The following day was another strange day. I had never imagined I would have the impression Paris was also a city of strangeness, not only a city of sophistication. I could not help feeling there was a kind of energy on the streets, something like a tickling on my skin, a soft whisper, telling me I was in a very special place. I tried being more observant and tried to imagine people running, wars happening there, I was trying to walk forward but into the past. I saw the stonemasons laying bricks at the churches, paving the streets. I was looking for their blood, their sweat there, but they seemed to have evaporated by then. But there was something, unexplainable, that was affecting my senses somehow.
Before having breakfast I was willing to try the shower. I was really in need of one. Jeremy went there and I told him the showers only had cold water. Some minutes after he came back, perfumed and wet and I wondered how brave he had been of taking a cold shower. I went to the bathroom and it was damp and warm. So he had managed to get hot water. I went back there and tried again. Cold and cold. I felt stupid. Then something clicked inside me and I pushed the lever while I was turning it and voilà, hot water. So we had it all along and I was just stupid enough not to realize I had to give it a (really) hard push and turn.
So, I had breakfast early and went straight to the Cité des Science et de l’Industrie. I imagined it would not be very far from my hostel, which was called Cité des Sciences. It was not next to it, but only some subway stations away.
I wrote my impressions of the visit for a friend’s science fiction column in Portuguese. But to summarize, any geek would feel in heaven there. I am not that geek, I just study sci-fi as a social expression of contemporary society and never collected toys or went to conventions. I am not a hardcore fan, but I had to take my hat off to the exhibition: they had material in French, English and Spanish. The girls at the counter even let me keep the booklet I was supposed to return after the exhibition. It was quite complete, with mannequins of robots and characters from many movies and books. The sections covered a wide range of images of the genre: one room about trips to the moon, Mars
my favorite TV series ever, Star Trek
time travels and even to a book world (it resembled so much the feeling I had when I was organizing the piles back home)
and even robots and cyberspace (how would you feel being inside the Matrix?)
After that, I still went to the Géode, one huge silver shining ball which happens to be a movie theater, those you almost lie down and all the ceiling is the screen. There was a movie about the Hubble Telescope, so more about space. It was so real, I left there willing to go to the Moon.
It was very fun and for one afternoon I forgot all the hardships of the trip so far and enjoyed being on my own. I didn’t know if it was possible to take pictures, there was no sign I couldn’t and no one approached me asking to stop taking them. I went to the food court because I was already getting hungry. I bought a sandwich and some soft drink. I just loved two things there: the mustard, Dijon, I guess. So delicious. And the desert was a kind of yoghurt. It did not surpass the Czech apple pie, but it was close to it.
When I was leaving the building, I saw that, across the street, there was a very large toy store. I thought, well, my luck is coming back. They must have the game I am so eager to find.
Of course. No hive there either.
So, I got back to the hostel and it was about time I made dinner. I stopped by the supermarket and got some more cheese and made a sandwich and used the rest of the ingredients I had bought for the salad to make another salad, not as big as the one I had prepared the day before.
I went to the room and Jeremy was not there. I guess he was avoiding me. Anyway, I heard a noise and went downstairs with my computer to talk to Brazil and feel less lonely. I had tried to call Martin, one of the French guys I had met in Vienna, but he was busy and couldn’t come and meet me the following day. He was a nice guy but I thought we would not meet anyway. I was without a cellphone there and he had no way to tell me what time or when he could meet me.
I got down and again it was so calm until this calm was broken by an excursion arriving, but of a very different nature of the one I seen the day before. It was about 50 kids and their instructors and although it was really late, they were making so much noise they must have awakened all the people in the hostel. I called them the infantry - both because they were children and because they seemed to be setting up an army camp. (And I would be sure they were as devastating when I entered the restroom the following morning. I felt I had seen the effects of a hurricane!)
I decided I should not stay there that night in all that confusion. I changed and went for a bar. I had no idea where to go or how, so I took the subway and started looking for a bar where I would feel comfortable. I headed to the Place de la Republique, and from there I started walking. It was almost midninght and I had no idea if the subway would close and I would have to walk back to the hostel or get a taxi. I felt free, wandering the streets of Paris, but I could not know for sure how safe it was to do that. Would I be mugged? Maybe murdered? Why did I have to feel so much like I was in São Paulo, so insecure?
I found a bar. Some people in. I entered, some people momentarily noticed me, most of them ignored my presence. I felt like an invisible man. I asked a drink similar to what the other man was drinking. I wanted monaco, as I had learned, but the attendant told me there wasn’t. I tried to sip and observe. One guy started taking interest in me, or so I thought. He would cast curious glances at me and keep talking to his friends. In the end, the group just left and no one approached me. I felt foreign, but I get this feeling every time I go to a bar, even in Brazil. I imagine this happens due to my lack of practice.
I paid, left the bar and walked back to the subway station. A lot of strange people were walking by. Back to the hostel, my roommate had already arrived and was sleeping. Again I had no chance of talking to him and saying everything was OK