Saturday, August 29, 2015

Full on Graditude In Hurricane Season!

Chers Amis, Bonjour d’Uzés !!!

The 26th of August marked the 24 year anniversarie of Hurricane Andrew, during which I very narrowly escaped being crushed to death by an enormous water oak tree which was pushed down by a tornado within this hurricane. The falling of this tree did do much destruction to my little “Maison de Dimanche “ where I was living in at the time, which like me, happily did recover from this very traumatic event. If the tree had not hit dead center on the very strong full masonry double fireplace chimney, which did much to break its fall, I would not have had the many great experiences of my life of the last 24 years.

My gratitude list of treasured post Hurricane Andrew experiences of the past 24 years is a long one! Certainly I can list meeting a number of dear new friends who have done much to enrich my life. Then I would have to list the creation of and the life in my tower at Lake Martin. Then as of 2002, the beginning of a real French life with the acquisition of # 3 Place du Duché, in Uzés. Yes, if the tree had chosen to fall 2 ft to the left or to the right of the chimney, I would have missed out on a lot of fun experiences!!

This August the 29th marks the 10th year anniversarie of Hurricane Katrina. So very many people were affected by this event! So much restoration of the architectural and landscape heritage of New Orleans has been necessary, not to mention the equally huge task of the restoration of the minds, bodies and spirits of the inhabitants.

New Orleanians can have gratitude that there has not been another Katrina event in the last decade and that much was learned from that experience and if a similar challenge arises, new methods of dealing with it will be employed.

So with summer winding down and the gulf coast in full hurricane season, we have much to be grateful for!

Tres cordialement, Robert d’Uzés

See following photos of some of the art and architecture I have been able to enjoy in the last 24 years since Hurricane Andrew.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fête Votive d'Uzés 2015

Chers Amis de L'Ecole du Bon Goût, Every year, just before the 15th of August, here in the usually quiet village of Uzés the whole place goes into a crazy, chaotic and puzzling mode called the “Fête Votive” for three nights in a row!

The boulevard encircling the entire village is blocked off from vehicular traffic making it almost impossible to enter or exit the town anytime after 5:00 pm, so just forget about accepting dinner invitations from even 5 miles away.

The “theory” and the “realities” of the fete are quite divergent. The “theory” is that several bulls are released from vans on the boulevard and about 8 horsepersons (guardians) escort them safely in a controlled manner around the boulevard while spectators remain behind the steel barricades.

Well as you can see from the attached photos “theory” and “reality” are about as opposite from each other as is possible. The loud speakers belt out instructions for all to remain behind the barricades and disclaimers of the Town’s responsibilities for “accidents” spoken in French, English and German. Besides the onlookers who are on the “wrong” side of the barricades, several organized groups of young men and boys typically run after the bulls and in between the galloping horses to attempt to pull the bull to the ground. The group in bright green shirts can be seen performing this activity in a couple of the attached photos.

You will see a bull running by itself as the horsemen have charged ahead. Then just a block up the street from where I was standing this bull crashed into the bystanders and out ran the medics to patch up the wounded! Conveniently there is both an ambulance on standby just off the boulevard, as well as an air-med helicopter stationed at the edge of town each night of this event for those who need hospitalization from this fun activity!

Following this bull running, people usually get their supper at any of the many restaurants offering special menus for these nights which typically will include a “Toro” ( bull) suggestion.

After supper and after dark is the parade down the same boulevard, which is quite the spectacle! Huge floats which are artful amalgams of all manor of lights, fire works, spark, smoke, fog and soap bubble producing mechanisms, recorded music, live musicians and dangling acrobats in exotic costumes, as well as costumed “ fantasy creatures” accompanying the floats on foot! The huge scale and complexity of each float is difficult to capture in still photographs, but the attached photos will give you a taste.

And if you thought the streets were now “safe” without the bulls, take a look at the last two photos with the guy running around his float with a flame thrower!!!

The origins and purpose of the Fête Votive are both mysterious and debatable, however I think its timing and ancient lineage has to do with the celebration of the yearly change of seasons here which typically happens on the 15th of August, which in the Catholic world is also celebrated as the feast of the Assumption.

Tres Cordialement, Robert d’Uzes

Mes amitiés,
Robert E. Smith   (337) 332-2852