Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 13: France

Content warning: This one will have the “A” word in it.
10/6/'10 Day 13:
The captain offered me breakfast and got my picture as I took off. I hope he sends it to me. I paddled on glassy water with a light breeze slowing me down. I cut straight across a shallow bay and four hours later I was turning into Narbonne Plage (43.168229, 3.185048). I stopped for lunch and, despite an improvement in the wind’s direction, I decided to try to work out my Sabbath accommodations.  Maybe I would take the train to a nearby Jewish community.
After a lot of walking around and a stop at the supermarket I had plans. I would sleep on the side of a hill in the woods next to the town (43.172912,3.174274). On my way up the path I noticed spots where a boar had torn up the vegetation.
I spoke to the marina captain to ask if I could leave my boat here (I'm writing this at the dock on a curb) for the weekend. He didn't speak any English.
I tried “Kayak” and then a “moi, Barcelona.” Now I was stuck. I went through my French lexicon. Guillotine, corporal, soup deux jour, wait! That was it! “Deux jour!” and I pointed down.
The captain understood that I had kayaked from Barcelona, and that I would like to stay here for two days. I think.  He looked at me like I was crazy for kayaking like that, but then smiled and said that it would be no problem for me to leave my boat here. At least, I hope that's what he said.
I made camp off of an out of the way trail near a pretty lake. The spot I had chosen was one of a few places where there was no significant undergrowth. After a sabbath meal in the quiet woods I was asleep by 7:00pm. I sleep in a sleeping bag in a bivi sack on a pad. While warm and comfy, I can't see very much of what's around me, nor am I free to move my arms. I become giant caterpillar like. Later this became a scary problem.
I woke in the dead of night when a twig snapped very near me. It could have been a chipmunk or a squirrel. Then there was more movement and bushes being pushed aside. If it was a chipmunk, it was a hundred pounds of chipmunk and it was very near coming at me. I assumed it had big tusks and could gore.
I couldn't see it. I didn't want to get the flight or fight mechanism to go wrong, but I needed it to know that I was there. I sat up slowly. The sounds stopped. There was a deep throated growl huff. It was not dog-like, it was, “I can eat you dog” like.
And then it went off in a different direction. It moved through the underbrush with all the finesse of a giant pig.
For the next few hours I had my head and arms outside of my sack to ward off any more monsters in the night.  I wore my whistle and was ready to use it.  All I got for my efforts was a little cold.
The next morning I meant to go about my business, but going to the bathroom without toilet paper in a pine wood is a pain in the ass. (That was it, there will be no more.) I found a porta poty near a construction sight that solved the problem.

I stood for a while and watched fish leap above the surface of the water as the sunlight painted the mist and the water a gold that was prettier then any metal I had ever seen.
I went for a walk in the French countryside. Thick pine woods and dense brush covered rolling hills. Occasionally I saw some kind of nut or a small patch of pretty white flowers. People would occasionally come out of the bush all beaten up but with mushrooms to show for their efforts.
There were hiking paths that went along ravines with views of the sea. There was a marsh with softly colored grasses that seemed to go on forever.
For a while there were hunters also. They had many dogs running through the underbrush and they would call out to them in French. They had shotguns.* I asked one hunter “Is it dangerous for me to be here?” and he said “Oui oui.”
I moved on in a different direction rather quickly.
I passed vineyards with fall colors they stood out in sharp contrast to the coniferous woods.
I passed a farm that was displaying the largest pig I had ever seen. It was a beast that was moving stones with its snout and rooting around in the dirt. I couldn't begin to estimate its weight except to say that it was certainly much heavier then I.

I drank from a hose on the farm, I had been walking for a while.
And then there was a true treat for my eyes. Chateau Laquirou stood over a huge stretch of vineyard. The field had many portions, each in its own glory displaying a different aspect of fall. Standing at the center of the field was an island of ancient trees surrounded by a weathered stone wall.
At the head of this agrarian masterpiece was a small collection of old French houses. There was a steeple and vines up the sides of the cottages.
I felt that this was Europe, this was a thing I had come to see that I had never seen before. It was a fresh sent for my soul and it was good.
Tomorrow their is another small craft warning. The forecast for this week is bad.

* Not the dogs, I don’t think. ~ ed.


  1. Confucius say "Those that lay down with dogs, only get fleas. And those that lay down with bores, only get bored. But those that lay down with boars? They get gored."

    Sounds like you're having the adventure of a lifetime, but if it's clear wild animals have foraged nearby, you might want to think twice about laying down there. :oD

  2. Hi Dov!
    I've been reading your blog, great to know that everything is going well and you're having exciting time there, but please be careful with those boars! I hope one day I'll have the courage to do something as admirable and adventurous that you're doing! Hope all the best for you! Enjoy!

  3. Thanks so much Ilona. I hope you won't wait for some day and seize tomorrow!

  4. gps is pretty neat! can almost make out the boar in the woods!