Friday, 31 August 2007


Here I am back again from holidays, at the eastern portion of the French Pyrenees, about 50 km from the Mediterranean. We had really awful weather at home, July and August were partly similar to March and October.

No global warming for us, I had the impression to approach the starting blocks of a new ice age.
The only part of France featuring a real summer seemed to be the Mediterranean coast line.

This area is famous for its "castles of vertigo", all in ruins for centuries but still breathtaking. As far as I know there was fierce slaughtering over there during the Albigois crusade. The people there adhered to a Christian sect called Cathars, their aim was to lead a perfect life.

Thus a crusade was organized, the Cathars were killed wholesale and there possessions were the object of a huge real estate transfer. Mission accomplished as someone said these days.

The castle is still there and the cherry on the cake is that right below is a paragliding launching pad. And in the late afternoon, on warm sunny days, you get the phenomenon the locals call "restitution", a kind of valley wind. Warm air from the forest and the fields below is going up the castle slopes and allows for really peaceful flying.

The violent thermals around noon are gone and are being replaced by this restitution. You fly in an air like honey plus the special fragrance of the Mediterranean country side, rosemary, wild thyme, savory, olive trees, occasionally lavender. Splendidly smelly.

This gentle wind carries my along the slopes of the castle and then, hurray, I have made it! I am looking right into it from above. The visitors of Peyrepertuse look at me and I am looking at them. "Comment ça va" I yell joyfully to a group not far away from me and they make a photo.

Splendor of flying nearly like a bird. It could have been invented 2000 years ago, you just need some lightweight cloth. That was always available. But during all that time the inventors came to a dead end by trying to imitate a bird, spreading and moving wings up and down. And for that we just are not strong enough!

The photo shows the Peyrepertuse castle, built around 800 years ago. Nowadays, they start to rebuilt it by using exclusively the technical procedures of the Middle Ages. We will probably all be dead before it is finished.

Thursday, 16 August 2007


There seems to be a Russian proverb that runs like this:

"Ignore the past and you will loose an eye. Dwell on the past and you will loose both of them".

Well, I like that one. I have been fascinated by history all my life, even as a little boy. In school, we had a history book for each year and I have been reading it all through in the very first months.

Regarding history, there is another proverb I highly appreciate: "The nations and its people who ignore their own history are condemned to repeat it again and again".

As to the present, those gruesome and stupid wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan might have been avoided by simply looking at precedents, similar cases that happened in the past and its outcome. This has not been done and now we have opened Pandora's box and it will take dozens of years to get it closed again.