Dog + Swim Watch by Diana Khoi Nguyen

There are whistles in all the apartments here, hung up on the same hook as the floral kitchen apron. Of course my first thought was rape whistle, which is both practical and ridiculous of me. I don't have a "flash lamp," but I can understand why I should--but why is there a whistle? It is in case you see a fire in the calanques, which hasn't really happened, but then, that's why we have the whistles.

It's a holiday weekend for the French, though I didn't notice more visitors in Cassis than the usual weekend fare--populated, but not overwhelmingly so.

This afternoon, I watched a man at the lower edge of the lighthouse throw a ball into the sea, and his dog (looked like a small German Shepherd) jumped in to retrieve it. He had a long rope leash on (just in case), and would swim, get the ball into his mouth, swim back to the lighthouse, shake off the sea water, repeat.

Also spied two different swimmers--one with a trailing buoy (safety measure)? Seemed like they were both wearing wetsuits, swimming out toward the horizon. I watched until I couldn't see them anymore and wondered when they would return, or if they would. I'd like to swim out to sea myself, but worry that I might need a wetsuit. Also, I didn't bring my goggles, but don't know what's actually required for sea-swimming as I'm only a pool practitioner.

Seems like the SCUBA divers occasionally pop up below my balcony--they'd surface to converse in French and were decked out in so much gear! I wonder if they had special cameras or things for seeing.

I'm lusting to be in the sea today, but am reserving water activity for a non-weekend day (less crowded).

But here are my non-writing-poetry goals for Cassis:

  • kayak
  • paddleboard
  • swim in the ocean (wetsuit?)
  • snorkel
  • go out on fishing trip with local fisherman Guillaume
  • visit every beach in Cassis

Mediterranean (Verbal) Polaroids by Diana Khoi Nguyen

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:


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.


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.


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.