Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Where the heck is Djibouti and what are we doing here?

I was surprised to hear a mention of Djibouti on the Ellen DeGeneres show recently,  since it isn’t a place that gets a lot of press!  The reason why it struck me is that when I was in my early 20’s, my former husband and I were on our way to Madagascar where he was being assigned to work at a NASA tracking station on that island.

We were to fly from Paris to Tananarive (now called Antananarivo), the capital of Madagascar, overnight with a stopover to re-fuel in Djibouti, French Somaliland (now called Djibouti, Djibouti).  Looking down as we were landing, it looked as though someone had painted an X in the middle of the desert!  We landed to 108 degree temperatures in November, were shepherded into a steel hangar for a “breakfast” of warm lunch meat, warm orange juice, cold croissant and a pickle (!) while the plane refueled.

Our Air Madagascar flight took off a short time later and immediately returned to Djibouti as our plane had lost an engine!  They kept a planeload of passengers in the hangar all day while assessing the problem, and since my husband, another NASA worker, and I were the only Americans on the plane, no one would talk to us!

Finally, with my fractured high school French I was able to discern that we were staying overnight while another plane was being sent from Paris!  After over eight hours in the heated airplane hangar (and we were all in winter clothes from our trans-Atlantic flights from New York and Paris), the airline personnel let us take one piece of luggage from the plane, shepherded us onto buses and drove us into town.

I felt as if we had entered an old movie about the French Foreign Legion and discerned later that there actually was a Legion outpost outside of town. Trying to find lodging for over 200 people was quite a challenge for the airline personnel, but my husband and I ended up in a room above a bar (which we later found out was a house of “ill repute”!) The adventure continued when they sent a bus around town to corral everybody, took us on a little sightseeing tour and then to dinner!

Our meal (turned out it was just an appetizer and drinks) took place at tables scattered around a little building under trees and it was a cool and pleasant setting.  While dining, we noticed several animals – a cheetah, a monkey, a camel and a few other creatures – tied to nearby trees. We learned later we had been enjoying our snacks at the national zoo.

Next, the buses picked us all up and dropped us at our various resting spots.  When we arrived back at our “hotel”, a lovely feast was waiting for us in the bar.  Filet mignon, spiny lobsters and all the trimmings!

Very early the next morning we were picked up and taken back to the airport where we saw our wounded Air Madagascar plane and next to it an Air France jet.  We boarded the new plane and finally reached our goal of the island of Madagascar, a day late, but enriched by the unexpected adventure in an old French Foreign Legion post town!

You can see why the name Djibouti evokes memories!!

Have Brush, Will Travel

Have brush, will travel – my new motto, slogan, logo what have you – came about a few years ago when a high school friend suggested we take a trip to Paris to celebrate our up-coming birthdays.  Now, as a freelance artist who loves and paints a form of French Impressionism, the thought of basking in the glory of the architecture and history of France’s capital was extremely exciting.  But, as a freelance artist striving to make a living with my paintings, the cost seemed too prohibitive.

This was when my friend came up with a wonderful plan – “If you will do 5 or 6 paintings of Paris for me, I will cover the hotel and airfare.  That way, when I look at my walls at home, I can pretend I am waking up in Paris every morning.”  We agreed that I would cover all my other expenses and we were off for the adventure.  I have since painted many more oils from that one trip and am happy to have sold most of them!

Then a few years later, another friend and her family were renting a house in Sedona, Arizona, and asked me to join them. Same deal, different subject matter.  In exchange for airfare from Florida, enjoyment of the gorgeous desert vistas and the company of lovely people, I produced several oil paintings – this time of red rocks!  In addition to giving my friend the pick of the artwork, several of the other folks on the trip also bought pieces to remind them of Arizona’s spiritual beauty.

Last year, a “snow bird” from Indiana who has a winter home here in Florida invited me to come up to her home near Indianapolis to see her house up there and see the bedroom where she wanted her next painting (a villa in Tuscany she had rented a few years back) to hang.  This would become the eighth commission from her.  On top of a lovely week of visiting lots of artsy stores and galleries, she introduced me to a gift shop owner who ordered – and paid for – 8 of my prints!  Oh, and did I mention that she sent me the free plane ticket?

Now, I just need to keep this travel-for-paintings idea continuing.  Let’s see?  Greece? England?  Spain?  Have brush, will travel!

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