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The Land of Black and White


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I know that last time I promised to tell you everything about our French classes, but I hope you won’t mind if I start by talking about our trip to Arles.

I have never seen a photography festival before and I am grateful that my first experience of this kind has been the Rencontres d’Arles 2013. All old photos, even the ones that are not signed by an artist, have a certain charm. For example, people seem different in old photos. Black and white photographs allow us to discover a little bit of a mysterious world that we will never be able to truly understand or live in. Old photos hold inside them a little bit of history, life, and maybe even a tiny part of soul (the soul of the one who takes the photo and of those who appear in it, mingled together for eternity). Photographs turn a moment into infinity. There are so many old photographs to see in Arles, so as a figure of speech, we could say that right now, with all the photo exhibitions going on, Arles has become infinite.

In addition, photographs are not the only things in Arles that hold eternity inside them. There are also the Roman Arenas, the breathtaking place where the life and death of gladiators could be sold and bought. In other words, they meant nothing. I stand in the middle of the arena trying to feel what those people felt thousands of years before, trying, and maybe even succeeding, for a second to live that part of history when blood and cruelty were a show. The feeling I experienced cannot really be described in words…

I guess it’s time to come back to the present and do what I promised – talk about French classes, which are actually amazing! Our teacher is extremely nice. She is French and has been living in Aix for 8 years now, hence she knows the city as well as a lifetime local. We spend an hour and a half in class practicing our grammar and writing down short texts. Afterward, we go out and visit different parts of Aix-en-Provence. We have to find our way through the city, so obviously we have to ask locals for directions, which is a great practice for our French. I have only had three lessons as of now, so there is nothing else to say about it; maybe only the fact that these all seem like the beginning of an extraordinary adventure that obviously will have a happy ending: the improvement of our French.

Until next time, if you don’t mind, I will give you a theme to reflect on. So many moments of our experience in France have already become eternity; one day the photos of us in Aix-en-Provence will become old photos and hopefully people will discover this blog and will look at this mix of history, life, and soul. I wonder how they will think about the world we are living in. I wonder if we will seem different to them…

 -Monica

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