Kercabanac, english version
This article is translated in the hopeful eventuality that it may attract the attention of American descendants of Ariegeois who emigrated from the valley!
Kercabanac sounds a typically Breton name and at first glance the photo below looks a typical Brittany scene but actually it is in Ariège and marks the entrance to the Salat valley, approaching from Saint-Girons. Continue stright on and you are on the road to Massat.
Hewn out of the rock by hand this tunnel has a symbolic value. It separates the finite world of the valley, the known world, from the outside world, the unknown world.
Travelling pedlars and showmen with performing bears would one day pass through with heads full of dreams of travel and fortune but with some anxieties too. Some would retun back along this road with fortunes made... others not so fortunate.
From here on the "ihlet", the shepherds' call from hamlet to hamlet, announced would announce the homecoming of one of its emigrants. It was even said that some could tell the identity of who was approaching from the modulations of a particular "ihlet"
The place gave its name to a novel by Loup Durand published in 1982. Joël Rouch, the hero, returns to his hamlet, after seven years absence, set on a mission to convince the population, 73 poeple, to follow his example and emigrate to America. He has to convince them before the return of his older brother, Elie, who will violently oppose his crazy project.
It is a fascinating book brimful of anecdotes that capture the daily life in a Salat hamlet in the mid nineteenth century.