Friday, July 5, 2013

Bonds Climbing in the Calanques for the 4th

The French didn't do anything for us on the fourth! Even though they were sort of our allies (if you can forget the xyz affair), so the Bonds decided to set off after a fun day of swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, sunbathing, exploring the narrow streets of the charming village of La Ciotat, shopping and having two more extended conversations with shop keepers (one while Cheryl was in a dressing room)--extended for me, that is--we got in our little blue Peugeot and drove back up into the Calanques. I had seen this incredible stone arch, the culmination of a jagged ridge, and my old mountaineering passion kicked in. I had to climb that ridge.

We parked and set off from a precipitous wide spot in the narrow road. The vegetation was was some very prickly shrub that scratched our bare legs (Cheryl and Gillian in skirts), but it was generously filled with rosemary, great smelling stuff, and growing wild all over the hills and cliffs sides. I've heard some pretty hostile so-called preaching against flood geology, that it was really just a local flood; if so, the flood waters managed to get all the way to France. Seeing and climbing on the fault-thrust ridge of stone, the vast conglomerate rock formations, and the obvious water erosion high high above the big blue wet thing extending below us to Africa--and all the objections to flood geology fall silent (in my humble opinion).

I had to do some encouraging along the way. Gillian later asked me just how that was like a sidewalk (see her traverse in flip flops below). Some French tight rope walkers had set up a fixed line and were working on their craft, which they did with considerably less ease than is seen on TV, judging from the fall, caught at the last second by a safety line.

I also chose to keep to myself that this stretch of the Calanques is home to the Montpelier grass snake, a poisonous viper, the longest snake in Europe (2m, more than 6 feet long). I had my French picnic knife, so we were plenty safe. Everyone agreed after the fact that it was a worthwhile outing, with breathtaking views of the sea and the Mediterranean villages that speckle the coastline. Then off to the evening market on the street circling the charming port of la Ciotat--and chocolate sorbet to die for!

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