“La” Mar in November: Trip to Sardinia

“He always thought of the sea as ‘la mar’ which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her. Sometimes those who love her say bad things of her but they are always said as though she were a woman. Some of the younger fishermen, those who used buoys as floats for their lines and had motorboats, bought when the shark livers had brought much money, spoke of her as ‘el mar’ which is masculine.

They spoke of her as a contestant or a place or even an enemy. But the old man always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favours, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does a woman, he thought.”
E. Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

On my recent trip to Sardinia, in front of the November sea, I kept coming back to Hemingway and his simple observation on el mar / la mar. I realized that the sea is la mar for me too and that a year without touching base with it is an empty one.

Sardinia is a wild blend of mountains and beaches and is never greener as it is in late October and November. On all my trips to Italy, I have never eaten a better pizza (Ciao, bambina), spoken more Italian, learned more about goats and sheep, or left more inspired (I drafted an entire novel after witnessing a conversation about a woman who had died a few years ago). I even briefly joined a strike in Cagliari, did some country labour (who knew almonds grew on trees?), and swam in a cold sea, under a warm sun. Sardinia is a place where almost everyone has a white car and a white dog, where, in rural houses, you might see pioggia (rain) scribbled on calendars, and a place where a local will nonchalantly tell you: Il Sardo non e amante del mare (Sardinian people are not lovers of the sea).

It is a perfect island although I could never live in a place where snow doesn`t exist 🙂


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