Mare a Mare Nord, Day 8: E Case – Cargèse

During breakfast we are startled by a loud noise coming from the forest behind us. Agitated footsteps wake us from our morning dream. With bated breath we stare at the forest, where all the uproar is coming from. The crowns of the trees move wildly back and forth. Confused we look at each other. We brace ourselves and get ready to take on the giant Corsican monster who will be rushing out of the woods to devour us. Our hearts skip a beat. There he comes. Wait! Oh no, he’s not alone! They are three … !! They are, they are … Uhm … Cows. When the animals come face to face with us, they suddenly stop. They look frightfully in our direction. They remain dead still and hesitate for a moment before fleeing back into the mountains again.

A German couple that spent the night at the gite is out early and walk past us while Wim is binding his shoes underneath the rising sun. “Did you spend the night here”, they ask in disbelief. With a big smile on our faces, we nod in the affirmative. The jealousy in their eyes tastes awfully sweet. And we don’t even feel a bit guilty about it.

The path sends us back down from the rock on which we have spent the night. Past a river we step into the umpteenth fairytale forest in which Corsica is rich. This time it is not the big mastodons with wide hollow stems that are master of the valley. Here it’s some rather small and delicate trees that are in control. I notice a dark atmosphere in the forest. As if someone has put an ominous spell on the trees. They seem to want to grab us with their scaly curved branches. However, we can escape their claws and we manage to get out of the bewitched forest in one piece.

We end up on a small plateau, where the trees immediately look a lot friendlier. The path meanders from left to right over a barren grassy plain.

In the distance we see the edge of the plateau. As a magnet I am pulled to the horizon. I want to look over the edge. To see the sea. The other side of the island, where we have been on the road for, for eight days.

And suddenly the sea is there. Hidden in a bay, the village of Cargèse is patiently waiting for our arrival. But before we can count on a fresh beer over there, we have to cross a last hill that we already see to the left of us. To get to his feet, we first descend steeply until we reach a wide sandy road. The road takes us past a dilapidated house, where no less than ten dogs are attached to their own little houses with too short leashes. They bark loudly when we pass them. Their owner is cutting down wood in the blazing sun. The big man looks up for a moment and murmurs something unintelligible when we walk past him. A bit further we see a sloppy meadow in which pigs have to live in the shadow of huge mountains of construction waste. A cute wooden placard with the words “produits corses” (Corsican products) should convince us to buy artisanally prepared sausages from the grumpy man. But we don’t mind missing out on that this time.

We leave the wide sandy road to start the last climb on a narrow forest path. And it’s not one of the least. Not only is the climb quite steep, the path is difficult to walk too. At one point, the path is so overgrown that I cut my arms to some thorn bushes. But without complaining, we both continue our climb. An hour later we set foot on the last summit of our trip. It feels like a victory. And that should be celebrated in the right way. We search for our mugs in our backpacks and fill them with the leftover wine from yesterday. With a beautiful view of the end of our journey we clink our glasses. And at that view we keep staring for minutes, without saying a word.

The way further down is less quiet. By way of closing, we are collecting all kinds of memories from this trip. Like our visit to the deceased Marci family, the whistling bullets around our ears in the forest and our gorgeous bivouac place of yesterday. It spontaneously puts a smile on our faces. A smile that is only shining more, the moment we finally arrive at the coast. Wim kneels down near the water. He takes a handful of sand, and then lets it slide through his fingers back into the water again. As if he needs to feel it to believe it …

But we do believe it. After eight days of hiking, our adventure has come to an end. Another experience to put in our already well stocked backpack. Hand in hand we walk an end to our story along the coastline. Corsica, may we meet again …

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