In Napoleon's Bed
And I've got a
photo to prove it!
Sisteron is a
small town of only 7,000 people, and I was fortunate to end up in
an old building in the centre of town with an interesting history.
Back in 1815,
after Napolean Bonaparte had escaped from exile on the isle of Elba,
he made his way north into France and on March 15th he settled for
one night in . my bed! Well, maybe not the very same bed, but definitely
in the same building, because there's an official plaque mounted on
the wall beside the front door. He was caught soon afterwards (not
in Sisteron) and exiled on another island where he eventually saw
out the rest of his days. But this short moment of freedom was enough
to give me the opportunity of being in the same place, though at a
different time, as that of a great man in history.
I was only in
Sisteron for 5 days. I'd come to have my play translated into French,
but once I realised the task was going to take much longer, I abandoned
the idea until I could allocate more time to it.
With the La
Provence reporter who wrote an article about me and my play.
My presence attracted
the attention of the local newspaper, and an article (including photo)
appeared soon afterwards in that newspaper. In fact, the journalist
and my host were so impressed with my play (I gave a small private
performance) that the Greek Consulate of Marseille was contacted and
it was suggested to them that they should consider financing me to
return to Sisteron and give a series of performances to the high schools
in the district.
Apart from working
on my play, I did get a chance to see some of the sites. Sisteron
is in a valley, with a wide river and steep mountains on either side.
It is very popular with rock climbers who come to scale the smooth
vertical walls of the mountains which are only a few metres from the
river's edge. In fact, it's more common to see these climbers suspended
from ropes on the rockfaces rather than seeing the rockfaces bare.
Castle, at the top of the hill, reminded me of Athens' Acropolis.
The castle (yes,
another castle!) is in the city centre, and even though I didn't get
to go inside, the view of the castle from a distance was quite picturesque.
And the view from
my bedroom window was also magic. I can't remember ever taking so
many photos from my bedroom window, or spending so much time just
looking out of my window.
One morning I
got up just before sunrise and simply observed the town as it woke
up. My bedroom window was on the 4th floor, so it looked out the back
of the building, over the river and across to the adjacent mountain.
Hundreds of pigeons flew back and forth from the rooftops and cavities
in the houses' rock walls, closely monitored by a single Siamese cat
on the roof far below me. It focused at length on a pigeon perched
on the roofs guttering, but wisely decided not to take a leap at it
because it would've meant a long drop for both of them to the hard
cast their fishing-rods into the river. Later I noticed 7 rods leaning
against the river's rock wall and the fishermen gathered together
having a chat. I wondered how they'd know if any of the rods had hooked
a fish, then it became very clear to me. The fatter of the 3 fishermen
grabbed one of the rods and began to reel it in. He didn't seem too
excited so I figured he hadn't caught anything yet. But once he raised
the hook out of the water, loaded with a very big and heavy lead sinker,
he prepared to cast it back in the river again. But first he removed
the bells fixed to the tip of the rod! These bells would obviously
sound when a fish became hooked on the line and struggled to get free.
But these bells would also go flying off the rod if they weren't removed
before casting the line back into the water.
A young lady placed
a couple of rubbish bags into the large dump master (garbage bin),
then after spotting a few empty coke cans, collected them and dumped
them in the bin as well. Soon she walked into the adjacent house,
so she was simply cleaning up her own backyard.
The climbers had
also arrived and begun their quest to reach the top of the mountain's
wall. And I was starting to get hungry. After all, I'd been spying
on these people for nearly an hour now, and it was way past my breakfast
article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey
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