We didn’t plan to visit the Vallee de Tortues. We’d intended to walk up the Gorge Lavail in the Alberes in the French Pyrenees but we couldn’t find the right road and we ended up outside a tortoise conservation centre.
When I was 9 years old, I found a tortoise on a path at the back of our house and took it home. We asked all around but no-one knew who it belonged to. I loved it, even when it embarrassed everyone by pooping on the lap of my favourite uncle! After a couple of weeks, it escaped, never to be heard of again. I remembered the look of it, the feel of it, the prehistoric quality of it.
So here we were and I was really excited, not knowing what to expect. Well, I fell in love with them all over again. I felt that sense of wonder that I remember feeling as a little girl. There were tiny babies in the nursery, the smallest must have been quite recently hatched. All sizes, shapes, and beautiful designs, their eyes seemed to take in everything around them. Just watching them slowed me down and made me think about the balance that is often missing from modern life, that ability to ‘be’ and just take in. They had the quality of trees and those that stayed very still seemed to be deeply rooted into the Earth. Others moved towards new patches of grass and then chewed contentedly. I was reminded of that wonderful primal connection that we have with the animals and plants on the Earth when we take the time to ‘be’ with them. Time passed very slowly in that place and I found myself smiling a lot.
What inspires you and makes you smile?
These photos came from the Vallee de Tortues website: http://www.lavalleedestortues.fr.