by Amber, aka Defi Diva
I woke up the next morning in my #43 Bungalow to bright sunshine streaming through my open window, and a mosquito buzzing in my ear. I covered my head with the blanket in hopes that he (or I guess “she”) would go away. It was 8 am. I had slept the clock around and still wasn’t sure I wanted to get up. The mosquito’s insistence in finding available skin for breakfast however soon convinced me otherwise. In fact, I was hungry and ready to have my own breakfast. The night before I stopped at the little store just out side the camp and bought a huge box of French Corn Flakes that would put Costco to shame (apparently the French like their Corn Flakes), some milk, and a few other tidbits. I fixed my breakfast and settled down out on the little porch to ponder my day ahead.
It was promising to be a picture perfect French spring day, bright sunshine, perfect temperature, and …. no wind. I had given myself an extra day in my itinerary up front to explore the area and hopefully find where exactly this race of some 800 windsurfers could be found. I also thought it might be good to give the waters a test ride, however with absolutely zero wind and none forecasted for the next day or two testing the waters was “right out”. I wasn’t exactly keen on driving the Thingy any more than I had to as it was unwieldy to maneuver in small spaces and everything around me seemed small. (Where is a Walmart parking lot when you need one?!! ) But the problem was that I had no idea where anything was or in what direction I should travel to find the site.
The camp ground was quiet, but I did notice a couple of cars with windsurfing gear in or on them. Surely someone here was also going to Defi. I decided to wait patiently on my porch until I saw someone of potential, then I would pounce. In the mean time I made a cup of instant coffee and broke out my “French For Travelers” book. After a good half hour I had worked out what I had hoped was a passible translation for “Excuse me, but can you please tell me where the Defi registration is?”
The answer came in the form of Bart and Els (sounds a bit like “Elise”), a Belgian couple that were conveniently located in #4 Bungalow across the street. They had thankfully cut my poor attempt at French short when they immediately began speaking English. (SCORE!!!!) It turns out Bart is an “old pro” at this event being that he had raced in the 2011 race. (I figure completing the Defi, if only once, qualifies you for “old pro” status.) He pulled out a bike map of the area and showed me approximately where the race venue was staged. When I asked him about driving there, he mentioned something about “city center”, “lake”, “castle”, “ruins”, and a “canal”, my brain turned off during his explanation of the second roundabout. He then pointed south. I took my cue from that, and jumped in the Thingy. I did manage to find all the land marks he mentioned but perhaps not in the order he described, and in some cases I found them more than once.
The venue is actually situated at the intersection of the canal and the beach at the end of “Av. de la Jetee”. Once there, I took the opportunity to park and walk around. They were still setting up. Registration and opening ceremonies wouldn’t start until the next day, and the place was a buzz with workers and construction crew. I poked around to see if there were any windsurfing shops in the area. Surprisingly I only found one small shop. The L’oc Surf shop which is located on the south side of the beach next to an open air restaurant and bar. The shop has a selection of boards, masts, booms, clothing, etc, however it is not extensive. But it was enough! In a pinch if something were to break I would at least have options for getting it quickly replaced. I returned to my car, marked the place on the Thingy’s GPS, and made my way back to #43 Bungalow. This time in only a slightly less confusing manner.