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That night the dinner was sumptuous and merry. I enjoyed the company of 12 well-rested and bronzed French people for whom fine dining was an every-evening event. When we returned to the boat at 2 a.m., my merman had polished off two more bottles of wine and was in a state of mania. As he entertained his family with jokes, I silently began packing my things.
I was faced with several difficult questions: How to get off a boat for which there is only a dinghy? How to avoid a merman turned madman? How to protect my belongings within suddenly too close quarters? How to get from cove to civilization? Could I even find a flight? It was festival season in Bonifacio and I already knew from conversation in town that all hotels were booked!
The Internet was down but I was able to reach a girlfriend by phone, who helped me to get the flight I needed. My vigil was complete once every last bathing suit and, yes, ostrich feather (never used–my merman was too aloof) were tucked away.
The next morning, I bid the family goodbye, thanking them for introducing me to Corsica. There was kindness in their eyes, though again, I was surprised that they did not have a greater reaction to the strange turn in events. There was no inquiry into my plans.
Meanwhile, the mad-merman had turned snide. I allowed his remarks to glance off me like sea spray, as I was increasingly conscious that it was he who would take me to shore in the dinghy, and I did not think he was above deliberately capsizing it.
Under a perfect, sun-spangled sky, we cut through the turquoise water. Yachts glided by like swans in the distance and the beach, a ribbon of sand, appeared before us, completing the scene like an ironic smile. So this was the gift of my vacation: an abrupt ending for which there was no segue to the airport.
Two heaves later, I found my suitcase deposited on the sand beside me. My mer-madman bid me a curt bon courage, meaning “good luck.” Shipwrecked, I understood what it was not to have anything to hold onto–all my visions of solidity had been a mirage, and my hope for good times had been dashed to pieces.
Tears streaming down my face, I began lugging my belongings to the restaurant I spied at the far end of the beach. There I was informed that there were no buses, no taxis, no police. “But how can I get to the airport?” I insisted.
“The best thing to do, Mademoiselle, is to go to the parking lot and try your luck.”
So I did. Praying to St. Anthony, patron saint of shipwrecks, I asked that someone or something be delivered. A professional chauffeur, reclining in the shade, overheard my plight and offered to take me to the airport at the same time as his client. If his client agreed.
I thanked him and waited in sunny suspense, rearranging my things. From the corner of my eye, I gazed toward the beach and noticed a handsome man, chiseled as if from Corsican rock, emerge from a crystalline wave. Someone handed him a polo shirt and his sunglasses, which he placed on his Roman nose. As I was suddenly less fond of men, I did not bother to inspect his fabulous form, yet it registered that he had entered the parking lot and was approaching the chauffeur.
The chauffeur began talking to the man, hopping along by his side like a cricket. Never breaking his stride, the man listened, then nodded. The chauffeur motioned for me to approach. Suddenly, I understood that this was the client.
Once my belongings were safely tucked into the trunk, the man turned to introduce himself. I could hardly believe what Saint Anthony had sent me: “Sebastien is my name,” he boomed in a baritone voice. Sebastien. Sebastien, patron saint of archers. And with that, I realized it was from Sebastien’s quiver, or, in this case, in his luxury vehicle, that I would fly, straight as an arrow, to the airport.
There is no formula to surviving a modern shipwreck, particularly in circumstances as complicated as mine were. I probably only experienced the tip of the iceberg of my merman-turned-madman’s problems. Yet I remain jarred by the dangerous consequences of his erratic and irrational behavior. I was momentarily stranded and will forever wonder why I got involved. . .
Perhaps I was meant to discover that shipwrecks are best managed with the life raft of good girlfriends and prayer. I will always keep them close.
American Una Funk has returned to the land of her ancestors in quest for Master’s studies, work experience, and the ultimate chocolate éclair. . .
Take trips, not chances. For peace of mind each and every time you travel, enroll for MedjetAssist evacuation services.
Photo credit: Port of Fazzio, Corsica: WikimediaCommons/Matthieu Faure; Plage de Palombaggia, Corsica: Flickr Creative Commons/sramses177; View of the Cliffs of Bonifacio, Corsica: Flickr Creative Commons/sramses177