I wake up in golden light with low tide at my feet. Today is my last day on Île de Ré and there is one village missing on my list.
My destination of choice, La Flotte, is a quick win: just a few kilometers against the wind and easy to find – as long as the sea is to my right, I can hardly go wrong.
It turns out that La Flotte is the most charming of all island villages. A cute little harbour, a handful of bars and restaurants and one or two tiny alleys with all sorts of shops. Today, it is topped by a dramatic sky.
I hurry up for some pictures with green water and heavy clouds. I very much prefer interesting skies to endless blue horizons – at least for the photographs.
I am realistic enough to prefer a table under a solid roof for lunch, making me look like a smart (and dry) girl. I am in the middle of my main course when the rain pours down and dozens of tourists hurry up to find better places before their wine turns into spritzers.
A half hour later, the scenery is picture-postcard again. In high season, the places might be packed with people, but in the mid of June with mixed-up weather, it is as relaxed as can be.
I stroll around and take my time to detect the facets of the place. I have the promenade at the shore all for myself, except for the toy boats (or so it seems) dancing on the water’s surface.
The view over the sea towards the horizon reminds me of one of my favourite songs: Au-delà des orages / je part en voyage / mon âme au vent / le coeur éléphant… It is about travelling, about a big heart and about the joy of living – and so appropriate.
A few steps further, I come to a small church. Despite the emptiness (me being the sole person in here), it feels vivid and inviting. The spirit of it’s regular visitors fills the air like the well-used song books fill the shelfs on both sides of the main aisle.
Some days ago, I have met a nice gentlemen who proudly talked about his life. How he feels at the age of 80, how he likes the exchange with others and how much he loved his wife. It is by far not the only encounter of these holidays, yet I still hear his warm goodbye: Soyez heureuse! / Be happy! I figure this may be the best bottom line for a fulfilled life, and I am willing to give my best following his advice.
By now, I am en route with Hector for about 16 days and it still feels wonderful. Along the way, I have met friends and strangers, surfers and tourists, pensioners and campsite workers. I have felt adopted by my camping neighbours, and I have tried my best to pimp the beach sunsets with some ukulele chords. The conclusion is: the world is better with open borders and open-minded people of all kinds.
If not for conversations and encounters, a voyage would be nothing more than just sightseeing. I love the unexpected moments that enfold, such as the fresh fish offered by the camper-next-door – just because of a nice “hello” on the way back from his afternoon’s kayak & fishing tour.
Finally, my last island-day comes to an end. But not without the most spectacular sunset: Hard to decide which scene I like best, so here comes the inflation of red-golden light in umpteen pics.
And, of course, Hector is the heart of it all.
Tomorrow, we will make our way over the beauty of a bridge, heading East for some hundreds of kilometers.