Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day two and three, maybe four of Sarah's Vacation in France (01 -02 July)

When in France, do as the French - even if the bread is too hard and sometimes tastes like toilet paper and cuts the inside of your mouth... Oh the famous French baguette... I was so looking forward to having baguettes each day with cheese and my husband would have his with wine... It would be a delight! True vacation! Alas - honestly, mostly the baguettes were way too hard and pretty much tasteless I'm sad to report. Every now and then we found a good one - but that just didn't turn out to be what I had dreamed of and expected! And my poor husband - because of a tooth problem and antibiotics he was on for it - he couldn't touch wine! He had really looked forward to having a glass of wine with good bread and cheese - but it didn't happen that way at all!
In fact - the poor guy ended up spending most of a day in a dentist's office in Lourdes of all places as my daughter and I went to Jesus and Mary shop after Jesus and Mary shop looking for glow-in-the-dark Mary's and the like to pass our time while waiting for my husband.
Above is a shot of me and my daughter passing time in Lourdes I think while waiting for my husband to come from the dentist. Did you know that there is a pharmacy on almost every corner in that city! I guess that makes sense because so many sick people go there praying to get better. It's a sad place if you ask me. I guess one could also see it as a place of hope. The atheist in me just can't see it that way. It just seemed like a bunch of false hope mixed with disturbing commercialism. It seemed like such a desperate and sad place. Waiting in a long line to touch a wall and give a quick passing-by prayer - then shuffling off into the candle area where you can pay as much as Euro 300 for a huge candle for your huge prayer to come true. If you don't have that much, you can get a candle for Euro 2 or so and hope it has as much miracle power as the huge ones in the special huge candle place that sort of rubs in your face that maybe if you spend a little bit more on a bigger candle uncle Roger with his bad limp and lungs might just have a better chance to recover... It all struck me - a total non-believer - as quite sick! But who am I too say! And what right to I have to be critical really. I'm sure Lourdes means a whole lot to a minions of people. It just turned my stomach though. I felt like I was watching one car crash after another, which basically I was being an atheist in such a holy place. I'm the bad one in that scenario. But that's the thing! It's a tourist place. There is shop after shop after shop - streets and streets lined with shops that all have the same over-priced crap - probably made in some third-world place on the backs of people who pray for food in their mouths and real health issues every day... Who could never make it to Lourdes to get their miracle! And don't even get me started about all the people being wheeled around in wheelchairs and brought in to pray. And about the mass-made and marketed Lourdes water bottles that people buy and buy so they can go to the fountain there and fill these bottles (sometimes even cooler-sized ones!) with holy water! I mean even we bought some of these bottles! So many people like us there buying these bottles, fueling this strange industry there - and not believing but somehow "enjoying" the kitsch value of it all... You could almost feel guilty about that - if you were a believer. And my child - I'm not sure what she made of all of it. It made her uneasy that's for sure. It certainly was interesting and eye-opening to say the least - but quite disturbing at that...
Above you can see a photo I took with my phone and then with our new camera!!!!! I guess that is the first photo on Face The Day taken with our new camera! My daughter and I were waiting the whole day for my husband and he had the new camera we had bought in Toulouse the day before. My daughter and I did get to see a little of Lourdes while waiting - as I described above - but too little I think. Or maybe too much -- too many Jesus and Mary's - that is for sure!
Since my husband didn't get to see anything on our first day in Lourdes - other than a dentist's office and one of the hundreds of pharmacies (which is ironic, isn't it - so many sick people go to Lourdes to ask to be healed that the pharmacies bring in so much work and money - it's probably the best possible place on earth to have a pharmacy!!! I'm sure you could become very wealthy in a short time! Doctor in Lourdes too! And undertakers! Sick people making the long trip there to be healed in the waters and baths of Lourdes sometimes die on the way!) Anyway - I had better stop going on and on about it. I do not mean any disrespect to any believers out there. Truly, I don't. There was just something so unsettling about that place. The desperation of it all. And because France is so full of churches too and we visited so many and so one particularly that will always stay in my head - that had this horrifying, huge depiction of heaven and hell - a painting so vivid and so powerful that it made it ever so clear why so many people believed and were forced to be believers -- because if you didn't - boy would hell be a horrid experience for you and you'd be torn apart by scary monsters and the like! All these symbols and messages. Disturbed me to no end! Believe! Believe! And you will be healed (and if you aren't - it's probably your own fault anyway for some sin you did!). Feel guilt! Repent! God will take care of you! All too much for me to take in frankly....

And alas -- a very tranquil photo above of a Lourdes Mary we bought (yes - we too very much fell for all the commerce at Lourdes and fed the system that semi-sickened us) - floating in the pool later that day... Doesn't our new camera take lovely photos? That's another thing - there is something slightly sickening about having your camera break and immediaetly being able to buy a new one. Like a click of a finger! Bam - what you need you can get in a second! The guilty jew or maybe even catholic in me feels - well, sort of guilty and dirty for being able to just buy whatever I need like that with little thought! What a world we live in! You can have everything in a second! Well, maybe not everything - but almost -- here in the comfy Western world anyway... I bet the underage kids lead by some parish of converters in whatever poor country that probably makes the above plastic Lourdes Marys have never seen a camera!

See what a country of churches and in your face Catholicism can do to one's head????!!!!

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