Photos of #France: first impressions of #Nice

Seen from the sky, unspeakably beautiful. Puffs of white cloud floating over green mountains, blue water and red roofs. The airport’s very basic – the thought seems to be “you came for the beach, not the airport,” which is true. I couldn’t find the train into town, but the sweetest woman at a bus stop told me exactly how to get to my hostel – bus, tram, which stops, how much it was. The bus driver spoke NO English, but was checking up on me throughout the trip. I wondered if people in Nice were normally so quiet, or is a full bus usually be more chatty? I got checked in, went for a walk, and wanted to take photos of EVERY street and building. The SMELL – melting butter, melting chocolate, salami, smoked salmon, coffee beans being ground.  All the women look they’ve just come from a photo shoot. All the men look as if they’re just going to or coming  back from the gym. Everyone has a dog, most are French bulldogs. Too many people smoke…yet the cigarettes smell good too.  Hearing French everywhere is amazing. I sat on a bench yesterday for lunch – just a banana, chips and goat cheese – and started giggling, then welling up. There are also police and soldiers everywhere, all carrying machine guns. The French flag is at half-mast. I find it’s comfortably bustling, but was told that this time of year, normally you can barely make it down the street.

 

“Someone’s going to blow that place up soon.”

Said to me, in 2004, by a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. It was a few days before I flew to London, England, United Kingdom.  I answered him, “That’s why I have to go see it now.”  I got to see Big Ben, and Southbank, and the Inns of Chancery.  The next year, London was bombed.

As I write this, I am in Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey.  Forty-five people were killed here two weeks ago, by terrorists who apparently believed the same things as those who attacked New York City, London, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Baghdad, THREE cities in Saudi Arabia, and as of TODAY, Nice, in the south of France.

I am in Istanbul waiting to catch a plane.  To Nice.

I have been teaching English for the last ten months in Southern China. Almost without exception, all of my students are from very wealthy families (and, obviously, because I’m teaching them, they’re learning a foreign language). Yet almost NONE of them has ever been outside of China, for a vacation, or to hear English. For Chinese citizens, visiting other countries is extremely difficult. My students are in awe when I’ve told them I have visited NINE places: Canada, the United States, England, Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Iceland, and China.

I’m not going to see Istanbul beyond the airport today, but I WILL. And I am scheduled to be in France for a month. I’m not changing that.

I speak English and Spanish. I’m learning Mandarin. One of my favourite books growing up, Mischief in Fez, was about Morocco. I adapted it into a play because I wanted kids to know more about Islam, because I think Islam, and Muslim people, and the places where they live, are cool.

And YOU will not change that. You don’t get to tell ME or ANYONE else what they are allowed to be.

I wrote a brief thing about #Brexit and #Discworld

Wyrd Sisters is the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett’s take on The Scottish Play.  The nefarious but inept Duke and his nefarious, clear-headed Duchess have murdered the king of Lancre, and have begun a campaign of rumours against the only people who may be able to stop them: Lancre’s three Witches.  For a while, the rumours against the witches work. One peasant says:

‘All this burning and taxing and now this. I blame you witches. It’s got to stop. I know my rights.’

‘What rights are they?’ said Granny.

‘Dunnage, cowhage-in-ordinary, badinage, leftovers, scrommidge, clary and spunt,’ said the peasant promptly. ‘And acornage, every other year, and the right to keep two-thirds of a goat on the common. Until he set fire to it. It was a bloody good goat, too.’

Funny ha ha.

Until this recent writeup from the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce):

“Last Friday morning an angry woman from Hartlepool rang the BBC; ‘we voted out but I’ve turned up at my hospital and there’s no sign of any extra money’.”

That “last Friday” was June 24th. The DAY AFTER the referendum.

The United Kingdom has had public education since 1902.  There are no ‘uneducated peasants’ anymore. What’s happened??

On 5 July 2016, teachers in the United Kingdom had a one-day strike to protest the underfunding of the school system.

Well.

Photos from China: Macau Redux – the Fortresses

Macau was, until 1999, a colony of Portugal. Macau is in — more or less — 2 parts: the Peninsula, which contain the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Historic Centre of Macau, and then there are the islands, which contain, Taipai, Cologne and Cotai.

The Portuguese built TWO major military fortresses while occupying Macau — the Fortaleza do Monte, and the Guia Fortress.