It wasn’t easy returning to Canet en Roussillon, France. Last time I was here I vowed never to return, yet here I was, on my way back.
Not that Canet is a horrible place, far from it, but having been here before I know that once in Canet it is hard to leave. First Canet is a starting place not a “return to town”. Also in Canet work always takes longer than promised, last minute or tomorrow is good enough, then you have the wind to contend with. If you recall, our last Canet departure was delayed by 21 days while the local winds raged and pranced about in the ocean keeping us restrained in harbour.
21 long days…..
Knowing This, Why Return To Canet?
Canet en Roussillon is easy for us. We know the place, the systems, the workers, we have great friends and relationships here, most important and the reason the Captain travelled 130 nautical miles backwards is because of the boat lift facilities. Canet Port has a huge boat lift facility and the guys who operate it know their stuff.
That bloody big lift was enough to bring us back to the home town of Catana. Dealing with the wind could come second.
Canet is the town that has made me laugh, cry, and fall in love with living on a boat. In Canet I have ranted in frustration, clapped with joy and jumped up and down on a trampoline just for the fun of it. Canet is the place I have made friends that I know I will be friends with for the rest of my life. Canet is a homecoming of sorts, so another good reason to return.
Coming Back To Europe Had A Moment I Won’t Forget
I was traveling back from Australia and my arrival destination was Barcelona. It was one of those mismatched flight schedules where I had long flight delays to begin with, then other delays as my journey progressed. I was pretty shattered to finally arrive not at 6 am as planned but at 10 pm. The massive Barcelona airport was all but deserted and by the time I got to the main train station it was closed. I was buggered, lugging a massive bag + 2, it was cold, pouring with rain and I wasn’t sure how I would pass the night or make my way to France. I was a bit miserable and down in the mouth to be truthful…
Welcome Back To Europe
My luck changed when I was told there was a bus traveling to Perpignan, departing at 1.30 am, a four hour trip to be only 20 minutes from home. I just had to get to the train station and wait. So I trudged in pouring rain towards the bus stop, bags in tow. At midnight it was officially my birthday, so my happy birthday began with me sitting outside, on the footpath, in the cold waiting for a bus to arrive…
While I waited for the bus no less than three people warned me not to leave my bags or fall asleep as bag snatchers and pickpockets were part of this neighbourhood. Even though I was bone tired weary I was determined not to lose a moment to sleep, if the locals were so kind as to warn me, who am I to ignore. My pickpocket defence strategy was sit on one bag, and clutch the other two as though precious newborns. I was wide eyed even though I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours I was determined to remain awake until on the bus.
Relief flooded through me when I saw the bus pull to the curb, I climbed on feeling like a refugee newly arrived, I was being rescued…
Then the wall of rank smell hit me.
Urine. Unwashed clothes. Bad breath. Dirty old socks. Exotic strange food groups either digested or not. Farts, burps and snoring joined the smell symphony and all made just a little sweeter, more intense by a bus heater set to high. The smell was overpowering and my natural reaction to gross disgusting smells is an involuntary reflex gag. I just can’t help it. I was gagging at the smell. I mean Barcelona is a bad smelling city but this bus took bad to a whole new level…..I was in stinky hell.
Hello people. New chick on board dry retching in the aisle. Anyone want to share a seat with me?
The bus was almost full. I had to walk to the back of the bus to look for an empty seat. The entire back seat was taken up by one man lying across the seats and his glare was daring me to enter his space. My hand was across my jacket stuffed to my face trying hard to hold back from releasing it all into the aisle or into someone’s lap.
Seriously is no one else feeling this, not one of you smelling what I smell. No doubt I had a wild look in my eye as I turned around to get off this bus but it was too late, the bus, driver, and me included were already on the move. I was in for the share, all I needed now was a seat and to breath shallow and through my mouth.
With limited options I slid in besides a large man who was asleep across two seats one of which I now needed to occupy, two seats up from the back row. I was officially one of the cool cats in the back seats.
As I woke my new bus partner, he spoke to me in French and I think he said “why welcome little lady I see you have come a long way”, or something to that effect but I wasn’t sure. Unfortunately he was only prepared to move over ever so slightly to allow me entry. Between the smells, the heat, the squeeze, a nutty bus driver who shouted at people at random intervals, turned lights on and off too often, and a radio on too loud to keep awake, I was happy this was the second last leg to home.
I Needed This Bus More Than It Needed Me
- It got me off the streets. Literally.
- It got me one step closer to home, to boat and Captain.
By getting on this stinky rotten foul smelling bus:
I got to feel the Canet love where I can catch up with old friends and the people we have built relationships with from prior times.
I got to experience wonder and relief, as I watched our boat lifted safely up out and back into the water. The skill and machinery required to lift a 10 tonne boat out of the water to sit precariously on a few blocks of wood can not be underestimated.
I got to be impressed when I watched skilled tradesmen do their jobs even though they charged like only the French and Italians know how.
I got to repaint, scrub and clean our boat from tip to toe inside and out. It was so nice to be back.
I got to eat more French bread, drink more French wine and eat more French cheese.
I got a great crepe recipe after sampling first hand in a french home. (recipe to follow on in new post soon)
I got to remember and relive the Canet wind as well as the cold. I got to see my first snow on mountains. Winter is coming.
I got to be surprised when out of the blue not one but two potential buyers came and looked over our boat. No we did not accept the “crazy” first offer but it was nice to have an offer, and yes Miss Catana is on the market.
I got to have dinner on board Miss Catana with an American called Mike, an Englishman called Josh, and two Swiss guys called Philip and Pete. Each occasion was a hoot.
I got to say goodbye to Canet and France for what I presume will be for a while. I was actually sad to say goodbye.
I got to visit beautiful Barcelona once again. Barcelona is AMAZING.
I got to finally make good on a promise to take Bretran a friend from Canet sailing and he came with us from Canet to Barcelona as we make our way west towards hopefully cleaner air and warm sunshine.
I got to eat Spanish Paella and drink Spanish Sangria on our one day in Barcelona.
Best of all by getting on that bus I got to go home, I got my sea legs back and I am a very happy No 1 wifey back on the sea!
Where Am I Now
Currently we are about to leave the Spanish Port of Almerimar on route to Gibraltar. Tomorrow we meet our new crew and start the final leg to Gibraltar – very exciting.
I have to ask is it just me, or does anyone else have such a strong reaction to bad smells.
PS Crossing the Atlantic will just like the bus, once we start there is no turning back.