Mas de la Garriga – Saint-Genie-des-Fontain
The sun rose in exactly the same point as where I last saw the moon through my tent opening. Which was odd I thought. The location was perfection shaded by criminality – a small grouping of pine trees in an open expanse of dry cut wheat. A beautiful scent that shredded the ankles.
By the time I had reached the location, the sun had disappeared and darkness was looming so I set up quickly on the soft bed of pine needles, natures alternative to a mattress if there every was one. The heat was incredible but the breeze was perfect, passing trough the right hand side of my mosquito net, over my body and towards the hobo shack that sat 25 ft to my left and keeping the smell of piss In the right direction. It was a perfect night and a perfect place to camp only spoiled by having to sleep with a knife close to hand in case of visitors. I really ask myself why now. I mean, for starters, how dangerous are hobos in order for a knife to be used in the process of self defence. I mean, they’re hardly pro fighters are they and secondly, like I could ever bring myself to use a knife on someone anyway! I’m ok for looking after myself and, just the thought is laughable.
Regardless, I slept very well, exhausted from the days heat and I was comfortable on the pine needle slumberdown.
I awoke with an eye popping headache the next day to an offering.
One of the two Mels I’d met in Narbonne had posted some details of my trip on a local forum, this news landing in the lap of David and his wife Jackie – two ex pats now living peacefully in a village south of Perpignan. It seems David took a shine to someone crazy enough to attempt my trip and was happy to offer a little refuge in the form of a cold shower and a sausage sandwich. It was about 35km to his lovely villa at the foothills of the Pyrenees and, even given the heat, I made it to his driveway on time. I must say though, I had two doubts: was “a sausage sandwich” a metaphor? And, if not, exactly what was his definition of a sausage sandwich? Was o going to be peeling bits of plasticy mould off the sides whilst letting sharp crust rip my gums and fatty gristle force it’s way in between every tooth? Well, it seems my concerns were not necessary! Proper English sausage… HP sauce n all! You can take the man out of Blackheath but there’s no taking the Backhheath outta this man.
His place was gorgeous and it should be, seems he worked bloody hard for it.
Sandwich wolfed down, the offer was then extended to a BBQ that evening and somewhere safe to set up the tent for the evening. The food was amazing, the beer not doing my headache any favours at all.
The offer extended to the guest room for the night. Now, I’m becoming very accustomed to the outdoors, to the point where it is now a preference. The breeze, the sounds, I can’t think of my hotel suite that’d sway my preference but, by the time the final beer was politely refused and the remains of the steak was fed to Daisy and Chips, it was too late to start setting up my kit in the garden. I utilised the guest room with its whiter than whites and had the best nights sleep I can remember. So much for the great outdoors.
The generosity didn’t end there. We looked into my route through the mountains the next day and there was only really one option, a main road heading up and into Perthus where it crossed the boarder into Spain and headed downhill all the way to Figuerus, the hometown of the great Salvador Dali.
The final offer was a lift, in a car, with an engine, all the way. A tempting offer having been sat staring at the mountains during the previous day as they looked back and simply laughed at me. They were daunting. My only relatable experience was the Sussex downs and the escalators at Angle tube station, both of which were a comparison only to the lower foothills. Ok, so the route was very much a pass that didn’t even come close to the snowy peaks visible from David’s BBQ patio but that didn’t mean it was any less dangerous. The n2 road was restricted to 60t vehicles I think due to width. And that was only dictated by the cliff faces it snaked round. It left enough space to pull over if needed in some parts. Some spots even hosted burger bars and discount diesel jeans but for the rest it there’s was just enough space for one nutter with a skateboard under his arm.
I needed to sleep on this one! But I didn’t, I slept on a proper mattress and it was totally rad.