Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Voices in My Head

Today I walked from Perpignan to Canet Plage to my boat.  I had originally intended to take the bus, so armed with a schedule provided by my host I went to the bus stop.

I was talking with an English speaker at the bus stop.  He asked me where I liked the people more, in France or Spain.  I told him that my experience so far was that people in France were both more helpful and more likely to speak English.  He was surprised, while submitting that the English here is better, he thought Spanish people were nicer in general.  He explained that my experience was probably because this region of France is still really Catalan.

The schedule was wrong, there was no bus.  So I began to walk.

I didn't go back the way I came, instead I walked in the riverbed.  The going was much rougher, and for most of the way there was no path proper, but it was much prettier and felt removed from the city.  The riverbed was below the highway with woods, streams and mud, and a small river.  Lots of tall grasses.

I know what you're thinking, “Wasn't falling in a swamp once enough?”  But the fact is that it was really nice and I almost managed to stay completely dry.  Jumping over one stream I got my feet wet, but if a person goes exploring without ever getting their feet wet, then they're not exploring areas with enough rainfall.

Some time later I gave up on the riverbed as too slow, always hinting at the beginning of a more serious path, and never delivering.  And the bum encampment I passed through made me feel awkward.  Over a fence and into farmland I moved quickly until I got to a road.

I stopped.  I smelled a fig tree.  I always smell fig trees and there's no food in this world that I love more than a ripe fresh fig.  And I was, at that moment, under a fig tree.

There was a family packing up a car.  They watched me come out of the field.  Whether it was their's or their neighbors I don't know.

I waved, gathered a couple of particularly ripe looking figs, and moved on.  They were gooood.

I walked on dirt roads between farms until I finally found myself on the bike path I had taken to the city a couple of days earlier, and returned the rest of the way to Canet Plage the way I had come.

My boat was still there.  It was also really windy.  I stood in the wind and thought.

I was anxious to paddle, feeling the pressure to be back on my way.  But there was a lot of wind.  Sudden bursts of wind at the wrong moment could cause me to temporarily lose control.  And I don't have a single good dry bag.  If I found myself battling serious surf my boat could take on some water, and without a dry bag to protect my electronics, I could lose another computer.  I might have to spend a night in a wet sleeping bag, and not have any warm clothing to put on at the end of the day.  It would be misery.

I wanted to go, but I should get dry bags and my wet suit in the mail any day now (guaranteed delivery for last Friday) so I thought I would be best off waiting to have the right gear before I make stupid decisions.  There's a voice in my head that says things like “Go ahead Dov, you can do it.  It'll be fine.  You know you can.  Just go already, what are you waiting for.”  But some of the experiences that I have had on this trip  have taught me to quit listening to it.


I walked back to Perpignan and explained the situation to my host.  Currently there are small craft advisories for tomorrow and the day after.  I hope they don't mind me staying an extra couple of days.  In the meantime I can look forward to enjoying this great town.


  1. the wind is Tramontane
    im glad you are learning from your experiences. was it a "bum encampment" or a Gypsy/Romany camp? for the record: bum is derogatory.. homeless or nomadic might be more appropriate

  2. In the woods on the river bank their were four patched together tents in a row. They had both a lived in, and a permanent feel to them. I tried not to look closely since I felt I was invading somebodies personal space.