Coming soon: my book Dancing in the Fountain: How to Enjoy Living Abroad. The title comes from the story about a blazing hot night when my husband and I were sitting on the edge of a big stone fountain. We began dabbling our feet in the cool water, and the next thing I knew, we were wading then dancing in the fountain. An old man passing by growled, “Hey you two, is that any way to behave? You wouldn’t do that back where you come from.” And that’s my whole point. Living overseas, I feel free to try things I’d never do back home.
Naturally, my first thought was to shoot the cover photo at the actual fountain. But here's how it looks, with the addition of shoes (chosen by my Facebook and blog friends) to suggest the dancing part:
Not very colorful or romantic, even if we use PhotoShop to get rid of the cars. (It was much prettier in the moonlight on the night in question.) And it could be anywhere: Seville, Rome, Cleveland.
Then I found this gorgeous tile fountain, put colorful shoes on it, and took dozens of pix like this:
Love all the color, and it really says Spain, but it also sort of suggests a shoe ad. I keep expecting to see $89.95 printed above the sandals. Then Rich casually grabs the camera, steps up on a chair, and tries one shot.
And that was by far the best photo of the entire day. It almost gives the sensation you could step into the fountain and start dancing right now.
So here are four cover options we're considering, with cropped versions of Rich's photo.
1: White lettering
2. Black lettering
3. Yellow box
4. Red bar
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT!
Which of these covers do YOU think we should go with? Send me your comments!
A late entry! Looking for something else on the Internet, I stumbled across a picture of this fountain at a nearby Seville hotel. I ran down to take a look and this photo. I love the tile work, which is SO Spanish and would add a lot of color to the cover of my book.
This is the Plaza de Pato (Duck Plaza) where I went dancing in the fountain one hot summer night. It would be the logical choice for the cover photo if only I could get the city to tow all the cars out of the way for an hour or so. Maybe we'll use it and get rid of the cars in PhotoShop. But then again, maybe another fountain would be better.
The Plaza de España fountain is dramatic, but I'm not sure I want quite that much water shooting up in the scene. Will people wonder how I managed to dance in such a massive, fire hose-strength geyser? Would they keep picturing me being thrown in the air like something out of a Roadrunner cartoon?
The duck fountain in Maria Louisa park is certainly colorful enough – too colorful and crazy? Does it say Spain to you?
Then there's the zig-zag fountain, which is also very dramatic, but perhaps a bit too geometric? Does the pattern seem too much like 60s op art?
Do you have a photo of a Seville fountain I should consider? If so, post it on my Facebook page or send it to me via email. If you had to pick a fountain to dance in, what would it be?
So I’m in this temple in Nepal, walking through a maze of crumbing shrines, throngs of worshippers, monkeys underfoot like kids at a church picnic and clusters of holy men. Many are ascetics who have renounced society to seek enlightenment through self-deprivation, such as wandering the world nearly naked, smeared with ashes and refraining from cutting their hair and/or fingernails for years at a time. (As a spiritual lightweight, I have already determined this is not my path.)
Just when I’m thinking this place can’t get any nuttier, a guy dressed in nothing but a loincloth comes up to me and says, “I can lift an 80-kilo stone with my penis.”
It is definitely one of the more original pick-up lines I’ve ever heard.
“If you pay me ten dollars,” he adds, “I’ll show you.”
Now, I have a firm policy against paying to see penises under any circumstances, so I just keep on walking. But my new friend sticks to my side, repeating his offer over and over.
“Ten dollars. I can lift an 80-kilo stone with my–”
Finally I turn to him and say, “That’s nothing. My husband can do the same thing. And I don’t have to pay him for it.”
My new friend gives up and walks away. I feel kind of bad for lying to him so early in our acquaintance, but I really don’t think our relationship is going anywhere. Best to end it now.
A year later, at a cocktail party at a swanky spiritual retreat center, a group of us are swapping travel stories, and it turns out one of my companions had encountered the same spiritual weightlifter – and not only forked over the ten dollars but had captured the moment in a photo.
I am naturally agog to know the details, but my cocktail companion is strangely reluctant to give a full demonstration in a room full of people neither of us knows well. But I did manage to get a copy of the photo, and you can see for yourself how it was managed. I’ve since read that it’s an advanced form of self-punishment.
I’ve also read that this particular religious practice hasn’t caught on in a big way. I can’t imagine why.
I'm an American travel writer based in Spain and currently living in California.
As we journey through the pandemic together, my blog provides a regular supply of survival tips, comfort food recipes, and the wry humor we all need to lighten our hearts on dark days.
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