Why, when I'm here, does it suddenly erect? Oh I see, it's the Mickelino effect!


Monday, October 9

The frog has moved, please find him


Friday, September 29

Goodbye Blogger, Hello Wordpress!

Time has come to say goodbye to Blogger, my faithful host for a year, but sorry it became too complicated and as many of you I'm moving to Wordpress. Please update your blogrolls!
From now on you'll find the Frog with a Blog HERE!

Monday, September 25


Monday, September 4

Virgo with an Aquarius Ascendant

Oh dear reader, so much has happened lately that I haven't had time to post anything. I promise to tell you everything soon, but start by wishing me a happy birthday first and then we'll see...

PS: Thanks to Rhino, Keiran and Nomad for being first!

Monday, August 28

This week, I know you're craving for Swedish gay pop

Please observe that the scary looking gentleman (long dark curly hair) tried to chat me up in a Stockholm club one night. He gently asked me to follow him home to enjoy his Love Stew... That was when I still had hair and could still afford to say no.
Now have a look at Alcazar and its three luscious members. I'm sure you know the song. Have a special look at Andreas, good-looking singer and closet case for years, who fed many Swedish urban legends for a while: "my friend had a fling with him, he is definitely gay, it happened to my friend, so it's true". But can somebody please explain to me those birds' heads?

Andreas finally did his official coming-out, which wasn't enough as he invited Magnus, his then-boyfriend, so that the 4 of them could sing Ménage à Trois. Which made perfect sense.

Talking about Urban Legends, I'd be interested in knowing which ones you've heard.

Wednesday, August 23

And the Golden Frog goes to...

For being so logical ("lots of Asian people in front of a Portuguese looking monument" therefore guessing Macao) and for being laconic but straight forward and right ("Macao"), the winners of this week's Golden Frog are:
Nyasha and Vitor! (Applause)! Ok, that was easy for them, they're both Portuguese... but still. It was indeed Macao. This tiny former Portuguese colony that was given back to China in December 1999 and which I had the chance to visit 3 years ago. If you ever travel to Hong Kong, do take a day to visit Macao, it's just an hour away by super-speed boat and definitely worth it. A strange mix between Southern Europe and China where street signs are in both Portuguese and Chinese, where streets smell of bacalhau and locals speak Chinese with a Portuguese accent and vice-versa. (well I just heard, I couldn't tell). Totally weird and fab!
The lucky winners have won a fabulous Golden Frog they will receive if they ever come to Paris. In the meantime they will receive their weight own worth of frozen frogs' legs while the unlucky others get a new chance to get a fantastic prize next week!

The answer to the next question: What the hell was I wearing?, nobody guessed it right. The right answer was "Honey, light-blue and corny hat, please send in the Fashion Patrol now!".

Oh Look! It's Macao!

In the foreground: Macao and the Republic of China on the other side of the river.

And the Golden Frog Award!


Wednesday's little game

Question 1: Where was that picture taken, which city?

Question 2: What the hell was I wearing that day?

Saturday, August 19


Ok, sorry to those who knew this already, but this sentence got me thinking last night. (Don't you have anything better to do Mickelino on a Friday night?) I know I'm a pathetic geek, but here you are:
Possibly the weirdest sentence in the English language is:
“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo”.
It takes a bit to understand this, so let’s build up from simple stuff. First, suppose that dogs chase cats, who then chase mice. Another way of saying this is:
“Cats that dogs chase, chase mice”
But the comma and the word “that” aren’t technically needed, so we can say:
“Cats dogs chase chase mice”.
But cats also chase other cats, so we could say:
“Cats dogs chase chase cats”.
And they can be chased by other cats too:
“Cats cats chase chase cats”.
Step back and look at this sentence for a moment. This is the basic structure of the buffalo sentence. Let’s think about buffalo chasing other buffalo:
“Buffalo buffalo chase chase buffalo”.
Now there’s a lesser-known English verb “to buffalo” meaning “to push around”. So instead of chasing, let’s make these buffalo push each other around:
“Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo”.
Remember that this means:
“Buffalo that buffalo push around, push buffalo around”.
For the final step, let’s just talk about a particular kind of buffalo - the kind that live in the zoo in Buffalo, New York. These, of course, are Buffalo buffalo - just as the lions are Buffalo lions.
“Buffalo buffalo that Buffalo Buffalo push around, push Buffalo buffalo around”
or more properly:

“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo”.

Thank you Frog with a Blog for another great English lesson!

Thursday, August 17

I just had this urge to go and see her

Parisians never look at her, never think about her and most of them have actually never visited her. However, she stands still there, through winds and rainstorms and looks at us constantly. When you look at her, you realize she's not very pretty, her brownish raincoat scares some and her height seems useless. "Her" because she is a she in French. The Eiffel Tower is a woman. La Dame de Fer.
Like all Parisians, I never think about - The Iron Lady - I know she's there, but she feels more like an old grandmother put there for the pleasure of tour buses. But sometimes, I don't know why, I get this urge to go and see her. And I just have to go right-away! I don't do anything when I visit her, I just look at how ugly she is from a distance but how gorgeous and refined she actually is when you stand underneath her with her lace-work dress on. Nobody really knows what she's doing there, she just is there. Not seeing her anymore would make Paris look like a flat pancake deprived of its only phallic symbol.
Yesterday was a bank holiday (some obscure religious Holy Mary event) and I benefitted from the rain to go and shelter under her dress and take a few obscene pictures.

Wednesday, August 16



Monday, August 14

How Wonder Frog jumped into a ravine full of turd and saved the day

This is a sea-cucumber

So we took a small airplane that moved a lot and got to Ajaccio. Ajaccio, along with Bastia are the only places you could call cities in Corsica, the rest of it consists of a few houses that they call villages hanging from a very steep cliffs, all of it looking beautiful but very sleepy.
We were quite excited about seeing our new home for 8 days. The trailer.
Le camping-car. Which was to be renamed Bernard-Le Camping-Car (it rhymes in French). Bernard was to take us around the island and we would be driving furiously along a transparent blue sea, playing very loud music, singing and let our hair flap in the breeze through the rolled down windows. I have no hair left and Favourite Mr. B decided to shave his completely before leaving so there couldn’t be any flapping in the end. Plus, each of us was convinced that someone else would bring the CDs so in the end there was no music. There was a radio but Corsica doesn’t seem to catch any radio program apart from its own, so we had to suffer through Corsican out-of-tune traditional chants throughout the week needless to say we never really listened to the radio.

But it didn’t matter since we were on vacation and we had decided it was going to be great. And indeed it was. I’ll spare you the details of everyday and just tell you that we hardly did anything. When we booked Bernard-Le Camping Car, we got 1.000 free kilometers. We only used 300 of them. Firstly because driving in Corsica is not fun, winding roads along ravines with remains of cars and trailers at the bottom of them. Secondly because once we got there and after having worked so hard during the previous weeks, we all agreed this vacation was going to be sea, food and sun. Sorry could add sex in there, as a trailer with 5 adults in it, is not the ideal place for privacy. Unless you are into orgies between a steering wheel and a chemical toilet but that wasn’t my cup of tea.This is Bernard Le Camping-Car

We had planned to save so much money on accommodations since we had the trailer and, before we left, we could picture ourselves camping in the wild, conveniently parking our vehicle in front of the beach and organize fire and barbecues on the beach. The trailer-renting guy - who met us at the airport - quickly told us that camping outside camping-grounds was not authorized in Corsica unless we took the time to talk to the local village mayors and asked for a special authorization and then accepted to treat them to a drink. We are all quite sociable people but trusting the exaggerated prejudice on Corsican mafia and night-time bombings we thought camping-grounds were a better option. I know, so lame of us… shhhh!

Beautiful Sartène

So in the end, the trip was not as cheap as we’d planned. I should’ve known it since the rule when you travel is always: I brought too many clothes and not enough money.

Hiking along the sea

So we hiked along the coast, which was absolutely superb, swam in a warm clear blue sea and ate dried sausages all the time. The only problem was the jelly-fish, a small red variation of it that roamed the beaches and kept on chasing me. For some strange reason, all the naughty animals are drawn to me: jelly-fish, mosquitoes and children especially. I really don’t like jelly-fish, along with horses, rabbits and birds, they must be the stupidest and least useful animals God created. Although, the Chinese eat jelly-fish soup, which I once tasted in Hong Kong. But what do you expect from people who also eat saliva bird’s nest soup, monkey brain and sea cucumber.

Amazing Bonifacio (above) and its sea-side cemetery (below)

One note on the sea cucumber. A fascinating animal, not a vegetable. The thing lives at the bottom of the sea and looks like one giant hairy turd. It doesn’t have eyes or legs, it just is one long straight stomach. Basically, food gets in the one whole and goes straight out of the other. There is a little fish that always lives around the sea cucumber. When in danger, the little fish hides in the sea cucumber’s ass and feels warm and cosy. It pops in and out all the time. Pop pop! I learn so much on Discovery Channel, I tell ya!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Corsica and the trailer. Well actually, I think the short intermission about the sea cucumber was a freudian slip for what happened on the last day.

Being the organized group that we are, before the trip, we assigned roles to the 5 of us. For example: One was to drive Bernard, I was going to cook, one was going to do the dishes, another one was to read maps and the last one was to give us orders and keep us focused.

Another thing we all agreed upon was that we wouldn’t use the bathroom since we were staying in camping grounds with all the shower and potty facilities. Moreover, nobody was really keen on emptying a chemical toilet full of compressed turd and other body fluids.

We all looked each-other in the eyes and made a solemn promise.

Hm... as you know, when you are 24/7 with your friends, you tend to discover how unreliable some of them can be. I won’t name names, but I can tell you that one in the group didn’t remember the promise they made and did both number one and number two in the chemical toilet. You know, it must’ve happened at night when everyone else was asleep with ear-plugs and too much under the influence to notice anthing. On the last day, the chemical toilet smelled of rotten sea-cucumber, therefore a very official meeting was organized around the foldable light-blue camping table. Who was the guilty friend? Who was the untrustworthy person with whom we’d never travel ever again? Nobody spoke then.

On the last day, we brought back the trailer to the trailer-rental office. We were supposed to clean it thoroughly and therefore empty the chemical production. One of the ladies said that she would do it. Such a heroic attitude was puzzling, she must have been the guilty girl. As she emptied the thing in a little ravine and spread the trees with chemical excrement and urin she admitted that she was the guilty girl. We were all relieved and gladly attended the emptying ceremony, the smearing on the trees and the slow destruction of Mother Nature, wondering how so much turd could be produced by such a small body.

Jean-Pierre Lamour, the only straight one of us, a real gentleman said he would help cleaning the chemical toilet with a water-hose that belonged to the car-rental. Unfortunately, he dropped a part of the hose into the ravine. We were desperate, what were we going to do? First we had emptied the potty in the ravine and destroyed nature with chemicals and now we had dropped a piece of the hose! Someone suggested that the one who’d dropped it, would go in the ravine to get the thing back. Jean-Pierre Lamour didn’t like the idea and claimed that he could not possibly jump in there with his Armani sneakers on. The question was then, who was willing to go into a ravine, through trees full of urin and stuff and get the damn hose back. That’s when everyone looked at me as I was pretending to do something else very important.
Compliments started flowing and everyone was suddenly in agreement on how strong and muscular I was and brave and flexible and really hot.

That last adjective activated my well hidden male hormones and I could almost hear the soundtrack of Wonder Woman sound through the Corsican evening air.

So, Yes, I went into a ravine surrounded by human production and got the damn hose back, one had held by two friends and the other trying to catch the hose with a fish net. For a few seconds I felt the cosiness that fish feels in the sea-cucmber's ass, warm and fuzzy. I was crowned hero of the day and immediately asked to take a s.hower and change clothes. For that I deserve a big round of applause.
Call me Wonder Frog.


Thursday, August 10

A votre service


Friday, August 4

1 year

It all started with Rhino75. My English friend whom I met at a party 2 years ago and who sang a little Swedish aria to me. Rhino, the combination between a fine between gentleman and trendy VIP lives in the heart of Paris Gayland, hangs out with his famous friends and gets invited to the fanciest parties. Backstage, Rhino is one sweet guy who managed to remain cool in spite of showbiz and tends to be a little bit of an ermite with his life-time partner Miss Kitty. Rhino, who masters cat language is the only one who manages to speak to Miss Kitty, one independent soul who will reply to him and no one else. Sometime in 2005, Rhino sent me a mail and incited me to check out his “blog”. First thought was WTF? Second thought was “gotta have one too”. However it did take a few months before I started my blog.

I kept on reading Rhino’s blog and often found comments from some Rob7534 guy. These comments consistently made me laugh hysterically. At that time, apart from Rhino and a couple of distant friend, nobody read my blog. Then one day, Rob7534 himself showed up on my Guest map and said something like Yay! It's me!
Rob, a hilarious American guy from Chicago whose sense of humor has made us all wet our pants numbers of time has recorded his trips to Gay Camp in such a picturesque manner, his political rants that I don’t read till the end, his love affairs with 20 year-olds (which I read till the end), his genuine kindred and self-distance. I just like everything about this guy. Rob makes me happy, he makes me laugh and the fact that he does not take himself seriously makes him very charming and sexy. Rob has been a faithful visitor since then and I hope he stays a long time.

One morning, in November 2005, a guy named Reluctant Nomad showed up and said something like"so this is the famous frog with blog, if I weren't so shy I would blush" in my comment box. This applied to a picture I had posted of myself while I was in London last year. The flirt that he is had hit right, compliments were to lead him everywhere. I became a huge fan of the site of this guy who lives in Nottingham UK although he’s from South Africa. His blog is a varied collection of anything from wild sexual encounters with English Hooligans to overviews of Botswana’s history. Nomad – or Alan in real life – is a gay man, married with two children. He struggles between staying in England where he finally could get a decent job that helped him support his family back in Cape Town and moving back to South Africa, where he truly belongs risking not to get a good job.

I discovered Ms. Mac through my never-ending reference in the blog world, Rob7534’s site. I started visiting her and absolutely loved her stuff. No one like her can talk about the simple things of the life of an Australian expat-family in Switzerland. A mother of three and the wife of a hunk, Ms mac tells us how spontaneously her kids talk to their parents and what crazy things they’ve gone through recently. Such as "Dad, was Mom hot when she was thin?"
I got so hooked on Ms. Mac that I decided that the woman just had to be my friend. And I tell you, the day this star blogger added me on her blogroll was the happiest day of my life since Wonder Woman came out on DVD.

One cold winter morning, as I was having breakfast touring my blog roll as usual, I went and checked out my new Swedish friend’s (Scandinaviannova) blog. Scandinaviannova has since then mysteriously disappeared from the surface into the blizzard of northern Sweden. There was a comment there from one crazy woman who swore a lot, talked about her time in jail, etc… well all that saying the rudest but deepest and funniest things at the same time. I’ve always liked such strong personalities and unusual people and was therefore most intrigued by this new character. Babs Bitchin’ was her name. I went to her blog and was thrilled as she both scared and impressed me. I got completely hooked on her, her life, adventures, her past, present, future. Little did I know what a fantastic, fun, generous, full of empathy, outgoing and smart ass soul I had found. Yes, you may claim otherwise if you want to, but one thing is sure: among all of you I found her first!

Since then, Long island’s fiercest bitch has both inspired me and made me wet my pants. I simply adore this woman and have to meet her one day.

Again, Keiran came to me through Rob7534. A 23 year old musician from London who writes songs and is so talented. You can listen to what he does if you're clever enough to find it on his blog. It’s absolutely brilliant! Additionally, the guy’s a genuine francophile! So, a talented musician mixed with a francophile, how perfect can it be?

It started when a butterfly came from the east and flew over my blog. I don’t really know where she came from (apart from the east) or what it was, but I surely became captivated by her and her background. This Portuguese desperate-expat –housewife in Denmark who lived in various parts of the world until she met her Danish better-half in Eastern Africa. The rest is history. Imagine how terrified I was the day the Eastern Butterfly that she was disappeared and was nowhere to be found. Thankfully and thanks to my fabulous site meter (bless it!), I managed to track her again. The naughty girl had become the Coffee Addict, telling us how much she hates stupid people (the Bush administration is top of her list) or how hooked she is on coffee. There’s always been this mystery around Nyasha (as she became later). She gave so little about herself in her blog at first that I couldn’t resist asking her tons of questions. (The official “à la Nomad” interview is still on its way).
After having changed identity 300 times as she’s moved from country to country, the girl has now decided to move from Blogger to Wordpress. Such a restless attitude in Bloglandia and in life makes her the Portuguese female version of myself. Behind the perfect face, the good education and the civilized personality hides a genuine fierce bitch, I can tell you. Can’t get any better!

Di, a woman of mystery, this fun mother from Virginia who loves Cyclists’ legs is a recent read of mine and an occasional commenter I am seriously keeping track of.

Ian Ivy Du Bois, a handicapped bitch in recovery, as he calls himself is a drama queen from Argentina who is going through a tough time but who always keeps on cracking a joke. I’m starting to be quite hooked on the character too. Vivi from Dispatches from France is another of these blog stars in France. A poor American woman who ended up near Troyes (shit hole where some of my folks live) makes the best of the situation by singing in the local choir and rant about the French. Whatalotoffun from Port-Elizabeth, South Africa is a beautiful (so she says, we’re still waiting for the pics) who unfortunately doesn’t understand how her home internet works and has therefore not posted anything for a while. I’ll be checking her out though as I love giving her a hard time.

Many thanks as well to Buddess, the travelling Beaver, Snooze, Chuck, Ms.Bees Knees, Gina, Lucy, Xmichra, Tom Gaylord, Mary B, Bloingo and Marieke for visiting. I'm surely forgetting plenty.

Last but not least, those of you who understand French are welcome to visit Marsoupiote's site. A school teacher's memories who lives in the south of France and who also happens to be my Mom.

Thanks to all of you for coping with the Frog with a Blog and for being a part of my life for one year. So here's a thank you video for you.


Tuesday, August 1

Does Paris Blog?

Please read Rob7534's very interesting post about why French people blog so much compared to our European neighbors and what kinds of blogs we usually write on this side of the Ocean compared to our English-speaking couterparts. Rob's post reminded me of the little event I attended recently. Here it goes.

In late June, I attended my first blog reunion in Paris. What I thought would be some kind of trade fair about blogging, exchanging ideas, looking at new fancy tools to download videos and improve sound (and Lord knows I need it), was in fact just a get together for Parisian bloggers, who all know each-other, have communicated with each-other for years and have absolutely no interest in getting to know any new comer. Well, I must admit that I didn’t have any interest in getting to know any of them either as one quickly gets a complex when one overhears in the background two people say something like that: - Oh I was contacted by 3 publishers who want me to write a book out of my blog!
Yes, me too. It’s just that they often offer lousy financial compensation. I usually say no to them
- My stats dropped from 17.000 readers per day to 15.000 last month. I’ve just been really busy at work lately and can’t post more than 3 entries per day.

If you go and visit the sites of the people who were present at the get-together, most of them blog about blogging. I’m not complaining, they all seem to be very professional and master technology like I never will, but their blogs are simply not interesting to me.

The reason I like blogging is simply to get to know other people’s daily lives, concerns, rants, love affairs, what they had for dinner and how they cooked itn whom they slept with and whom they hate today. I’m not too much into blogs that pretend to be a new version of bbc.com or cnn.com, i.e blogs that will give their version of world news and secretly hope that their blog will be your only link to the outside world.

While everyone was chatting, taking pictures of one-another, filming every conversation with their handy and most advanced little cameras, I stayed in my little end of the bar and sipped on the free Champagne and munched on the free snacks generously offered by the Internet operator that hosted the event.

During this little event, I realized that I’m totally disconnected with the Parisian French-speaking blog world. Firstly because I never visit French speaking blogs and secondly because my blog is a totally different ball-game, the game where I play fussball at a cheap diner while the big boys play the World cup in Germany. I have no idea who’s who and my new friend (the only person I talked to during the whole evening) was amazed to hear that I didn’t even know about this guy, who isone of the most read blogs in France with several thousands daily readers.

Another generalization my new friend and I came up with while observing the crowd (200 bloggers): Parisian Bloggers are geeks dressed in Armani suits, who all work in IT or Marketing, Young Urban Professional kind of style and most of them blog at work, as it is part of their job. Many earn money through their site, by hosting adverts or receiving donations and quite a few seem to have their blog as their sole source of income.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. Me who naively thought that blogging was a hobby and a way to get to know other fun people around the world, I soon realized the financial objectives that many have and the lack of personality that most blogs have. By lack of personality, I mean, a blog in which you don’t necessarily get to know the person who writes it, a blog where the person’s life is not the main focus of the site. It feels more like reading a very professional and technically advanced company website or a written petition against this or that political decision.

And yes, I’m a little bit jealous of their command of the various tools. And yes, I’d like to be able to publish such nice videos as they do plus get hundreds of comments every day. But that’s all in theory because I know how freaked out I’d be if too many people read my blog and commented on it and asked me all sorts of questions etc… I can’t even find the time to comment on the comments that are left to me, so imagine. But I know what you’re thinking: Honey, don’t worry, this is not going to happen. You’ll never get that many readers. Your life is not THAT interesting.

Buggers, all of you…

I’m glad such blogs exist though but they’re simply not my kind of blogs, i.e the kind I enjoy reading. I prefer reading about the fate of my desperate expat-housewives, the nightly escapades of my gay fellows and the crazy recordings of my ex-prison inmates. That’s more my kind of blogging.

So the question was: Does Paris blog? Oh it does, more than ever. France is apparently the country in Europe with the highest amount of bloggers. Some say it’s because the French love to write and written expression is valued in this Country. I say it’s because we’re all completely self-absorbed and have such a hard-time communicating "live" that we prefer talking to ourselves (I mean to each-other) virtually.

Next year, I’m not going back.


Sunday, July 30

Nyasha's in trouble

Thank the Lord, she's saved by geography!

Saturday, July 29

Chubby tadpole

What happened to this chubby child? This picture must be from 1974/1975, am not sure, the original color of the sweater is orange, the hair is gone and the chubbiness remains in spite of super skinny years between age 4 and 30.
This is a meme I found on Chuck's site (one hilarious guy, I tell ya!). The mission: post a picture of yourself on your blog of a time in your life when you were "bright eyed and clueless" to what lay ahead in your life. Bright-eyed I've never been, clueless: I still am.

My sweater is still orange and so is the future.


Thursday, July 27

Part 2: We never went to Morocco either

Yesterday night I quickly cooked some pasta filled with cheese. The cheap version of ravioli. 89 cents per pack. Good deal. I added cream and extra cheese. I really like cheese, you see.
Then My friend J. called and said we should have a drink. So I ran down and had a drink. I left my pasta on the stove after having eaten it and before going for a drink. I turned off the stove before I left, don't worry. I also left it on the stove all night. Oh and my apartment was just elected warmest place in France (I'm under the roof, exposed to the south and have no aircon, just a fan. I think it's the only fan I'll ever have so I named him Stan. Stan the Fan.
This morning, I woke up late and was so happy to discover the rest of my pasta waiting for me on the stove. I had forgotten to put it in the fridge, but what the hell, a little bacteria has never hurt anybody, I thought.
I have been hating myself everytime I've sat on the damn toilet today, having several Niagara-like explosions, rolling myself on the floor with stomach pains and throwing up like... Have you seen the movie The Exorcist? You know when the girl vomits green liquid? Well then you get the picture.

So I'm feeling a bit weak today and a bit sorry for myself too. I went to the Pharmacy and the lady who works there laughed at me when I told her my story. She took a step back to talk to me. I'm sure she could feel the cheese left in my nostrils.

This is how I'm feeling today.

Lesson of the day: Use Fridge.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, we never made it to Morocco either. That's it...
We never made it to Morocco because we thought it would be too hot there in July plus none of us 5 could agree on the final destination in Morocco. Should it be the north with Fes, Tangiers, Meknes, Chefchaouen, Rabat etc... or should it be the south: Marrakech, Agadir, Essaouira? We bought 5 different guidebooks and in the end, the 5 of us wanted to go to 5 different places.
I should also say that my friends and I met every Wednesday during the past 4 months to plan our summer trip. Every Wednesday, we would change destination. It was becoming tiring and scary. The more we met, the more north the destination went. Soon we would be spending our vacation in Belgium, or God forbid, England. Oh dear!

So after having planned trips that would take us to luxurious cabins in the Algerian desert, exquisite ornate and lush Riads in Morocco, houses carved in caves in Southern Spain, fancy hotels along the breeze of the Atlantic in Portugal, a mini-mansion in Northern Italy, we ended up renting a trailer in Corsica.
Why a trailer (le camping-car in French) you are asking? Well, it's the perfect combination between a hotel and a car, duh! It's fun, it's like we're suddenly hippies on the road, just staying over anywhere we want for the night. Yes! we knew we were going to be so cool and sooo free. We even knew exactly what kind of music we would play while driving. We had the whole picture in our heads, it was going to be one excellent road movie.

Coming soon: Part 3, How Mickelino fell into a ravine trying to empty the trailer's chemical toilet.

Wednesday, July 26

Part 1: We never made it to Algeria

I’m sitting here, with a glass of cheap chilled white in one hand (it’s too warm to drink red) and a cigarette in the other. I occasionally type a word ot two, I can only type with one finger as the cigarette occupies two of my fingers. It’s taken me 5 minutes to type the first sentence of this post.
I re-read what I’ve written so far and find it plain and an uninteresting start to a post. Maybe it’s not a good idea to start posting at 2 am.
I’m completely jet-lagged, not because I’ve travelled to some exotic and remote place lately but because since my vacation started 2 and a half weeks ago I’ve gone to bed even later than usual. And then, there’s the heat. This heat has been unbearable. I can’t move, I speak even slower than usual and my brain is so switched off that it makes my eyes look as vacant as as cheap motel in Nebraska. Where is Nebraska anyway? Probably as far as my inspiration.
However, it’s not like nothing has happened to me lately. On the contrary, I’ve been fortunate enough to go on vacation to wonderful places with great people. Everything went smoothly, and the only one who suffered from it was my wallet.

Where should I start? Oh yes, it all began with Algeria. Well actually we never went to Algeria. It wasn’t safe enough. The official website said: Algeria is entirely safe. However tourists should not travel in the north-east, the south and some areas of the north-west, tourists have been reported to be kidnapped in markets in the big cities, these should therefore be avoided as well. Algeria is a large country but these instructions didn’t leave much space left for a relaxing vacation. Which is sad because I really wanted to go there.

So a few months ago, 4 friends and I decided we would go to Algeria this summer. Well, let’s put it this way. A few months ago I managed to brainwash 4 friends and convinced them to go to Algeria although they all told me what a crazy idea it was. Why Algeria, you’re asking. Well, it’s a long story and there are many reasons for it.
Firstly there’s the “I’ve been there before everyone else factor” it had made me quite popular in the 90’s when I entertained crowds at expats’ parties as I had just returned from Cambodia at the time when Polpot was still alive and when Khmer Rouges were still roaming the woods outside of Angkor Wat.
Then, as you know, Algeria is not the place one would choose to go to on vacation. Algeria belongs to the no-no-places-for-a-holiday-list together with Kabul, Bagdad, Beyrouth and Pyongyang. Still how cool is it to discover a place before everyone else and where there’s sun, friendly and good-looking people who speak my favorite language (Arabic), who cook the most delicious food and who have an amazing Roman, Arab, Berber, French history all of that mixed with a little bit of danger? I don’t know what you’d say but to me, it sounded like the perfect destination.

Moreover, parts of my family used to live there back when Algeria was part of France. It was more than a colony, it was a region, an intrisic part of the French territory. French had a tough time letting go of Algeria. The country reached its independence through a nasty and bloody war and unlike neighboring Morocco and Tunisia (which had become independent in 1956), Algeria finally became a state in 1962. France never really recovered from this and like the USA with Vietnam, the French are not too eager to talk about this defeat, especially not about the various massacres of Algerians that took place because of the French during this period.

My grandparents were born and raised there, my mother was born in Morocco on the other side of the border but they lived in Algeria. They are Pieds-Noirs as we call them. The Black Feet. That’s how the French who lived in Northern Africa are called. This name has throughout the years become a bad word as these Black Feet had to go back to metropolitan France upon Algeria’s independence and nobody really knew what to do with this million of French citizens who suddenly reapeared in the picture after having lived glorious days in the sun being served by underpaid locals. So they thought.
Culturally the Pieds-Noirs had become very different from the Metropolitan French and the latter would make sure this would be understood by the former. Unemployment and racism were not rare towards the Pieds-Noirs at that time and most of these families had lost everything they owned and suddenly ended up in the misery of Parisian or southern French suburbs.
Fortunately, my grandfather was employed by the state and could get a job as he returned with his whole family. But it’s always with a tear in his eye that he would mention Algeria and all the places they had lived in. Algeria was his country. He never went back.
Therefore, going to Algeria felt like the natural thing to do for me. For a long time, I’ve wanted to see the streets they lived in, where they went to school, the square in Tlemcen where my grandparents met 70 years ago. Rest assured, my goal was not to go there out of tacky post-colonial nostalgia, for I do think Algeria should have never been colonized in the first place, but this country is somehow part of my history. It was therefore high time I compared the blurry black and white pictures with today’s reality.

So, I’m afraid I’ll have to wait until it becomes a bit safer there. So in the meantime, Morocco seemed like a better option...

Coming soon: Part 2: We never made it to Morocco.


Monitor Chain

Photograph this blog post (including your monitor and its immediate surroundings), and post the resulting pic on your blog. Then, the next person photographs your blog post and posts it, and so on. Leave your post URL in the comments so people will be able to follow the chain, and link your image to the post you photographed… this way people will be able to zoom into the monitors by clicking.

Thursday, July 20

In & Out

One day in Paris to recover from good food, wine and heat at my parents' place in Bordeaux and swooosh, gone again. This time to the German capital. Berlin! This vacation is a bliss...
Have always dreamt of going there. Can't wait.

I'll be thinking of you. I promise.
PS: Rob, Bitch is the adequate description, I agree...