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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

L'Île-aux-Marins & a Zodiac

SAINT PIERRE AND MIQUELON | Tuesday, 30 May 2017 | Views [543]

A full plate was on my agenda today as I planned on walking to Pointe Henry, going to L'Île-aux-Marins, and then going on a Zodiac tour that Francois invited me on last night. Tonight I was determined to cook again. I wanted to be French and have as many people as possible to appreciate my cooking and what I love to do. Today I'd wake up earlier than I did yesterday and I wanted to get out earlier as well. Clemence is nice enough to leave stuff on the bench so I could make some breakfast.

First on my agenda was a boat trip to L'Île-aux-Marins (Isle of Sailors). Though settled in the 1600s, there is no permanent population today although some Saint-Pierre residents have summer homes on the island. The short boat trip to the island is €6. My only chance to go to Miquelon would have been today but the boat leaves at 8 AM and returns at 5 PM. I'll have to save Miquelon for a future trip. First I visited the cemetery as it contains the lone geocache on L'Île-aux-Marins.

It took some time to find it, and then I found my fourth find in Saint-Pierre. For some odd reason, people like to hide geocaches in cemeteries. It was then a lovely stroll of the island on this gorgeous day. Many of the buildings are colourful just like Saint-Pierre town.

On the island is the shipwreck of the Transpacific, which occurred in 1971. Saint-Pierre is often very foggy; Clemence told me earlier I've been very fortunate to have such lovely weather. With my new phone I took my first selfies atop Cap a Gordon (Cape Gordon).

The view atop is absolutely stunning on a sunny day!

This photo was also taken with my phone. I'll never use a phone as a complete photography replacement; I have to have a physical camera. My new phone, however, takes stunning photos. At 1:45 PM I caught the boat back to the "mainland" but this lovely island makes a nice half-day away from Saint-Pierre.

Francois said to meet him near the post office at 6 PM so next on my list today was the trek to Pointe Henry. First I stopped at the supermarket to stock up on stuff for tonight. For such a far-flung locale you'd think Saint-Pierre would be more expensive, but for €25 I got two bottles of wine, stuff for vegetable tomato soup and two pizzas. After my supermarket excursion, I headed for the bush toward Pointe Henry. As it said to allow an hour each direction I had to hurry and walk fast. Shortly after the start of the walk there's no presence of human habitation with the exception of two radio towers. With my phone's fantastic GPS, I could see exactly where I was going. Toward the end of the track I couldn't make it all the way to the end die to a flood but I could see Miquelon from the viewpoint.

From there I had to hurry back; good thing I'm a fast walker. With only my second hitchhiking lift on Saint-Pierre I was dropped in front of the post office.

At 6 PM, Francois cruised up on the Zodiac and I rode in an inflatable dinghy for the first time. When I say "inflatable" I don't mean your prototypical bathtub toy; these dinghies have an outboard motor and are often used in Antarctica to ferry passengers from the ship to shore. Francois had me put on a lifejacket and we were off! It's a good thing I didn't forget my beanie because it was very, very cold. As we sailed around the northeastern end of Saint-Pierre and toward Grand Colombier, I had what has to be one of the world's great spectacles: a colony of tens of thousands of puffins.

In complete awe I was! These majestic birds could be mistaken for a relative of penguins or a "marine parrot" but they're a member of the auk family. They flew like a swarm of bees over the Zodiac and then, uh oh, puffin guano began landing on the Zodiac. There was nothing I could do except hope I don't get pooped on. To my surprise I observed a woman hiking on uninhabited Grand Colombier. Into a small cave we took the Zodiac where many more birds were nesting. It's an understatement to say it was very cold by then and conditions were worsening as a blanket of fog rolled in earlier. It's rare that I get frightened when I travel but after rounding Grand Colombier, the water was very choppy and conditions were very rough, and I told Francois nervously that I was ready to go back to shore. I'm not the most confident swimmer and the water is frigid, and my camera was getting wet. With my hands over my frozen ears, Francois put us on a course for shore where I could think of was an aperitif or a cup of hot tea. As we moored into shore I thanked Francois and he said "go make yourself a hot tea."

Though I was a bit nervous earlier, Francois assured me these Zodiacs are very robust and built for certain conditions. With a B-line drawn for Clemence' flat I had the kettle on but where was Clemence?

Clemence cooked the night before and I cooked last night, and I picked up stuff to cook again so I was hoping tonight we'd have a buffet and a big gathering. Over at Bertrand and Karine's I was for an aperitif before Clemence got home shortly thereafter. The party wasn't over; we'd go to the home of another friend where I'd have duck pate and even more wine. Ultimately I'd get my wish, as Francois and a friend of his would join us for dinner tonight. My soup is especially popular as I made that and pizza, and then we'd be drinking red wine the French way. Clemence would go to sleep early, and Francois would show me a "secret stash" of liquor. Though not much of a hard liquor fan, I really enjoyed the rum I had last night. What many people don't know is that Saint-Pierre was a magnet during Prohibition for illicit importation of liquor into the US, and in fact, Al Capone visited these islands and set up operations many times during his tenure as crime boss. These days, it's a largely unknown locale...

With most visitors to Saint-Pierre & Miquelon being either weekenders from Newfoundland or friends or relatives from France, Saint-Pierre is destined to remain off the radar to all but the most committed travellers. Practically nobody would come here for a honeymoon, and 99.9% of the world has never even heard of these islands. A Canadian couple in Melbourne a few weeks ago said one night in Saint-Pierre is enough but I still could have done more after three nights. Sadly, I'm going back to Canada tomorrow and I'll sure miss this little piece of France that's (and hopefully stays) unknown to the rest of the world.

Clemence & Francois, I shall miss you and I look forward to my next visit to Saint-Pierre.

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