All Things Considered

I recently just reconnected with a band that had fallen out of my life.    For one reason or another, I had not listened to their music in a long stretch.  OK, were not taking Cubs World Series drought stretch, but it was a real long time if you consider that the band hasn’t been around for a very long time. 

www.explosionsinthesky.com

Check them out, they changed the very way I look at music today.  No other musical group has ever jerked my eyes open with such creative force as these four West Texans have.

On that note, I have recently rekindled old friendships of people I never thought I would ever see gain;  people from my trip to Lourdes, France summer before last (o5′).  Thanks for getting in contact with me Miss Jen Larsen.  A significant amount of time has passed since that August, and I am glad to be talking with these people.  The power of Facebook is amazing.  It makes myspace look like a red-headed step child’s own creepy little red-headed step child. 

sorry if I offended any gingers out there.

anyway.

This was the West Coast Crew for my youth pilgrimage to Lourdes.  I went with the Knights Of Malta (of which my grandfather is a Knight) and these awesome people. 

 westside.jpg

I wanted to show a few shots from my trip to Lourdes, I never got a chance to show anyone them.  They are from summer 05′.  westcide for lyfe.  we are so not cool.

So I hope I can get these pictures to reach the people in the above photograph.

Here is the Holy Sanctuary and Sacred Baths of Lourdes.

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There are so many churches, chapels, Cathedrals in this very small town.  The river running through it is a big part of what makes it so special.  A local girl named Bernadette in 1858, while walking alongside the river, saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary.  She would continue to see the vision for most of 1858, and it would speak to her.  It told her many things, including to dig in the dirt drink the water and eat grass. 

I know that sounds ridiculous, as most people of the day thought, but she did.  The vision told young Bernadette to dig under a rock she pointed to, and from under that rock a flowing spring came forth.  The Holy Mother then told Bernadette to tell people to come and wash in it waters. 

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And from then, Lourdes became a place of pilgrimage.   People of all Religions come to Lourdes to take part in the healing properties of the spring waters.  Baths were built so that people could become immersed.  I was fortunate enough to work in these baths on two occasions.  It was one of the best experiences of my life.   We worked in teams; some one  in each team had to speak French, Italian, English, Spanish and German.  Luckily I also spoke American, South African, Irish, Canadian and Australian. They don’t allow any photography near, in or around the Baths, so if you want to know what its like you will have to go yourself. 

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Lourdes is a very old town, dating back to before the Romans controlled the region.  There is a large castle from the 800’s which is said to have been conquered by Charlemagne himself.  A whole boring legend ensues and invloves a vision and an eagle, blah blah blah.  Is it set at the foot of the Pyrenees mountain range that borders Spain.  Having a small population, the town hosts over 220 hotels. 

Because over the years 200+ million people have visited Lourdes, there is a large Gypsy population that beg for a living.  We were advised by the Church to not give any money to anyone begging in Lourdes no matter how depraved the looked.  It is because if you wait till the day is over, and follow them to the outskirts of town, you will watch then get into a Mercedes-Benz and drive to their house in the country side.  That’s how the Gypsies work; in large teams at the corners where the most foot traffic goes through.  Because the Catholic Church is so obviously intertwined with the city, it takes care of all the sick and poor in the city, so essentially there should be no one begging for meals or shelter, because they are provided for free by the church.  I didn’t really get any pictures of them, because they get really pissed and will chase after you demanding money.  They take advantage of all the good and charitable people that flock to the city.

There is a “pilgrimage economy” that sustains the town in months when the grotto is closed (during the snow season) by catering to the millions that come each year.  When I went, the maximum amount I was able to see at one time in one place was about 200,000 to 300,000 people.  I still can’t believe that many people filled the court yard to take part in the Ave Maria procession. 

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This man above ran a shop that sold souvenirs to the pilgrims.

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This shop obviously sold mostly crucifixes.   Many people lived here for the busy season, and lived somewhere else during the winter.  In talking with a lot of people that worked in the shops, I got a feel for the attitude towards foreigners.  They can’t live without them, there would be no reason to be there.  Everyone I met was nice, especially all of the Malades.  A Malade is someone who came to Lourdes because they were sick; that is, affected my an illness and needed the assistance of an organization to help them through Lourdes.  We would pick these people up at the train station at 6 to 11 am and put them onto buses, which would drop them off at the staging areas.  Because of the great volume of Malades, great organization and care needed to be stressed.  Some people were very old and frail, others were extremely ill and could afford no extra energy. 

 method.jpg

 It was funny, at least to me, what I heard from the others groups that did this along with us.  They praised us for our “American Efficiency, Speed and Effort.”  It was as if the French had in a 100 years never figured out how to do the job as well as we figured out in one day.  To all of us, that really meant a lot, because we really were trying so very hard to help these people.  We cleared out sections of the trains faster than any other group, not because we rushed, but because we used the good old Henry Ford assembly line idea to get these people of the trains faster, safer and happier. 

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After a long days work, or trying to be cool, or I really don’t know.  That is Taylor Scotto, one of the people I met on the trip.  He was great for a lot of us, sometimes we forgot to smile, and Taylor took care of that with a “eeeeeehhhhhh bonjourno.”  I hoped he learned how to really speak Italian, because that and “Mi Excusse” was all he knew.  I don’t even know if that last one even Italian.

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We all got to know each other pretty well.  When you spend every waking moment with people, you tend to get to know them very well.  It has been well over a year and I can still remember conversations I had, especially with Jen, when we had free time.   It was great, getting the European experience, sitting a cafes and lounging at the rivers side and taking it all in. 

 katie-and-amanda.jpg

Amanda and Katie.

We saw some amazing things, we witnessed great things.   It was the faith of the city that rubbed off on us, and we each took different things away from the trip.

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People lit candles in prayer for their loved ones or for places in the world that needed attention and prayer.

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These last few are ones that I liked and just recently discovered.

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and I will leave you with the airport.

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I anyone reading this went on the trip to Lourdes, let me know what you thought of these, and please tell anyone else who went on the trip about this blog. 

I’m out, must go.  “And I say coolin’ ”

Thanks to Matt and Julius for actually reading these on a regular basis.

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2 Comments

Filed under black and white photography, Cal State Chico, Catholic Church, France, photography, Photos, travel photography

2 responses to “All Things Considered

  1. Great snaps! wonderful travel photography!

  2. Amanda Niehaus

    Hey Dave!
    Those were great!
    I hope all is well in Cali!
    God bless.
    -Amanda

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