Tell Me a Story

Short prose and other verbiage of the literary sort.

Tuesday
Nov272018

The Sun Card - Eclipse + Palenque, Mexico 1991

I just remembered the name of an eccentric, bohemian woman I met in Palenque, Mexico many years ago. Her name was Hilda and she was the person who told me about the mystical place called Huautla de Jimenez in the mountains of Mexico. I referenced this place in another account called “The Reluctant Curandero”. She also went by the name “Coco” when she was with the Mezatecas. 

Hilda ran a little cafe in the jungle. Only vegetarian, bottled soft drinks, and cerveza. The cafe was open-air in the jungle. All the tables and chairs were made of large tree slices, and there were some hammocks around. You really didn’t feel like you were in a cafe at all, but more like you were relaxing in the thick jungle, only with amenities. There was a basic kitchen behind a simple bar, and a small cottage attached. 

Hilda made the most amazing vegetarian dishes. I wasn’t even vegetarian, but I recognized the culinary artistry to make healthy food taste like pretty much anything you wanted it to taste like. Hilda was a wizard with many things, and the culinary arts was definitely one of them. 

I was staying down the road at Maya Belle in a palapa hut and sleeping in a hammock. On a previous trip, Hilda had told me about a near total eclipse that was to occur right there at the Palenque ruins on July 11th, 1991. She said I ought to try and be there for it, and I managed to make it all the way back a week before the eclipse would occur.

The only problem was that I’d been robbed on the bus. Nothing violent, just wasn’t paying attention and left my bag untended while I got off the bus to use the restroom. Or something like that. I didn’t lose everything, but there was only enough money for a bus back to Texas. I’d have to miss the eclipse I’d come so far to witness at one of the most mystical Mayan ruin sites I’d been to at that point in time. 

There was some hidden money in my backpack, and a few travelers checks left. I calculated that if I stayed in the simple open-air palapa for about a dollar a night back then, and took the least expensive buses all the way back up to Texas, I could just barely make it a week if I didn’t eat anything. Once I got back over the border, I could get more money for the last portion of the trek back home to Austin. 

A week without food was going to be a stretch though. I didn’t even have enough extra to get some cheap food items from the local produce market. So close to being able to stick it out, but about $20 short of being able to pull this off. 

I’d already paid for the first night in the palapa and planned on catching the first bus out in the morning. Sadly moped back to Hilda’s cafe to lay in a hammock and enjoy my last evening in the jungle. The stars were incredible and I could hear howler monkeys making this omnipresent, low pitch that sounds like the entire jungle is snoring. The insect buzz comes alive with this almost electronic drone that overtakes the senses. The jungle at night is an extraordinary thing to experience. You sort of just melt into the surreal soundscape, while fireflies, and random eyes glowing in the dark forest underneath a thick blanket of stars. And I was going to have to leave early after only one night.

I dug one of my last cigarettes out and flipped open my Zippo lighter. The flame seemed exaggerated in that perfect darkness. It caught the fancy of Hilda’s partner Mario. He came over to the hammock I was floating in and asked to check out my Zippo lighter. He flipped it open several times, and then made out like he was a Clint Eastwood movie star cowboy flipping open the  lighter off his jeans:

“Que bueno… I like this Zippo. How much does one like this cost in Estados Unidos?”

“Thanks, not sure about the cost… it was a gift. They sell knock off copies that aren’t very expensive, but this is a real one. They’re made a little better and have a nicer feel when you flip them open.”

“Would you sell me this one and you could get another one when you get back to the United States?”

“Hmmm… I kind of need it, and I have to leave tomorrow.”

“You’re not staying for the eclipse?!”

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct232018

The Reluctant Curandero - Part 3 (Conclusion)


Within a few seconds of rising up within the copal smoke I passed a thin plane, almost like a very short and narrow floor of a building. Somehow I instinctively knew to enter this plane while thinking of the location that Manny Gammage was hospitalized, and in an instant I was transported to the hospital room. Though, I wasn’t in my own body… I was sort of sharing his body, or kind of moving within it. Hard to explain, but I was able to have a look around for anything that seemed like it shouldn’t be there. 

First, I found a dark red, and nearly blackened cancer tumor with tendrils embedded in the tissues surrounding it. I pulled at the tumor and through it away from me, then did my best to dig the rest of the embedded tendrils out. Another look around and there was yet another one that I did my best to get rid of as well. Then I sort of used my own energy to kind of give the whole body a quick blast in order to try and kill cells that remained. 

Eventually, I didn’t feel like there was anything else I could do and started backing away the way I arrived. Back into the thin plane where I moved at the speed of thought. Back into the column of copal incense smoke, as I descended back down toward the campfire and returned to my own body. 

Opened my eyes and thought, “Whoa!, that was a really vivid imagining I just had. And I haven’t even had any of the Derrumbes yet. Heh, I wonder if I really need any organic help to get me to that level of imagination?”

Didn’t think about the experience for all that long. Brushed it off as a goofy wild imagining for the most part, but the vivid quality of it stuck with me.

The next night I partook in the activity I’d come there for and continued on my journey. I don’t remember where I went after that location, but most of the time I’d carry on toward Oaxaca City, then down the mountains to the Oaxaca coastline around Puerto Angel, and then either zig-zag my way east toward Chiapas, or continue South into Guatemala. Vaguely remember that trip taking me to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean coast and exploring the Yucatan Peninsula region. At that time the Yucatan wasn’t as developed and a backpacker could get a simple hut with a sand floor, right on the beach for as little as $1 a night. That was indeed a magical time.

That trip lasted just short of two months or so as I recall... before I was on the long bus crawl back North toward the Texas/Mexico border and back to Austin. I’ve always been fortunate enough to travel just long enough that I’m looking forward to getting home, and this time was no different. The exhilaration from the trip usually lasted about a week before fading back into the regular every day routine. 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct212018

The Reluctant Curandero - Part 2

The Reluctant Curandero - Part 2


There’s a small town at the foot of the mountain that you take a bus to called Teotitlan del Camino, but you’re always too late for the last bus heading up into the Sierra Madres where the Mezateca dwell. So, you’ve got to spend the night and finish the last 2-3 hours of bus ride the following day. It’s not that much further, but it’s a narrow road that’s very twisty. The bus moves at a low-gear crawl, and because it’s a local 3rd-class bus, it’s stopping constantly to let indigenous folks on and off along the way. 

It’s an amazing journey though. The vistas from there are heavenly. You’ll be lost in a cloud with almost no visibility, trusting at least the driver can see well enough, and then you’ll come out of this thick cloud to another world of sub-tropical vegetation, waterfalls, and sprawls of farm crops defying gravity up the mountainside. Every now and then you’ll see a tiny old indigenous local with an impossible stack of firewood balanced on his or her back.

The bus goes all the way up to Huautla de Jimenez, where the mushroom priestess Maria Sabina lived, but I’d met some Mezatecas a couple of years prior to this trip and they live in a small community about 20 minutes before the bus reaches Huautla. I only know the place as “Puente de Fierro”, which means “iron bridge”. This is where you tell the bus driver you want off. As far as I know, that’s what the village is called. Or, more than likely there’s a Mezatec name and it’s easier to just call it by the actual location in Spanish. 

When you step off the bus, there’s there’s a drop to a crooked river down below that’s full of giant craggy borders. You’re sort of nestled between a couple of mountain peaks that are absolutely lush with green vegetation. There’s a dirt road that crosses the paved road. One way goes to some magnificent waterfalls and various caves. The other way goes to the village. 

This place will come up again in future accounts. Some of the most mystical experiences I’ve had in my life took place in this general area. 

One one side of the paved road there’s a small cocina, or kitchen. It’s basically a ramshackle wood hut that kind of teeters on the edge of the cliff with a small balcony to view the river below. On the other side of the road there’s a small tienda, or store where you can buy a few basic things like sodas, candy, bread, fruit, cerveza, etc. 

Grabbed a few items I knew I’d need like a gallon jug of drinking water, some candles, and some snack food. Continued down the dirt road to the village that ends up close to the river’s edge and looked for one of the Mezateca’s, Jaime, who I’d stayed with on the last trip. Didn’t take long since it’s not often that a gringo with a backpack comes lumbering down the old dirt road, but I have seen the occasional Mormon pair of chaps pushing their bikes up the mountain road before. 

Jaime greeting me with warmth and invited me into his home for a cup of atole. Atole is kind of a pasty and thick white drink… that’s usually served warm or hot. I believe it’s made from corn. You don’t really drink it so much, but more of a warm slurping. It’s not my favorite, but with a little chili and salt, it’s serviceable and takes the edge off if you haven’t eaten in a day or so. 

We caught up a bit and then he took me up the hill to a hut that was empty. Jaime said that he expected some others soon but for now it would be all mine. The interior had a wall made of adobe, but the outside walls were a combination of weaved sticks and impacted mud, with the rare bit of adobe brick. The roof was old stacked palm thatch with a few fresh ones stuffed in for leaks I suppose. There were strong enough cross beams to hang my hammock from, and a door made of lashed together sticks on a rope twine hinge. 

 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct202018

THE RELUCTANT CURANDERO - PART 1

The day before I was to board a bus from Austin, Texas going South… deep into Mexico… I called up a local hatter who I’d done  some photographic work for, Manny Gammage, owner of Texas Hatters in Buda, Texas at the time. 

Manny had been around the block a time or two, pretty gruff, but  he also had a peaceful, monk-like demeanor. We chatted off and on about my Mexican backpacking adventures off the beaten path. Manny to let on too much, but you got the impression he was very familiar with the strange experiences one can have if they dive deep enough into the interior.

We hadn’t chatted in a good while, so I gave him a call to let him know I was once again wandering South. 

His daughter Joella answered the phone:

“Texas Hatters, how can I help you?”

“Oh hi Joella, it’s Skip, is Manny in?”

Joella’s was quiet for a few moments, then answered low:

“Skip… I guess you haven’t heard…”

“Heard what?”

“Manny was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. Not doing well at all. They’re not even sure if he’ll make it through the week.”

You could tell she was fighting pretty hard to be strong and not get choked up, but she was mostly failing.

“Oh no! No… I hadn’t heard… I’m so sorry Joella. Where is he?”

“We’re just grateful for the time we’ve had to say our goodbyes. He’s down at the San Antonio VA hospital… you could try to call but today wouldn’t be a good day… he’s hurtin’ pretty bad.”

“I’m actually bussing it to Mexico early in the morning. I just wanted to call and let him know before I left. He always seemed to get a kick out of my Mexico adventures.

“Yes, he did… I’ll tell him you called.”

We said our goodbyes as Joella gave up trying to hold back breaking down. 

Before the call, I’d been elated to be about to embark on another adventure. After the call, I tried to get some of that back, but couldn’t get the sad news out of my head. I mean, there’s nothing I could do and we weren’t really close friends or anything. Just a couple of people who shared some similar interests and had enjoyed swapping stories a few afternoons over about a years time. 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct202018

THE INTERDIMENSIONAL

There was a time while I traveled in the area of Palenque, Mexico, in the state of Chiapas, where you could stay in a small, open-air hut with a thatch roof, called a “palapa” for about a dollar… hang a hammock and fall asleep with Howler monkeys making this hypnotic echoing snoring sound while the rain fell in the jungle. That place was called Maya Belle, and it’s still there. Only, now it caters less to backpackers traveling on a shoestring, and has a swimming pool, proper rooms with air-conditioning for the more discerning traveler. The original little cafe is now a restaurant with a menu and waiters.

Maya Belle is still a nice place, but it doesn’t have quite the vibe it used to when I first started going there. 

Just down the road are the Mayan ruins of Palenque. Now, there are tons of tourist busses, flying by all day. And basically a small village of tourist gift stalls set up outside of the entrance. But, when I visited originally, you could sneak through the jungle on a small path all the way to the ruins. If you went at night, and didn’t get caught, you could spend all night exploring there under a full moon and even make your way down into the main pyramid Temple of Inscriptions.

I’m thinking maybe it’s been nearly 20 years since what I’m about to tell you took place. Or, thereabout. 

Back then, if you wanted to get a message back home that you’re still alive and what not, you had to catch a collectivo van-taxi into the town to make a call from the telecommunications place. 

There was this magnificent little place in town that used to roast their own coffee beans every day. Palenque is in the state of Chiapas which as spectacular coffee. Coffee and some sweet bread was all this place had. A couple of flimsy tin tables with chairs, a large coffee roaster, and a coffee machine. Man, this coffee was incredible. I don’t mean just tasty, but it was like a lightning bolt of energy just after the first cup. Your mind would be racing so fast that you’d swear you just learned all of man’s knowledge in one cup. Soon, you’d start sweating profusely for a few minutes. When that wore off, you’d order another cup immediately. Two cups was about the limit, because after two your brain would feel like it was being cut out and eaten while it was still throbbing… Mayan style. 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct202018

HE HOPED TO FINALLY BECOME ONCE AGAIN… UNBORN.

The place I’ve stayed in Merida is called Casa Bowen. It’s this sort of beautiful, but crumbling old place that I’m guessing used to be a residence. I’ll attach 6 more photos of this odd place at the end of this post, to show what I mean. It’s clean, reasonably comfortable, and definitely a bit eerie… but in a creepy good way. ;) 

Can’t remember when I first stayed there. Must be coming up on at least 15 years ago, likely more. And, it’s still pretty much the same as it was back then… just a bit more broken down with some patchwork done to keep it mostly rentable. 

Back then there was this burly Mexican man who was kind of suave with a deep gravely voice. The owner rarely made himself visible, but we ran into each other every now an then, especially when he started caring for his elderly mother who still lived on the premises. 

A few years ago I started noticing that he never seemed to age. I mostly wrote it off to good genes. After a few more years he not only didn’t look like he was aging, but looked as if he was actually getting younger! Very odd. 

Hadn’t seem him in the last few years, and learned his mother had passed away. Until this last time, he was there. I tried to get his attention when he was emptying the garbage or squashing plastic bottles to recycle. Each time he’d scurry off before I could get to him and say hello. Mostly I wanted to see if he was aging or getting even younger… Dorian Grey style.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct202018

Casa Bowen Chat with Claus in Merida, Mexico

Wow! I can’t believe all of this time has got away from me. And, it’s strange how you can have certain plans and just watch them kind of dissolve away. Not so much in a bad way, but how the mind can just shift into some other gear.

I'm getting this Patreon fired up again! The first couple of posts will be public, then I'm going to shift to a mix of Patreon subscribers only, with a few Public ones mixed in to. And, I'm going to start putting a much larger mix and variety of things here in addition to travel stuff from the road. Content like audio experiments, stories in short chapter form, video art, and maybe something called "Psychogeography" projects... more on that later. 

So, it's gonna be a mélange of artful expression coming on a regular basis. Please sign up to be one of my subscribers today! And, you can always unsubscribe if you want to take a break, then hop back on later. :)

~~~

There were a couple of little stories that I wanted to fill you in on from the tail end of the last Mexico trip. 

First, there was an older man in the room next to mine. German fellow with a great smile. I think he was closing in on 80 years old and was still full of vim and vigor. Smiled every day, did exercises in his room, ate oatmeal and fruit, and took very long strolls to the Walmart in Merida for various supplies. 

He said he’d been living that at Casa Bowen for a few months, but was about to move on toward Belize for a bit. His room was impeccably kept. He’d cleaned the old drapes himself by hand, and had repainted the room. Everything in it’s place. 

I can’t recall his name now, but let’s just say it was Claus. That wasn’t his name, but Claus is as good as any I reckon. 

Clause spent most of his life as an engineer on ships. Sounded like mostly cargo type ships, but I don’t think he ever said. He interested me mostly because he just seemed so happy go lucky without a care in the world. Didn’t have that tired look that many get later on in life, and was always quick with a clever little joke. 

When I told him I was going to hike to the cemetery he asked, “Why the heck would you want to go there?!” I told him that they brilliantly paint all of the grave sites and mausoleums, and that it’s usually good for decent photos.” He shrugged and said,  “At my age, I’m trying to steer as far from places like that as I can!” He smirked then laughed at amusement as his own joke. I laughed too… it was kinda funny. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar302012

Close to You

Why do brids suddenly appear Everytime you are near

"Valley of the Shadow" ~ Merzouga, Morocco © 2012 Skip HuntYesterday was the anniversary my sweet mother passed from this reality over a decade ago. The news came from a pay phone in Marrakech, Morocco but I'd had one last conversation with her. More of a conversation with a mind dreaming on morphine, but it was enough. 

She asked me where I was and I told her Morocco, but the morphine didn't allow her an understanding of where that was.

After she asked if there were cowboys in Morocco, I pretty much knew I was only communicating within a painless opium dreamtime. I figured I'd just try to help enhance the dream as best I could and answered, "Yes, there are cowboys in Morocco, but these cowboys ride magic carpets instead of horses. It's so beautiful watching them peacefully floating about the Sahara desert sands until all of a sudden they soar up into the clouds made of ambrosia ice-cream and scoop up a bowl before swooping and skimming lightly over golden sand dunes as big as buildings."

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug252011

Welcome to the Jungle

Merida, Campeche, Palenque 2011

"Domingo" ~ Merida, Mexico © 2011 Skip Hunt

Merida was definitely a great stop on the trip so far. I suppose the fact I found a cheap but excellent place to stay helped. And, it was nice to be in a place that I didn't feel awkward. Not only did the place just feel right, the manager was really nice and helpful. He seemed so concerned that my hammock hanging wasn't in the most comfortable level and offered to let me move to a larger room that also had hammock hooks without having to pay a higher rate.

I also felt more at home in that city. Not so much like an outsider when I'd interact with the locals. It just felt like I was treated like another human being who happened to be from another county. 

Campeche was another story. I had all sorts of problems looking for a room near the bus station since I didn't think I'd be there for more than a night anyway. I still don't know why the hotels by the bus station seem to be set up for hourly rates and prostitution. Who takes on a hooker at a bus station? Oh wait a minute, they must be for the bus drivers. Duh! 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug242011

Awake

Joshua Tree National Monument, California 2010

(This is an account from a motorcycle journey photographing the awe-inspiring Southwest of the U.S., wandering, camping, meeting all sorts of interesting charcaters and writing about it. The trip begins from Austin, Texas through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona and back to Texas. Included in the book Skip Hunt Go West)

"Awake" ~ Joshua Tree National Monument, CA © 2011 Skip HuntIt was inevitable. A chain had to be purchased. Luckily, Twenty-Nine Palms’ Marines are also bike freaks so there’s at least two motorcycle shops there just outside of the Joshua Tree National Monument.

After that Hell ride through the Mojave, I figured I better start taking care to limit the chances of becoming human toast and paid for a fresh motorcycle chain. Didn’t get soaked too bad considering where I was. The Joshua Tree National monument is not what I expected at all. I’m not sure why I expected there to be some high mountain that one must climb in order to see this one majestic tree at the top called “Joshua” but that’s really pretty much what my imagination had me expecting.

Instead, the park is mostly large boulders that have eroded in spectacularly abstract formations that are accompanied by an army of cactus trees that look like deranged people with their arms all flailing about. Like I said, “spectacular”.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug242011

Guelaguetza

"Framed" ~ Oaxaca City, Mexico © 2011 Skip Hunt Oaxaca, Mexico 2011

The bus from Juchitan pulled into the Oaxaca City first-class station that I'd never seen before. Turns out it's fairly new and this was the first time I hadn't arrived in the city via motorcycle or second-class bus. The announcements are now in English as well.

There was an electric buzz in the city since the largest festival in Oaxaca (Guelaguetza) was about to get underway. The streets were already packed with revelers and mariachi bands. It looked like it might rain soon as well so I decided to go to the budget hotel I'd stayed in before. I only hoped they weren't full yet.

The old fellow I'd chatted with at my standby hotel painted in pink (Hotel Yalalag) remembered me and my motorcycle from other trips. He smiled and told me I'd have a room as long as I needed even through Guelaguetza since they don't take reservations. 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun212011

Bohemian Rhapsody

Wadley, Mexico 2000 

"Bohemian Rhapsody" ~ Wadley, Mexico © 2011 Skip HuntAfter what seemed like an eternity,  a rusty 3rd-class Bluebird bus blew in envoloped in a cloud of fine dry dust. No too many passengers on board except a dusty dread-coiffed hippy couple. The young fella looked as if he might be Mexican but I couldn't tell for sure. His lady companion was Asian...  Japanese I think. I generally avoid these bohemian types because they're fairly cliquish if you don't sport the same rasta uniform.
That... and, they tend to attract la policia.


When we arrived in the desert train depot town of Wadley, Mexico, the rasta-boy asked me in English, "Is this Wadley?" Couldn't make out the accent, but he sounded Israeli. Boy was I off on that one! I confirmed it was, and said, "See ya 'round... It's a small place.", then bolted for the hacienda of Don Tomas to find a room to rent for a few days. The camp compound was fairly deserted so Don Tomas helped me remove some piles of metal rod and wood planks that had taken up residence in my preferred larger tin-roofed cinder-block room that had accumulated since my last desert visit. As always, Don Tomas reminded me not to carry peyote into the town and to keep it out of the camp compound. He said to just eat it in the desert and you'll have no problems. In the last ten years I'd rarely seen la policia, nor encountered anyone who'd been busted in the desert, but the 3rd party stories were always rampant so I usually heeded his advice.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun162011

One Fine Day

South Africa 2007

My last day in Cape Town was just picture perfect, and one of those completely pleasant days you get to experience every once in a blue moon. One of those days where everything just goes right and it makes all the usual travel hassles seem worthwhile. 

"Cape Town Boats" ~ Cape Town, South Africa © 2011 Skip HuntIt started with a delightful walk through the Company's Gardens, and because there was a film crew shooting there (evidently the police had cleared out all the junkies and glue sniffers) I was able to walk completely undisturbed. As a matter of fact, I don't think I was approached for money for the entire day from start to finish. 

I saw piles of pigeons laying is the lawns, each with one wing up in the air. At first I thought it looked peculiar... as if they were all dead. Then, after watching them a few minutes, I noticed they were all just chilling out on the soft wet grass in the sun. When the lawn sprinkler passed by, they'd all lift one wing up in the air in order to get a nice cool blast of water under their wings. It was really funny to watch. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun102011

Portal to What?

Tepoztlan: Portal To Another Dimension 2009

(This is a blog posting I made while wandering around Mexico on a motorcycle in 2009. This one was from Tepoztlan, Mexico and mentions some strangeness I experienced involving a sort of perpetual deja-vu like sensation. The experience still haunts me and am considering a return.)

I was not looking forward to the ride back out of Mexico City. The time had come to suck it up and focus on making the move to Tepoztlan. I was so tense and incredibly nervous as I headed out from Hotel Republica and toward the Zocalo on already crowded streets.

Happily, my apprehension was unfounded and after I made it a few blocks to the othe side of the main Zocalo plaza it was an absolute cake walk! I think it was a little more than 25 minutes before I was completely out of the city and on a beautiful toll road winding through the mountains as my motor purred along with the soft cool wind.

"Emerald City" ~ Tepoztlan, Mexico © 2011 Skip HuntThat ride was so delightful with big sweeping curves and perfect temperature. There was one section where it got slightly chilly, but most of it was very relaxing. My only complaint is that it was too short! It was only a little bit over an hour before I was winding down the mountains into Tepoztlan.

I had been told that I could get a cheaper room in nearby Amatlan. Amatlan, is supposed to be the birthplace of Queztalcoatl and a very mystical place. Mystical birthplaces of alleged mythical gods works for me!

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun062011

Tiffany's

NYC 1988

There's a strange light in New York City like no other. It's as if the light has been bouncing around the same old haunts for decades... so much so that it's slightly worn, torn and yellow-tinged at the edges.

I'd never been to Tiffany's, but there it was. Dying to see the forbidden treasures under guard inside the luxurious fortress, I wandered about the store ogling the fine sterling diamond-encrusted frogs, and glistening multi-carat dog collars. It was all so glorious and grand... that is, until I noticed my every move was being tracked by stern suited men with ear pieces and remote-controlled surveillance cameras. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun032011

L'Hotel de Ville

Paris, France 2004

Back in November 2004, I was in Paris. I was bit down on my luck and couldn't really afford to do much more than sight-see and sip the occassional glass of cheap red wine. I'd just finished snapping a few images of Notre Dame Cathedral's exterior and relaxed for a bit in the little garden behind the church whilst I smoked a cigarette.

While I sat there, I noticed some alleyways and passages here and there. No one else was around so I just set out wandering without any particular direction. I made several turns and snapped a few detail shots along the way until I came out of an alley into a small plaza area with turnabout. I thought it was strange that I still didn't see many people around since it was Paris and that I hadn't wandered that far and couldn't be all that far from the most touristy areas.

I shrugged it off and set out accross the small plaza to see what mystery might lay beyond the next corner when I spotted a very nice leaf with rich autumn color laying upon the dark-sooted and wet Parisian cobblestone. I thought, "that might make a pretty sweet photo just in it's simplicity... I think I'll grab a few photos of it."

"Deville" ~ Paris, France © 2011 Skip HuntThe leaf was between two cars and I had to kind of wedge myself between the bumpers and lean way down to get a good closeup shot. I snapped a few until I got a couple I was satisfied with, and then stood back up.

At this moment, I was greeted by about 7 or 8 very angry and serious looking gentlemn in military uniforms, police uniforms, and 3 were in suits as if they might be body guards or secret service of some sort. All had their weapons drawn as one of the "suits" gripped my arm. Stunned, I asked "what's the problem monsieur?" The soldiers shouted back at me in French and after I said I didn't speak French, the main "suit" guy asked me in English what I was doing, while the other uniformed guys started inspecting the two vehicle's under carriages.

It was then I noticed that the cars I'd wedged myself between were VERY shiny black Mercedes like the kind they use in motorcades. Intially, figured this was just the ritzy part of Paris and everyone drives diplomatic-looking cars like these.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb202011

Stop Thief! 

"Thief" ~ Cape Town, South Africa © 2011 Skip Hunt

Cape Point, South Africa 2007

"Funny" thing happened on the way back from Cape Point in 2007. Well, it wasn't so funny at the time... as a matter of fact, it was more than a bit terrifying and I nearly soiled myself!

I'd had a nice day driving along the coastline of Hout's Bay, through Chapman's Peak, and all the way down to Cape Point where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet at the southernmost tip. Stopped several times for scenic shots and took a pretty leisurely pace. Cape Town is a nice enough city, but what REALLY sets it apart and earns it's title of one of the most beautiful cities on Earth are the magnificient views around the city. Did the cablecar ride up to Table Mountain yesterday which was splendid, and decided to hit Cape Point today. 


Someone had told me Cape Point was nothing special and just a view of the ocean no different than others. Boy were they wrong! It was one of the most dramatic vistas I've seen to date. 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct242010

Naked

When I was a young boy, maybe 7 or 8 years old... my family moved from the city to an acreage with lots of trees, ponds, horses, etc. I remember one Spring day I was out exploring in this wooded area with no one around for miles. 

I don't know why I was compelled to do this, but I took off all my clothes and ran through the woods as fast as I could... weaving between trees, jumping over logs... dodging vines... until I was completely out of breath and my heart felt like it would just run away on it's own. I didn't feel any pain from my feet crashing over twigs and stones, nor did I feel any pain from the scratches in my skin. Just running wild and free without a care in the world. 

Then, I ran all the way back to where I'd left my clothes... felt embarrassed and ashamed. And never did it again. 

That... was a mistake.