Porquerolles Day 8

July 8, 2015

It turns out that La Tour Fondue only serves for Porquerolles. In order to go to Port Cros, one has to be in Port d’Hyeres first. As expected, this one hour morning cruise was one of salty breeze, gentle sunlight. Leaning on the white rail, I sometimes gazed at the northeastern end of Porquerolles tilting at an unnoticeable pace, wondering what I had missed due to the previous day’s accident; sometimes I stared at the dancing white foams creating a glistening rainbow. There I gradually slipped into drowsiness, and Melville’s beautiful narration emerged in the center of my consciousness:

…lulled into such an opium-like listlessness of vacant, unconscious reverie is this absent-minded youth by the blending cadence of waves with thoughts, that at last he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and nature… In this enchanted mood, thy spirit ebbs away to whence it came; becomes diffused through time and space…

I came to Port Cros mainly because of the advertised underwater trail. To reach it from the port, one first needs to hike along the cliff edge of the island for 40 minutes. Even though the cliffs ran fast down to the water, the thick vegetation gave me a very comfortable sense of safety. It was such an enchanting trail because you never completely lose sight of the sea or the impenetrable forest. On the left, there was the sound of waves crushing against the rocks; on the right, there was the synchronized buzzing of cicadas celebrating the heat. I have freedom in my left hand and love in my right hand. Here there was such a variety of trees growing wildly into each other that made the shady trail barely passable. Upon arriving at the destination I was almost sorry.

But at the same moment, I suddenly realized I hadn’t rented any snorkeling equipment yet! That’s of course very typical of me. I ran up where I came from, saying Bonjure to all the people that just started flocking to the beach. Got the mask and tube for almost twice the cost of that on Porquerolles. On my way back to the beach, I chose a different route, steeper and more winding. And obviously I don’t mind getting acquainted with this scenic part of the island by walking it three times.

Now I finally got to what I came here for. Plage de la Palud was a fluffy beach again. The shallow water was muddy. The underwater trail turned out to be quite similar to Crique de la Galare. Yellow carpet, white ginkgo leaves and rolling grass thickets glittering with sunlight rays. There perhaps were a few more kinds of fish. I spent about 40 minutes around the area, looking for the true face of the murderous medusa to no avail. I would conclude that it wasn’t boring, but definitely not very breathtaking. It shouldn’t be surprising though. After all, these three islands are so close to each other. There’s no reason to expect anything different in the underwater landscape. So probably I didn’t miss much by dropping the second snorkeling destination the other day.

In the afterthought, what was really nice about Port Cros was definitely its intimate cliff trails. The island is an official national park (the smallest in France) where trees are specifically protected. I left la Palud and its screaming, laughing kids altogether. As soon as I ran into the bosom of greens, it was all tranquility and solitude again. Along the way, I discovered several more picturesque coves where no bathers visit.

When I got to the east most point, I already felt a bit tired and wanted to turn westward back to the village. But over there I lost the trail. I looked back and saw clearly the trail led me here. But before me was some extremely difficult rock climbing down to the water. And it wasn’t the right direction that Google Maps pointed for me. I stood there for a few minutes, not knowing what to do. Just then, though I was all alone all this time, just when I needed help, two human beings magically appeared before my eyes. They were coming from high up towards me. Then I realized I was supposed to climb up. I gladly greeted the two guys hiking the opposite way and said “Youu saved me!” “Why?” “Here I thought the trail led me to nowhere and I was stuck. Then I saw you guys coming down and now I know where to go.” They laughed and wished me good luck. read more …

Porquerolles Day 7

July 5, 2015

Late in the morning around 8 o’clock, I got to Porquerolles Plongee and literally had the store owner open up his shop by ringing him while standing right outside. Since it was already impossible to catch a boat bus to Port Cros at that hour, I decided to rent the snorkeling equipment here and explore eastern Porquerolles.

The first destination of the two is Crique de la Galere. It was a pleasant morning walk out in the country, uneventful compared to that adventurous first hike. The final descending “acces plage” part was a highlight because it’s narrower, shadier and thus more fun to maneuver among the tree branches and spider webs. The slope is much milder compared to that of Gorges du Loup, but therefore also stretches much longer. It’s the same type of rock found at Gorges du Loup, but here it’s covered with soil and trees, whose roots form natural stairs all the way down.

When I arrived at the opening (nobody was there except for many boats at the mouth of the bay), the sea didn’t surprise me with a breathtaking view. And I, unfazed by the sight of a freshly dead seagull, settled my bag beside it. When was the last time I snorkeled? It took me quite a while to relearn my snorkeling devices. When I finally plunged into the water, the underwater world welcomed me with blue and yellow. The shallow water bottom is mostly covered with yellow fluffy carpet and white rolled “gingko leaves”. Only small fish hung around here. Twenty meters away, I spotted my first pray with non-negligible size. It soon joined its friends and swam in a school of ten. They look tasty, by which I mean they are not dressed vividly. This is because the general environ is yellow and they can’t hide from the birds if they are not also yellowish. Yah, blame the vegetation here. So with my Eilat trip in mind, namely the most lushly corlorful coral reefs, clown fish and numerous other types of fish of distinct geometry, Crique de la Galere didn’t impress me too much. But of course, the clear blue water is always a soul-soothing substance.

Exercising the norm of the snorkeling game: fish chasing, before I noticed, I was already at a considerable depth, where the boats parked. The blue here got darker and more enigmatic. I had to constantly come out to the air to make sure I’m close to the boats so as not to be too isolated. This was proven to be a last wise thought after all the bad decisions I would make before it.

So after taking in a full hour view of the ever charming water, I found myself 150 meters away from my bag. Feeling it’s time to rock the road again, I decided to take off my mask and give it a non-stop straight-line swimming back to the shore. Just over 100 strokes, suddenly I was attacked by an acute pain on my forearm and I instantly gave out a cry of terror. (I’m sure my scream was still echoing at the bay today.) I looked to left and saw nothing. Imagination told me it must have been a flesh-eating fish with an entire mouth made out of sharp teeth. In total panic I then raised my left arm and saw a scary region with many small purple dots that looked like poisoned pores. I must have been mad by now. I was so frightened and started fleeing towards the nearest boat clumsily, completely forgetting about the newly-learned fast swimming technique. read more …