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Travelogue A5

May 9, 2014

It was at this point, after having resolved the lone traveller’s conundrum, one posed likewise for the travel writer who is often confronted by the same predicament as an eminently lone figure, that my body began to give out piece by piece. After several days of particularly aimless circling, backtracking and backcircling, the process started with the right knee, a tightness for which I compensated by shifting weight from that leg to the left, propelling myself forward with the left foot. This shift met itself, in turn, with complications as the additional strain placed on the left foot caused, as best as I can gather from bodily experience and online expertise, the slightest of fractures in the arch of said foot. So it was that I pursued my wandering in the days to follow with a limping dance, complete with repertoire of motions and contortions to be carefully committed to bodily memory. The need to pause more frequently provided ample time for reflection on the origin and nature of this phantom break, which had taken on reality in such a short span.

Still, fracture or no, I was not to be deterred from my rambles, and so I pressed on, finding myself early one morning at the Ferme du Parc Maximilien, a sort of urban petting zoo and farm. Here are collected the common kinds of farm animals, ranging from guineas to goats, ponies to pigeons, to the latter of which is dedicated a pen all their own, so far as I could tell, complete with fresh water and foodstuffs in myriad containers. They clustered about grain dispensers in larger numbers than I had yet seen elsewhere. It was not difficult to imagine the pigeontenders’ guild, companions to the barkpeelers’, agitating in favor of greater pigeon representation and privileges in this urban farm. I continued my circuit while taking some notes and lingered for a few minutes in a small marsh at the rear of the complex. Said marsh is, in reality, a natural water purification system, comprised of numerous concrete levels through the full course of which water runs over a period of weeks or months and which the water’s gradual filtering through processes the details of which I failed to retain.

Continuing on from the farm and garden, I found myself in the business district, itself adjacent to a train station, behind which Brussels’ Red Light District can be found. As I was at once curious and reassured by the early hour, I pursued my mid-morning stroll before the mostly empty panes. I was more inclined to believe, at the time, that various models of stools and chairs were on display and to be ogled through the glass. All kinds were to be found, from the modern in plastic and steel to the older clothbound and leather. Regardless, all awaited the prospective client, promising still further treasures behind the likewise diverse draperies: pink satin, white lace, heavy dark cloth, and so on. In this case, the ubiquitous call for “serveuses” seemed rather to concern the tenders of the chair than “la chair” itself.

Whatever my findings there, I was happy to be on my way and to confront the question with which the brick wall before my hotel plied me at each coming and going: “Et quant [sic] tu rentres chez toi, pourquoi chez toi?”.

 

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