Mid-week Stress Relief

After a long Tuesday sitting in very tense debate sessions regarding private sector partnerships, Wednesday was the opposite. Our hostel knows a local guide who takes tourists into the nearby mountains to hike and talk about the local ecology of the area, and luckily Lisa found out about him and got him to give us a tour. The area is in the last stages of becoming Calanques National Park, and will be the only rural/urban national park in France.
The Calanques rise from the sea in spectacular limestone peaks, giving Marseille a unique skyline. Nabilus met us at the entrance of the park, and we began our ascent through a small village. I think our eagerness to be outside was a bit of an early morning shock for him and he told us that we needed to take it slow, as it was the morning. Slowly we wound our way up the former seabed peaks, pausing to admire the beautiful plants and learn from Nabilus what was edible. As we continued to rise above the city, the view became more and more spectacular, and with each step the tension from the past three days began to leave.
As the sun rose higher, lunch became our focus. When I thought we had reached a peak, we took a sharp left, seemingly off the side of the mountain, and around the corner was the ruins of a German occupied base from World War II.
We had packed a lunch of fresh bread, cheese, nuts and fruit, which was enough to satisfy our every whim, but Nabilus had brought us food that was beyond description. With the herbs found in the park (white thyme, two types of rosemary and others) he had created a magical olive oil. He provided dried baguette rubbed with fresh purple garlic; we poured the oil over and with oily hands ate the little bruschettas. When we thought we were in food heaven, he pulled out a small wheel of Camembert cheese and sliced it into large triangles. Then, much to our shock he liberally poured his olive oil over the cheese. To skeptics of this endeavor, I can safely tell you that any thought of my arteries disappeared, and at once I was encompassed in one of the most delicious culinary delights I have ever experienced. We contentedly munched on our lunch, and Nabilus answered our questions about the city, ecology, and how he came to love the area. It became clear that his passion is these mountains and educating tourists and citizens alike in the marvel that lies within the city. We zigged and zagged our way down and across the mountain stopping to examine an old venting system from an old ascorbic acid factory. At the bottom we parted ways with Nabilus and wandered down to the ocean to dip our toes into the Mediterranean. After a long day hiking the cold (yes, cold!), refreshing water was exactly what we needed to continue back to the Water Forum and hear from the Youth Movement.

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