Alps log: day 18-19

Today is a travelling day.

4:30am. Arise to darkness. I break camp by headlamp. First train out of Zermatt to Geneva. I fret about not having bought a ticket yesterday for my 5:38 train… for nothing, the ticket office opens at 5:15 sharply. 92 francs, directly to the airport. I have to transfer to the InteRegion line in Visp, with a 20 minute holdover; he tells me this in a tone suggesting that that is an absurdly long time. The train leaves precisely at 5:38. I set my watch to it. On the train with me at that hour: other airport-bound passengers, commuters, and teenagers going to school. At the transfer, I take my time, using the restroom, which is lit entirely by UV light. My skin is blue, but a common carrier bathroom is exactly where you want an irradiating light; are you listening Penn station?

My flight is to Ajaccio, a coastal city on the French mediterranean island of Corsica. The plane flies over the Alps in the most scenic window seat experiences ever. I try to trace my haute route, but it’s too sudden. The woman in the aisle seat gives me a nice introduction to the French people by jamming her camera by my face and
at the window. “Pérdon” will only get you so far, sister.

Corsica. The Corsican people are fiercely independent and threaten cessession from France regularly. They’re all about Le Corse. Businesses not started by local Corsicans are boycotted, even firebombed. Corsica liberated itself during WWII, two years ahead of the mainland. Ajaccio is the ancestral home of Napolean, and everything is labelled accordingly. Corsica is also home to the esteemed hiking trail, the GR20.1 Thus ends the unconfirmed fact portion of this post.

I meet my friend at airport. Nancy is a law school classmate, one of those rare breeds, the ones that I actually like. She is just starting her bar trip, due for Paris and Italy. But now it’s us in Corsica. She has an old family friend with a house near the beach here, and I’m crashing the party. With glee.

Nancy is shocked at my appearance. Two weeks in the Alps have turned me into a wild man: skin darkened to the bone, hair now a mane, my face and body emaciated, testing the limits of my Teddy-bear, anime-character good looks. I give it 1 month in the States and it is back to status quo.

Her family friend Rosario and her husband Lukas open their homes to us. She is an itinerant Colombian with a heart of pure gold. He is a freespirited Frenchman, nearly a stereotype, complete with French pride and shoulder length hair. They feed us otherworldly food every day: lamb chops, foie gras pasta, saucisse de marteau, feta cheese tuna salad. I’m a proper guest, eating everything and asking for seconds, polite and winsome, my checkmate being a truckload of Swiss chocolate. Mama Crab didn’t raise no sea urchin.

We hit the beach daily. Toes in the sand, napping, reading a novel, intermittent dips, the dutiful scans of the beach. Vacation. French beaches are liberal, natch, and I grow as a person. I hope to reach the level of maturity wherein I am completely unfazed by the sight of boobies in the wild. I am close; could have used a few more days.

I do not bother seeing much of town, outside one 50m stretch of sand and one evening outing through the old town. The streets are relatively empty. With French summer season officially over (aug 31), the crowds are gone; and only the French vacation here. I can’t decide if the serenity gained outweighs the people-watching lost. Still, it’s vacation.

  1. but please, Im here for R&R on the beach. []

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