Chronarchy (chronarchy) wrote,

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Walking With Fire: An Eastern Indo-European Conference (Part I)

"Reading Departure Signs in Some Big Airport, Wondering Why We Ever Go Home"

This review only really covers the important things, so not everything covered in other entries will be covered in this one, because some things are a) for those who were there and b) simply unimportant.

Entries from this trip:
Entry 1 | Entry 2 | Entry 3 | Entry 4 | Entry 5 | Entry 6
A quick overview of the entire trip

11/20/05: Departure, Detroit, and a Chat

I was well packed in advance, knowing that if I wasn't, I'd be having real issues, trying to get things thrown together and get them into my bags. I was actually packed pretty light, with one carry-on and one checked bag. It would have been less, but I knew that shizukagozen wanted pictures, and I needed some clothes so that I could do some minimal dress-up for her.

ceolnamara and I got together around noon, made some last minute trips to a couple of stores, and then loaded up and got Tina to take us down to the airport. ceolnamara managed to swing us some first class seats on an earlier flight to Detroit. We checked our bags and flew down the concourse to get on our flight.

We sat comfortably in our chairs (I had never flown first class before), and chatted a bit back and forth. We landed in Detroit with no issues, and walked through the weirdest connecting terminal I've ever seen, where the lights and walls kept changing colours. I think it was supposed to be art, but I'm not sure.

While waiting for our Air France flight, ceolnamara entertained herself by calling people and chatting on her cell phone. I explored the extent of Detroit's terminal A, and realized that it was the biggest damn terminal I've ever been in. There's a freakin' monorail in the terminal, and the terminal is big enough to require it. When I came back from one of these walks, I was surprised to hear that ceolnamara had raherakt on the phone. I grabbed the phone, and we ended up talking about an email she'd just read, and that would haunt me for the next 24 hours.

11/21/05: "That's a mighty long airplane ride" - The flight to Paris and Downtown, then back again!

We got onto our plane about an hour or two later, and we had four seats to the two of us. The flight over was quite nice. I watched the in-flight entertainment because I couldn't sleep (every time I'd try, I'd think about the email we'd chatted about, and would find myself more awake and feeling tortured), catching the movies The Island and Wedding Crashers. I actually kinda liked The Island which surprised me quite a bit.

It really was a mighty long airplane ride from Detroit to Paris, and ceolnamara and I talked a lot about our plans when we got there, and probably even more about the email that was now haunting me like nothing else. I imagine ceolnamara was getting annoyed at me with my worry over what I knew was nothing at all. But the flight from Detroit to Pairs was, in short, long, sleepless, and worrisome over nothing at all.

Me, Somewhere over the Atlantic

We landed a tad early at CDG, and immediately made plans to hit up downtown. It was an ugly, fog-covered day, so thick that we couldn't see the planes on the tarmac.

This is what I wrote in my journal about landing in CDG:


CDG is a study in confusion and inefficiency. It is also dirty as hell and perpetually under construction.

If I had to choose a place to model hell after, it might look a lot like CDG.

We landed in the deepest, densest fog (or was it smog?) I have ever seen. The fog was so dense that we were shocked when the landing gear touched down. We could not see the runway.

We disembarked the plane and stepped onto the tarmac. The terminal, we saw, was actually rather . . . non-existent. We were herded onto busses by the police and sent to customs.

The man three people ahead of me in line was pulled aside by the officials. He was somewhat Middle Eastern looking, and given the speed at which they processed each other person, I began to wonder if there was truly something to have raised alarm, or if it was just an unfortunate circumstance of birth or nationality.

The officer who processed my passport didn't even look me in the eye. He scanned my passport and handed it back without a word, beckoning the next person forward.

"Merci," I said, and wandered onto French soil.

We breezed through customs, with the man three people ahead of us being pulled out of line. I imagine that he was pulled out because of his general Middle Eastern look (one can't really look Arabic, I decided. . . What does a language look like?), and I have a feeling that there was no reason to pull him out of line. I felt a bit sad when they took him away, honestly, though I admit to relief that it was him and not me.

We knew that we needed to get to the train station, and were fortunate enough to find someone who spoke a bit of English. We figured out how to buy tickets (once we figured out that we shouldn't be trying to converse in French with a machine) and hopped on the RER into Paris.

As we blew by stations, I began to get a tad uneasy, but knew that we wouldn't be on the line any longer than the end of it, anyway. If nothing else, we could always ride it back to the airport and get on our plane. Finally, I broke down and tried to ask the nice-looking lady across from us.

I got the words, "Pardon moi, Sil vous-plait. . ." out of my mouth, and she immediately pointed to a younger woman beside me. "No English," she said. So I smiled and turned to the woman beside me, who I had just realized was rather attractive. "Anglais?" I asked. "Oui, parl. . . speak English," she said.

"How do we get to Notre Dame? Does the train stop there?"

She thought for a moment, then nodded. "One of the next three stops, that will get you there."

I smiled, said, "Merci," and looked back at the list of stops. The one we were looking for was still ahead of us.

We got out where we thought was right, and then started looking for signs. I caught the exit we wanted, and we stepped out onto the streets of Paris.

ceolnamara and I came out of the darkness into the daylight, and I was a bit surprised. When we had last seen the sky, there was no visibility. The world had been shrouded in mist. Now, as we stood in the sunlight in downtown Paris, the airport seemed like it was a million miles away.

We rounded the corner to the Musée de Cluny, aiming for the only thing I wanted to see in Paris, the nautes pillar. Entering the courtyard of the museum, I looked up to see a number of gargoyles above me.

Musée de Cluny's Gargoyles

Note, you can see monkeys and puppies!

Musée de Cluny's monkeys! | Musée de Cluny's puppies!

But I wasn't here to see monkeys or puppies. I was here to see a God. We went in and found him in the Frigidarium (the Musée de Cluny is built on an old Roman bath house)


I was, I admit, in awe. I wandered around the pillar, taking pictures of the other faces.

Tarvos Trigaranus,
The bull with three cranes

Vulcan | Jupiter

The plaque for the Esus block of the Pillar

I walked around taking video of the entire piece, so I could remember exactly how it went together:

View 360° Video (3.2 MB .avi)

I then went in for some closer pictures of Esus and Tarvos Trigaranus:

Esus Top | Bottom

Normal view | Red filter

Tarvos top
The Three Cranes

I next wandered over to block four, the only known inscription of the word "Cernunnos":

Only "ERNUNNOS" remains legible.
Note the beard, the torcs, and the antlers on which they hang

Around the corner from Cernunnos was a guy called Smertios, possibly a Hercules sort of guy, and seems vaguely identified with that Roman deity.

(last part of this name recostructed)

Around the corner again, we find Castor and Pollux:

Castor | Pollux

I headed over to block 1, and started snapping pictures of that block, finding with this pair of paired divinities:

"Venus" and another deity | "Mars" and a female deity

Also on that pillar, were these two:

"Mercury" and a female divinity | "Fortuna" and another deity  

Block 2 held the following reliefs:

  The Nautes (sailors), no inscription | Men in arms, [EURISES] is the inscription

Depicting the ceremony of dedication | The dedication of the Pillar    

The dedication reads as follows:


This translates, roughly, as follows:

"[Under the reign of] Tiberius Ceasar Agustus, to Jupiter, the very good, the very great, the sailors of the territory of the Parisii place this [monument] for the people."

My Latin is a bit rusty, but that's close. Anyone want to make a better stab at it than I did?

I also snapped a picture of the explanation they had on the wall:

Of course, it's in French

I admit that I stood rooted to the floor for a good amount of this. I did not touch the relief, though I very much wanted to. In fact, there was nothing I wanted more. ceolnamara suggested snapping a photo of me with the pillar, so that everyone could see what the size was. I stand 6'4" tall.

Me and Esus, together at last

Satisfied, more or less, with the experience (I admit I wanted to just stand there a while longer, but we had a plane to catch), we headed out. I grabbed a picture of a beautiful carved horn (knowing that some of my Nordic friends would be very interested), was told that flashes were not allowed in the museum (I apologized, but didn't mention that I'd just spent a half-hour taking photos of the nautes pillar with my flash on), and then grabbed a picture of my travel partner out in the hall (using that flash again, I'm ashamed to say).

The horn | ceolnamara

After this, ceolnamara and I went walking in search of Notre Dame Cathedral. The most important thing to her was that we get a picture of her next to the Seine, and it was just lucky that the Cathedral was right there.

ceolnamara in front of Notre Dame | The Hippo in front of Notre Dame

ceolnamara and me, in Paris

We snapped the pictures, and then started looking for some real food. I changed some money at the money changer, and found myself surprised that the gentleman behind the counter was wearing a yarmulke. I wasn't so surprised that he was Jewish as I was that it was a Jew changing my money. It's difficult to explain why this surprised me, I think, but I think it has to do with the fact that we talked so much about why people hated the Jews in the middle ages, how it focused on the loaning of money, and here I found one changing my money into Euros. ceolnamara had a crepe and I had a sausage of some sort, and then it was back to the airport.

 Me, lookin' tired in the subway | The Singaporians we helped out

We got back to the airport, and it was a lot of "hurry up and wait". CDG is the loudest airport I've ever been in, between the construction and the people yelling, and we waited for the Styrian Air folks to open up.

When we finally got through to our gate, we had to wait for about two hours in a basement of CDG for a bus that would take us to our plane. I tried to sleep on the floor, but was again haunted by the email.

I once more wrote in my journal, as we left:

Nov. 21, 2005

Leaving CDG, 7 hours after we landed, we noticed that the fog was still so thick around the airport that you literally could not see the streetlights a the top of their pillars. Apparently, CDG's weather is always like this, and it is not fog after all, but a heavy, dense, foul smog (which explains much of the smell).

And it never leaves.

I am interested to see if it will still be there when we go back to CDG in a week.

Next update:

11/21-22/05: Flight to Salzberg and the First Night and Day

11/23/05: Second Day: Workshops and Praying for Mended Boots

Entries from this trip:
Entry 1 | Entry 2 | Entry 3 | Entry 4 | Entry 5 | Entry 6
A quick overview of the entire trip
Tags: adf, festivals, freedom, friends

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