Diana Khoi Nguyen

A centaur from the waist up.

Poet and human.

Mediterranean (Verbal) Polaroids

I could say that it's been a whirlwind past couple of weeks, but as infrequently as I update this, one would have no reliable or valid way in which to comprehend that statement.

Due to a cancelled flight from the first leg of my travels, things were a bit hectic/rife with last-minute decisions while waiting for hours at the Harrisburg Airport. While I did make it to Fes, Morocco, the trip was cut in half, and I ended up with only about 30 hours--needless to say, all last week I barely slept, but it was worth it:

Harrisburg > Chicago > Munich > Marseille > Casablanca > Fes > Aix-en-Provence > Arles > Cassis

Am here to capture my memorable/favorite moments thus far:

Fes

Befriended local shopkeeper Sidi inside the medina (who had impeccable taste and curatorial style). Spent hours--had homemade tagine lunch with his friends, witnessed/helped him procure shop items from one of his sellers (who travels from the Sahara). He introduced me to an American, Summer Coish, who's been living in Fes for the past 2.5 months--and in Kabul for the past 5 years.

Ran across young local who guided a skeptical me to a local hammam. Turned out to be an incredible, incredible experience in which I was not scammed or harassed. For the equivalent of 5 USD, I gained admission into the hammam (no tourists in sight, only naked women and their children, bathing), where an elder-lady bathed me (as if I were a child, wonderful), scrubbed every inch of my body with Moroccan soap (blended with local spices, etc.), the massaged my entire body. When I returned to the young local to tip him for his kindness, he refused and only wanted to know if I enjoyed my experience. Yesyesyes. I wish I never had to bathe myself again.

Aix-en-Provence

Woke up early to run outside of a friend's AirBnB at Place Richelme, to where what is considered the best open market (in all of Provence) takes place. There was a large area devoted entirely to a flower market--and then a rich, lush produce market and seafood market. Bought mussels and fish to make a 4 course dinner for the new friends with whom I was staying. If only I could acquire food materials like this for every meal of my life. What bounty this land yields.

Cassis

My Camargo apartment is literally situated above the sea, overlooking both the Cassis port/lighthouse and Mediterranean expanse. After putting down my bags, while standing on the balcony, I spied a snorkeling-fishing-man, in a wetsuit, spear in one hand, and row of hooked fish silver and gleaming around his waist like a skirt. I watched him dive and surface, unable to turn my eyes from the fish.

The next day was non-stop pouring rain and I ran around town (breakfast, groceries) with a coated yellow tablecloth over my head--like some sunny ghost up and down the limestone slopes. From the balcony: a woman doing squats at the base of the lighthouse, facing the sea, with no one around (everyone safely dry indoors, of course!).

Yesterday, I thought I saw a drowning person in the sea, but then it must've been a rock against which the sea foamed against. As the minutes slowly passed, this thing came closer, and I saw two arms, alternating in stroke--a swimmer--but never once did I see a head turn up for air. Where did the swimmer originate from? Where would s/he finish?

Every morning (except in rain), I see a man on a paddle board, paddling away from the shore.

Cloudy today, with a bit of tumult in the sea. Waves crashing against the pier--and along one lone dock, a man with red string from his hands to the sea--the dock violently bobbing in various directions (with the surf), the man, steady, his line steadier still.