Friday, February 17, 2012

De l'autre côté...the other side

Today was a full day and the highlight was a guided tour of a photography exhibit taken in 1965 of the Berlin wall taken from the east side...De l'autre côté...the other side (« De l’autre côté. Le Mur de Berlin vu de l’Est dans les années 60 »).  I'm sure everyone remembers the story about the wall, but I'll refresh for you just in case.  One day in August 1961, a temporary 42-km barrier, made of barbed wire and whatever bricks or other material was at hand, was constructed overnight.  Over the next 20 years the wall was fortified and eventually reached the 2 to 2.5 meter high wall we all saw being deconstructed in 1989.

In 1965, the east german military tasked a photographer with taking photographs of the entire 42-km length of the wall.  The films were placed in a box and never developed...labelled top secret and securely stored somewhere.  The films were discovered and all of the photos were stitched together, assembled into panoramas and georeferenced to their correct coordinates.  The photos provide interesting views into the west side contrasted with the starkness of the east side.

Our guide was a young woman who grew up in Berlin and recounted many stories that really helped bring the photos to life.

At the start of my long day, I tried to accomplish too many things at home in the morning (as usual!) and so missed the direct bus to CEREGE (the university earth science research lab where I have access to an office, library and GIS lab).  But, I wasn't worried because I had taken the other bus once with someone who showed me the way and said "this is the last stop on this line" as we got off of the bus.  So, I rode the bus to the last stop, got off and realized I had no idea where I was.  Fortunately, since it was the last stop, the bus driver was still sitting there in the bus, so I could ask him for directions.  It turns out that I should have gotten off two stops sooner, and I had the choice of waiting for him to go back in about 15 minutes, or making the 10-minute walk back.  The walk was really not a problem, but I confess in the middle of this I was terrified that I would be lost for hours wandering around suburban industrial provence, where everyone is driving, with my terrible, limited french...ack.  But, all was well, and I had a nice (though nervous!) walk.

On the way back to Aix in the afternoon, from the bus window, I got a nice view of Mount St. Victoire, Cezanne's famous mountain...

I ended the evening by attending the AVF's Chandeleur, or crepe, celebration.  The french tradition is to drink sparkling cider with your crepes.  Now, I thought chandeleur was a couple of weeks ago, but maybe this is one of those flexible holidays that you can claim whenever you need an excuse to have a crepe party?  Aaach...who needs an excuse to have a crepe party?!