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6.9.11

Research! Because someone must!

For Total-e, I write historicals, medievals to be precise. And while much of my knowledge of the period comes from old textbooks from my college and graduate courses, so much comes from travel.
And as you read this today, I am in Barcelona.  Soon to do Toulon and Eze.
What do I love about hands on--or foot-traveled research?
Ah. The intense (mind-blowing) ecstasy of accuracy!
From The Tower in London, I know the dank, musty smell of rot. The despair of having to live in that environment. And the fear of the future.
From touring Pompeii, I understand why people died young. The stones of the streets are uneven and hard on the feet. The sun blinds you. The cramped dreariness of the gladiators' dens strikes a ferocious streak in me. The remains of people after the eruption of the volcano reminds me that life is unpredictable and best lived for each moment.
Seeing the Olympic training grounds in Greece shows me that dedication to sports and fitness became an obsession to many long ago.
The Castle of St. John in Rhodes overwhelms me with its beauty, its power, its sophistication. How could these people build so well with such rudimentary tools?
The wall around the Old City of Jerusalem astounds me for its durability. More, I am astounded at its strength that visitors can walk on the parapet. The church within the church of the Sepulcre awes me for its beauty. The powerful incense seeps into my pores.
The Castle of Vincennes strikes me for its bold, medieval architecture. Here, fairy tales might be set.
The tomb of Napoleon takes my breath away. I stand for long long minutes. My husband asks why. I cannot move, the reverence for the man who ruled them and whose law code still pervades overwhelms me. The emperor would have smiled that the people of France laid him to rest in such a dramatic, powerful setting.
The harbor at Waterford, Ireland strikes me as the best place that the English could have landed. Robert de la Poer and his lord, Strongbow, found a defensible place to lay claim to Irish land for their lord, King William. Better yet is the museum there in the city because now I understand, as perhaps I never quite did, the effect of the Viking invasions on Ireland. The fear they evoked, the challenges to the Irish were continuous, swift invasions.
Knowing I will find new wonders on this new journey, I take with me my notebook which I use on every trip. For notes, business cards, I date each entry. I write down the look and feel of sunrise, sunset, the aromas, the food, the attitudes of the residents.
How I love to travel! And wish I were rich enough to do more of it!

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