Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Corsica Part II

Okay, part deux: Le Cap Corse. 

The little peninsula that juts off the northern tip of Corsica is called le cap. On July 13th Julia and I convinced our friends Hervé and Stephane to faire le tour from Bastia to Nonza. I drove the rental car while Hervé led the way on his moto. Knowing his home well, he'd point to interesting things and pull over at spots he knew we'd like. Our first stop was Erbalunga, a small town with one of the many ancient stone towers. Les tours line the coast and were used to warn of invasions by lighting fires within them. Of course Hervé (a fellow climber) and I had to climb up inside one to check it out. 

 After un café there, our next stop on the road was a climbing destination. We pulled over on the top of a cliff and hiked down to the water. Sport holds lined the walls and a group of Spanish climbers were roped in. Not having any gear, I had to at least traverse out a bit over the water. I threw my sunglasses to Hervé and went out as far as my arms allowed. When my strength was gone, I fell into the water and joined them for a swim... that is until les méduses (jellyfish) started to sting!


A little ways up the coast we headed up and over the mountains to the Western side. I had a blast driving the little car on the narrow, winding streets. The streets are only as wide as a donkey cart since cars weren't brought to Corsica until 1960! We drove through tiny hill top towns and gawked at the incredible views of the countryside and Mediterranean below. Sweeping around corners to the sight of another incredible view, I'd squeal with delight and Stephane would laugh and tell me I could stop to take another photograph. Julia was having her own squeals of delight on Hervé's moto.

Near the top of the mountain we pulled over  for a pic nic lunch. Proscuitto, fresh peaches, comté cheese, baguette, red pepper, avocadoes and chocolate were procured earlier. Siesta and tree climbing followed in the warm dappled light.


We continued our descent towards Nonza, discovering the more wild and less developed Western coast. We passed through more breathtaking towns, stopping in one called Pino for coffee and ice cream. The one corner town was perched on a cliff overlooking the sea and an ancient tour below. The café was setting up for the Bastille Day festivities that evening. We sat in the sun, read the Corse Matin newspaper, ate fig and honey ice cream and sipped cafés. Insane, crazy happiness settled in.


Finally, we could see Nonza in the distance high sur les falaises over a long, black beach. We arrived at the perfect time, just before sunset. We'd been invited to Jean-Jaques' house for a party... 


 ...once we started hiking down hundreds of steps into the woods, I realized this wasn't going to be a normal house...

Over the past 20 years Jean-Jaques has rebuilt a stone home. Un vrai ruin quoi. Built by the Italians many years ago, it was used during the harvest of oranges which were exported to Italy. A grill and a fresh spring are all he needs. That night we drank local rosé, sang songs and enjoyed being outside in this incredible place.

 The view(and our bed later)

To entertain the kids I set my camera up on the tripod and we painted with light. Everyone took a turn, each one getting more and more creative. Since we'd come unprepared for camping, once it was time for bed, we scavenged for supplies. Finding a pillow here and a towel there, we made ourselves a bed par terre and slept under the stars. Well, that is until Stephane started snoring like a bear!

In the morning I hiked down to the black stone beach and did yoga in the sun below the town. Later we swam in the ocean, sun bathed on hot rocks and soaked in the spring-fed basin.

Although we hated to leave Nonza and Jean-Jaques' peaceful place, our epic adventure was not over! We zipped back over to the East coast and went paddle boarding with Hervé. It was that perfect evening light with no wind and few méduses. I showed them SUP yoga and we gave the beach a show. The paddle board owner asked if he could use images of us to promote classes and I said, "if I can take your portrait in exchange". ;)

Exhausted, we raced back to Bastia for dinner and fireworks over the Vieux Port in celebration of Bastille Day. What an incredible road trip- Corsican style!