Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sailing the Mediterranean Sea

Just after my return from my trip I met Éric, who returned from his one-month sailing trip on the same day I left for Spain. When you listen about sea, sailing and all this adventure from him, you immediately want to give it a go. I've never tried that before and my swimming abilities would exclude me from any water sport but when I heard "I'd like you to have a chance to try it" the astonishment came first but right after that big excitement of another opportunity to try something new.

The primary plan was to sail for 3 days, from Monday to Wednesday. As it often happens with plans, they change a lot and this time our trip was two days shorter - first because of too much wind (even in Lagnes the mini-mistral made me think I could fly), second because the owner of the boat who wanted to have it Tuesday evening. However, even one day spent entirely on the boat was an experience to remember and to repeat one day.

We started from Le Vieux Port in Marseille and took a shuttle to Frijoul Island, where Éric's boat was anchored.

Le Vieux Port

Harbor at Frijoul

Éric's boat

After some rest on the shores of Riou Island we visited a few calanques - deep, steep-sided valleys comprised of limestone and granite.

The scenery is stunning. The calanques are wild, rugged terrain whose rocks reflect the sunlight. Some of them are vegetation-free, on some shrubs and tiny trees succeed in growing. The contrast between the turquoise and blue water is astonishing. I loved tiny harbor villages and little chalets perched on the rocks. I stared at the jaw-dropping formations, stared at as many clefts, furrows, scratches and changes in the color as I could (impossible to note everything when the rock in front of your eyes is massive). I recalled my memories from another climatic zone - observing the snows of Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc through Jim's telescope in his apartment at Le Coupeau. So many details in both of them...

Our day started very early, that's why everybody was happy to enjoy the siesta. I bathed in the sun on the bow of the boat and when I woke up, I had the beautiful panorama of Marseille in front of my eyes and sun shining right above me.

I loved my time spent on the boat and I loved how carefree it was. As if you leave all your problems and worries behind once you leave the safe harbor. While peacefully swaying on the azure sea, with the best views imaginable in front of me, I wondered how surprising life can be; we fall in love with places we never intended to love...

Some months ago I thought I'd be living in Copenhagen now. I stayed there only for 2 weeks and was relieved to leave the place where I felt terribly lonely. My excellent host from Sweden, Katrine, told me other paradises would come. And it came, in the form of paradise I had never left: sunny Provence, lashed with mistral, with its green hills, mountain-perched villages and houses made of brick with pastel shutters. Every single place I see here is like falling in love again; so much to fill your eyes and fuel your soul.

I remember studying for a retake of a difficult exams, during my holidays in USA in 2008, when thinking about the university was the last thing I would like to think about. I whined about not being able to memorize stupid data and doubted that studies were something for me. There were tears and desperation too. More or less, pushed by my teaching relations, I decided to continue, still never being sure that it's exactly what I want to do in my life: connect my future with what I'd studied. My mind has always been somewhere else but now my body is there too. The studying time is over and I'm sure as hell I'll never take it up again. You could ramble on about better job, money, prestige, you could try to bribe me and none of these would work. I'm living my life my OWN way, with little money but with plenty of freedom. Freedom I never had still being a student, bounded by exams, land researches and trainings. Then prevented from progressing, now I feel I can develop, flourish and grow.

During last year I've slept under the stars and close to major monuments, got invited by locals into their houses, shared their everyday lives with them, helped with harvest, walked hundreds of kilometers in the sunshine and in the rain, met hitchhiking drivers who became hiking partners, got drenched and sunburned while hitchhiking, talked to people in all languages I know, felt uncomfortable but how excited at the same time, managed to see good part of Europe thanks to the generosity of strangers, traveled to 16 countries (more than in previous 8 years of traveling), out of which 8 for the first time. All just because of never being afraid to follow MY WAY.

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