Today I paddled to Le Lavandou. I had stayed last night in an almost empty port with a small captain’s office that said it would be open at 8:00. It wasn't. Not at 8:15 either. I had hoped to get a weather update. The previous day I had seen that today would have force 8 winds in the evening, but until then they would vary between four and seven, and in the right direction that would be excellent.
After only a short paddle I got to another port, slightly larger than the first. I found the captain and while he wouldn't provide me with the standard weather printout, he told me that there would be no winds exceeding a force five. I only had to wait about 20 minutes for him to finish his conversation on the phone.
Back on the water there was a pleasant breeze at my back for the whole day. Even when I changed directions, turning north in the afternoon, the wind and current obligingly turned with me.
In the late morning I met Sebastien Uscher, another paddler coming in the opposite direction. The first kayaker in winter gear I had seen. The chill demanded it. We chatted, I couldn't convince him to join me. His wife was waiting to pick him up.
The rest of the day went smoothly. I saw the first school of flying fish I had seen in a long time. I had decided I would end a little early to see if I could make plans for a place to stay for the Sabath, and get candles to light for Hanukah. I passed a little port, similar to the one I had been in the night before. It didn't look like it had the kind of infrastructure I would need.
The next port I got to was big. “Hi, I paddled from Barcelona. Can I leave my boat here for the night?”
“Huh. It doesn't have to be in the water. I can leave it anywhere.”
“Not in the harbor. Try the next one.”
So I got back in my boat and paddled to the next one, maybe a kilometer away. The receptionist there was both much prettier and kinder then the previous one. Asides from allowing me to leave my boat there, she gave me a code for the shower room.
Checking my email, I noticed that Sebastien had gone to my blog, and invited me to stay with him for the night. Score! He picked me up and took me to his home, on a military base a couple of towns over.
On the way, he told me he was a police officer and I said, “Oh that's perfect. You enforce the law and I regularly break it. We may one day meet in a professional capacity.”
He told me he would give me a note in French to anyone who would disturb my slumber in the name of the law, explaining that they should please leave me alone.
He and his friends who I met are police officers for the French territories and spend each new year on a different tropical island protecting the innocent, and if the video he made of his trip is a fair portrayal, having a really really good time.
Sebastien was also happy give me a couple of candles to light for Hanukah.
The only downside was that, for all the machoness I have acquired in my trip, these tropical police made me feel entirely small.
Happy Hanukah everyone!