Just a little clarification

October 19, 2011

Yes, it’s true, Alain and I have moved incessantly since selling the cafe in the everglades. But I may have exaggerated our status a bit in my last post. We haven’t picked up sticks and taken off altogether (again). We’ve just upgraded to a bigger place that happens to be in another village just down the road. We plan to stay put in this region for a while, so those of you worried about my stability can breath easy.

However, I should be clear that though committed to settling in for a good while, our lifestyle in general is still one of fluidity. We’re leery of material possessions and struggle daily to lighten the load. In that sense, I feel very much on a hunter gatherer path.

A few comments from family and friends about my last post made me realize it looked like we’d moved to another region entirely. Part of that came from my words, but I think most of it came from my pictures. The beach scenes looked so utterly different from the mountain scenes posted just prior. But listen when I say this. We live where the Pyrenees touch the Mediterranean, truly. We live on the edge of high mountains and blue sea at the same time. We haven’t changed regions at all, just spending more time at the beach these days because the weather’s been so incredibly warm.

As some of you may have read earlier, I’m working in marketing and public relations at Can Rigall, the grandiose eco-lodge on the mountain above our previous abode in Arles-sur-Tech. I’m currently immersed in re-writing the text for a new website. The biggest challenge for the site, and all marketing efforts, is describing the unique geography of where we’re located. Many worlds collide here, stacked one on top of the other. I’m struggling to put into words the very same concept that confused a few of you. So if you don’t mind, I’m going to use this space to work out the needed words. For your benefit and mine.

The Pyrenees-Orientales department of France is where we are, in the Languedoc-Roussillon region that skirts the Mediterranean coast as it turns down toward Spain. We are the southern-most point in France, just a few kilometers from the Spanish border. We can easily hike or bike to Spain in a day. We often go there for groceries and cheaper gas, the way one might drive to a neighboring town for Costco in the United States.

The cultural region on our side of the border is called French Catalonia, or northern Catalonia. It shares the same language and culture with Southern Catalonia in Spain, its capital being Barcelona.

Down there they speak mainly Catalan, Spanish coming in second. Here, on the French side the main language is French, with Catalan coming in second. In Arles sur Tech (the village we just moved from) we often heard street conversations in Catalan from our open apartment windows. And an elderly woman in the building across the street spoke only Catalan, with a few French and Spanish words here and there.

So you can see, we’re in a multidimensional area influenced by three different cultures. It only seems natural that the landscape too would express such diversity. That it does. The frigid altitudes of Pic du Canigou seemingly rise straight out of the blue-green sea. For that very juxtaposition, mount Canigou was believed to be the highest peak of the Pyrenees for a very long time. Its height exaggerated by the low altitude of the Roussillon plain spreading out at its base.

We have two rooftop terraces in our bi-level apartment in our new village of Sorede. From the terrace on my bedroom side I wake and lay down to a view of the sacred Canigou. From the kitchen-side terrace where we dine outside, the waters of the Mediterranean are seen on the horizon. We live, visibly, between mountains and sea. Anyone with poetic ideas for explaining that to potential guests, I’m accepting any and all suggestions!

Mild climate palm trees and oleander grow in Arles sur Tech, a village encased by steep and rocky mountains. Can Rigall is a little higher on the ridge on the left. The snow-capped Canigou presides over from the right. Sea gulls regularly nest in the abbey’s belltower in the center of the village. Mountains and sea, for real.

2 Responses to “Just a little clarification”

  1. lustintotravel said

    I don’t know about poetic, but here I go:

    We are between a rock and a soft place, between the freezer and the solar oven, between settlements, villages, and wilderness.

    If you want a linguistic challenge and don’t speak French, Spanish, or Catalan, come here.

    If you want to be able to hike through 6 or 7 distinct ecological zones in less than a day, come on!

    Do you want spend a day in cool and difficult rock and mountain climbing and finish with a refreshing swim in the Mediterranean and sun bathing, venga, ven, vene, come!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: