the night before. your new friends stare at you incredulously. “mais demain c’est ton jour de repos, pourquoi tu vas te lever vers 5h30??”
[but tomorrow is your day off, why are you going to get up around 5:30 am??]
they obviously don’t know you. yet.
you look at them incredulously as well. “pour voir le lever de soleil, bien sûr, et aussi pour faire le tour de l'île en vélo! combien de fois dans ma vie est-ce que je vais habiter sur une île dans l’atlantique en france? il faut il faut il faut!”
[to see the sunrise, of course, and then to make a loop of the island by bike! how many times in my life am i going to live on an island in the atlantic in france? it’s necessary it’s necessary it’s necessary!”]
they shake their heads. you set your alarm.
it turns out to be a sunrise with thick clouds. so you don’t see much. but it’s okay – you’ve got an entire month left here. and you know france doesn’t let sunrise lovers down.
as you pedal along, you see something that makes you lay your bike on its side.
les coquelicots. poppies. a field of red that your eyes have never seen. perhaps it was to make up for the lack of red and orange and pink in the sunrise?
as someone explains to you later, the reason why poppy fields are so uncommon are because poppies are sensitive to pesticides. that explains why in normandy, a place with never ending fields of grass and wheat and barley and whatnot – is also a place of industry. poppies and industry just don’t mix.
you continue your tour.
the camera doesn’t come out very often – only when you see something that makes you go – oh! because there’s a certain rhythm when pedaling, as well as a certain rhythm when making photos, and those two don’t mix as well.
but there are quite a few oh! moments where you just have to stop. and look. and climb.
you’re now in the south. at st-martin-de-ré. even on an island like this, there is a subtle division between those who live in le nord and le sud. the south is where all the major towns are: st-martin-de-ré, la flotte, st-marie-de-ré, le bois-plage en ré, – places with shops and restaurants and ports and ice cream stands.
the north, however, is home to… not much. a lighthouse. a bird reserve. salt fields. some forests. some not-so-bustling towns. but this is perfect. and this is where you are happily living.
you continue your island tour.
these are your first real impressions of the island as a whole because you’ve ventured away from your tiny paradise.
no tour is complete without a (second, or maybe third) break at the beach. you’re never far from water.
on your way back, you stumble upon yet another champ de coquelicot. poppy field.
off your bike, and into the field.
you pass by the fire station. and you laugh inside. a funny story. but a story to be shared later on.
when you come back to the campsite – the camera gone because you’re a bit tired of carrying it on your back on a bike for an entire day – you’re touched to find dinner and a game of darts waiting for you.
which, it turns out, is the norm.