Auray Craziness

If you travel around enough, you will surely encounter some things you just could not expect. The harbor of Auray gave us just that experience.

We drove to Auray when we left Carnac. Mary had told us that the old harbor of Auray is beautiful. Gilles pointed out that it also was historic, in that Benjamin Franklin landed here when he came to France in 1776, seeking France’s help in the United State’s Revolutionary War. So off to the small, sleepy harbor of Auray we went.

First hint that something was going on: the parking lots around the harbor area were full, on a Sunday afternoon. Second hint, as we walked down the hill to the harbor, we could hear yelling and cheering and what sounded like someone announcing a contest on a loudspeaker. Hmmmm, something was not as we expected.

We turned the corner to the harbor and saw that the area was jammed with people, all of whom were watching something in the water. We pushed to the fence and saw… well, let me show you some pictures.

First, a boat rowing out into the harbor. Note the guy with the long pole on the back. Note also that the team is dressed in Mexican garb, including sombreros, serapes and fake mustaches.

Another boat, with another oddly-dressed team, was coming from the other direction. They rowed like crazy toward each other and we realized that it was a boat-joust – the guys with poles were going to try to knock each other into the water.









Sure enough, the Mexicans won this joust, as the guy from the other team got knocked off his perch and into the water. This was all accompanied by frenzied shouting from spectators lining the waterfront.

I later saw a scoreboard – there were sixteen teams in this tournament! We do not have the slightest idea why this team was dressed in pseudo-Mexican costumes. I will say that if I were from Mexico, I’d have been offended!

Now, the other crazy thing is that about a minute after we turned that corner, I said to Laurie, “We’ve been here!” And we had been there. Nine years ago we spent some time with Laurie’s former boss at the library, Jeane, and her French husband, Bertrand. We all went to Carnac, and Bertrand took us to this very harbor afterwards. So, it was deja vue all over again, except that nine years ago the place was deserted and today it was jammed.

And, truth to tell, the Auray harbor isn’t all that interesting. It has been “gussied up” to attract the tourist trade and it is just so pretty and so quaint and so inauthentic. Give us a real town any day!

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