Thanks to Giorgia Bariani for the translation
"The strength of the waves that break against the rocks can be compared to the rage of a man seeking peace”
Ouessant...Years ago, my first approach to this patch of earth was not a happy experience due to my poor health conditions. But even at that time, it was love at first sight: the coarse-grained rocks that sink into the deep sea, the fury of the wind that keeps you awake at night and the light of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe to lighten your nights. The naturalistic approach to Ouessant is not the only reason why I love this place so intensely: it’s the atmosphere you breathe everywhere, it’s its being a frontier place and a shelter at the same time, as well as a mortal trap for many unlucky people in the past centuries. Although some of the most violent storms on Earth rage across this area, I can say that, here, I found a peace of mind I have seldom experienced in other places - despite the fact that this place might seem a contradiction to all that. Besides, how can you ask for peace when the winds blow at more than 120 km/h and the waves might reach a height of 15 m? And yet, in all this fury, you can feel a sense of detachment that is otherwise rarely felt..
"If you can’t find your peace here, you won’t find it in any other place".
Ouessant the shield, Ouessant the last barrier before the open ocean, the last obstacle before the big jump into a desert of salty water and wind. Its waves high as buildings and its impetuous winds can turn this island into sheer hell. And it was really hell for me…For years, I’ve always wanted to feel and experience the rage that savages you, I wanted to see the waves that towers over you with their strength, I wanted to live this violent dream. All this turned real. I was astonished and euphoric every time a wave was moving towards me and broke on the seashore. It was pure bliss and I kept waiting for an even bigger and stronger wave. When the skyline is no longer visible and is just a series of foamy crests, the joy and happiness took the better of me and I forgot the salty squirts that the wind “gently” blew against my skin :)
Being in the middle of a storm triggered such a deep and totalizing excitement in me that I kept dreaming of these waves during the entire night. The same thing happened to me when I was in Iceland where I had seen the Northern Lights and I kept dreaming of them in the following nights.
"The path of light"
A special wish was dear to my heart over many others: seeing the sky of Ouessant again. Here, in Ouessant, it’s difficult to enjoy the sight of a starry night due to the fog that embraces the entire island. But I was lucky. Stars shone above the King of Kings, the Creac'h, the most powerful lighthouse in Europe. Its light beams reaching the skyline and beyond is a unique landscape among the most breath-taking on Earth
The scent of the storm on the cliff was as strong as the light that tried to push its way through the clouds to dive into the abyss to seek peace.
However, despite its strength, there are moments when even the King has to bend to a valorous adversary. The King’s voice sounds like a moan: the fog is fighting to conquer the island.
Obviously, this is not reality, but when the visibility is reduced to a few miles, the lighthouse produces an acoustic signal to warn the ships of the nearing coast. Unfortunately, Ouessant is notorious for being the place where some of the most tragic shipwrecks have occurred.
"The sweetness in the fury"
A small wish of mine – that cannot be fulfilled – is to challenge the fury of this environment: however, I know that this is not fury, but just how Nature expresses itself in this part of the world. In this rage, I found glimpses of Ouessant to preserve deep in my memory, such as, for example, when the wind blew the waves upwards towards the sky and the seawater drops drifted for a minute through the air in the storm,
or when the ocean’s strength seemed to swallow the Jument Lighthouse.
Nividic is the last barrier between the humankind and his dreams. Waves broke against the lighthouse, they seemed to submerge it, but, in the end, they failed, and moved back just to break against the lighthouse again, stronger than ever.
"The last gleams of light"
Finally, after fighting so hard, the very last gleam of light gently offers us a sweet picture of the moment.
It’s in these moments that you finally make peace with Ouessant and with yourself. Ouessant is like a living entity. Being on this island it’s like taking its soul by the hand again, welcoming and hugging each other again to see each other again who knows when. During all the time I spent on Ouessant, not a single moment of incomprehension or confusion ever happened: I simply learnt to accept Ouessant for what it is. Ouessant showed me a side of its personality I didn’t know and I fell in love with it even more strongly because this was what I wanted. It’s true, Ouessant is difficult, it scrutinizes you with mistrust, and I know that it can offer us both good and bad experiences, that, however, will always remain unforgettable moments.
You will seek its peace again and you will look forward to visiting it again to see its skies, to dream of its waves, and to hear its voice murmuring sweet words into your ears..
...and when you are back, you will clearly hear Ouessant moving towards you to welcome you again. Without even turning yourself, you will give your hand to Ouessant and it will take you by the hand to show you its skyline, where your dreams and the sea are reunited again…...
Kenavo ma bro, prometet douar
Travel with Stefano Cuccolini (website / pictures) and Francesco Mariani (website / pictures)