After visiting one more waterfall and canoeing through the Gorge du Tarn, which was really beautiful, it was time to move out of the Cevennes.
I’ve found some lavender that I now have in my van. With the sun out, it really smells nice, if it’s your thing of course, which for me it is 🙂 . It should also be relaxing so that might help when I’m driving on narrow and steep roads and when my cooling liquid light is flashing, yet again. I’ve gotten used to it by now. The contact of the sensor is a bit leaky. So with the pressure when it gets hot, which it does when I’m driving through the mountains, it steams into the sensor. No big issue, but still annoying.
Speaking of smelling, as I have been spending so much time alone, there’s loads of time to self-reflect, to feel and to notice. This can be great (it can also be less great though ;-))! One of the things I’ve noticed is that I haven’t been using my sense of smell much. Maybe because living in a city made me not want to sniff the air, because it’s not particularly nice, or healthy for that matter. But now, being outdoors so much, I really enjoy it and have to regularly remind myself to take the time and notice the smells. The fresh air in the mountains in Switzerland and the mountains with the amazing smell of the pine trees here, in France, especially when the sun shines.
It feels a bit like I’m ‘suffering’ from a working-in-a-lab-talking-to-yourself-out-loud after effect
Another thing I’ve noticed is that I’m talking more to myself out loud. I used to do it and actually still do it, silently in my head (I can be quite the philosopher, or great at arguments, in my head though). But now, it’s out loud more too. I find this really funny. I always had a lot of fun with my colleagues in the lab. Many of whom talk to themselves out loud, which can be very confusing sometimes, but also very funny. Lab people are a special kind of people, awesome, but just different. You kind of have to be, cause it’s a different world. I think you can only understand that if you’ve been part of it. So, it feels a bit like I’m ‘suffering’ from a working-in-a-lab-talking-to-yourself-out-loud after effect. Brilliant!
The last nights in the Cevennes, I stayed a parking place with an amazing view!! The only downside were the mozzies… Honestly, they were wiggling their way past the frame of my window with anti bugsheet, tiny little buggers… In yoga there are certain morals (yamas and niyamas), which are part of the spiritual practice. One of them is called ‘ahimsa’, which means non-harming, but when it comes to mosquitos, sorry, no can do…
Next, I drove to the Auvergne, another natural park. Like the Cevennes, this was recommended to visit (thank you facebookfriends!). During my last days in the Cevennes, I had trouble walking. I had overused my heel, with all the squatting and walking up- and downhill. As a ‘well-developed’ Dutchy, I’m not used to these things apparently. I stayed at Lac du Pavin for two nights, trying to take it a bit slower. This got me back to reading and studying, which I had wanted to do for a while, but never came around to. I have this beautiful Anatomy Trains book, which is all about bodywork and the connections within. I had attended a training in June and now finally had made some time to pick it up again and try it out on myself. Since I actually had something that was troubling me (normally, I’m a pretty well functioning person, at least physically ;-)). With what I was reading and the knowledge I had, I tried out some movements, which in theory, should help me. To my own surprise they really did, resulting in a much less painful walk. So that was one very good motivator to keep learning and doing what I enjoy most!
Unfortunately, it was time to continue the trip west, leading me out of the mountains and the beautiful nature, into the Dordogne. I had spent a night near a lake, where I had to fix my waterpump. It had decided to not work anymore, while my middle finger was lightly bruised and thus, in tape (like I said, I’m normally a very physically healthy person). But after taking it apart twice and putting it back together, it was functioning again (I do have to mention that I was feeling pretty frustrated and had the disgusting taste of watertank water in my mouth…)!
The first morning I thought ‘ah how bad can it be…’
I continued and spent two days around Les Eyzies-de Tayac, dipping into history and culture (to be fair, not that much my thing). I read about the Font de Gaume, which is the only cave in Europe, still open to the public, that contains original pre-historic paintings. Since they are very keen on preserving them, they only allow 52 people in per day (these are day tickets for which you have to queue up, there are also 23 tickets online bookable about half a year in advance). So, to be able to get in, you better get out of bed early and get in the queue to get your ticket. The first morning I thought ‘ah how bad can it be…’ I’ll be there around 8 (ticket sales are at 9.30am). I waited and turned out I was too late. So, decided to stay another day, because I figured it was worth visiting, since I was there anyway and not in too big a rush. I drove to a different parking area a bit closer to the Font the Gaume and ended up next to another cave you could visit; Grotte du Grand Roc and abris de Laugerie Basse. A cave with stalagmites, stalactites and crystals, and a rock shelter. Discovered early 1900 and used by people about 10.000 years ago.
I did the evening tour. In the shelter, it was explained that 400.000 years ago, there were already people living there and woolly mammoths and human lived there at the same time. There also used to be reindeers, but they were all hunted down. The tourgide was a Dutch woman who did the tour mostly in French but helped me out when I didn’t get it. I have to say that I was surprised by how much I could actually understand. It was a beautiful cave and impressive to realise just how long it takes to for these shapes to form and the influence the soil above it has on the colour of the calcite deposits.
The next morning, I woke up at 5.50am (not feeling too well) and arrived at the queue for the Font de Gaume around 7am, being number 19 in line (yay for me!). First of all, I find it really impressive to walk around in these kinds of caves and secondly, the paintings were also really interesting. There were multicolour (which is very rare) paintings of mammoths, bizons, reindeers and horses, made with mineral dyes. Pretty impressive.
Next stop was Dunes du Pilat, a 3-hour drive through the Dordogne. Call me spoiled, but I didn’t really like it. Loads of vineyards, I like a glass of wine every now and then, but this is a lot of monoculture… And I was missing the trees and the hills. I’m a real nature person, I knew that already, but could really feel it now. Driving here, with more civilization, open spaces and fields, made me feel a little less relaxed. I love the feeling of being fully surround by trees. It kind of makes me feel protected and less exposed (which I do find an interesting emotional feature, worth exploring).
I arrived at a parking place, near Dunes du Pilat and the ocean and I it was immediately clear that everyone here is more social towards each other. My mindset was already switching towards not being alone anymore, since I would soon be at a surfcamp to work. So, it was nice to actually have a decent face-to-face chat with someone, which I hadn’t really had in three weeks.
Now, as I’m finishing writing this blog, I’ve spent all day in bed (I hadn’t been feeling too well), with, I think a case of food poisoning. The symptoms remind me of my yoga teacher training 2 years ago, where almost the whole group got sick (some even had to go to the hospital). So, taking it easy today and hoping that the month July was not a preparation for more physical issues (or van issues for that matter) to come…
The travelling/holiday part in France has nearly come to an end.
The whole month of August I will be teaching yoga (and giving massages) at Progress surfcamp in Moliets. Excited to see what that will be like and after all the nature, mountains and solitude, really looking forward to be at the beach and get my boards (which I’ve been driving around with for a month) and myself into the water and catch some waves!