Hello everyone! I just got back from Corsica, “the island of beauty,” after an amazing 10 day vacation. I’ve collected lots of memories, a few shells, and a couple of pictures so you can feel like you swam in the Mediterranean also!
On the evening of the 20th of August, Olivier and I arrived in Corsica at the Figari airport where, to my surprise, it felt like we landed in California because the weather is so hot and dry (normally 30 C and above!). We were met at the airport by Maud, Olivier’s big sister, and one of Maud’s best friends, Natalie. After about a 30 minute drive through the windy hills of the countryside we reached Le Martin Pecher, the house of Olivier’s grandparents, Maminic (Nicole) and Papili (Jacques). The house is a typical Corsican holiday house, a one story stucco with a beautiful terrace, surrounded by eucalyptus trees, pines, and lots of lizards and geckos. The house is located in San Cyprien (San Cyprianu in Corsu) in the south of Corsica, in the district of Lecci. San Cyprianu is written in white, on the southeast coast of the island.
Most mornings were spent on the beach of San Cyprien or Pinarello, or touring the southeast coast of Corse with Michel and Danielle, Olivier and Maud’s great uncle and aunt. Michel and Danielle are absolutely wonderful. They must be in their mid-70s, but have very young spirits, and are so fun to be around. They also have an adorable terrier, Oscar, who loves to swim and eat the rind of cheese.
Going out on the boat was the best for reaching places without a lot of tourists and going fish hunting. Fish hunting is a favorite past time of the family and Olivier initiated me into the club. It’s so fun to swim quietly and slowing, then suddenly dart after a fish, pull the trigger of the rifle and attempt to capture the fish. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of shooting fish but since we ate every fish we caught, I thought this was a sufficient argument and therefore the sport is OK in my book. I did not catch any fish, neither did Maud, but Olivier caught 3 or 4. When the water was too stormy for my taste for fish hunting, I stayed close to the rocks and looked for shells among the schools of baby fish. It’s really sad that there have been so many tourists over the past 100 years because the island has been literally stripped of shells – I found only 3 tiny shells that were truly beautiful!
On the second to last day in Corsica, Michel and Danielle took Maud, Olivier, and I to a protected reserve to feed the fish. Upon arrival, I discovered that the reserve was also a reserved beach for nudists! Avoiding the swimming nudists, we fed the fish baguettes – frenchy fishes! – and were so surprised to see HUNDREDS of oblades flock towards us and literally follow us like dogs back to the boat. (I didn’t take any photos but wanted to show you a picture of what the fish look like. I guess you will thank me for not taking pictures at a nudist beach, ha!)
In the afternoons, after taking long, relaxing lunches, with at least 3 courses (fruit, main course, coffee and tea with chocolate and drinking rosé like water) we were absolutely dead from all the food and stay inside to escape from the heat. At around 3 or 4pm we would slowly venture outside and normally take trips in Maud’s car to visit Porto Vecchio (Porti Vechju), where we ate cassis sorbet and drank Corsican beer, or Bonifacio (Bunifaziu) to admire the views of our neighbor Sardinia.
One afternoon Olivier, Maud, Natalie, and I went hiking in the mountains to a massive waterfall near L’Ospedale (which can be seen on the map above). Most Corsicans lived in the mountains, not near the water, for defense against Italian and French invaders. Today, this could be considered protection against tourists who come to bronze in the Corse sun! A Corsican saying, “Look at the water but live on the land.” My favorite aspects of Corse were the the sharp, jutting mountains that pierced the sky. (Of course I cannot forget the crystal turquoise water of the Mediterranean, but the mountains are incredible!)
At the beginning of the hike we made fun of the trail, trying to make it more “extreme,” laughing at the woman who was wearing high heels while traversing the gentle path. Then, suddenly, the path became SUPER steep and we had to literally rock climb down the mountain to reach the waterfall and scale the rocks to come back up. It was a seriously extreme hike by the end of the day! A few days later, on the 25th, Natalie took the back back to the real world and she was sorely missed! Also, as we made our way back down the mountains, we saw a terrible motorcycle accident. The couple, who was pregnant, died, either instantly or because the ambulance could not make its way fast enough through the small roads to the top of the mountain. My thoughts are with this couple and their families; what a terrible thing to happen.
We also celebrated my birthday while in Corsica and it was so much fun! The day was quiet, it was extremely hot, and we spent most of the day indoors. We only ventured outdoors to the beach in the afternoon as the sun was calming down. At night, after things had cooled down a bit, Maud, Olivier, and I went out to a seriously AWESOME pizza restaurant, the Corse are killer at making pizza, and drank a bottle of delicious Corse red wine. After dinner, we came back to the house, ate half of the huge plum tarte that Olivier and I had made earlier that day, drank rosé, and then walked to the beach for a midnight swim with plankton that SPARKLE! It was so amazing to watch the shooting stars above our heads and the shining plankton below our feet. A great 21st birthday!!
All in all, La Corse is now one of my favorite places on earth. At times, I was incredibly perturbed by the amount of tourists, by the floating trash in the water, by the cigarette butts on the beach, and just plain freaked out by some of the women’s breast jobs we saw. But I have utterly fallen in love with the mountains, the fish who swim carefully in and out of the rocks, the wine, the bubbling noises of French, Italian and Corsu mixing together, and the way the Mediterranean sun soaks like olive oil into your skin.
Now I am back in Lille, welcomed home by the rain. School started two days ago, and so far so good. I have met a lot of Swedish people, it’s funny how all the Scandinavians all coincidentally sat in the same area. But I seriously hope that my classes will not be as boring as my methodology class was today!!! Expect another post after this weekend with news of the Grande Braderie (one of the biggest flea markets in Europe with 3 million people!) and masses of people staying at our apartment for a huge party!
I would like to dedicate this post to my dog Daniel, who just passed away last Saturday. I just found out two days ago upon my return to Lille. He was a wonderful dog, a good friend, and a true member of the family. I loved him very much and am sad to know he is gone and that I was not able to say goodbye.