April 11, 2012

Catania by Laura Spannenberg
Catania, a photo by Laura Spannenberg on Flickr.

4 friends, one island, a road trip, tons of food, wonderful places and lots of fun.

For the rest of the pictures, click here

The farmer by Laura Spannenberg
The farmer, a photo by Laura Spannenberg on Flickr.

Some visual impressions from my recent trip to Burkina…

Leaving Ouagadougou.

Dust, all over.
A few sad baobabs.
Donkey crossing.
Bicycles, motor bikes, people on foot.
A goat on a rock.
It’s grey.
Trying to find some hints of my previous Africa experiences.
But even the colourful fabrics are covered in the ever present orangebrown dust and seen through the dusty window of the bus, they almost blen in perfectly with the landscape.
Fading presences.
It’s dry.
Hard to imagine that even a single drop of water ever touched or will touch this soil.

Things I think about on an average (Monday til Sun)day:

If I should stop reading so many books from Japanese authors and maybe switch to something else. Latin American writers. Or maybe Eastern European?
Where to go on my next trip.
What to buy from the market for a dinner with friends on my terrace.
If my clothes are nice enough for the office
If I should become a vegetarian again.
When to start learning Arabic.
If I should decrease my muffin consumption.
If I keep in touch enough with my old friends in other parts of the world when I’m not with them.
If I’ve taken the right choices.
What those letters and numbers on the run ways at the airport mean.
How many mangoes I can eat in 10 days
How to find out what I want to do when I’m grown up. And how to get there.
If my plane will leave on time.
How warm it will be in Sicily around Easter.
If I should buy a bike.
When to go on the Mozambique-South Africa-Namibia road trip.
What to wear tomorrow.

What people I met on this Monday think about, on an average day:

When it will rain and how much and for how long and how much food they will have at the end of the season.

Obviously they also think about other things, but certainly not about when to go to Pompi the next time.
And obviously it’s not the first time I think about rains, harvests and getting a meal on the table.
And obviously it’s not the first time that I feel extremely privileged to have the things (and useless stuff) I have. I do appreciate all of that every night I go to sleep. Butt his dusty, extreme nothingness place really struck me. Driving miles and miles through orangebrownish oblivion, a bicycle driving past every now and then, kids seemingly coming out of nowhere, going nowhere, make my thoughts wander. You have this feeling that’s hard to describe. The sensation of understanding what project reports in your office can’t transmit. And you go back with a strange sensation of wanting to ask somebody how there’s life in places like these, knowing that it’s a stupid question and that there’s no one to ask.

All the other days in the capital are sleepless, with fresh mangoes every day, aloco, friendly people from all over West Africa, markets, talks on other parts of the world and how life is as it is, on aging invisibly and not enough water bottles.
Things seem to work just fine, but only on the outside. I constantly have to decide whether I want to have the computer plugged in or light in the room. You pay for something, and get something else. But it somehow all works out, in the end, as always. No surprises. Apart from the coup d’etat in Mali which left everybody with an open mouth and four of the group stranded in Burkina.

On the way back, at the international airport in Ouaga, the red letters blink as if programmed by a three year old or a student who’s learning how to use the special effects in PowerPoint. It’s one of these tiny little memories you take back from your trips. The ones not worth telling. Or taking a picture of. But that get stuck, somehow.
The plane stops again in Niamey, and after more people get onboard, it drives to the beginning of the runway, turns around in circles, and takes off. Leaving Africa, again.

Definitely an enriching experience on many levels. And again: life is good.

(Pictures will follow on Flickr)

You sit in a tiny little café, you sip your overpriced latte and eat your muffin that unexpectedly has raisins in it, and you listen to bits and pieces of the conversations around you.

This city is huge.
Masses of people incessantly move through the streets.

It’s freezing cold.
It’s avenues and streets.
It’s uptown and downtown.
It’s subways. Sometimes the wrong ones.
It’s walking over the Brooklyn Bridge and looking back.
It’s huge distances.
It’s different food every day.  From Georgia. The Caribbean. Greece. Ethiopia. France. Italy. Yemen. Brazil. Poland. China. Malaysia. Mexico. Thailand. Vegan. And so. much. of. it.
It’s wind.
It’s walking between skyscrapers, on streets that never see the sun.
It’s about maps being folded.
Directions being asked.
Languages being spoken.
It’s museums at every corner and a million shops.
It’s about talking way into the morning.
It’s brick buildings.
It’s people from all over your life, in different times, all gathered on the same island at the same time.
It’s about connections.
It’s about memories. Remember that time when. Yeah, and then.
It’s about new encounters and new years, with a view.
Waking up and eating blueberry pancakes.
New faces and old stories.

Rockefeller Center. I am sitting on top of the world, once again, and there are canyons below me. Of cement and glass.
Streets running through them.
Yellow cabs.
People moving. Tiny. Anty.
Up here, the sun shines.
No wind.
Another level.

It’s about moving, and it’s moving.
It’s about looking for things and not finding them, and about meeting the Cookie Monster twice.
It’s about movie-like encounters.
Rides on the train with strangers.
And about never meeting again.
It’s about sheep that go to heaven. And goats that go to hell.
It’s about taking busses with grumpy drivers.
It’s about strolling around alone, exploring, rediscovering, and kilometers accumulating.
It’s about diners.
It’s about Sunday brunches.
It’s about huge bookstores.
It’s about kitsch souvenirs.
It’s about not finding the entrance.
It’s about every building being something on the map.
It’s different from last time. A bit similar. But with Brooklyn.
It’s beards.
It’s sunsets on the wrong day, and clouds on the right one.

It’s New York.

A sea

January 15, 2012

A sea by Laura Spannenberg
A sea, a photo by Laura Spannenberg on Flickr.

Back from two wonderful weeks in New York spent laughing, eating, wandering and wondering, talking to strangers, museuming, being impressed, looking up, looking down, looking over. And never being bored.

Click on picture to see more, on flickr.

More impressions, in words, to follow.


October 6, 2011

Berlin is newer than last time. Loud. Colourful. With lots of U- and S-Bahnen, busses, people.
Nobody stands out.
You don’t know where to start and you don’t know where you’ll end. And the more you find out, the more you understand.
Saturday might be too early.

Berlin. Clear skies. Almost too blue.

It’s about last September conversations on trees.
Thoughts on Newton. The one with the camera. Not the one with the stars.
Thoughts on neighbourhoods in big cities.
Sometimes, you come back to a place after many years, and it’s the place that has changed. And maybe so have you, but that doesn’t matter so much.

Newton was a revelation. He struck me, for the first time, although he stands for everything in photography I don’t admire – planning, composing, accessorising. Bad taste, but the fashion of the 1980s weren’t his fault. He was a genius in what he did. His pictures have something incredibly terrible and wonderfully timeless. If you manage to look beyond all the naked bodies of those women – something that’s admittedly easier said than done, as they are, umm, very much in your face – you discover stories of places and past times, of a life lived all over the world, seen and created impressions, of sun, of indoors, of shine, of moments and poses, von Einfällen und Zufällen.


I walk through this immense city, directionless
I take busses with unknown destinations, I have time
It’s buzzing, one floor down
Tourists, cameras, smiles, maps
And it feels weird, as it’s my own country, my own capital, unknown place

And the sky is almost too blue

Smaller than I remembered it. But with a gigantic Seifenblase in front, this time.

Hamburger Bahnhof, a museum now
Beautiful setting
But modern art
Rarely do I like what I see when I go to an exhibition of modern art. Yet, I continue going cause sometimes you just have to stop and stare. And then you discover some weird beauty, some lines that make sense, something you don’t understand, something you can’t grasp. Then it’s all as weird as life itself, and when you leave the museum, you still don’t really like modern art, but again, you didn’t come in vain. It’s like with the penguins.
In the end, what I think is that Kunst ist, was irgendjemandem gefällt. And that doesn’t always have to be me.

Walking. Between the French and the German


MADNESS. The Wall.

Good question.

And now, well, now I feel a bit like moving to Berlin.

One step to Berlin

I love doors.

About timeless timetravelling, uncoulourful coulours and a lot of roundabouts. Everything is très français, the vine is lovely, the tourists many, the kids always come in combinations of three, the evenings are chilly, sometimes hot, the lavender had moved from the fields into the stores. We loved.

Two dresses for one wedding and the clouds, passing.

The storm has passed and the sky is clear, as if nothing ever happened.
And you wonder, for a moment, if you maybe just imagined it all.
In your head. Rain. Grey, clouds. Downpours.

If all roads lead to Rome, does it really matter which one you take?

It is always important to see the sky.

Our roadtrip to France is full of roundabouts.
Stone houses.
Canoeing on the Ardèche.
We like beaucoup.

The weddings are lovely.

I still don’t get the snail questions. Why would somebody bring snails?

US Immigration has a picture of me with my cookie monster earrings.

I flew. Like a bird. High up in the air.
Like a bird.

Sometime, when the world reflects in the shallow water to the right, thoughts fly over the mountains in the notsofar distance.
Thoughts about yourself.
Thoughts about who the others are.
Thoughts about how we plan our lives and what life then does with our plans.
And clouds, everywhere.

Sometimes, when you turn your head, the world suddenly looks completely different.
The lies above the sky, the lights look strange, as if they knew they’re not meant to be where they are.
Then you hear crickets cricketing in the night, in the city, where there should be none (and I ask myself, where do they live? In the neighbours’ gardens, 20 floors down?). Or maybe it’s frogs. But I prefer the thought of the cricketing crickets. But oh well, I will never know. One of life’s mysteries.
Strange, all this. Life.

Everything’s green.
The breaking of the waves is deafening. They are so close that they almost reach the living room.
It is hot and humid here, it’s windy, sunny, it’s a day on the beach, it’s stormy, it’s beautiful, it’s different from what I thought.

And I read sentences like „Wenn man versucht, Schmerz und Traurigkeit zu vertreiben, bekommt man wie zur Belohnung ein kleines Stückchen Freiheit geschenkt.“ und: „In ihrer Verlassenheit lag etwas Klares, und das brachte einem irgendwie die Gefühle in Ordnung.“.
I love Banana Yoshimoto. After I got over ‚Kitchen’, which highly depressed me, I love her stories, again.
„Die ganz gewöhnlichen Spuren des gelebten Lebens eines Menschen“, „kostbare Erinnerungen oder ähnlich brauchbare Gedanken“. „Wie ein kleines Blumenbeet zwischen den Häuserschluchten der Stadt“.

People can’t leave on the same TV channel for five minutes in a row without zapping on. But put them in front of an ocean, and they watch the waves, endlessly. Tirelessly.
Maybe we should do things more often that can’t we zapped on.

I stopped wanting things out of principle. Life’s easier that way. I’m happier. I waste less energy. I think over the years I have found a lot of ways to waste less energy and emotions on things that aren’t worth it. It feels as if somebody lifts a burden off your shoulders. Life’s too short.

Life also is: sitting in front of the ocean, watching endless waves, and somebody passes and sells you mangoes, chopped and with a fork, ready to eat. Life.

And: floating in the water, face-up, looking at the sky. I’d even say it’s better than opening a pack of espresso, when it makes that sound and then it suddenly smells like coffee in the whole kitchen.

And sometimes, you start reading the nightly city lights like the stars.
You look at the same street, the same cars passing. The same flow of people.
Thoughts, tires, aspirations. Grocery bags, on their way home, to work. Traffic.
Nothing changes, yet it’s different from yesterday. All the time.
All that, out there.
Random thoughts drifting over to that tower with the red lights and a white one on top.
Weird long moments that make you rethink your place in life.
Flower arrangements.
And when it’s windy, the nocturnal lights flicker, as the trees move, gently or less.

Resting. The others.

May 7, 2011

Resting. The others. by Laura Spannenberg
Resting. The others., a photo by Laura Spannenberg on Flickr.

Impressions from IsraelPalestine.

The end of this time

April 30, 2011

On the way to the airport

The holiday is over
Time flew and still – it felt like way more than just two and a half weeks
A lot of travelling
Lovely people
New faces on the map
And old ones
Tons and tons of food
Old walls and new walls
Miles walked
New and notsonew impressions
Everything was different from 2005
The desert
The salt
The views

Different views. Or the same. And I just haven't seen them last time. Must be it.

The talks
The music
The opinions
The stars, en route
Tel Aviv. And the road back to Jerusalem.
Egypt, but no Jordan
N still owes me a trip to Bethlehem, so I guess I’ll have to come back at some point.
Oh, and the food. The food! There is so much more food to be eaten you wouldn’t believe it.

I see the lights of Tel Aviv in the notsofar distance. It’s almost time to get off the bus and on that plane and leave