mardi 7 juillet 2020

With the gite now booked from the 5th July until mid September and a "star host bonus" of 100$ about to expire we decided to take a couple of days break on the Mediterranean coast. Collioure can get very busy so we opted to head further south towards the Spanish border and stay in Cerbère.

It's about 4 hours drive but a change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered.

We bought a full face snorkelling mask, which was a revelation! You can breathe through youe nose or mouth and see the amazing sea life that is all around you when you are swimming, even in the shallows. For me, it meant I could swim out of depth comfortably - I'm reasonably strong swimmer but water phobic.

On day two we went for a walk along the coast to Banyuls-sur-Mer through the natural coast nature reserve. Beautiful clear waters and Mediterranean flora. At Perrefitte there's an underwater walk that goes for 400m or so along the coast looking at various underwater habitats. I decided to go with the new mask. All went well until site 3 out of 5. Suddenly I realised that the oxygen supply in my mask was getting rapidly restricted! As it became harder and harder to breathe I began to panic. I looked for a rock that I might be able to stand on and get my head out of the water and so remove the mask, but the one I found was n't high enough. I had to really concentrate to subdue the panic and head for bouy 3 which I could hang onto. The air was getting less and less but finally I reached for the bouy and ripped off the mask to gasp for air. Obviously a more confident swimmer might have just removed the mask and carried on swimming but I was getting tired and not confident out of my depth to swim without the mask. Susie was watching from the shore and could see me panicking! After sometime refilling my lungs, I was able to resume my journey to the shore. 

It transpired that we had been erroneously sold a child's mask which wasn't suitable for adults...unable to expell enough CO2 the mask had been asphyxiating me. I managed to exchange it for an adult one the next day.

We continued our coast walk in searing heat for a much deserved lunch in Banyuls and a train ride back to Cerbère.

Back in the 1930's Cerbère was a favourite haunt of Orson Wells and Josephine Baker; who stayed in this unusual hotel, which is currently being restored.

A spectacular sunset changed the sea to rose - befitting of the "vermillion coast".

On Friday we headed for home via a morning in Collioure. It was busy with visitors from all over France and Europe...somewhat shocking that probably only 1 in 500 people was wearing a mask. I wore one in the busier streets and shops where it was impossible to observe 2m separation.

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