We had intended to spend Wednesday night in a town called Cargese. Mike had picked it out on a map for it’s proximity to the sea and we headed there as soon as we could leave Ajaccio. We stopped in Cargese around 2pm when the lunch hours were finishing up, but the town was still shut down. We had only been riding an hour or so and though it was raining, we decided to keep moving north to make more ground on the island. We were unimpressed by the town. Quaint towns on ports or beaches are a dime a dozen on this island and there was nothing in particular about the place that made us want to put in the necessary effort of finding a room in one of hotels whose signs say OPEN ALL YEAR but whose closed shutters and absence of light say otherwise.
We ended up spending Wednesday night in a town called Porto near the sea. Mike remembers Porto from his first visit because people told him how beautiful it was. Corsica has taught us that the word “beautiful” means different things to different people. Everyone has a place on the island that is the “most beautiful” and no two people recommend the same place. Saying something is beautiful does not relate information. If someone had told us that on the drive from Cargese to Porto you will see men walking their black and tan cows with little calves trotting beside down the center of the road; or that you will drive for miles and miles into rolling mountains that you don’t believe have ever known the tread of a single human, only to be confronted with the meager stone remains of an ancient migrant way of life perched on ridges and in valleys; or that from these huge tree-covered peaks, you will descend, without warning towards the bright blue Mediterranean and be greeted by red rock cliffs that run right out of the sea– if someone had told us those things, I may have understood what “beauty” they were talking about.
As is, I guess I am glad people hadn’t gone into detail. The surprises we felt turning each corner and the joy we felt for each discovery made the rainy ride emotional and captivating. We have seen every kind of natural beauty on this island, but that drive once again surprised us. It brought us both to tears with its drama and its ability to put one in their place in how the natural world should value a single human existence. Those cliffs don’t feel us riding on their high ledges or through their amber tunnels. Their age is only magnified by the human reminders built into their walls. There are the red stone bridges and support systems, holding up the current day road, probably laid there by workers 60 years ago, there are the ruins of homes and stone fences which housed the families of the people who tended their herds 200 years ago, and there are the caves that provided shelter to the early Corsicans when they were being attacked time and time again from all sides as far back as 400AD. These cliffs are much much older.
Tuesday, Mike and I went on a tour of the area to the north, despite the dark clouds. At times it was calm, other times the wind almost blew our tiny scooter off the winding cliffs into the sea. It rained, it hailed, and finally, the clouds broke to allow the slim daggers of light to slice lines and cut holes in the sea and the hills alike. We wound along the side of the “maquised” hills all day, never losing sight of the sea for any length of time. We stopped often to take pictures, hoping to capture the true mood of the day, but in my opinion, always failed. My frustration lies in that no matter how hard we work, how much we write or how many photos we take, we can never take an accurate photo of our lives.