Day 28 - Crossing Corsica Pt. 2
Restarting our motors
Our spirits were high and the air full of adventure as we followed the Corsican coast towards Propriano. The terrain rolled up and down, in and out along the ridges that butte against the Mediterranean Sea. All of a sudden, an inlet turned into a climb, and we found ourselves going up. After three weeks of riding horses, we had lost a lot of our hard-earned fitness and the incline seemed impossible.
After a long day of climbing the next day, nightfall began to encroach. The road we were on followed a loud river, and the tree cover mixed with the dampness of the river did not make for an inviting campsite. To emphasize my point: the roads were so damp and unused there was moss growing on them. Around dusk we reached a village of a smattering of houses with little activity. Steaming from the climb, we asked a round older man if we could camp in his yard. He hesitantly said yes; but continued repeating that it would be very cold. While we assured him that we had good winter gear, he continued to stare at us in disbelief, scrunching up his face like he really couldn’t comprehend why anyone would want to camp in his front yard, much less in the winter with their bicycles. Finally after much thinking, he must have accepted that we were crazy people from, as they say in Corsica, “the continent”. He retreated to his cozy house, smoke puffing from the chimney, while we began to make camp. We hoped maybe he’d invite us in for a shower, or a drink, but given he hadn’t asked us any questions about our trip or showed much interest in us except for the fact that we’d be cold, it seemed unlikely.
We were wrong, because shortly after he remerged and with only a hint of a smile he said, “The old schoolmaster is coming, he will unlock the school house for you – it will be warmer no?”
The schoolmaster walked ahead of us, refuting our thanks, “Don’t thank me, the building belongs to “la France.” Okay, well, thank you to “la France,” then.
In the one room schoolhouse we dried out our things still wet from the night before on the beach, and put our sleeping mats near the heater. The building had become a resting place for any and all of the municipal affairs and villagers’ belongings – birth and death records gathering dust in a corner, a collection of children’s films under a flat screen television that no longer worked, and boxes and boxes of holiday and festival decorations. Still we were thrilled; a hot meal on the table, a shower from the sink and we were asleep before 10pm. In the morning, we left the keys in the lock as instructed and left the hamlet, its inhabitants just as invisible as when we arrived.
“As they say in Corsica…Goodbye” – Gene Wilder
Our story in Corsica was almost over. Our last night in France we spent atop the white cliffs towering over Bonifacio. We arrived in time to watch the sunset, and across the sea in front of us we could already see the outlines of the mountains in Sardinia beckoning us. We fell asleep already dreaming of the pizza and pasta that awaits us in Italy.