Monthly Archives: August 2010

Invaders ahead

During the visit to La Camargue, the guide pointed out some “invasive species”. One were a muskrat*, the other one some unnoticeable plant as well as a turtle and crayfish**. What he did not point out where the rice, the Asian reed or the Spanish buffalo (contrary to the original Camargue ones) though they are as foreign to la Camargue as the four others.

What really struck me is that all those species were qualified invasive depending on whether they were useful to humans or not. Some of them – like the rice, the reed AND the muskrat – were actually introduced by humans. The last one for their then valuable skin.

Now, the muskrat is not only qualified as invasive but furthermore as harmful. Harmful because its digging it’s dens in the dikes. Dikes built by humans to keep the Rhône from overflowing. Only that these previously regular floods were an integral part of the delta and its ecosystem. But that’s not the only change man did.

Rice is only growing in the Camargue thanks to lots of subsidies and even more pesticides; altering the landscape and the soil and huge industrial petrochemical plants are located right outside the protected conservation area.

It doesn’t leave much space to wonder which species might actually be the most invasive and harmful on earth…

* Bisamratte, rat musqué
** écrevisse, Flusskrebs

Small quiz for the day

What have the residents of Arizona, Cuba, Iran, New Jersey, North Korea, Puerto Rico, the Province of Quebec, Sudan, Syria and Vermont in common?

It’s actually not that complicated

One of those things men don’t understand (and women don’t bother explaining) is perceived temperature.

Men basically know two temperatures: warm and cold. In extreme cases, they may add two more: too warm and hot; hardly ever too cold.Women know roughly 15 levels of temperature of which one ‘status’ totally escapes the male comprehension: “I’m not cold but it is not warm either.”

In case you don’t see what I mean: that’s the point at which most women put on a light sweater or jersey while they are not cold; leading to some head shaking, sighs and other expressions of utter non understanding.

Note: putting on this jersey is indeed not a matter of being cold or warm. It is a matter of feeling the cloth against the skin and the however light weight of the jersey that makes the difference.

Now, if you still don’t understand it, then I can help it. Just deal with it as a matter of fact.

Any idea

what plant that is?:

It is a climbing plant – at least it was holding on nicely to a fence. Which then belonged to a school yard. Therefore my assumption that it is not poisoning.

Traveller’s diary: Provence

  • Better speak some French: Actually, in Provence; it is possible to travel well and have a good time without speaking French. Maybe it’s because tourism is a big source of income. Still, the moment the online booking didn’t come through and you risk finding yourself without a place to stay and arguing with the hotel staff; it comes in quite handy.
  • As of the third day – and of the third city – it’s getting difficult to tell the places apart. Never mind weekdays…
  • Getting into a city later than 20:00 is not a good idea. In the small cities in the South, public transport doesn’t run later than this. Unless you enjoy a 30 minutes walk with 15kg luggage at the end of the day.
  • I only realised on my way that I was following down le Rhône from Lyon, over Avignon to Arles. Not planned but very pretty!
  • Provence smells like a mix of goat cheese, ripe peaches and lavender. Yamee!

And I am stuck in Brussels

Le carnet de voyage – Marseille II

1) Sunshine is addictive.

2) La Cagole is THE beer of Marseille. Though it’s brewed in Czech Republic as the owner of a tourist souvenir shop told me. From a taste point of view, it’s equivalent a Stella or a Heineken; i.e. it really makes you miss a good Belgian beer. The only interesting part is the branding. Une cagole – in the slang of Marseille – is a woman of rather liberal morals using more men make-up than is good for her.

3 & 4) The great wall of Marseille – or better what is left of it – was meant to stop the citizens of Marseille to leave the city. As a harbour city, it had business but this came with a price: constant arrival of unwanted guests, especially diseases such as the plague.

5) While the sand on the beaches here in Belgium is incredibly fine and soft, the beaches in Marseille are all stony. But as the sea is incredibly blue, nobody is complaining about it. Sun beats stone it seems, not paper.

6) …