Chorizo is popular here, which is excellent for his self esteem. He is welcome everywhere: bars, restaurant patios, beaches, even shops. And he’s not alone. There are dogs everywhere here. The Corsicans hunt wild pigs and boar with dogs, and every village has a goodly number of hound-like creatures skulking around. There are plenty of purebreds of various races at the ends of leashes too, though so far we have seen only a handful of wieners, all of which were of the wire haired variety. Not surprisingly, French bulldogs are popular.
Technically, dogs aren’t allowed into grocery stores but I twice saw the same fox terrier occupying the basket seat in a shopping cart at a Leclerc (think French Superstore), where he sat unmolested by the employees. When we took Chorizo to Portugal several years ago, he was more of a curiosity than anything else. Unlike the French, the Portuguese are not a very doggy culture. Here Chorizo is subject to many coos of admiration from women, and chucks under the chin from men. Unfortunately, he also attracts the unwanted attention of his least favourite brand of people, the little ‘uns. The logic of children would seem to be that a cute little dog so close to their height must be as cuddly as he looks; but Chorizo’s fear of children borders on phobic (admittedly he may have learned that from me, though I would stop just short of biting them, which he wouldn’t if given half a chance).
Why am I boring you with dog tales, you ask? Well, because I have nothing horsey to report, and in my experience horse lovers are almost invariably dog lovers too. There is not a complete absence of Equus around these parts. ‘Promenade en cheval’ is on offer at many beaches, and I even saw a few small cross country jumps in a field a couple of days ago. But I have never gone in for riding while on holiday – something about having had a horse at my disposal for every waking minute of life at home, I’m sure. I’m more interested in megalithic standing stones and bronze age ruins at the moment, and that seems right to me. Otherwise, why would I have bothered coming all this way?
We are currently installed in the most awesome rental we’ve had yet, and I suspect our time here just outside the spectacular medieval town of Bonifacio will be remembered as the highlight of the entire trip. Solitude, nature, a million dollar view (of aforementioned medieval town and Sardinia across the water), all from a little house that is a restored ruin of a shepherd’s shelter. It’s not far in any direction to a fabulous beach, though some of them are so crowded it’s hard to see the sand. Others, deemed unfashionable according to some mysterious Gallic social code, are nearly empty – which of course suits us just fine.
And speaking of French fashion, I realize we are far from Paris, but I believe I am witnessing the slobification of France. The footwear alone tells a sorry story. Crocs? On French feet? Everywhere! There are even fake Croc stalls to be found among the souvenir shops. I have a pair myself, sure – at home. I wouldn’t dream of wearing them to a restaurant, never mind on holidays in France.
Another shoe shocker: Birkenstocks. I mean, really! I thought Birks were for Germans and hippies. I admit I once owned a pair, but I have a good excuse. We were on the island of Crete one spring, and my sandals had broken. Jan found a pair of cast off Birks beside a dumpster in a campsite full of German bus tourists. They fit me, so I used them for the rest of the trip and retired them to slipper status once home in Canada. It would appear that the marketing team at Birkenstock has mounted a highly successful promotion campaign in La France. The French are now gaga for Birks, particularly a flip flop model, a kind of Birkenflop if you will. And it’s not just one demographic that has gone Bir
serk – people of all ages have embraced the ugly sandal made of cork.
Of course real flip flops are also everywhere, slap-slapping the feet of young men wearing little more than pained expressions of boredom and saggy, baggy shorts low enough to show the requisite six inches of boxers. Song of the summer here is Pitbull’s Men In Black theme. If the folks here are starting to look like darker, ropier imitations of Americans, they are at least not eating like them – yet. I have not seen a single McDonald’s on the island, in spite of the golden arches’ cancerous spread elsewhere in France. Notable exception of course: Coke, which costs more than a glass of wine in the bars.
Our little slice of paradise here at the southern tip of Corsica has not yet been visited by 21st Century technology, so I am writing today’s rather meaningless post in complete ignorance of the contents of my inbox. When I get to an internet café later today to share this with you, I may well find that the horse world has turned and that I am badly in need of getting up to speed on some scandal or other; but that will have to wait until the next post, which may or may not come next week. I know the next place we are headed also has no internet. Which reminds me, I wanted to tell you how funny the names are here. We have rented next week’s accommodation from Ange François Acquaviva. No word of a lie. That’s really his name.