Corsica Landscape Learned (II/II)

This is Solaro, located in the department of Haute-Corse region. At the beach, next door Sole d’Or campground is a stele erected on beach in honor of the Corsican resistance against the Nazi troops until the liberation of Corsica on 4 October 1943, fifty years prior this mark was placed in year 1993.

“On this beach, in April and June 1943, Dominique Poli, Mayor of Porto-Vecchio, organized the reception of submarines from Allied mission for the general Paulin Colonna, precinct unifier of resistance Corsica.”

On the same beach and actually very near, is a small bar named Les Flots Bleus. It will be my asylum for next few hours. Sitting there, in shade of the terrace, I slowly realise how my life is now delightfully chained in geographical triangle of landscapes partially due to one mouth-watering ingredient in certain alcoholic beverages. Pimpinella anisum, the aniseed, is my weak spot when it comes to flavoring liquor. Pastis*, Sambuca and Ouzo draw a triangle in between their origins of production. No wonder I love it, this annual plant is growing native to the eastern Mediterranean.

There is a quiet TV at the bar playing a black and white film “The Corsican Brothers” featuring Douglas Fairbanks jr. I vaguely recall a trivia that among being an actor of very early age he also become a war hero during second World War. After some time, somewhere in between third and fourth glass of Pastis, I sit up and take notice that the same Italian tenor I hardly was able to hear earlier the day is played again in radio. The song is vigorously trying to make my drowsy consciousness to realize the Pastis colored milky moon slowly waking from the sea at the horizon. He sings with languorous voice Porto per poeti che non scrivonoPort for poets who do not write.

This is the place, I agree. Not necessarily one needs to write anything if the essence of existing poetry already lives everywhere so vividly it is sufficient to fulfill this hidden soul locker of poems. Then again, for some unknown reasons, maybe in order to keep their self-esteem together or to regain and keep one’s sanity, writing poems becomes a necessity for going forward. Still they may remain in one’s heart, unpublished and too fragile for the public but who can tell. The human history acknowledges many great explorers, men and women, possessing good qualities as writers and sometimes they have written poems too. Those I personally find the most attractive ones, the great writers of history, often saluted with certain envy but also with indescribable admiration.

The atmosphere is as pleasant like one can imagine after good set of aperitif in cooling evening while browsing the beef menu. I’m going to risk it all and select a tenderloin cut of beef served with sweet Corsican cheese flambéed in brandy. One would never think this is even possible to be served in such a petty place. Still it is listed and I live in hope this dinner will assure me good nights sleep with no more catastrophe nightmares.

Next morning the amazing mackerel sky is looking like painted organ solo in Light My Fire by the Doors. I’m close about to wake up despite of lethargy. The late night beef was excellent and obviously I had slept like a log until late in the morning in the shelter of Sole d’Or campground. After such fair amount of Aqua Vita on top of hefty beef I am not surprised to find the clock being over eleven. Dull headache makes me to take a day of from driving. I discover that my drinking definitely got out of hand but that is what sometimes happen. The razor edge could use a sharper blade and facing the bungalow mirror does certainly not appeal. Decent haircut and staying up less, especially with alcoholic companion would do me good, I find myself mumbling half aloud.

Instead of going north by car I decide to take a long walk up to the hills of Solaro with some picnic gear and food supplies. Solaro village is facing east on the hills about 8 kilometers from the main road junction. This is Le territoire de la Corse Orientale and I definitely want to have some bites going off the beaten path. Yesterday, while discussing few words with the local bar customers, I heard that there is little of natural park hidden along the road to the village. Nothing to do with wild meadows of good old Galehurst, I suspect but the idea of having a picnic under shelter of furry chestnut tree was “lure of little voices” to my wandering ears.

From the campground mini-market I select local salami and tomme de chèvre cheese, two tomatoes, a half a dozen figs, some white bread and a bottle of light and fruity white wine. I also purchase a large bottle of water and having guilty conscience come to think how disgusting habit it generally is to use bottled water in regions where one could consume tab water. I feel little stupid thinking all such but then decide to blame the hangover just to get it over. Previously, after all the sailing, I had purchased some new batteries in Porto-Vecchio for Aiwa Walkman. I did not dare to use it at all in such a humid environment but now it is loaded with a cassette of Jean-Luc Ponty playing full Aurora album from 1975. I’m mesmerized how the goddess of dawn presented in Roman mythology is converted to ear-pleasing jazz. I recall a magnificent illusionistic ceiling painting, fresco of Aurora by Guercino, in Casino di Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome. Guercino used effects like foreshortening to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on flat base. With that view in the recesses of my mind the walk goes upwards, along the ever-narrowing road towards the west.

Eight kilometer walk under toasty sunshine makes me sweat considerably. While entering the outskirts of the village I try to spot the 17th century church of San Giovanni Baptista on the eastern edge of the village. The vague information received from campsite reception is my only guide. I need to take a minute on a bench beside the road. There are some of these laid in places where one can spend a silent moment or two for admiring the peaceful scenery. The traffic is practically non-existing, Only two cars has passed me during the whole walk. No walkers, no bikers or anyone else. Continuing the last kilometer up to the village center reveals old rundown-looking gray stone houses, some whitewashed but only a few plastered in vivid color. Plenty of gardens, few of them remaining neglected. Finally village road has some people going around. It would be fun to chat with these peasants, if I only could Corsican or even French. Actually the use of Corsican over French has been declining and only about ten percent of population are using it as a first language.

They say that one of the most regretted thing among people lying on their deathbeds is that they never studied and learned more languages. Another regrettable thing was that one did not travel enough. I sure had been given good share of traveling this summer even walking here among Corsica landscape it feels much like reading “Les Aventures de Tintin” in French while enjoying only pictures but skipping all text. To be honest, it really feels a lot better due to the stunning scent of the macchia. Tintin, by the way, being the only Belgian I have made friends so far. Pardon my saying, the Belgians have always remained as a distant mix of Celtic and Germanic people to me. Almost the same applies to my conception about Belgian like what Edward Lear wrote about Albania “To the unlearned tourist, indeed, Albania is a puzzle of the highest order.” That said, I think I actually might still do something for removing this reason from my own list of regrettable subjects. How to manage that, I can’t dare to think, since I’m just in the middle of seeking old age core and line of my future for remaining years. Then, what is that actually? I’ve been going round the Europe in the past months and ended up walking in Corsica. Part of my senses say that I should really get back home for the autumn but the other part try to appease and just make me enjoy lightly the days of summer. Am I becoming homesick or what?

I’m not yet to announce the village of Solaro as a garden of Eden but this wonderful walk certainly makes me feel like quoting Voltaire, French philosopher “Le paradis terrestre est où je suis.” Returning down from the hill along narrow and meandering road while the trees occasionally give way to the front of the landscape of Parc naturel regional de Corse. Staying and resting in the shadow of shrubs and pines with my picnic snack makes me notice how local salami and cheese with tomatoes on top of bread restores my strength and drives any remaining headache away. Slicing rest of the salami and figs with my Laguiole knife, I decide it must be best to keep on going with the plan and shortly head north to Bastia. Instead of drinking any wine I take a few good gulps of warm water and wonder if I could even try to reach Bastia early tomorrow. Despite the hiking I really feel freshened and soon hurry back downhill to the campsite with brisk pace stretching my mind with interesting mythology and debate about the insect depicted on the back of the Laguiole knife. This is a high-quality equipment I seldom leave home without. What ever the legend truly is I’m still convinced insect is representing Aubrac cow fly.

* To be exact, Pastis is flavored with Illicium verum, commonly called star aniseed.

This chapter is an example from yet unpublished volume
currently identified as "The Fast and Slow Rays"
by Yumatzuga (2011-2014).



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