May 14, 2017: Cerbere’ France

The Author

E. Alana James

E. Alana James

Dr E Alana James is reinventing herself again! Coming full circle to the first love of her life - art - and bringing back to her images all the lessons of her life as author, researcher, academic and wife. Concerned mostly with the idea of images as vehicles for expression of the truth of our inner and outer life experience.

We all get to live this life the way we want – that is, the way we want within the constraints of life as we see and experience them.  What travel does is open us up to a different understanding of those constraints because we immerse ourselves in someone else’s, often very different world – and then we learn things.

Cerbere’ is a small (2K? population) French town on the Mediterranean just 6K from the border with Spain.

Part of the Catalone region, like much of Europe, there is history from previous centuries of the people belonging to one region/government and then to another.  In the 1930s and 40s they saw 500K flee Franco across this border, then, within a decade these people were risking their lives to aid those escaping the Nazi’s, the other direction, over the Pyranees. We don’t speak French, so indepth conversation is out of our reach – otherwise I would ask those who are here about their family tales – I can only imagine that some are proud of what part their ancestors played.

This context is many things to the people who live here full time.  I am sure each aspect has its influence here are my assumptions:

  • Small (like Kinsale) so people know each other. 
  • On the coast, so boats, smuggling, waters sports etc all play their very specific roles
  • Survives on tourists, and at the end of the road in France so not all tourists will come here. Therefore, influenced by the rise and fall of other parts of the economy.
  • We’re here in off season and it seems even more empty than Kinsale – perhaps because it is further away from larger French towns where these owners actually live and play out their lives?

Cerbere’ is a getaway place except for the (fewer) locals for whom it is home year around, and I am sure, as in Kinsale, the two populations of people who “really live here” intermingle, back and forth, with the ebb and flow of the tide – familiar yet dynamic and changing as well.  And then, like all tourist areas, the tsunami of “the season” gradually builds from May to July – the breaks over July and August, to recede once again in the autumn.  Leaving behind it those who accumulated what they need to stay another year and those who did not, who move on.

What is this context then for us?  A place to relax (no email or internet for days), a place to meet friends (Brian and Craig arrive today), a place to relax, lay back, catch some rays and appreciate the sea.  Interspersed a little travel to see other people’s histories, old buildings, vibrant squares and to eat good food and drink good wine.  A place to decompress, re-evaluate the contexts and constraints of our lives (looking pretty good at the moment) and to be grateful.

What am I grateful for?  That my world is not as constrained in Kinsale as it would be if I lived here, for all its beauty.  That travel here is not only possible, but easy.  That the weather is lovely for our visit.  That I can so fully relax, not become a slug, but relax and come home to myself. That I have great friends who are looking forward to sharing time and this adventure with us.   This pace is for me like the small waves that lap at a shoreline, and while I like to swim in deeper waters with greater push/pull and bigger waves creating more change, still it is pleasant to sit, as I do now, in the cool shallows and wallow for a while in the slower pace.