9 Aug 2011

I Want to Believe

I work in a customer-facing environment and I get to meet individuals from all walks of life on a daily basis, and especially more so right now, during the tourist season. The other day a lady tourist came down to the boutique. She was charming and she was charmed. In fact, she was entranced by Corsica, the beauty and variety of the scenery, the idyllic landscapes, the choice in places to visit and explore, the wilderness always - it seems - a stone's throw away. "It's lovely!", she kept on saying, carrying on with herself.

Aliens reached cult status thanks to The X-Files (image source)

I'd been pretty silent all the way through, occasionally nodding in approval. And then I don't know what got me but I broke her dream. Maybe I was only trying to be honest but it came out wrong, maybe it just wasn't my day, maybe it even had something to do with the time of the month, but I just spoilt if for her, and in retrospect I wish I hadn't.

In the conversation I casually mentioned the winters known to be deceptively long and drab. I went on a quick rant about the state of the roads, the slow post, the lack of retail choice, the scarcity of employment opportunities... As if this weren't enough, I went on complaining about the sudden power cuts and power surges that knacker many a domestic appliance (in my parents' case, a washing-machine and a flat TV set this year alone!). The outdated electricity network in this part of the island whose domestic output barely scrapes over 203 volts on a good day, and which paralyses an already slow broadband internet connection. I could have illustrated this with how an average blog update would have taken me half an hour back in the UK, while it routinely takes me up to 4 hours here. Four hours! Talk about devotion.

'Corsica Corte', by M.C. Escher (1929), via WikiPaintings

While I was at it, I was going to have a go at the water supply too. Instead I just suddenly fell silent. The look on the lady's face made me stop. She was looking at me like a rabbit caught in the headlights, gawping. "Yes but... Yes but..." She turned hesitantly towards her husband who'd remained silent throughout our consecutive monologues, and then she turned back towards me and ventured in a murmur, clutching at her straw hat: "Yes but... but it's lovely here! It's lovely though, isn't it?" I had to save the day, her day. So I just smiled, cracked a joke and nodded in approval when she forced a smile.

Yes but... dear readers! Faced with this textbook case of grass being greener, of this beautiful tourist candour, of tourist under the spell of the place they came to visit (and we all fall victim to this ourselves as tourists at least once in a lifetime), and in my humble defence, I must add that loveliness is sometimes not enough. I communicated this in my own way to the lady but this taught me one good lesson in return: to shatter a tourist's dream and their idea of perfection will in no way restore any sense of that already elusive loveliness!


  1. Proving once again that the truth is often more stranger to some than their own fictional beliefs.

    A nice trek into the reality of, well, reality.


    PS--4 hours! Yes, that is devotion, and none too fictional at that...

  2. Indeed a case of truth being stranger than fiction! Thanks for dropping by, Lord.

  3. I would not have missed this opportunity of meeting for a life time of fiction or realities.

    Lord Robilar

    1. Neither would have the Countess, my Lord, for this resulted in our nobility of heart and truth of sentiment to find their echo and resonance, while our souls have finally met their mates.