Adventure Time

First of all, a warning: This post will contain many gratuitously huge vertical panoramas. I don’t know why, but enjoy!

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The retreat season finished on Friday, and now it’s time for the monks and nuns to cut loose. More so than usual, I guess. The Summer is a bit loose anyway. It’s hard to keep everything reigned in when there are four hundred people living on your front lawn, but now we have two weeks to kick it without any formal schedule. Most of the crew are heading down to the border of Spain for a trip that will probably be much like our adventure last year. I’ll be skipping that adventure. My bro is coming with his Fiancee Jillian on the eighth. Instead of going surfing in Spain with my Australian hut-mates, I’m going to chill out here so that I’ll be fresh as a flower for a family adventure.

And honestly, it seems like two lazy days is enough. We seem to be more and more able to reframe a Sangha errand as an opportunity to visit a medieval city or an open-air market. Yesterday we turned an airport run into a shopping excursion that proved to be the perfect precursor to a picnic. Hannes, formerly Dai Tue, was heading back to Germany. After about a year and a half as a monk, he decided that it’s not his thing. Take care bud! Somehow I didn’t manage to take any photos of him, but you can refer back to last year’s Pyrenees trip if you’re really curious.

We ended up at an old beacon tower from the 100 Years War. There are tons of them scattered across the hills. They haven’t seen much use lately, but we did our part. For the duration of our picnic, we kept an eye out for signs of English soldiers. Fortunately it never came to lighting a signal fire. We aren’t even Boy Scouts, let alone soldiers. Tuy Niem nearly cuts his hand off every time he opens a pocket knife. On the other hand, we did have to tactically infiltrate the area. Enemy forces attempted to sabotage our picnic with a barbed-wire fence. The picture up top is the inside of the tower, and the following is the entrance.

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Safely out of enemy-occupied territory, we set about rebuilding troop morale with a well-earned picnic. The boys provided more than enough provisions for our small company. We ate well: fresh chevre rolled in herbs and garlic and a hard, rich compte, just coming into season, a few cabecou du Perigord also from our favorite goat seller, whole-grain sourdough bread, organic tomatoes from our farm, fresh greens, olives, and a couple of sun-dried tomato baguettes. France may not have the broadest offering for a vegetarian, but I can say one thing: The French make eating white bread and cheese feel pretty damn classy. After our meal, Bao Tich took a quick photo so we could show the world the tattoos we got last week.

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Speaking of Bao Tich, he hasn’t been introduced yet! This is a problem I plan to remedy in the next post, but he’s the dude passing the tray of veggies in the barbed-wire photo. Another guy who needs introducing is Nam, a seventeen year-old future monk who is constantly cracking us up with his unbridled cockiness. More on the both of them later, but here’s the photobomb of the century by Nam in Issigeac. Plus one unmarred by the boys.

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The Theravada monk is Dhamma Dinna, a Swedish guy who’s been chilling with us for a few months. In an Australian accent, his name sounds like “Dharma Dinner”, so I spent a lot of time wondering when I was going to learn his real name after Tuy Niem introduced me to him. He came with us for our spin around the aforementioned Issigeac, a labyrinthine medieval village, bright and boisterous. The market was in full swing. I think I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking for today.

Until next time!

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