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  • Writer's pictureHans Faber

Presence of mind to ask the right question

‘The path will provide,’ is a familiar saying among hikers while on the trail. The flip side of this attitude is you might not have the keenness to recognize an exceptional opportunity. Your mind gets lazy. It is exactly what happened to one of the Frisian bastards during his solo hike through the harsh mountains of Corsica.

Thru-hiking the GR20 through the mountains of Corsica is quite demanding. Not only for your body and mind, but also for your equipment. Like any hiker, the bastard travels as light as possible too. For this purpose, he always has only one pair of trousers with him: a rain trouser. Wearing a rain trouser, made of high-tech material, is very practical. It protects your legs against thorny vegetation, shields them from both the sun and the rain, and with its long zippers on the sides, you can easily regulate the temperature. Additionally, it does not start to smell bad immediately. While packing for his trip to Corsica, the backpacker wondered if he should buy a new rain trouser because his current one was a bit worn out. He decided not to. It turned out to be a bad judgment as we will see.

On the fourth day, while hiking and scrambling through the sharp, granite rocks, the bastard slid down on his butt and heard a ripping sound. His trousers tore open at his butt. When he arrived later that day at Bergerie de Ballone, where he would stay the night, he tried to fix his pants with duct tape. Always bring duct tape on the trail! However, the next day, soon after he started walking, the tape could not hold the tear together. With all the climbing and scrambling of the GR20, not even duct tape is strong enough. Never mind, the bastard thought, the path will provide.

In the afternoon, the bastard arrived at Castel de Verghio where he would set up his tent for the night. It is also a small resort with a hotel and a little grocery shop. After he set up his tent, the bastard inquired at the shop if the owner could somehow get his hands on a new pair of trousers. "That was maybe possible," the man said. He would make some phone calls. "Why not also ask the reception of the hotel?" the bastard thought. "Maybe some guests have forgotten things there and did not come back for them?"

Upon entering the reception, it was quiet because summer season was already closing. The man behind the counter was casually standing. His left hand on the counter, his right hand on his hip. He was friendly and reserved.

“Can I help you?” he asked. The bastard explained the accident with his rain trouser. He turned his back to the man to show what was the problem. His backside stitched with loads of grey duct-tape strips, most hanging loose.

Without moving a leg or a foot, without taking his right hand from his hip, he grabbed with his left hand something that was just below his hand on the counter. He handed it over to the bastard, not saying a word. The bastard unfolded it. It was an identical rain trouser, black, and above all exactly the right size! Only a different brand. Thrilled, the bastard jumped in the air. The remaining strips of duct tape that held the trousers together came loose as well. "How much do you want for it?" the bastard asked. The man only lifted his left hand to make the gesture he did not want anything for it.

hiking the GR20 in Corsica

The bastard left the reception. He could not believe it. Exactly the same trouser. Indeed, the path provides! He went to the grocery shop keeper and explained no action was needed anymore.

Then, at his tent, he realized he had just made the stupidest mistake ever. This man could have given him anything. If the bastard would have asked for the winning lottery ticket, he would have given it to him. Even better, a reservation ticket for heaven. The man would have given it to him. And with the same minimal effort and emotion as the man had done with the rain trousers. Not moving an inch. Not asking for anything in return. The bastard understood, he hadn't had the presence of mind to realize it was an encounter with a genuine jinn. A type of ghost as we all know from the fairy tale Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp. How stupid had the bastard been. Asking for a simple, used trouser when he could have asked the world!


Note 1 – Hiking through heartlands of regional cultures of Europe is exactly where the Frisia Coast Trail is also about. Read also our posts Support for the Corsican Cause in jeopardy, Croeso I Gerddwyr, and “My God, the Germans bought all the bread!” cried Moira.

Note 2 – For pics of the hike (GR20) click this link.

Suggested music

Talking Heads, Heaven (1984)

Aladdin, A Whole New World (2011)

Further reading

Abram. D., Corsica Trekking GR20, Trailblazer (2008)

Dillon, P., Trekking. The GR20 Corsica. The High Level Route, Cicerone (2016)

Fabrikant, M., Grande Randonnée, GR20, À traverse la Montagne corse. Parc naturel régional de Corse, TopoGuides (2016)

Goscinny, R. & Uderzo A., Asterix in Corsica (1979)


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