-way street and back at midnight, very tired.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11: Not much trouble falling asleep and wake at 8:20 and lay til 9:45. Paul calls at 10, still no news from his brother. Repack pills and pack travel information to talk over with Paul. At 10:30 Paul's brother's plane lands at Orly. I have yogurt and listen to music and write this to 11:20AM. Get bread at Poulaine and get to hotel to set up Bordeaux, Eugenie, Auch, Puymirol, Albi, Beziers, Narbonne itinerary. JJ arrives at 1:20 (from haircut) and we go to Closerie de Lilas for a good filling lunch til 3:40. JJ takes their bags to his place and we metro to Pere Lachaise to see tombs of Edith Piaf, can't find Modigliani or Stein, Balzac, and others. Out at 5:30 to try to get taxi but 6:05-6:25 subway gets us home to repack and Paul calls Europcar and finds we CAN get Bordeaux car in city and leave it in Narbonne and there IS TGV 6:30-11:30 for Dick on Thursday. Out to cab at 7 and to Orly Sud at 7:30 to go from Zone 2 to Zone 3 to Zone 1, then upstairs to wait departure gate at 7:50. I've hardly feared flight at all, but when it DOES hit, I really feel it. Read and flight hasn't come IN yet says Paul at 8:30. Finally at 9 they announce a 9:35 departure from gate 48. Race there and stand. At 9:15 an Air Tunis plane begins UNLOADING passengers! FEW passengers, and through FIRST gate at 9:25. At 9:40 we're told "ten more minutes." We start on at 9:55 and after a few tense moments in an over-crowded loading tube that groans up and down, I get three seats just above the front of the wing. Heat mounts at 10:10. At 10:15 they ask for a boarding-pass check. At 10:25 someone seems to leave. Back out at 10:26. Off at 10:34. AWFUL fears during takeoff. Last part of flight frightening and bumpy. Land in sight about 12:15 and land at 12:26, just about 1:55 hours of awful flying. I THINK she said it was 33 degrees Centigrade or about 92 Fahrenheit outside! No, it's cooler. Dick leaves his entry card on the plane and has to search one out for filling. Paul fears he's lost his baggage checks when he turned over his passport, but we've got bags (and pissed in a VERY smelly john) and waiting for group at MIDNIGHT PRECISELY. Quite weary but game for more.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 12: Jet tour people at Salambo and Oasis. To rather tacky Majestic, huge non-air-conditioned room to which they drag a floor-bed that Paul wants: it reminds him of Japan. Talk and shower and bed at 1:25 and CAN'T sleep until about 2AM. Up at 6:30 to bright light and noise. Breakfast at 7 and out to search for a hotel. Africa OK for 54D but Meridien SELLS at 57D. Back to get bags and check out, paying .38D for ice and water last night, and get into room, me drinking water from tap and surviving. Then ignore recommendation of 55D taxi for the day and taxi to Bardo Museum. Paul immediately turns onto boys and does a couple in the john. Dick doesn't seem that interested, and I get into great gold and ivory room, upstairs to more mosaics, and I shoot good cocks VERY slowly with little hope of steadiness. They've finished way before me at 11:30. I guy $20 US for 1586 from clerk, then spend whopping 18D (1$ US = .786D) for mosaic book. Taxi to hotel and get to Baghdad Restaurant for good lunch for 11D for three with TWO bottles of (watered?) wine. They want to sleep at 2:15 and I walk to medina to have an adventure. My God, how to communicate it. Leave at 2:15 to walk to Souk and plan to meet them at 4PM. Then I see CLOSED souk and meet salesman who takes me to perfume extracts and puts jasmine on left arm and citronella on right wrist and insists that only 30 grams added to one liter of alcohol or one liter of water (for jasmine) will be perfume and insect repellant by the quart, and only 6D600 for the 30g little bottle---also the black stuff that makes Chanel #5 by the quart. Then I follow the plink-plink of the copper carver who takes half a day to make a platter he sells for 20D (with black patterns from chinese ink), so 40 dinars/day or $50/day or $5/hour---maybe not THAT bad, but the PLATTER must cost HIM something. Sweet eyes, sweet guy. And the STRUGGLERS: the kids, tugging a load of pocked fruit on a barrow of broken bicycle wheels. The man who fondles a suit jacket, trying to make the serge sheen like velvet by ruffling it attractively, or the man selling shoes with a once-elegant black suit now brown in the back from sleeping in shit---staring forlornly into space. The hopefuls hawking Cokes and cigarettes. Given them a dinar and insult them? Pity them? Ignore them? And the dead cats, and starving cats, and scrawny kittens chewing on straw and soon to die, and sleeping cats, and others looking ANYWHERE for food. As I, then, started searching for a PEN, and find NO store until at 2:30 a shopkeeper gave me his OWN and searched over a 1D and 1/2D (which I'd offered and he refused) and takes .100, 12 cents, MAYBE OK? Then I write to 3:30 and think to return. The endless QUITE blue doors, the yellow doors with black-painted bolts, sounds of sweeping, sights of scrubbing, hopeful kids, tired old women, sexy eye-exchanges, eye avoids. So MUCH, so MUCH. Now I plunge BACK into it. How MANY open (and sexy patrons) haircut places and nowhere to buy a PEN! ENDED at Rue Bab Souika and I went a LONG way along Rue Monji Slim. I trail Paul and Dick as they arrive and they DON'T like the empty medina, so we sit and have a drink and Dick tries to buy dental floss and we're back to let me shower and them have a swim in the pool and try to find an empty drinking table at Cafe de Paris (gay) and don't, so we ALL go to have a nap 6:15 to 8PM, across from busy 9PM dinner at Baghdad and 20D dinner and out about closing at 10:30 and Dick and I walk to station and along "boardwalk" for nothing and back to sleep at 11:15. Dick still trying to find a woman, but he's back quite early. At first there's so much to LEARN about a town: where is hotel in relationship to town; how hard is it to get taxis; what tours are available; what's the local bus and train situation, how many people speak English, how many French; where to change money, where to eat, what's doing at night, how hot will it be, will I be robbed or seduced or disgusted? Then all the questions begin to be answered and they go farther afield: Kairouan, Dougga, Gafsa; Paul and Dick are even thinking of Barcelona and Bordeaux. The hotel is known (no dry-cleaning on Monday; air conditioning not so good at our end of the hotel, we don't HAVE to go by their bar-count, and Paul and Dick make THEIR plans and needs known TOO. How many tourists, how crowded, are their first-class accommodations, and WHAT just left five minutes ago that would have been EXACTLY what you wanted.

MONDAY, AUGUST 13: Paul bounces up at 6:45 (I'm up at 6:30) and drags Dick out of bed and they have "American" breakfast for 3.150D and I "Continental" for 2.350 and walk at 9:30 to train to Carthage. I get 200M second-class ticket but Paul insists on "upgrading" but we have to buy NEW 500M first-class tickets. Long ride across water and get off at Hannibal to be met by caleche who says "only 3D per person." OK. Short ride to villas and guide attacks for 4D who talks of customs and mosaics and statuary and coins found after rains and statues excavated just 25 days ago and how UNESCO is helping to support excavations but there's not enough money to dig up the columns whose bases we see all around us. These things and those FOUND here are all in the Bardo Museum. I try to read book but give up. To theater, mostly rebuilt, and only format of odeon. To amphitheater where Patience and Felicity were martyred, and there's an altar in the depths. We all have a piss. Pass the now-closed French-built church (Paul disagrees with "no Christians in Tunisia") and have soda and get left at corner of Thermes of Antoninus, huge arches and circular rooms and caves near beach, ruined basilica and mosaics and dark underground Fifth Century chapel and we're VERY hot at 1 to station and get train three stops to Sidi Bou Said, grabbing cab that doesn't know where La Pirata is. Nice meal under Muscat vines amid fervid cats and kittens, lots of wine, and walk to Dick's swim and we then climb steps to city and I get kicked out of town meeting and get GREAT overall views they're too tired to climb to reach. Back down at 4, just miss train and kid begs from me, and I get on at first- class front and they on back and back to hotel at 5:30 and they swim in pool and I wash in cold tub and we rest and out to look around old CITY cathedral and eat at good L'Orient. Very tired to bed at 10:30.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 14: Up at 6:30 and to breakfast and at 8:10AM find we "just missed" Kairouan tour. Curse guy and go next door and find nothing much more, down street to try Carthage Tours, closed in one place, upstairs at Tunisia International to be told to go to Gare Routiere, and walk colorful way (auto repair shops) out Avenue de Carthage to get information about BUS to Kairouan and TRAIN to Gafsa for 2 days, 9 hours each way. Take bus #50 back from 9:30 to 10:20, LONG hot standing ride through MANY streets, feeling I've seen them ALL (EVERYONE looking for cabs, ALL streets jammed and angry), and get toward Marche Central to find PTT and buy Algerian and Tunisian (while cashing $200 for 1570 on Avenue "B" (Bourguiba)) and then Morocco (11:10-11:30 zipping around Marche Central) and to hotel to meet them for good lunch at L'Orient and back to Africa at 2:05PM. Start waiting for the final events on the car. Asked at 12:15 for Concierge, who would arrive in "quelques instants." By 12:25 he wasn't there, so I left a message: "Car to Oudna, Thuburbo Majur, and Dougga (driver speaking English, if possible) at 2PM. I'd be back at 1:45. At 1:45 he professed to have got no note, but all would be OK. At 2PM he HAD my note and had found a diver who did NOT speak French or English, only Arabic, and "was now" talking to French-speaking driver. At 14:09, OK for 50D, he'll be here in 15 minutes. In at 14:21, to Herbert Lom-like Mercedes driver, and he drives PAST busiest Gare Routiere streets toward Sousse and dusty horizons and cement factories, and suddenly dozens of arches of a high old aqueduct. Take two pictures and he says THAT'S Oudna. Drive into dryer and dryer countryside, and it gets hotter and hotter, and when he finally finds one-carred Thuburbo Majus, I'm starting to wonder if all this is WORTH it, or if I REALLY want to spend 9 hours on the two-car, half-compartment, front-getting-oil-fumes from diesel engine, to see MORE of their dessert and MORE ruins. Out of car in broiling heat and go toward highest pillars, snapping pictures coming and going, and down steps and over back rises and KNOW I won't go to those up the hill, a local goat herd, and make large circle from 3:15 to 3:45, smearing #15 on legs and face under hat and still feeling hot and feel somewhat depressed not knowing what anything WAS, but pleased that no commentary is getting in the way of what IS: patterns of stone, some nice capitals, not much carving except on line of 8-9 standing pillars, and lots of prickly weeds and not real city-like feeling. Back to sleeping driver--he gets lost several times trying to find Dougga, driving up awful road to spectacular site at 5:20 and around base and impossibly new-looking tower (later said to be Phoenician, and just can't believe THAT) and up to a few cars and a 200M ticket seller who follows me up amphitheater doggedly. A prickly old guide tries to follow and I start to say "Estop" so he knows not my language, but I stop at even more puzzling "Ess," with a commanding backward wave, and it's a masterstroke: "Babble-babble Ess! Ess blubber!" he says in dinar-less angst, but I'm totally alone (except for kid sitting dramatically in high hollow arch) for INCREDIBLE temple of Baal or Aphrodite (200BC) and LOTS of impressive side-lots and an arch I go around to photo "through" and large bath-arches and houses and columns and doorways and cellars and streets and stairways. Dramatic cloudy-setting sun and GREAT shots until about 6, tired of climbing and REALLY depressed about being alone. To car from the bottom area and back to MUCH BETTER (obviously main) road, site TOTALLY hidden by completely regular scarp. My way was MUCH better, though I bitched that the concierge had said ONLY Dougga. I'm pleased, sure we'll be back 100 km by 7PM, and he has to slow to 50 or 60 through little towns where everyone stares, there are lots of trucks of sheep he has to pass, and he stops for 15 minutes to buy 8-9 melons that he loaded behind his seat. Some deserted country shots but I refuse "Roman" ruins in town we pass and get back by 8PM, me VERY worried about meter registering over 80D, and RELIEVED when he believes my 10D to concierge and I give him 45 and he says I'm "gentile" and I've obviously spoiled him. Up to a note from Paul "At Baghdad at 7:30" and I wash face and hands and across to find Paul and Dick and MOHAMMED, wink-a-minute, and order Poulet Roti and have GREAT melon and eat fast as they talk and drink late and out at 9:30 for Paul to bed and Dick and Mohammed to try to find disco, but it's not open at dank La Colisee until 10:30, so we wander souk where karate- expert Mohammed keeps winking and telling Dick where the girls are pretty at 11AM and gives me a BIG pitch about working in a museum in the US to help support his mother, and I must stay VERY vague, as against "Canadian" Paul who simply SHIPS OUT after saying he'll meet them the next day! Back at 10:30 to find it's 12D just to get IN, so we kick Mohammed out, stop at Drugstore for two GREAT COLD lemonades for 400M each, and up to bed at 11PM.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15: One of these early mornings I wake and "feel" the earth move and WORRY about earthquakes in this tall building. Up at 7:40, latish, then breakfast and shower and our driver is there INSTANTLY for the day. Downstairs at 9:08AM, waiting for Paul to join our French-speaking driver for all day in Kairouan, having found that the day-tour to Hammamet is FRIDAY and the Air Tunis office is open til 6:15PM for airline ticket confirmation for Saturday. A bit surprised, Paul went along with the 40D for HIM for the day, but maybe Dick feeling sick and having to stay in bed makes him want to get out---as does his 5:30 appointment with his boyfriend. He's down at 9:12 as I write the above. Our driver insists he's a CHAUFFEUR, not a guide. We drive out same way, but go so close to the coast we can see Hammamet and the sea as we talk. Much GREENER drive than yesterday! But though road is wide and speed is up to 110 kph, it's 11:15 before we get to Kairouan and driver goes to information, where we have to pay 1D for entries; I pay 1.3 for book, and guide is offered for 1.5D so of COURSE we say yes! Well, it's Speedy Gonzalez. Zip in side door of Grand Mosque, 700AD, FOURTH after Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem, and SEVEN hajs to Kairouan is EQUAL to one to MECCA! Photo people standing on sundial and 32-meter-tower than which no Kairouan building can go, from which LIVE (as opposed to recorded) muezzin calls the five daily prayers. Look at temple chandeliers and innards and columns, then race to the water reservoirs of the Aghlabites, then to the Three-Hair Mosque, tiled and carpeted (we can't walk on carpet or photo the heavily decorated tomb of the barber who has the three hairs), and semi-hotel for pilgrims! Dash out past 1980-rebuilt ramparts and get to souk, where he LEAVES us after taking us to "museum of rugs" where Paul refuses to pay 550D for a huge rug when he just wants a SQUARE. Have mint tea and Fanta and disappoint them. Tip guy 2D (NOT a disappointment!) and out to walk souk and Paul pays 7D for an awful square; we're back to car at 1 to drive to Hotel des Aghlabites for GREAT boys at pool, good tomato/pepper salad mechoui, great veal heart and steak and sauce, and beer AND wine before leaving at 2, driving back SAME way which allows us a quick "en passant" through busy Hammamet and Nabuel, hot and touristy, though Nabuel smaller and pleasanter. Quick back at 4:45 and pay 85D to delighted driver (registers over 105D on meter) and in to collapse onto bed, feeling VERY tired. They phone to find Iberian computer broke; I reconfirm my (and their) tickets, and we rest (Dick feels better, even went girl-looking at souk, but didn't find anything) and Paul's out 5:30-6 to get stood up by friend's friend, and we're out at 7 to get name of M'barat restaurant IN souk. Go there at 7:30 and get told to return at 8:30, so we sit and watch sunset colors and stars and plants and ambulance at hospital entrance and in at 8:20 for GREAT meal of mixed grill of two steaks, two chops, and two sausages, Paul's veal shank, and Dick's awful fish couscous. First dancer covered and fat, second old and plumpish, and unannounced visitor THIRD is young and beautiful and sexy and GREAT even in street clothes (though the leather miniskirt didn't harm her style, nor did the little girl she "danced" with). Two bottles of wine (first awful Muscat Sec AGAIN) and out at 11:10 to swing home and collapse in bed.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 16: Wake at 6:30 and Paul's out and Dick and I down at 7:15 for final breakfast and pay bill and pack leisurely (Paul discards large straw hat and Dick throws away magazines) and chat about meeting at Bordeaux theater at 5, 7, 11, and 9AM, and they get into taxi at 9:30 because Dick SO wanted to see something of Spain, and I enter next door and sit til 9:45AM, waiting for Hammamet tour. I price the Intercontinental and its 41D for a single, but the Africa is the same and I might as well try another adventure of a different place, since I had to move out of a 53D double room anyway and began to get tired of begging maids and "I know you" of desk clerks. Paid Paul 100D for bill and 13D for dinner last night and thank goodness he has to pay in dinars for his Barcelona flight ($113/person) or he'd have been stuck with dinars. I'm running short, with $50 each day on tour and $25/day for hotel, I've already cashed $600 in dollars for dinars and not finished yet. When he says tour LEAVES from Hotel du Lac, I figure to STAY there. Try LONG time for NO cab and WALK around it and enter for 18.5D room, good PRICE, but DEFINITELY mediocre three-star hotel with tiny room and BARELY working air conditioner. Mope to 10:15, out to Marche Central and wander souk and sit in Cafe de Paris CORNER seat 10-1:15 for 200M Fanta, then to L'Orient for wine and melon and TONGUE and cepes, for 5.5D, then taxi with 52 kg WRESTLING champion in 1982 (contest in Toledo OHIO!) to Bardo from 2:15-4:25, GOOD to resee, and SIT on #3 bus back to cash 400F = 35.6D, hoping that'll be all I need. Write up Monday and Tuesday from 5:10 to 6PM. To Hotel and undress and shower and unfasten mirror to cum for first time in a week and catch up on Wednesday and Thursday to date from 7:40 to 8:05,feeling tired and slightly bored. [FORGOT DREAM I had, probably Wednesday, of someone putting his SHOULDER under the wedge-shaped foundation of one of the World Trade Center buildings and lifting UP, so that the building swayed once, twice, then TOPPLES with a great crash that SOUNDED PHONY, and then an obviously PLASTIC boat crashed into it and people dived down to look at the floor-blocks that the WTC was MADE of, crumpled up in the Hudson River. And NOW I live in an INVERTED PYRAMID of the Hotel du Lac. Down for ala carte dinner at 8:15---soup was FISH, as was CHORBA, so I had NO appetizer, and as I waited for my Tournedos Rossini I hear they have no MELON, so I eat that and coupe maison of AWFUL flavorless ice cream, and with 1/2 bottle Tardi wine the bill is 5.8D and I leave 500M tip and ask barman for "une verre de glace." "Pourquoi?" "Pour ma chambre!" I say apropos of nothing, and GET it, and drink a beaker of Guignolet in ice, then fill the rest with WATER and it tastes lovely and cold as I write this at 9:45 and prepare for bed for a 10-hour sleep before my trip tomorrow.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17: Dreams: Wake with a SHOCK at 4:30 to write these. An earlier one gone, I remember a fragment of a second where I'm hiking and come to a cliff-face I have to sidestep along, clinging to friable rock at waist-level that I have to COMPRESS INWARD to prevent its scaling away from the cliff face and tumbling me backward, not TOO far, to the ground. But the third? I've rented a car for $40/day and driven into Ireland to a cabin to be ALONE. But I'm writing "another" musical and singing the lyrics to my wife and friends, and when I get to the line "Yours is the first grade and second grade of love," my wife smiles in great gratitude, and I break into TEARS of gratitude and DASH to the house to write down the line. But it's begun SNOWING and I'm just in shirtsleeves and fumble with the screendoor, and the latchless WOODEN door, having to avoid a FLAP that opens from the BOTTOM as a sort of TRANSOM, and the sleet is beginning to freeze on the screen as I finally wrench it open to be shocked by the dim (and YOUNG) figure of my MOTHER in the hall, saying "Surprised?" And I'm in such an open, anguished "OH!" of shock (as if SEEING her means SHE (and I?) is dead), but I find myself thinking that I have to RECOVER from my shock (which is partly NOT wanting her to be there) or she's going to suspect I DON'T want here there and am not DELIGHTED but DISMAYED to see her. As I write I remember fragments of the first: a large group of Actualists are sharing a vacation home and Crystal is camping it up in a bikini under a bright green silk shawl worn like a chlamys (dict: a short oblong mantle worn by young men of ancient Greece) over one shoulder, and she's RACING around the room having fun like a kid. I'm going through racks of old clothes and find that over the years I've left TWO pairs of cut-offs (jeans into shorts) with distinctive belts and back-pocket leather patches, and I'm glad to find them and take them home with me. But the SHOCK of finding my mother stays WITH a shivering me as I wake with a jolt at 4:30 to cover myself from a cold air-conditioner breeze and write this to 4:45. Want to write a postcard today and see if she was "thinking of me" at 10:30 her time last night. Wake at 6:20 and lay til 7:20, then get TINIEST LEAST-sweet "sweetcake" and PETITEST "petit pain" and an aluminum tray for awful jam and butter and chocolate, and there's a cute pair of shorts with a girl and a potty but VERY sweet-looking Tunisian who modestly averts his gaze when I stare at him hungrily. To lobby at 7:55 and lots of people sitting, waiting, and I'm out to entryway to sit on stone and start to write and just AT 8 someone gathers the forms and takes us to an already-full bus where I grab center front seat. Another couple boards at 8:05 and there aren't two seats together. French couple splits windows next to me and behind me. At 8:06 she calls my name and collects my ticket and at 8:07 a doll boards who's staying at Tanit and two OTHERS board. Leave at 8:31, having "waited" for someone (fabrication to wait til announced 8:30?) Into Nabuel (after constant stream of French, English, Arabic, and added Italian commentary, most of it forgettable (except awaiting bus at hospital at 11:30) at 9:30 and to three markets: animal, vegetable, and mineral. Horses, asses, cows, camels, goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, chicks, photos, spices and leaves and bricks and vials. Glasses and silverware and cooking pots and palms for potting and headbands and sheepskin and copper and coins and "Phoenician" statues and "Roman" lamps and scrap iron and hats and old pants and underwear and dresses and shoes and socks and gowns. Drums and toy ceramics and stuffed camels and animals, beads and bangles and jewelry and cosmetics and plungers and motorcycles and jugs and jars and pots and pans and cups and refreshments and buggy rides and wicker ware and hay and scissors and hammers and nails and perfumes and nail polishes (NO cameras or slides or postcards!?) and shirts and lots of plastic and camel RIDES and watermelon and squash (LOVELY orange) and the 11:32 bus PASSES us! Hookahs and clay figurines and dumpy terra cotta camels and toy dishes and teeshirts and rings and old coins and leather bags and barrettes and watches and paintings on glass of Moslems and a few other things I may have missed: sunglasses and plastic sacks and yard good and vests and silks and cigarettes and cigarette lighters and fezzes and LOTS of shirtless, trouserless tanned blond insufferably sexy tourists and their women and complaints---and at 11:38 we lack 2 only. Guide goes back to hospital to pick them up. I paid 1/2D for two camel pictures (she refused 20M and I should have KNOWN once she GOT it the idea of CHANGE would be impossible, and rugs started at 7 (surprise, though he DID say if I were German he'd started at 12 and I (pushed) offer 3, figuring to settle for 4, and HE offers 4 so I can give 3 and 1/2 and he THANKS me. So a "photo loss" is made up in a rug, wool, from South, with wedding gifts around edges and lit bridal lamps in center. And French wife keeps talking over my shoulder like a great big bird, and last two are on at 11:42. Forgot wood and alabaster and stucco and stone CARVINGS. Lebanese melon, "chemis" are 20m/kilo, 10 cents a pound is GOOD, but 180M/kilo for watermelon is expensive. To Hotel Tanit at 12:05 and told we leave at 2:15. I wander back and take pictures and chat with camel man, and in restaurant get FORCED into table with two Scottish and one Irish women, great company (they live in La Marsa, Susan TEACHES in Tokyo and knows teacher who let them a FLAT) for the brick, fish, and watermelon, and two bottles of water and 1/2 wine is only 660 + 950 = 1610, and we leave 200M tip. To scorching bus at 2:15, waiting for couple next to me, among others. We chatted about Edinburgh and Glasgow and France and Museums and Tunis, VERY pleasant. Leave at 2:24. Get to Hammamet fast at 2:40 and say we'll leave at 4. Pay 500M for not much but views (and a flag-filled so-called marabout of Sidi Ben Ali), then wander walled old town, across to new town (small pool even dirtier) then back to old town and wander to street leading to ramparts from which I see cemetery and street views. To central court for a bit then to a panorama restaurant where Fantas are 250, I have only 1/2 and one, so I end up with THREE, leaving 1D, getting in a piss, and cute kid trying to talk (and waiting alone in restaurant later) could I SUPPOSE be had, but who wants a kid? I want the fantastically tanned narrow-hipped wide-shouldered barefoot trim-bodied bikini that went past as I snapped a photo and neglected to follow, or the short body-builder type who somehow vanished from the beach wall when I got close enough to observe the bathing-suited soccer game going on with NICE bodies. Anyway, I get my shots of BEACH Tunisia. Out to bus at 4 and it's locked because "driver's in mosque." I hope NOT: the amplified shouts seem to be coming without end from the mosque. I read. Driver returns at 4:20. Guide's with other bus until outskirts of Tunis, then she talks all the way in to Hotel du Lac at 6:10. Up and flake out in bed, shower, and decide to have MENU. Ask "What soup?" "Potage." "Quel SORT de potage?" "Potage---c'est la potage!" "Mais potage aux legumes, aux poisson, aux viandes, QUOI??" "Comme poireau." Turns out to be potato soup. Merlon is a vicious spiky-toothed head gripping its own tail. I brush bread aside and put head and tail on it, he later MASHES the bread into head and tail and takes it away. I get half-bottle of wine and whole price is 3900 + 900 = 3800. I worry about remaining dinars. Get ANOTHER glass of ice and FINISH the Guignolet reading OBE, and to sleep after DELICIOUS cum at 11:15.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18: Wake at 6:15 to shit quite loosely: trouble NOW? Up at 8:15 to shit again and shower and down to CROWDED breakfast rom at 8:45 and wait til 8:55 and NO sweetcakes left. Back to room and lay about and cum AGAIN and out at 10:10 to try the Marche Central and it's NOT jammed (as guide said it would be on Saturday) and rather a bore. Sit and look at people and back to hotel and lay AGAIN, worrying and thinking (the GREAT advantage of being with someone ELSE is that I worry about THEM and not about ME) and bought ten cards, write them, and out at 12:10 after showering AGAIN, and pay bill of 29.100D and have four dinars LEFT. Wait 12:15-12:40 for #5 to get to zoo, more cages under repair than used, but camels and lions and tigers and jaguars and panthers and zebras and bulls and flamingos and LOTS of birds and goats and crocodiles and swimming begging bears and other things, and PEOPLE, and out at 2:20 for two Fantas at Ile d'Oasis and WALK back to city (stop for bus and he says "only 10-15 minutes to Avenue Bourguiba"---the higher wanted me to WALK. Get to Bourguiba and sit on a BENCH and fat guy offers me BREAD---higher wanted me to eat BREAD (I'd eaten chocolate (melted and re-solidified in swirls) to satiation in park). Leave for hotel at 3:55 and look for bus 35 but decide to take taxi at 4:10 and get Harvard-trained driver (?) to 4:30 for 1.5D! In and it says 4:40 for plane, and get pass quickly and up to gate 7 and pay LAST 1.2D for two LOVELY beers that make me SWEAT now as I sit on steps of gate 7 at 5:37 and write furiously, plane seems ready to LEAVE at 6 (oh, and I forgot Cointreau for 71F = 6.1D) and I'm wanting a WINDOW seat on the right DESPITE "women and families first." And bright sun slants through air-conditioned-tho-still-hot Tunis airport as thunder of jets drums the air above the sounds of cheerful chatting of people TOGETHER, as I'm ALONE. At 5:55 comes the announcement of 6:40 departure. I start to read. At 6:45 there's an ANNOUNCEMENT and everyone ululates in the Tunisian manner and boards a bus in which EVERYONE wants to be RIGHT AT the door exit. Bus pulls off and gets to plane and after cries of "L'air!" the doors open to equal demands of "Ne descends pas!" We hang for moments, then race for the back entry, and I dash forward to find a woman saving two seats, leaving the window free. I slip in at 6:57 on the non-smoking side and catch up to date, HOT! At 7:15 they close the luggage door after dimming the lights. I still hope to SEE the flight-path. Move at 7:24, cabin lights flickering. Off at 7:27 (we're on a super 727B!) and fly LOW for five gut-clenching minutes, then we leave land and seem OK, sky BRIGHT in west. But then it's COMPLETELY dark. At 8:07 there's a city that I take to be the coast (but which by map, later, must be Cagliari, SARDINIA!), but then at 8:27 there's quite obviously a COAST. Is 1/2 the flight over water?? My map later says that EXACTLY 1/2 the flight is over the Mediterranean, but lots of it COULD be over Sardinia and Corsica---what a PITY it was DARK! VERY sparse lights (as I add an hour) at 9:30, and for a bit we fly TOWARD the horizon-light, but not NEARLY fast enough to INCREASE it. Follow lights of cities with GREAT avidity as we pass the 2/3 point. Land at 10:22, GREAT lights on landing, temperature 23 degrees Centigrade = 73 Fahrenheit is COOL! GREAT relief! Out FAST and LONG way (as usual) to go to bus and LONG wait standing in jammed bus and then a LONG stop before Rungis and train to Paris at 11:03. I'm really TIRED. Trainmen speak FAST UGLY French. Got schedule of 11:24AM from Austerlitz to Bordeaux at 16:00, and get Metro and walk heavy bag from Porte d'Italie to JJ's at 11:55, expecting a call from Paul at 12, but get none as I drink ABOUT a liter of VERY delicious water, have a yogurt and pills, wash clothes, and pile all the stuff I have to consider taking tomorrow in the living room. Phone on JJ's bed in case Paul calls EARLY, and have trouble sleeping, but feel GOOD again at 1AM.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 19: Wake at 7:30 (6:30 old time) and think how GOOD things are! Lie til 8:10, still expecting calls from Paul and JJ, and up to see that three shirts are essentially dry but that five pair of socks and four shorts need help, so I spread them on furniture. Count out last set of pills to the EXACT finish, take a slightly less-watery crap (I think not eating much yesterday was a good idea, but I still have JJ's Poulaine cookies to finish off), debate taking or leaving the Cointreau I bought, and redistribute: things to TAKE, put in shoulder bag, put into PERMANENT souvenirs, leave for LAST Paris day. Occurs to me that "It's all right now, and it's a GAS" needn't mean "it's OK now," but "Everything IS here-now RIGHT NOW, and IT IS, ALL of it, a GAS!" Write this at 9:15 as I decide to relegate this NEARLY-full notebook to permanent and take the new one---can WASTE a FEW pages here! Breakfast and write a note to JJ by 10. [START SECOND NOTEBOOK] Shower and shave and start to RUSH as it nears 11. Out at 10:55, now worried, and bag's heavy so I take a CAB for 20F and get to station at 11:05 and get seat at 11:15, among the last "good" ones left. Inaugurate this book. WONDERFUL "leaning tower" near church just south of Etampes. In at 4:10 and 30F taxi to Grand Theatre. Hot as blazes and sit in restaurant across the street and before I can order, here's Dick to take me to the Normandie where I have to pay 132F for room. Talk with Dick, unpack, Paul's in at 5 to phone for reservations. Out for walk to survey Old Bordeaux and restaurants, reserve at Roszic, and back at 7:30 to take taxi to Bouliac for the St. James, LOVELY rise overlooking misty meadows, and we three take Degustation menu for 190F: Terrine de canard GREAT with flavorful bits of meat and grease (amuse gorge of three fish nice too) and I have dark sweet St. Raphael and Paul a kir to start. Then FABULOUS filets of rouget under a sauce with spinach-wrapped cabbage, then BONED froglegs with artichoke hearts, all with the WHITE wine, delicious, and then the jambonette de volaille (TOUGH!) with the red. LOVELY tiny green plums and nectarines between, the THREE desserts: meringue in LEMON, cake in FRAIS, and pie in grapefruit. GREAT, but Dick's SICK, going to john THREE times and NOT finishing his cheese (creme epuisse, and the white Bordeaux is Cantabau, the Red Grave is Meselman (not very good) and the dessert wine is a Barsac) or dessert. We even have three glasses of Barsac, Paul's insistence. Out at 10:45 for 908 + 10 tip = 918F, or about $35 each, and I'm STUFFED. Back to hotel and DROP into bed.

MONDAY, AUGUST 20: Up at 2:30 to shit, again at 7:30, shower and have chocolate for 9F and across to wine exhibit at 9:05,then to Syndicat de Initiative for maps and 65F 1:45 tour of Graves and Sauternes. Next door to the wine shop and Paul starts talking of Japan and we get into "Sanctuary" and see 2905F bottle of 1924 Chateau Margaux. Get talking with woman and BARELY break away at 10:25 to get to the Grand Theater tour at 10:30. It's NICE, but hardly up to Donizetti in Catania: fire curtain of STEEL impresses with 7000 tons, but stage is tatty and house itself of wood and ALL balconies, with BEST sounds, guide says, in PARADISE. Main salle used as model by Garnier for Paris Opera. Italian bus-groups make tour stretch to 11:10, and we taxi to Musee de Beaux- Arts for 12 Redons, a good and bad Rubens, Titian and Verocchio and some STUNNING sea disasters they won't let me photo. Out at 11:55 and to Goya House and take 25 minutes to cash $400 for 3450F, or 8.625 (at stated rate of 8.76), look at Notre Dame Church and at 12:45 meet Paul at Les Noailles for good chicken lunch and peach wine Rinquinquin and Badoit (sparkly) for 60F. Over for bus and travel left bank of Garonne from 1:50 through Barsac and Preignac to look at Chateau de Malle, Chateau d'Yquem (good smell from chais (cellar), and then to La Tour Blanche for explanation and free sweet Sauterne. Out at 4:10 to write this and sniffle a lot---getting an allergy? My throat was SORE; this AM until I "saliva-laved" it. To Chateau Closiot. All sorts of questions and explanations, but I find myself only interested in the arms of a dumb-sounding fellow with extraordinary blond hair who I fantasize to work on the rings. Otherwise I'm bored and tired and hot and embarrassed both for the tasters who legitimately feel they've paid their way and need not even CONSIDER buying more, and the official host who answers the questions and displays the prices and hopes, and the grandmotherly hostess who brings a glass of water for a German baby and shows people to the john and serves other glasses of water to the adults. The Piadas across the way raise beagles and pheasants, who bark and cluck respectively at us, and for a second I fear we've not brought the auto reservation forms, but Paul in fact DID. In and write at 5:10---and we've got to get the car TODAY, and Dick's still going to the john and I'm beginning to feel totally heated OUT. And in my irritability I HATE the couple across from me: SHE smokes in the closed bus and pulls her curtains shut to share out MY windows---I LONG to pull MINE shut and sneer "So there!" back at them---and HE lights his pipe JUST as we step into the sweet-smelling cellar to savor the must and the wine aromas. Bus leaves at 5:10 and I ask if we can be dropped at Gare St. Jean. No, but driver will return there AFTER office. Very few people tip, so I don't. I spot Rue Mauzia and he lets us off and we get to Europcar at 6:10. Al's smooth until I see two-door car: they HAVE no four-door! I fear their trunks won't fit. I figure I paid $129 for rental, and since DAILY rental includes ONE FRANC PER MILE there's no way we'd save on a daily rate. Dick gives in HIS card and license number, Paul doesn't have his. Each of us nips over to a neighboring bar for a beer. Hot as hell. At 6:55 she says she HAS a larger car, and the TRUNK looks bigger, too. Dick drives at 7:10, too NEAR misses VERY quickly, but he DOES drive well. Get to park near hotel and I'm out to photo GREAT mist-snorting horses on Girondin's fabulous fountain, and back to Rouzic Restaurant for FANCY decor and a NICE lady who give us GOOD wine recommendations for a Cantabrieu white and not so good red. I try grapefruit and anise appetizer for 50F, ridiculous, and FRUIT doesn't mix but the JUICE combo DOES and is GREAT and worth the discovery. My sweetbreads and Paul's sauced sole are paled by Dick's EXCELLENT sole meuniere, maybe the best fish on the trip. Desserts are OK and it's probably just barely a one-star restaurant. We walk into the Video Sex shop to frowzy people and I lounge in doorway and feel VERY old. Some cute guys PASS but no one looks or goes in. Back to hotel and I again have AWFUL trouble with nose during night, soreness in throat, and again wake at 2:30 to shit. GOT to walk AROUND after eating such big meals. Starting to count the days and nights until the end of the trip.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21: 5:35AM dream: never have I remembered such a SPECIFICALLY Actualism dream, and never do I recall having wakened AFTER a dream TO remember it with such a SPECIFIC PHYSICAL ACTION! Things had gone on in the dream BEFORE: a group of VERY advanced males were traveling in some India-like country, and we were being invited to stay in a chain of castles on some peninsula. I pointed to a huge pile rather like the hotel particulaire (huge old black palace) yesterday in Bordeaux and said jokingly "Only a little better than this, eh?" and the response was SERIOUS, a bit REPROVING, and at the same time assuring that the WORST was BETTER than that. Then "the group" moved around a pool and someone like a mature, muscular Mike Mao combined with Bob Galvin (remembered for his muscles so vividly from a naked dive in a swimming pool) suggested we all dive into the pool and "talk things out," and the next scene was sitting in a particular FORM at the base of tiled walls that IMPLIED we were sitting around the BOTTOM of a FILLED POOL, and someone who was a combination of Gil Messenger and Henry Garehime (this IS bringing up muscles from the past!) said (whoops, he said in RESPONSE to a Bruce Jaffe-type asking "Why is it that we can't use the terms "human, perceptual body, emotional body, mental body, soul, angelic, and archetypal" with people who aren't in the work?" and I said, "Wait, remember Paul and Dick (the names of the two people I was traveling with during this week) haven't even been INITIATED yet," rather cutting off Paul who was about to suggest the SAME idea in a very long-winded way), "What makes you think those terms ARE forbidden" to "Bruce" and "What makes you think they're NOT initiated" to ME. I paused, staring at his handsome face (maybe the face had a touch of the handsome "American-type" that Paul pointed out behind the bar of the Les Noailles Restaurant yesterday), and felt he was asking a QUESTION rather than jeering at me. At that moment, it seems, my left leg was taken by a calf-cramp SO sharply that I AWOKE UTTERING SOUNDS (glad I'm sleeping in a room ALONE---AGAIN the higher?) and feeling almost as if my leg WERE PULLED DOWN TO WAKE ME, to remember dream, to write it at 5:30, which is not a VERY usual "wake from dream to remember it" time. AGAIN (as I have so often recently: my moving to Hotel du Lac, late planes, seeing Avenue de Trunzia, other trip places) I feel that "all's OK" because the HIGHER is orchestrating events. WAIT, NOW I remember what "handsome" DID respond concerning Paul and Dick: "Do you want them back the way there were?" which strongly implied to me "Do you want them to MOVE BACK IN TIME; to before they heard the Jaffe-statement?" WITH the joke that of course that's impossible, but my imaginative mind (in AND out of the dream) leaped to the idea that "they" MIGHT be able to control time---which leads me to write what I'd thought on a train one day: someone living in a universe moving at 99% the speed of light NORTH would find it ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to "move fast" NORTH. JUST as we find it impossible to "move tomorrow" in time, implying that time IS a dimension in WHICH we move fast---AT THE SPEED OF TIME "forward," letting us "see" the past "behind" but making it ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to move "forward in time." Now 6AM, still hot, still nose-drippy, still tired, still thirsty. And DID the "higher" lead me to a drink of water, which means I had to unplug the sink, which reminds me I wanted to write that (as an unusual physical action like the leg-cramp) I wanted but FORGOT to write that as I was leaving the bathroom I saw a mosquito again and GRABBED IT FROM THE AIR, something I can SELDOM do, and washed it down the sink and stoppered it---now WRITING it for future reference! More than coincidence? (Word like "Horgown?" untranscribed) Hypersensitivity? Up and breakfast on chocolate and he grimaces and says "Too late." Hm. We pack and pay bill and get stuff into car and drive south and get lost and ask in station and into countryside and the names of Chateaux I've never heard of go flashing past and Paul keeps saying he's seen the labels in Japanese stores but most of the wines shipped there are OFF. Dick drives well though slowly, and Paul keeps berating him to drive even slower. The country starts poorly, factories and farms in among the vineyards, but gradually the chateaux improve their looks and the country looks better. I take notes on the map (copy) and we pass lots and then when we DO stop we find that Margaux and Lascombes closed in August! Mouton-Rothschild and Lafite Rothschild photos. Saint-Estephe we sample and it's bad. Get to "end" and we drive back and around Bordeaux south along roads that get more and more colorful. I sort of want to try L'Alouette but am not sure the small roads will be signed for it, and we spot a small restaurant about 1:15 and Dick has just a steak and I have VERY greasy terrine de campagne and good chicken wing and breast. Out and south through MANY roads lined with what I think are elms but Paul thinks are plane trees. Also, he wished for roadside stands offering drinks and that's what we get, along with fruitstands. Lots of pine forests and camping, too. I figure we'll find signs to Eugenie-les-Bains, but Dick keeps talking about this silly friend of his who NEVER asks for directions, so we stop in a gas station and he says it's just a touch down the road, clearly marked. For awhile we climb a hill, leading us to thoughts of lovely vistas, but then I read that it's only 150 meters high. We go from one valley to another and the towns are TINY and I remark that it took some IMAGINATION to put such a RICH place in such a POOR neighborhood. Finally we reach it. Eugenie-les-Bains is just a TINY town (400 inh.) and the gate leads off the end of the main street. We drive down a road compound like a red-clay tennis court and draw up to the entry at which a driver sits lazily in a Mercedes. We take bags out while Dick parks in the lot. Then we enter to be swept upstairs by an incredibly swish waiter who hovers off the ground while explaining the "Marjolaine est une fleur and Serpolet (flip of entire arm) est une herbe." He presses buttons and floor lamps swell on in an all-white room with gray-green touches, enormous double beds, and thick quilted chairs, antique dressers, a separate john/bidet room, and a double-sinked bathroom with a low-light and a high-light switch, all around golden globes that flatteringly reflect the tenant. I notice LATER that there are cracks in the old oak beam above the closets (which light automatically on door-opening) which the white paint couldn't seep into, and when I lie low in the tub in the milk-of-magnesium, but blue, foambath I can see that the fit below the marble sinktop and above the wooden cabinets isn't perfect, but the cracked shower-head adjustor DOES work the next morning, though the tub-bottom is a BIT too slippery for comfort. When I wake at 3AM the doors and floors creak loudly, but the double-door between room and hall, the wall-depth bathroom, assures silence from AROUND, while only sounds overhead (troubles in Paradise) lead one to believe one is SHARING this bliss in a rented hotel rather than OWNING it. Rain and thunder and lightning in the palm and banana-tree leaves is dramatically romantic, as are the lights going off for as much as ten seconds and candles being lit. Dick and I have cocktails Badinguet of champagne, armangnac, and creme de cassis with petit croutons of FABULOUS bacon/cheese and offish fish and notebook-cover thin "waffles" of flat crepe. We order from menus (of which I buy 2 for 90F!), Dick the expensive degustation, Paul the lesser, me Saumon fume, Canard, and pear/vervaine. Most dishes are extraordinary, probably even the onion-compote sweetness under fish that Paul says he doesn't like. The HERBS are INCREDIBLE decorating my appetizer: mint and spearmint and anise-leaves and vervaine and succulent watercress like pools of cool green. Spears and twigs and ferns and filigrees of intense garden taste to vary the HIGHLY smoked salmon (as compared to Dick's striking HEAVY-smoked half-lobster). I'd found that Vittel is perfectly flat, Vichy MIDDLING sparkling, Badoit NICE little perky bubbles, but here the Perrier is a FIZZ too ebullient to BEAR! The carpaccio of duck is a great surprise (they served me plates when I didn't have courses when they did, and I tasted almost everything, to my delight), being a brick-red paving of raw duck-meat under pepper with a noodle and salad sidedish. Lights flicker on and off, candles lit, pretty people (including the VERY short Michel Guerard) come and go (an "uncle" Joel Gray and a pretty nephew)(a "male model" and his plain Jane)(a sleeveless boy in white flirting with his new wife). I'm not STUFFED, so can sample all the desserts and many of the mignardises. Finally shuffle off directly to bed, still torn with all the ideas about how it is to "travel rich" even with children! How I sort of "think a lot" when I'm in such places, rather than just ENJOYING them as a treat---rather than wondering how it would feel to be able to afford this day after day and get overaccustomed to it so that a NEW dish or wine or even CUISINE would have to be invented to please the jaded palate. Lots of people ARE young and pretty, which is even more discouraging than seeing the place filled with blue-haired ladies and bald men who had obviously earned it THEMSELVES. Again the thought of "how does an immortal RATE to come into a very RICH body: if they WANT it, it will PERPETUATE high class differences!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22: Visit Dick and Paul says he woke in a pool of SHIT last night ("Of ALL places," he said. "We're just going to RUN AWAY from here. I was scrubbing shit from the bed for ten minutes; there's STILL shit EVERYwhere." "Oh," I said, "I'd come in to say that obviously breakfast is served on the terrace, and there's only room and chairs for two. Now I'm GLAD I decided not to have breakfast with you." Strange dreams again: I was washing lots of glasses and cups like Dennis's narrow high goblet-waisted white ceramic cups, there were almost a hundred of them. Then a female servant on a somewhat higher level than I came in to tell me "Mix some bitters or lemon in soda water, or something that His Majesty likes, and take it to him." I was stunned: here _I_ was given a GREAT responsibility of appealing to the taste of the King, and I thought with excitement that I was becoming closer to him, one day maybe I would even become a FRIEND! There was an ancillary dream concerning listing or covering place names on a map of 15-20 sections, planning a royal trip or dictionary or something like that. I felt that I was in SERVITUDE but LIKED the increasing importance I was attaining. Feel sweaty on waking, take shower and feel overcold in morning breezes: maybe this is how my "allergies" changed into "a cold." Breakfast on the balcony is a joy. I count it "11 1/2 out of 10." Thick bitter chocolate like finest melted semi-sweet chocolate bar, full of tasty grit, warm milk almost equal in volume and both coarse and refined white sugar. Huge pat of butter, delicious cassis and apricot jams though strangely no PLATE to put bits on. The covered warmed bread basket included a four-inch croissant, a 1 1/2 inch brioche, FINELY-ground cornbread, two large pieces of the delicious toast from last night (and Paul got a PAPER that I didn't) that I THINK of putting out for a sparrow that hops down to my railing as if hinting, then flying back to his perch in one tall swaying elm. Pack and out to walk around the place, finding no slide film in town, old (but useable) slides and teeter totters and jungle gym IN the jungle beyond the white fence, and roam pool with nice muscles swimming and back to room to clear out (taking EVERYTHING that's TAKABLE) at 11:50, taking MANY of the free books from the lobby. We drive out and get lost a few times and talk about the Democratic Convention and the plight of the American black. Drive through pleasant countryside on SLOW roads through Aire-sur-l'Adour, Nogaro, Careze, Condom, and Laplume, and get lost in Agen and drive up the lovely hill to old city of Puymirol at 2:55---to find cook's gone home, if we'd only CALLED, etc. Down steep hill to cliffside swimming pool with a few sexy half-hard teenagers for a vin de Bouzy and steaks and frites, tough but tasty, and out at 4 and down through Asteffort, Fleurance, to Auch at 6:30, park beside hotel and in for large room and out to look at square-towered cathedral and stairs overlooking city and walk pedestrian-street after going to Information office for wines and armagnacs and vegetables and train and plane information for Dick to Paris tomorrow. Back to hotel and shower and Dick's sick and eating only a peach for dinner and Paul and I get greeted as "Monsieur et Madame, parDON, Monsieur" by gracious hostess in large but fading room, and I have three terrines of "the humor of the day" and one is MEAT. (Bill Wockenfuss's number on page 162) Wine merely OK, and my fish isn't great and my "special fruits" turn into STEWED prunes and plums and cherries and IMPOSSIBLE raspberries and I TRY then with the "frozen Armagnac" and that helps ONLY a little. Out at 10:30 to distant lightning majestic over far hills, and some small-kid cruising for Paul and then back to look at other places and suddenly it starts to RAIN, so back to hotel doorway to watch Paul enter from church and Dick return from square raised car-park and we get into bed for a REAL rousing lightning clap and thunderstorm that soaks the carpet through the open hall-door windows. I didn't cough or sniff much during dinner, but it was chilly tonight and I fear I'm coming down with a cold.