Hear Ye! Since 1998.
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Dec 00

Once Biten…

As I was saying in the SMS Log, I think I got lifted of $250. We were tramping all over the town with our backpacks, feeling pretty worn out. We were in a pedestrian-way resting and, as Kev put it, “the sharks smelt the blood in the water”. The sharks came in the guise of a group of 4 or 5 women brandishing roses. I have no grasp of Spanish whatsoever so I just looked on blankly while they inserted a rose into the top of my jacket. In hindsight I really screwed up. We should´ve all just shooed them away, but given our tired mental states, didn´t. They wanted 1 peseta for the rose (the equivalent of one cent). This already should´ve sent alarm bells ringing in my head and I pulled my wallet out. Mistake. Although my wallet never left my hands, Within the next 20 seconds, they had somehow managed to slip out the 22000 pesetas I had recently withdrawn for the three day stay and the 50 marks I had leftover from Germany. The rose must´ve been the distraction because I remember her reinserting the rose into my jacket and for those brief moments I gazed away from the wallet. Impressive sleight of hand. Either that or I dropped the money somehow. Either way, I´m now in a near-paranoid state of mind.

Apart from this unfortunate incident, Spain is also looking appealing. Kev has been raving on about Paella for the last few weeks, so we are all hyped up about it somewhat…

Anyway, there´s one more post I have to make about Paris, and that´s about our visit to the Louvre. The Louvre houses one of the most famous paintings in the world: Da Vinci´s portrait of Mona Lisa. It is encased in climate controlled glass box with dessicant scattered all over its floor. It is subjected to the flashes of thousands of cameras a day as people mill about snapping and videotaping the painting, which measures about 70cm by 100cm. However, we couldn´t work out one thing. Why was the Mona Lisa so famous? We couldn´t think of anything satisfactory, so Kev and I decided to do a bit of asking around.

1. Man at the Gift Shop: “I work here everyday, for so long, and I still do not know!”
2. Security Guard: “(Us) Parlez-vous Anglais?” “(Him) A leetle…” He had no idea. We did not see his nametag which read “surveillance” so he looked like a curator.
3. Information Desk: Basically the woman there told us that the Mona Lisa´s origin was controversial – it may have been a self-portrait of the gay Leonardo, or not been painted by Leonardo at all (but by one of his students). The smile of the Mona Lisa is also questionable – is it a smile, or a look of annoyance?
4. Cute Gift Shop Girl: “(Us) Parlez-vous Anglais?” “(Her) Ohhhh… a leetle…” She mumbled after much stuttering something about Leonardo painting it for his friends. She also attempted to get another museum visitor to translate for her, but she had asked an American who had no idea.
5. Curator: “(Us) Parlez-vous Anglais?” “(Her) A leetle…” She repeated information that was similar to that of the information desk, adding the fact that the style of colouration of the painting was unique, and that the Mona Lisa may have been a man in drag (“man in woman” was the exact phrase she used). Finally, she noted that the Mona Lisa´s eyes follow you from whatever angle you viewed the painting – however, from my readings, this is true of any painting in which the subject is looking at the viewer.
6. Gift Shop Woman: “(Us) Parlez-vous Anglais?”
“(Her) A leetle…”
“(Us) Do you know why the Mona Lisa is so famous?”
“(Her) You go through that door and go to the second corridor on the left…”