Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pont du Gard

We met in our hotel lobby in Nice [Saturday 21], loaded up and headed west. By late morning, we arrived at the Pont du Gard , a Roman bridge and aqueduct over the Gard River, once part of a 31 mile long system of water transport from the springs in the hills, and the once-powerful city of Nimes—now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
But before we even passed through the visitors’ center, we found the trio of thousand (yes—1000) year old olive trees—remarkable not just by surviving, but by staying alive in human memory for so long.
The Gard River itself is quiet, meandering—not much like our rivers at home just now.
with these on the trail:

We could walk across the bridge, there beside the aqueduct. We didn’t find the ancient graffiti, invoking Athena to protect the aqueduct, but Liz assured us it was there. And from the top, we could look down along the stone gully where the water would once have run—kept from seeping out by some mixture of pork fat, fig- and lemon juice (I think, lemon—can’t find that scrap of notes either), in some odd alchemy that formed a seal.
Liz also told a couple of us we could cross over, veer up a little footpath, and view the whole bridge from high up. Charity, Will and I raced on up the dubious path, through quite a bit of shrubbery that didn’t know this was a path, finally to exposed chunks of marble, worn by passage and weather as shiny as the steps in any monastery. And yes, a great view…
and me...
And I was impressed by the swoops and dives of the swallows, some species we didn’t know, there feeding on insects above the river, and nesting in any chink or crevice they could find in the bridge itself.


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