Venus was so bright from where we were standing, it looked unreal. Feet in the sand, surrounded by trees together with a scent of citronella, eyes up to the dark sky where stars were lighting up one by one. Here we were. Tiny, humble, astonished.
1 hour north from Gatineau, you can find a natural park where racoons, squirrels and hummingbird (!) live in peace and harmony. Hundreds of islands are spread all over the water reservoir, and you can conquer most of them if only you can paddle – and read a map. If my paddling skills are acceptable, it is of common knowledge that I cannot read a map. I do not even know my left from my right.
Manon and I paddled in circles and around the wrong island for about 1 hour and a half, before we could set foot on what would be our very own island for the next days. A beach, a wooden table and rocks defining the campfire. As pink was taking over the vanishing blue sky, we were opening our first beer. Cheers to our progress in tent management, to this place, and to our sweet escape.
There is no word really to explain the beauty we witnessed. In this kingdom we were nothing – but food for mosquitos. Despite citronella – oil, candles and incense – I count about 19 visible bites on my legs only. If that is the price to pay to be on the first row of this show, I will come again.
There is nothing. For several kilometers around. As long as you have sunlight, it is empowering. You feel like you have conquered something, like you have some kind of super power. You can make fire, you can float and swim, you can climb on trees. Your skin absorbs the sun, your bare feet run in the sand, your un-sanitized hands feed your mouth with simple food. You are king, really. Until Venus is the brightest view you have.The darkness of the night makes you lose all landmarks, and together with it, pride. The slightest noise starts you up, shadows become terrible monster and your imagination takes you to a whole different place. This is not your cute friendly little island anymore, it has become a place of darkness where racoons work in organized group against you – personally.
The real darkness that you experience there makes you lose touch with reality. It feels even deeper than losing track of time. You hear, feel and see differently. Eventually your body adapts, but your mind keeps on playing trick on you; trying to insert images of the outside world into this perfect island. And here comes the monster you read about in your books, right here behind the fairy tree where earlier you spotted a hummingbird.
You know you are safe but this kind of » open world safety » is so far from everything you know! It is very interesting to observe the game between the mind and the body. I did not have a air mattress in my tent, so I slept on the tent floor, on a sandy ground. My head was already whining about comfort, and about my back and my neck and blablabla. I slept like a baby, once I could stop my brains from turning all the squirrels walking around the tent into psychopath steps looking after me.
You do not need much, apart from a waterproof roof above your head. Meals are easy: bites of vegetables and fruits; a camembert to melt in the dying fire and grilled chamallows for the black stories evenings.
From our little paradise, we paddled down the reservoir until we found a perfect swimming spot. At this stage we hadn’t found out yet that the little heads swimming around were not turtles either frogs, but snakes. Yolo.
Dabbling and splashing around like three little ducks, it felt like we were really connecting with the world around us. Laughing out loud and breaking loose with all thoughts from the outside. It is actually much harder than you think and strangely, I have had the most realistic dreams about my life »back home » those last two nights. It felt like my head was trying to hold me back to it, like my head would feel the ceasura initiated by my instincts, but she would not be ready to deal with. Funny process.
The sky of last night was from far the most intense experience I had. Out of nowhere, a thick black cloud came up, covering our good stars; thereby plunging the all landscape in what was to me a very new kind of dark. Deepest dark I have ever seen, thick air, warm wind : a storm was coming. Drops were big and heavy, bouncing on the roof of my tent; offering to the spiders and ants some good trampoline session. Few times during the night, the rain came by, ensuring a clear bright sky for the new morning.
Driving back – and dreaming of running water, shower and non rationed drinking water; I try to keep my head and heart into this very moment, in the car with my family. I am already planning my arrival tomorrow in Hawaii. Somehow, this new trip feels like another big departure. Till now, I was evolving in »known » environments but the flight tomorrow will take me to a side of the world where I have never been before, where I know nothing and no one. It is thrilling. But let’s enjoy what is happening now : sing proudly with my cousin the songs from our homeland, under the amused eyes of her boyfriend.