Tag Archives: Luxembourg

Review: The Expats


The Expats
The Expats by Chris Pavone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Expats” describes a mother, wife and ex-CIA agent who starts spying on her husband how he earns his family salary in the financial world of capital investment in Luxembourg.
Another couple – from an US Agency? – gets involved in their family life in Luxembourg and they may be after the dark secrets in the past of housewife and/or they may be interested in the way the husband earns his capital.

Very well-written.
Chris Pavone describes the atmosphere of European cities very convincingly in one paragraph!
An excellent plot.

Recommended

View all my reviews

Narrator – by foot under the eye of the Cyclops


The first two days Luxembourg showed itself from its delightful side. I walked by a magical valley where I might have met elves and fairies. The people were nice and I imagined myself in paradise.

After this lovely meeting, I made acquaintance with Luxembourg as trolls country where hungry ghosts lived. The third night in Luxembourg there was a terrible thunderstorm. In the dark the flashes seemed to come from the eye of the Cyclops [1]. The lightning illuminated my path; the thunders rolled by the valleys. I had to flee, but there was no way out. Terrified I could only walk on. After several hours the thunderstorm disappeared and in a shelter I finally found rest. The rest of the night I heard the ticking of the rain. At dawn the rain stopped.

[2]

The whole area was shrouded in a thick fog and it was very cold in the early autumn. This world was new to me; I felt trapped in a grey dark underworld. I was looking for a way out. I saw nobody; I heard nobody. I was completely alone in a silent cold world. On my beard, my eyebrows and eyelashes were small drops. My clothing was cold and clammy. This night the Maasai God Engaï [3] had not brought me to life again. Was this the punishment for the night fire in the forest [4] that was lit by our militia in Kenya where we had killed the villagers with joy who wanted to escape from the fire?

[5]

After a half an hour walk it became slightly lighter; the sun rose: first very vague in the distance, later as an eye through the haze. This world was strange to me. I was still very cold. Later near Amsterdam I would get used to this weather type; I could blindly find my way in there.

[6]

On the left was a way uphill. I had to get away from this underworld. Tied under a ram Odysseus escaped from the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus. Covered in woollen clouds I walked uphill out of this underworld. Slowly it became lighter and the greyness faded away. At the top of the hill the clouds in the valleys looked like the fur of a flock of giant sheep.

[7]

On the way up I escaped from this lugubrious underworld. The sun was shining at last; after an hour walk I was dry and warm again. Luxembourg showed itself from its fairy-tale side. Via the plateau I arrived in Belgium.


[1] According to Greek mythology, Zeus owes his lightning, and Poseidon his thrident to the Cyclopes. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclops. See for a brief description of the adventures of Odysseus with the Cyclops: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus

[2] Source image: http://lb.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donnerwieder

[3] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[4] See the last part of book 1 of the Mahābhārata where  at the fire in the Khandava forest, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa shoot arrows with joy to all that leaves the forest. Sources: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and further; Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fog

[6] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebel

[7] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebel

Narrator – On foot through France 3


Via the GR 5 in France I walked from the Jura to the Vosges. This area was more populated and I found less easily a place to sleep. On a rainy evening at twilight I was only welcome when I paid for my overnight stay. My stories and my kindness were not enough. I had no more money and after a few kilometres walk I found a place to sleep in the open air. Covered in plastic I spent the night vigilant. The next morning I was clammy and benumbed. After an hour walk I was warm again.

In the Vosges there were sufficient opportunities to spent the night in the wild. It was beautiful weather. At night the moon and the starry sky gave me comfort. During the day I enjoyed the beautiful view. At a few places I could almost oversee my whole way from the snowy Alps.

[1]

During my walk on the mountain peaks of the Vosges I met new ghosts. A century ago this chain of peaks formed the border between Alsace in Germany and Lorraine in France. The road – Route des Crêtes – was built by the French army during the First World War [2]. The road is situated on the French side of the chain, so the road was less vulnerable for the German guns. The ghosts of the victims during these many wars between France and Germany accompanied me to the Luxembourg border. On this part they were my companions. I promised that my breath would be their breath as long as I lived just as my breath was already the breath of the villagers. Once I hoped to arrive home together with them all.

[3]

The path on the mountain peaks was congested; I got help and support of many people. In the valleys I felt less at home. By cover in the valleys I could not see the road; I felt trapped. I wanted to keep an eye on the road. Without sight on the heaven and earth, the ghosts of the villagers and of the fallen soldiers came before my eyes [4]. Only much later could I could unite heaven and earth; afterwards I had no more difficulty to fall asleep anywhere – even within walls and in valleys.

[5]

With a companion in the North of France I made a small detour to the Maginot line [6]. We saw the remnants at Michelsberg [7] and Hackenberg [8]. We were surprised how a society could feel safe and sheltered behind this dark burrows in the ground filled with terror for the society on the other side. With my eyes on the road, unity had many faces, and two had no duality. The Maginot line – as part of the many wars between France and Germany – fell beyond my comprehension.

[9]

At Schengen I illegally entered the other world of Luxembourg. Later the treaty for free movement of people in a part of Europe was agreed upon at this place. After such a huge detour with so much suffering and madness of everyday life, unity could finally be restored. It remains curious that a Treaty on paper is needed for a unit that is for my mother as natural as breathing, moving eyes, hands, and moving legs for walking; unity with many faces and two without duality.

[10]

Much later – on the 12th of October 2012 – the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union, because the European Union and its predecessors had contributed to peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe for more than sixty years. So much effort for a contribution that is as natural as breathing.

In Luxembourg, I entered a fairy-tale troll country.


[1] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Col_du_Grand_Ballon.jpg

[2] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Route_des_Cr%C3%AAtes

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rothenbachkopf_nord.jpg

[4] See also: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 70.

[5] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Vosges_val_munster.jpg

[6] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maginotlinie

[7] See also: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouvrage_du_Michelsberg

[8] See also: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouvrage_du_Hackenberg

[9] Source image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Ouvrage_du_Michelsberg

[10] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_(Luxemburg)