A new bus driver drives up the road into the next village 7 km ahead, which ends in a roundabout: “Wow this really is the end of France!” Here, in this little fortress at the foot of the high Pyrenees, is the school, the bakery and the pharmacy (and a small but great cinema!). Until somewhere in the fifties, you could only come here over the mountain trails, preferably by foot or donkey. The last village of the valley and the last village before the Spanish border. You can’t go any further or you will fall of the map ;)
During the Spanish civil war one of the main fugitive routes ran through the village. By foot thousands crossed the border of the Col d’Ares to escape Franco. Today it still is safe here, far from it all.
It takes 1h and 15 minutes to reach the ‘real world’ named Perpignan. Or Figueres in Spain, an hour away. Shopping, medical, fixing stuff is happening in the city. I never go, I get my share of city in Amsterdam and the local market provides vegetables and fruits from gardens around and bread, cheese and honey from producers. It is enough. English books are really cheap in France ordered online, the food shop delivers through the postman, but most of the time here in this cut off place, things seem to find their own solution. I long for herbal tea, a few days later I discover a whole Verveine tree in an abandoned garden. I need a spike, a few days later my son find one in the river. I need this, I need that. I think I need. But if I don’t run after the desire, I find out it is all there under your nose all of the time. You find exactly what you need in the middle of f****ing nowhere, you just need a little patience :)