L’iles-aux-Marins, Day 1

Each morning, I attempt to write or recapture what happened the day before and manage to not leave my hotel room until 1 or 2.  Fortuitously, I got on the boat to the L’ile-aux-Marins just as it was boarding.  The boat ride took less than a half hour but we were taken to another world, a living museum as Aurèlie from the hotel had described it. Settled in 1604, it’s last permanent population left in 1965.

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I looked in all directions and didn’t know where to start my exploration. I eventually walked 5 miles but covered even less than half the island.  Without thinking, I slowed my pace and wandered east toward the church on the hill and the Atlantic.  So much to see, smell, maybe taste.  I’m looking up, down, and sideways.  Maybe I’ll would find my own cloudberries.  I reached the first building that is open to the public, which is the old schoolhouse now known as the Archipelitude Museum.  The attendant tells me that there are 21 rooms to explore.  I go through every one and am not disappointed.  Like all the museums I’ve visited in the archipelago, the exhibits invite close inspection and delight, filled with objects used mostly from the 19th and 20th century.

My favorite room is the classroom.  Like a scene from Little House on the Prairie, I could imagine being both a student and a teacher.  The classroom held the traditional maps and books found in schoolrooms of the early part of the 20th century.  Yet, teacher or student could glance outside and see pale green grasses, wildflowers, the sea. The blackboard reads Vendredi, 5 juillet 1963, La dernière classe, Friday, July 5, 1963, the last class.

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The church, Roman Catholic, is spare but compelling with its bowed blue ceilings like the hull of a ship.  Outside Stations of the Cross line a path to the sea.

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On the other side of the hill is a small graveyard and not far away is a workshop. What pleasure- working with your hands looking out across the island.

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Four hours passed and I’d only seen one small area.  I would have to return.  This next trip meant that I will have spent four days traveling in a boat.  Magnifique!

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