Saturday afternoon I surprised myself by actually enjoying some alone time with French music in the local Musee de Beaux-Arts. Check.
Sunday was another “check” because I got up and went to mass with my host mom. I expected the Cathedral with the big organ, but turned out we were just going to the local church, which was fine, though I’d still like to hear the Organ. This was a step out of my comfort zone. I don’t fully understand a Catholic Mass even in English so change it to French and I’m totally lost. However, despite my confusion I left like I was experiencing an important part of culture and history and I spend a good deal of time spacing out reflecting on that because translating is exhausting.
Monday was not as expected either. I woke up with two red eyes and in a lot of pain. Ended up missing two hours of class to go to the eye doctor where they tested my pronunciation of the French alphabet as well as my eye sight. Turned out I had scratched my corneas and was to use these burning eye drops for three days. Tuesday I was practically blind and after suffering through 3 hours of class with 1 eye half open. I apologized “pour les cascades de mes yeux” and my waterfalls and I went home to sleep, via the pharmacy.
Wednesday I was feeling a bit better, which was essential because after school Carina and I left for Nantes, where we went to bed at 9 pm.
4am came quickly but our journey to Corsica was smooth, aside from hungrily waiting in the airport for two hours for the 9 euro bus to town.
Life stayed interesting when we arrived in Bastia.
And because of the following events, I couldn’t decided which title to use.
« Pas de Bus » (No Bus)
« Toussaint » (All Saints)
« C’est Fermée » (It’s Closed)
P.S. Those funny marks are French quotation marks
Its Toussaint (a holiday). Of course! Why didn’t we realize…everything is closed today. That means no buses nor grocery stores. Ok, so 7.50 euro for a slice of pizza, a coke and a chocolate waffle thing.
That’ll tie me over. But we can’t walk over a mountain with our stuff for 25 kilometers without a map. That leaves a taxi. Alright, locate taxi. “Bonjour Monsieur, combien coute…” More than 67 euro. Oh. That’s a pair of shoes. Or two. Just kidding sir, have a nice day. Now we more than seriously considered the inconsiderable. We didn’t tell any loved ones what we’d decided, just stuck out our thumbs and smiled.
People waved or sympathetically smiled but no one stopped. Ok, change location. Here in our new spot, we made a sign with the name of our destination. A nice man with a bike on his car pulled over to tell us we were in the wrong area to go that direction and helped us know where to go. We chatted with a couple from Quebec who were traveling around and gave us hitchhiking advice. So we changed location again. Impatiently, I announced that I was giving up hope and taking the taxi in 10 minutes. Just then, a (non-sketchy) woman pulled over. RIDE! “We’re actually doing this!” shouted my internal dialogue. Our driver was wonderful; she told us Corsican info and wouldn’t accept money.
We found our hotel easily…
and only worried for a moment because the only one there to greet us for check in was a large green praying mantis.
Once 3pm struck we got in and then returned to the mostly closed town seeking dinner.
We got to wander a bit and sort of found bread, cheese and wine, which would do for dinner. So we turned in early for the evening.
While it is known for a lot of things, public transportation is not one of those things. Our questions of “what is there to do around here” were always greeted with “do you have a car?”, “No”. “……..uh-oh”.
So, the following day involved a lot of walking, a lot of beautiful views and a lot of going the wrong direction. We were never really lost, we had a map. A simple map. That we were confidently following. But we managed to follow it wrong multiple times. The consequences were not particularly upsetting and we were not the only ones confused. Perks included finding a kitty,
finding a place to kayak the next day and finding a building in ruins.
Finally, we found the correct trail but having taken longer than planned to get there, we stopped at a beautiful view and put our feet in the water.
The evening held homemade soup followed by showers and a ton of the best chocolate ice-cream I can remember consuming.
Our only plans for the next day were Kayaking. (There was nothing else we could do within walking distance in November). We got up and went into town to explore a bit and wait for it to warm up. On our way into town we heard gunfire that went past Carina. Then a man in uniform (with a gun) asked us if we’d seen his dog. Nope. Walking on, we came across fresh footprints in mud, then fresh poop, then barking. Found the dog! Stellar detectives we are (the day before we had found a back pack and spent some time pondering that mystery too). Continuing, we accidentally found the church and fort we were planning on looking for. Unfortunately we couldn’t get inside so we decided to head to the boat place.
Once afloat in our double, salt water kayak, it was just us, the view and some interesting birds. We made it a decent distance in a hour and a half. All the way to the previous day’s original destination, a half an old tower.
The hike was supposed to take 3.5 hours but on a boat, short cuts (when the waves cooperate) were quick. The way back started out fierce paddling and loud singing to keep us going. Once we got closer and the wind wasn’t in our faces we got to just drift a bit and chat.
Back on shore we had a chance to thaw out in the shower and went to watch some locals play bocce ball. Dinner was filling pasta and pesto!
The day of our return trip started out grim. While checking out we were informed the only way to get back was by taxi. “Duh, it’s a bank holiday, there are no buses on Sundays!” (is what it seemed like we were being told). A taxi would cost 85 euro. EURO. That’s $109.02! Depressed we headed toward town. Knowing our luck had run out, we made a sign for “Bastia S.V.P.” and walked with our thumbs out. Less than an hour later a car pulled over. A nice woman, her husband and granddaughter accepted us into their car. Enthused that it worked a second time we thanked them profusely and were on our way! The ride was fun. The woman used to teach French but now the two live in Paris and have visited the states several times. We even got to help Alex – their granddaughter- speak English. To kill time in Bastia before the airport shuttle, we wandered around a huge yard sale-market-bizarre thing and had a snack. I resisted buying Pirates of the Caribbean in French while on an island known for pirate history.
Saying goodbye to Corsica and le vacances, we journeyed home to finish homework. Home, to where our reliable tram was waiting to take us across town for free. 🙂