Saturday, 23 October 2010

Day 15 - a bit more culture, of a sort

One of the reasons we'd decided to do a double stage previously was so that we could spend the day in Porto Vecchio (the largest town close to Conca) buying souvenirs, cheap clean clothes and generally making the most of our time in Corsica. It turned out to be a very good decision for another reason - there was a lot of heavy rain forecast. It arrived at about 8am and effectively trapped us in Conca; the bus stop was on the main road junction about 4km away, not a distance we were prepared to walk in torrential rain.
Our first impression of Conca had been that it looked bigger than Calenzana and better kept than all the towns and villages we had visited so far. Unlike everywhere else we'd seen everyone here took pride in their houses; there were no broken windows, walls that needed replastering or signs of graffiti. The community also seemed lively; there had been a lot of locals in the bar the day before, mostly senior citizens, and several drivers stopping to chat to someone or other on their way past. So, considering Conca is a relatively long way from anywhere and doesn't have any public transport, one might expect there to be some amenities in the village. There are a couple of places that serve food, but only during the tourist season of July and August. There's also a small Alimentation acting as a general store. Unfortunately it's not reliable, and the lady at the tourism office told me that it often doesn't open in the rain! Brilliant. The only food we had left after breakfast was half a jar of jam and some dehydrated macaroni cheese.  The only place we could obtain food was the gite, which just had a limited menu of cooked meals and to two students these seemed quite expensive. We had noticed one girl, probably related to the owner, eating a sandwich from the bar so asked if they would sell us one. The waitress probably thought us even more weird but agreed. She disappeared without comment and turned up fifteen minutes later with large baguettes which were delicious!

Around lunchtime a lot of familiar faces started appearing, drenched from head to toe. It was very pleasing to see that all these people had made it, despite the conditions and to be able to congratulate each other. The rain finally eased during the mid afternoon and we were allowed to move into the room we'd booked for the night and lounge around in the gite sitting room. For dinner we cooked the macaroni cheese in the warmth of the kitchen and although this did not improve the quality of the food it was surprisingly tasty for a Tesco dehydrated meal, even if we made the sauce a little watery! It certainly did not serve four though. We also experimented with trying to make an accompanying hot drink out of jam and hot water. It just tasted like sugary fruit tea and looked very unappetising. In the evening we went to the only other place we knew would be full of people, the bar, and I made sure I'd tried some of the local beer before leaving. We took the playing cards with us and the bar man very kindly got us a card mat out for our table. We asked if they sold nuts, but sadly the answer was no. This gradual reintegration back into society and normal life somewhat reduced the excitement I was feeling about returning home and I think I missed the mountains already.

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