Tuesday, December 18, 2012

She's been lookin' like a queen in a sailor's dream

And she don't always say what she really means. - Gordon Lightfoot (Sundown)

Cap de Creus. Even the name has a sinister ring to it.

It's the easternmost point on the Iberian peninsula, and therefore, should really be the beginning of the world (to Fisterra's end of the world). But what it really is, is an unearthly place of very little life, save for the odd shrub. It's acres and acres of the strangest landscape I've ever experienced. You could shoot one of the more psychedelic sci-fi films here and have the audience believe they really are on a dying alien planet. Ideal location for parts of Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth and the like.

The road up to it is narrow and winding and gets the stranger as you approach the lighthouse at the end. Trees, flowers and all signs of life vanish bit by bit the further you drive. And the rocks begin to look more and more as if Dalí had been unleashed on them from his nearby house for hours on end. The thing that got to me the most was its absolute calm. The place wasn't so much hostile to life as totally indifferent. The Mediterranean showed as much interest in throwing its weight about as Boycott ever did in the 36-run over; and yet, stories of Mediterranean gales are etched in the rocks and echoed ever-so-ominously in the distant rumblings of thunder from beyond the pale-blue horizon.

In keeping with the spirit of the place, there is a fairly decrepit lighthouse with a restaurant by its side. Since the whole area is a natural park, the restaurant has no competition and is on the expensive side. It did have an Indian menu, though, so Francesc and I sat down to a traditional Indian meal of samosas and coke and imagined seeing glimmers of Venice and Florence (our poor grasp of geography became apparent only when I looked at the map later on...) from across the seas.

Not that any of this stopped the chills crawling up my spine...


I don't do this very often, but I've mentioned how grateful I am to Francesc; so it's only fair that I give him some space here to represent his views. He didn't quite agree with my assessment of the place and when, in addition to expressing the thoughts above, I added that I'd seen little ponds with more activity than the Mediterranean, he was livid and let loose this speech below

You know what your problem is, Rohan? You keep comparing. You compare and compare and compare! All day. And you know what? You're wrong! This Finisterre you keep talking about. What is there? Nothing but storms and cliffs and the costa da morte. You know, that sort of thing is fun for tourists, but live in that for 6 months and let me know. The mighty Romans... what did they do when they reached there? That's right, they turned back! Because it is the end. What else is there to do? But here, this place that you call the End of Life, this is a crossroads. The waters in front of you is the centre of the world; where Europe meets Asia and Africa. The word you should be using to describe it is not "boring," but "calm" or "friendly." It is not for nothing that it is called Mare Nostrum: Our Sea! This is the birthplace of Europe. First the Greeks, then the Romans and later the Persians made their way across these waters, trading and bringing livelihood and stories of distant lands and meetings of different cultures. A place of new beginnings. Just beyond those hills is France. And there, that way, so close lies the Girona that you can't stop raving about. Cross these short waters and Milan and Rome are within your reach. Do you understand? Do you?! I don't think you want to understand!

 The Trip

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