Friday, August 26, 2011

Vamos a la playa

(Just a side note; are all of Loona's songs pretty much about partying, dancing and the "rhythm of the night?")

Through some sort of fluke of nature, my partner had his weekend off, and after spending the entire afternoon lifting IKEA the day before, we decided to go to Carnac.  For those of you who have never been to Bretagne, maybe just Morbihan, Carnac is a town along the Gulf of Morbihan with 3 or 4 beaches.  It's also where most Bretons go for a day trip in the summer.  It's always packed, always warm, and I've never left without going in the water.  (Even the first time I came in December of 2004, we walked along the coast in Carnac, and got wet.  I wanted to be able to come back and be the first of my brothers and sisters to be able to say I'd been on both sides of the Atlantic.)

The car ride was a little rough, I'll admit.  It takes about an hour to get there, and there's no direct route despite the traffic.  However most people who come there are actually staying a while.  There's lots of Germans and Dutch, but the most common are the English.  I have never gone an entire day without hearing someone speak English there.  Luckily though, it was nearing the end of vacation, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.  Plus, my niece was ready to see the nude beach that we had jokingly told her we'd be going to.  her natural question was,"You mean everyone will be able to see your zizi?"

So we set up on the beach close to the railing so we would be sheltered a little bit.  We had brought a few things to eat and some water, so we put the cooler on one of the towels to keep it down.  The others we held down with sandals and the like.  We didn't really have to change as we had just worn our suits under our clothes.  There aren't many places to change on the beach, and after last time when I had to change in a car, I wasn't looking to repeat.  So we unfolded the transat and left our stuff with my mother in law while the four of us went swimming.

I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but the last time I had come to Carnac, I got burned really bad, and it lasted for a week.  I could barely move my arms or my neck and my partner laughed at me.  I wasn't about to repeat that week, so I used the sun block my sister had taken with them to Spain.  If SPF 50 wasn't going to stop my ass from burning, I don't know what would.  So I did the best I could to cover and I had to brow beat my partner in to putting it on.  He's lily white to begin with and works 5 days a week in a lab.  When he's off two days, we stay inside and play video games.  The only time we leave the house then is for groceries, and even that doesn't happen sometimes.  He doesn't tan, he burns.  I won't say I'm a thousand times better, but I wasn't the one refusing to wear sun block.  So we coated ourselves, and went swimming.

Now, it was very warm as I said, so I figured that with the temperature being about 32 (90), the water should be about 25(80).  Yeah, no....  It was about (20)70!  Oh, but it was the ocean, and when would we see it again, so we went slow, and eventually just gave up that plan and jumped in.  It knocked the wind out of you at first, but the longer you stayed in the nicer it was.  We played around and acted as bouys for my niece for a while.  It was low tide, so we walked on the rocks looking for crabs or starfish.  It was a bust.  The water was too cold to have jellyfish, luckily, so we celebrated the small victories.  After about an hour and a half, we came back to the shore.

My sister and mother in law tanned for a while and talked while my partner and niece were building a sand castle.   I went with my partner for a bit, but my niece got tired of it pretty quick.  We hadn't taken anything to dig with or buckets to make the sand castle with.  So she wanted to go back with her mother.  I was ready to seize the opportunity to take a nice quiet walk with my partner.  We walk about 30 feet away and we hear my niece calling behind for us to wait for her.  Apparently whatever my sister and mother in law were discussing wasn't very interesting to her.  So we went out on the rocks.  So we started looking and my sister in law came over with my mother in law.  I started looking for rocks, because I'm a geek like that while my niece was looking for crabs with my partner and sister in law.  They found a few very small ones.  Of course my niece refused to touch them, and would run screaming when they found one.  I talked with my mother in law a bit when all of the sudden we heard my niece screaming! 

She had found something living in one of the shells!  She found a very small hermit crab in a shell probably only about an inch long.  In French, they're called bernard-l'ermite, and my niece kept saying Bernard Bermite, like it was his name or something.  So then began the controversy of what they ate, to which the answer we responded was plankton.  She had no idea what that was, so we just told her little things in the water.  Then she wanted to find some way to keep him alive and take him home.  So she puts the poor thing in a shell with some water and takes it up to where we were.  So my sister in law tells her that it's not enough water in the shell and that she should put some water in the bottle. So she runs back to the beach, all proud and fills the bottle full.  But the hermit crab needs sand  and a little bit of air at the top.  So she runs back a second time and does it.  She even added some seaweed, even though she refused to touch it earlier because there were crabs hiding in it.  She was determined to take that bad boy home with her.  She said that she could just give it some water from the tap, but then we had to explain the difference between seawater and freshwater.  It was getting complicated and we needed to start thinking about getting back, so her mother told her to put the poor thing back in the ocean, which she did, in the most disappointed 8 year old manner she could. 

Afterwards we took a final swim, and then started packing up.  I took back some rocks and my niece a fistful of shells.  We through out poor Bernard Barmite's now empty home on the way
 back to the car, distracting our niece with the two things that could make everything better: churros and ice cream.

I think it's pretty straightforward, but I am not sure how familiar the audience may be with churros.  I had never eaten churros growing up.  That may have had something to do with my parents never wanting to take 5 children to the county fairs.  I can't blame them.  I really didn't know much about carnival food until I started high school and I had to go because I was in the high school marching band.  Pretty much, churros are the same dough used for  Elephant Ears and funnel cakes, but they are long pipes and after they're fried, they're rolled in sugar.  I actually didn't learn about churros until I watched someone make them on food network and ate my first churro in France.

We got four churros with a tub of chocolate sauce for dipping which was an excellent appetizer for the main event. The igloo ice cream stand is the biggest in town.  They have something ridiculous like 150 different flavors.  They range from the normal chocolate and vanilla, to the not so outrageous blackberry or currant, but getting to the out there chive and curry flavors.  The line is always around the block, so you have to pay for what you want first, and then you stand in line for service.  I got two scoops, one blackberry, the other black currant.  My niece couldn't finish all of her's so I ended up finishing her brownie ice cream.  I tend to like sorbet more than ice cream, but I was satisfied. 

After that, we headed back home.  We'll probably spend the week recovering from the weekend, and this Friday we'll be going back up to Rennes for my partner's med school orientation.  I don't really know what if anything we'll be doing other than that.  I think the next post will probably be about the French highway system anyway.  I seriously am bothered by it, if the IKEA Saturday wasn't an indication. 


  1. all in all it sounds like a good time, a swim always makes me feel better ;)

  2. It was absolutely wonderful. With my partner's schedule, we don't really get to go out much. I don't blame him, but it would be nice to get to see more of France than where I can walk in a day.

  3. Did you ever see the "Alignements" in Carnac?

  4. the Standing Stones are beautiful! They're all fenced in now is the problem. It's strange to think that they've survived all these years too. I guess that's what Bretons did back then though!