(Photo: En route to Peru)
As we travel and explore the world, we often hear that “the journey is more important than the destination.”
It does not take a full-time globe-trotter to understand that the events and encounters that unfold along the way define the beauty and meaningfulness of an experience more than the next place we are going to. Indeed, it is what allows us to be Present in the here and now instead of speculating and projecting on things that have not happened yet and in fact, may never happen at all.
Meanwhile, we also swiftly realise that expectations may generate disappointment and that the true essence of the lessons we have to learn resides in letting go of where we may or may not end up.
I am not saying that it is something easy to do though.
Interestingly enough, the geographical aspect of a voyage merely becomes a tool in order to grow on the spiritual level.
After all, personal growth and health is something that everyone has to deal with in their existence whether we are aware of it or not, and regardless of how many countries we visit or overland borders we cross. Yet, it is also undeniable that travelling sets our intention to make a change as it gives us more opportunities to explore the inner world that all of us possess within the borders of our physical body, since it is a mirror of the entire outer universe that surrounds us.
We have to grasp that it is only motion that allows us to channel energy and give birth to the synchronicity we are meant to manifest. Because this is how it works in this universe, as it is always a tricky concept to maintain the energy balance between taking action and letting things come to us.
On the other hand, we have to understand that everything is already perfectly balanced as it is and we solely go back to this equilibrium with time and dedication.
Travelling assists us in connecting the dots between our human and spiritual experiences for one cannot go without the other.
Travelling can give us more tools to free our mind from delusion and suffering, and this is what I have been striving for in the last seven years of my long journey overland around the globe.
Seven is a magic number; seven chakras, seven colours of the light spectrum, seven continents, seven wonders of the world (even though I believe that there are so many others out there). Seven years spent exploring the antipodes of the mind in all its possible ways.
It could not be a more wonderful synchronicity to celebrate my seventh anniversary of my quest in Peru, a country with which my soul has felt immediately connected at the most profound level.
In fact, our travelling experience is sometimes so deep and intense that we can hardly express it with human words and it matters not.
The people who truly love us will always try to understand us and even if they do not, we have to accept that exploring our inner world through outer travel may lead to places (both literally and figuratively) where we learn so much that some part of our heart will remain there forever and never come back.
However, it is also when we reach such a stage of consciousness and awareness that we no longer need to be understood by others, for we realise that we already have all the Answers inside. Then, we no longer have to “find” a balance as we barely go back to the perfect balance we all already have within us in the first place and that we have somehow "lost" along the way on different degrees and levels.
And this is also when we eventually figure out that we are not alone in this spiritual journey regardless of the massive differences that we all face on the unique path of our very own human experience.
(Photo: Crow pose, yoga practice & balance work in California, October 2018)
(Photo: Eclipse holistic gathering in La Punta-Montañita, July 2019)
It was not easy to leave La Punta-Montañita and Ecuador, and all the beautiful souls that I met there after three months spent on site.
I really felt part of a cosmic family and was loved for what I truly am, so that I could express all my passion and gratitude reciprocally. But it was time to go, which is not incompatible with my purest intention to see them again someday, as well as all the other wonderful souls that I have already met in this life.
In fact, departing has always been the hardest part of my long journey around the world; first having to leave my blood-family and former groups of close “friends” for I was no longer feeling in tune with them (and with my societal environment as a whole) and I was clearly being judged for it.
We could no longer assist and support each other in our respective evolution so it was time to close the chapter and start a new one. Some may see it as fleeing but I see it as finally living, for I have broken down my limitations and transcended myself through the process.
Indeed, we can try our best to assist others but we cannot take responsibility for them, and I therefore made the sacrifice to leave everything behind and leave towards the Unknown.
On my way, I have run into so many reminiscences and beautiful experiences of feeling part of another type of family. And the more I have not expected it to happen, the more it has of course.
One may think that I have been arriving and departing so much in my life that I must be quite used to it by now, but it is only true on the practical and organisational level. Emotionally speaking, it is never easy to do because life teaches us that we really do not know if we are going to see someone again on this physical plane.
Yet, being open-minded teaches us that we eventually always do since physical separation is an illusion, and even if we may not see someone again on the physical level in the present existence, we surely do on a deeper plane of consciousness.
Travelling on the geographical level is meant to be shared and so is true happiness.
This is the natural stage that takes place when we finally learn the lesson(s) we first have to learn on our own. And we all do at some point before becoming unconditionally complete. It does not mean that we cannot be alone again sometimes for it is fundamental to learn how to sustain our private space and creativity in the meantime. It is important to re-attune and re-centre ourselves at times.
It is also a great reminder of what we really want to manifest in our existence, as it is OK to have doubts sometimes in our human experience. The problem is not the distraction, the problem is not to be aware of it. Having doubts does not mean that we are losing our unconditional faith, it means that we are human and real in our intention, as long as it does not come to judging our condition.
It actually takes courage to share emotions and passions with others when we actually do not do it in a selfish and exclusive way.
A relationship does not need to be labelled or judged. If we think about it, love is immanent and omnipotent, so everything is a relationship (including with ourselves) and every single human connection is different from one another. This is the reason why we cannot love others if we do not love ourselves in the first place. Or else, we cannot be complete with others if we are not complete with ourselves.
This is what I started realising and manifesting in 2015 after hitting the road mostly on my own beforehand. It was obviously no coincidence that it first took place in Alaska as I was hiking Into the Wild to the Magic Bus, where Chris McCandless had had the same realisation and died twenty-three years before my coming.
For my part, I was “lucky” enough to be able to cross the Teklanika River on my way back and to keep living on this physical plane in order to manifest this concept for the time I would be given.
(Photo: At the Magic Bus of Into the Wild, Alaska, July 2015)
(Photo: Thomas and I playing with gravity in Lobitos -on timer-, Peru, August 2019)
As I left the Pacific coast of Ecuador in mid August, I only drove 200 kilometres on my own before I picked up Thomas, an old French friend of mine that I had not seen for ten years.
We had met in Nice, France, in 2008, as we worked in the same school as general educators for a year, before I became a full-time English teacher in another high-school. It was just before I moved to Amsterdam for one year and then delved into the present journey from September 2012 onward.
Tom and I had hardly ever been in touch in the meantime and yet, we had always followed and respected each other's respective course of evolution a lot because we have put an enormous amount of passion and faith in doing things very differently. At least, according to a certain form of "normality".
As I was briefly organising our three-week trip together, I was somehow guided to tell Thomas that he would arrive in Guayaquil (South Ecuador) and would go back to France from Lima (capital city of Peru), roughly 2000 kilometres further South. Yet, I actually left most of the content of the voyage up to the Universe and to the synchronicity that we would manifest together along the way.
Thomas and I drove through the Peruvian border with Randy (my van), spent a couple of days at the beach in the North and had a few very meaningful encounters in the meantime.
From there, it became quite clear that we were meant to experience a balance of the refreshing Pacific Ocean, the fascinating Andes and the soulful Amazon forest (the three adjectives could be put in any order really) as part of the equation of our epic trip in Peru together.
It did not take me much time to fall in love with this country. Interestingly enough, I had naturally dropped all expectations about Peru because of just having heard too many things about it. On the one hand, I was utterly convinced that Peru could easily become an overly-touristy experience to my taste and on the other, it is a huge country that could offer deserted, wild stretches of free land where it would be easy to get “lost” and to enjoy the most genuine time ever with locals, especially while travelling overland with a van.
And it is obviously the latter that was meant to take place in my experience.
I have felt truly grateful to connect with local people on the way in the most authentic way.
Indeed, I found my approach with Ecuadorian folks rather insipid during the four months spent in the in-between-hemispheres country, as aside from very few exceptions, the beauty of my adventures on site mostly resided in the unexpected encounters of soulful travellers and expats.
In Peru, I have immersed myself in a profound resonance with locals and their captivating culture from the very day I crossed the border, which is the first time it happened since I had left my beloved Mexico one year and a half before. Of course, there have been some mesmerising human connections on the way such as in El Salvador and Colombia, but Peru is very special because it relates to its ancestral, sacred culture on a much deeper layer of consciousness than its neighbouring countries.
Like Iran or Mexico, it is a country that has been heavily oppressed by the West (or the North, depending on whether one takes a literal or figurative approach of the matter) and its people have grown very strong and aware through this process.
One can feel it in their eyes and smile, which are the gates of the soul, and this is what I have been striving for through my long overland voyage.
Thomas had delved into the “spiritual” world not so long before coming to visit me, so he had expressed his excitement to go with the flow of my own experience for this section of the road together.
Consequently, we had set the intention to remain open to the possibility of sharing an Ayahuasca experience in Peru as part of our respective evolution.
We were surely on the same energy frequency level as we met in Guayaquil and it did not take long for us to follow the signs. Five days after leaving Lobitos and the beach, we ended up in the city of Pucallpa, nested in the Amazon jungle, after 2000 kilometres of an unexpected, intense journey across the Andes.
It was more and more obvious that the sacred medicine was calling at us as everything and everyone turned into bewitching synchronicity on our way through every single place we went to and folks we ran into.
Tom and I eventually spent an entire week in the Amazon forest, not so far away from the blaze of the massive fires that had been sadly ravaging it in Brazil and Bolivia for the previous three weeks, in the most uncomfortable, dodgy media silence.
And it truly meant something special to me given that our kids may not even have the opportunity to witness its intrinsic beauty for themselves due to the carelessness and greed of our distorted Western culture.
(Image: Fire spots in the Amazon forest from space, September 2019)
(Photo: Sunset by the Pacific Ocean with Thomas and Randy -my van-)
(Photo: Crossing of the Amazon forest in Peru, August 2019)
It would take too many pages to properly transcribe my Ayahuasca experience here (which I have actually done in my journal and I may express in a book someday), so I will only give you some glimpses of it for now.
Amazingly enough, after considerably exploring the world of psychedelic substances and sacred medicines for the last 12 years (since my first LSD experience in Australia in 2007), it took me 8 years from the moment I found out about Ayahuasca and started studying the sacred vine and DMT (Dimethyltryptamine, its active component), until I was eventually “allowed” to sip the ancestral beverage in the Amazon forest in Peru.
Indeed, it takes patience to meet the “right” Maestros and when we do, there is no reason to find others, for everything comes to us in perfect time anyway.
It could not have been more meant to be for Thomas and I stayed in a small village called San Francisco.
We arrived there pretty much at the same period of the year when I used to land in San Francisco (California) during the four previous years. Funnily enough, I decided that I would not go back to the USA this year in order to focus on both my outer and inner journey, and ended up in San Francisco in Peru instead.
It could not have been a better place to do Ayahuasca as I have always believed that sacred substances are much more potent as a spiritual “tool” when taken in their natural environment. Mother Ayahuasca could be considered as an exception because its process is a lot about the inner journey and yet, the setting still remains an essential part of the experience, especially when it comes to the emotional and karmic integration that occurs before and after the ceremonies.
Some people may think that it is a wonderful idea to export the sacred medicine to foreign countries in order to spread awareness to as many individuals as possible in order to heal the collective consciousness.
But it still depends on the intention that is set with it. For my part, I am rather sceptical about the genuineness of the intention of these shamans who charge massive amounts of money to participate in ceremonies abroad.
Furthermore, bringing Ayahuasca (or other sacred medicines) directly to the people just seems to be part of the constant frenzy and trendiness of the consumer society. People need more and more things right here, right now, without showing any dedication, passion and patience, and they are completely assisted through the process, which I believe, brings very little spiritual reward.
Thomas and I did three Ayahuasca ceremonies in the jungle in a week (at Niwe Rao Xobo community, which I highly recommend).
Comparisons are odious, especially when it comes to sacred medicines. Indeed, I cannot really say whether the strongest experiences that I have had on peyote or psilocybin mushrooms were more intense than Ayahuasca, but a sure thing is that the latter was tremendously life-changing for me.
In fact, I have never really fancied taking psychedelic substances in a big group and the Ayahuasca ceremonies in themselves were just very different from everything that I had tried before. The most outstanding part was definitely the integration of the personal work that naturally took place on the emotional level before and after the rituals.
Again, it is fundamental to understand that most of our daily life is ruled by subconscious psychological processes that are deeply buried within us whether it comes to an emotional or karmic approach, which is what the sacred plant is usually working on.
It takes an enormous amount of courage to show up at the temple for the simple reason that one never knows what is going to happen, as each and every ceremony is utterly different from one another.
It takes a huge deal of unconditional faith to drink Ayahuasca because even though DMT is naturally present in every single living organism and also secreted by the pineal gland in the centre of our brain, the latter occurs only through two specific events; when we dream and when we die on the physical level.
Yet, one cannot “die” in an Ayahuasca experience and it is “only” our ego that may do so, which is why the mind is usually very present since it projects itself through the ego. And it inexorably fears that we may eventually be able to completely let go of it as we surrender to the power of the medicine.
It takes a lot of humble dedication to be willing to heal ourselves for reasons we are not even aware of in the first place, and it goes way beyond the disagreeable part of the purging process, which is probably the easiest part of the whole Ayahuasca experience (relatively).
Actually, letting go of the subconscious control of the purging (and of our buried emotions by the same occasion) is usually what activates the “visions”.
They are then accompanied and guided by the Icaros (shamans' chants in the Shipibo culture) during the ceremony (that usually lasts for 3 or 4 hours). Many people never have visions (which can be related to just anything depending on our intention) and I felt blessed and grateful not only that I could have them but also that I could “leave” my physical body during my second ceremony and explore deeper layers of consciousness within me as a mirror of the entire universe outside of me.
After all, what is infinite in the macro-cosmos is as infinite as what belongs to the micro-cosmos.
As above, so below.
Meanwhile, I was surrounded by a colourful, fractal world that felt more real than the physical plane we live in. I journeyed for what felt like a thousand years through the veins of creation in the midst of utter timelessness and spacelessness.
I have not been through “hell” like many people describe their own Ayahuasca experience; maybe because I have been unconditionally trusting the medicine and the Maestros, and I have been able to let go of my resistances through the process. I know
I still have a lot to learn though. We all do until our last breath.
Mother Ayahuasca is surely the most intelligent entity that I have ever encountered in my present existence. Overall, She is the Universe and all Its possible quantum possibilities as a whole. She is the one who decides whether She wants to work with someone depending on the authenticity and purity of their intention.
She is the one who is going to beckon at one and eventually let one go. The process starts long before one even starts thinking of it and lasts long after one leaves the temple where the ceremonies take place.
(photo: With my Ayahuasca Maestros Damian & Lila in San Francisco, Peru, September 2019 -Credits: Tom La Ruffa- Editing: myself)
(Photo: Crossing of the Andes at 4,800 metres above sea-level, Peru, September 2019)
After the Amazon jungle, Thomas and I left Mother Ayahuasca behind on the physical level but it has kept pursuing me ever since.
I am very aware that everything is interconnected and that all the events and encounters that have occurred ever since are intimately correlated with Its infinite love and wisdom, and will ever be. It has now been more than two weeks since the Ayahuasca ceremonies in the Amazon jungle and I can feel that I am still channelling this form of universal, infinite intelligence. Every single thought can be turned into stunning creativity while having all the necessary answers in the meantime.
And it makes complete sense when we integrate the idea that we all already have all the Answers within us in the first place.
Thomas and I managed to make it to Lima on (perfect) time as we finally arrived in the Peruvian capital city on the very day he had to fly out back to France, after driving exactly 3,000 kilometres from Guayaquil and South Ecuador in the meantime.
The last section of the journey was actually much smoother than the five days that we had taken to get to the Amazon jungle because we could not have been more guided and protected through the process. This is not incompatible with the fact that we also were extremely tired of both the trip and the week spent in the jungle.
Meanwhile, we crossed the Andes a second time in Peru (my fourth time after crossing the Cordillera once in Colombia and once in Ecuador) as we went up to 4,800 metres above sea-level with Randy (my van) and drove for a while on the high plateau that stretches all the way to the Atacama Desert in Chile, many thousands of kilometres to the South.
Meanwhile, we saw some of the most inspiring landscapes that reminded me a lot of Tibet and the Himalayas, also when it came to gazing at some of the most mind-blowing night skies, which one can only enjoy at such surreal altitude levels, where the atmosphere is so thin and the air so pure that one may feel like touching the heavens.
(Photo: The Milky Way in the Amazon jungle, long exposure 30" -on timer-, Peru, September 2019)
(Photo: Crossing the Andes for the 4th time in a year, Peru, September 2019)
(Photo: I drove 3,800 km in a month -including 3,000 km with Thomas- since I left La Punta-Montañita and Ecuador in August 2019)
Thomas left Lima and Peru back to France early September and for my part, I stayed in Lima for a few days in order to rest and take the time to shift cycles. I now was to keep going on my own for a while.
The idea was to connect with local communities and hostels where I could do some volunteering as a yoga teacher and also be able to offer my services (and generate a little money) as a holistic physiotherapist. My conviction is to keep putting all the pieces of the gigantic galactic puzzle together that is life, and to share some “tools” with my fellow beings by giving some astrology, emotional education or holistic therapy courses like I did during my stay in Ecuador.
Indeed, I can merely carry on learning and teaching in the meantime for one cannot go without the other. We are all guides and teachers to one another whether we are aware of it or not.
Mother Aya has clearly confirmed that I am meant to assist and heal others as much as I must assist and heal myself through the process. So I should better accept and manifest this path in one way or the other, but surely through the way of sharing my passions.
I now remember that on the way from Pucallpa (and the Amazon jungle) to Lima, I told Tom that I felt as if something were about to happen and change the course of my journey. The example I took at that very moment is that “I may actually go North instead of going South.”
In fact, I said that as an allegory of what may or may not take place, past, present and future together, but I did not realise that it would be so close to being the truth.
I am definitely heading South through the overall course of my overland journey, as the idea is to get to Southern Chile and Patagonia by the beginning of the next calendar year (for the austral summer), before slowly but surely driving back up towards Brazil in 2020.
I first thought that settling down in the Cusco area (and especially in the Valley of the Incas) for a couple of months would be very suitable and appealing before heading to Bolivia in November.
Yet, I have recently decided to renew my passport in Lima (I will not have many options after that) so I have to go back to the city at some stage and do not want to get to far away from it.
After sending a bunch of messages to some communities and hostels online, I have followed the signs and spontaneously drove 600 kilometres back up North along the Pacific coast (a relatively short distance in my experience) in order to settle down in a small town called Huanchaco, which is famous for its chilled-out surfing atmosphere and breathtaking archaeological splendours.
As I arrived last week from Lima, I felt quite tired from the three-week trip with Thomas and the intense week in the jungle that was affiliated to it. Yet, I also felt so in tune with my essence that I managed to find two lovely hostels in which I could work as well as an apartment in less than 24 hours.
I am now working as a yoga teacher in a small, charming hostel called Mandala, just a few metres away from the beach and the Pacific Ocean, and a bit further from the delectable sunset that lights up the whole scene almost on a daily basis. But it is just a matter of perspective after all, as always.
I have set the intention to keep writing my first book about the beginning of my long journey around the world overland as well as about the many emotions, convictions and concepts that it has generated along the way.
I am even more immensely grateful than usual about how things have turned out since I left Ecuador one month ago. I feel unconditionally blessed and privileged to be alive and awakened in the present incarnation. What is more, I have never been so conscious that every single experience and detail in life is already perfect as it is regardless of how we judge it, hence of how we judge ourselves.
The geographical aspect on our quest is just a tool.
I keep on learning how to be fully Present. I keep learning how to let go of letting go. How to love and forgive unconditionally. Yet, I do not forget, as I keep learning my lessons and exploring the mission my soul has come back for.
I have never felt so Alive and ready to delve even more into the magic of both the spiritual and human experience. We are both infinite Light and Darkness. We somehow have to accept it for one cannot go without the other.
It is up to us to choose between unity or duality nonetheless. I have made my choice. What is yours?
(Photo: Storm in Costa Rica, June 2018)
The weather is something we never take sufficiently into consideration in our life.
We know it is there and it can be really bad or even disastrous at times but we do not care so much in our daily life, maybe because we cannot control it after all. It is a bit like the horoscope; people never take it too seriously but it is statistically proven that they are the first two things that they instinctively look at when they open a newspaper.
Yet, it does not take a shaman to understand that we have always been connected to the sky for this is where Everything started, or else to be aware that the climate we live in is intimately connected with the way we feel, think, say and do.
No wonder that the highest suicide rates in the world are correlated with the places where the sun shines least. And interestingly enough, since silence is not usually assumed as something precious in the Western society, it seems that a majority of individuals speak about the weather in an attempt of making conversation with someone else when they have nothing really important to say in the first place. Well, it is not always true though, and climatology can be a fascinating discussion topic when taken to a more profound level than the usual three-dimensional perspective that we are commonly conditioned to.
We humans are inexorably attached to the places we dwell in throughout our existence even if the weather seems to dampen their spirits. Yet, it has not always been the case in the past as we spirits are naturally nomadic souls.
Of course, it has a lot to do with the evolution of society, hence with capitalism, corporatism and globalisation. In fact, many books have already been written on the inevitable connection between climates and the evolution of our civilisation and our societal model, and it is no coincidence that when we look at a world map, all the richest countries are located in the four-season climate pattern.
Therefore, it is not far-fetched to assume that capitalism has been able to thrive in a four-season climate because it is where people are the most productive and contribute most to the growth of the economy, which is inherent and indissociable from the entire concept of globalisation.
As a matter of fact, this political and economical pattern would not have thrived as we know it if the weather had been the same on the whole planet because it needs poverty and a gap between the haves and the have-nots in order to exist.
(Photo: Hitchhiking in Mongolia, July 2014)
When it comes to travelling, after nearly 7 years of vagabonding around the globe without heading back to France, my country of origin, I have long realised how crucial the influence of the weather has been in my evolution.
It is quite outstanding that even if the material experience reaches its climax in a four-season climate, it is undoubtedly in a subtropical environment that one's spiritual experience thrives most. And again, if you look at the world map, it is between the two hemispheres that you can find the poorest countries and peoples in the world. And as a traveller or an expat, it is often in the poorest places that the authenticity of the human, cultural and spiritual experience can be found at its best.
Organising a trip abroad is always correlated with the weather somehow and my long journey has been no exception to that ever since it started. I mean, the considerable difference is that for my part, it has been a life-or-death factor, at some stage. In effect, when I left France in September 2012, it was clear that I did not want to cross the Middle East (and especially Iran) in summer because this area has some of the highest temperatures in the world (up to 55 degrees Celsius). It would have simply inappropriate while hitchhiking my way through, which is why I had planned to get there in winter.
On the other hand, I also had to make sure that I would not travel too late through Western Turkey (Anatolia plateau) and Northern Iran in the seasonal year for it can be as cold as -30 degrees and it can snow a lot there in the heart of the winter. Then, I had to go through the same thoughtful process in order to get the most out of India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Mongolia, Russia, Japan, Alaska, Canada and the United States for it is obviously a very different experience to explore these places depending on the time of the year you are there.
Overall, I was rather successful in my attempt of journeying along with the weather until I travelled, lived and worked in Japan for 9 months (from September 2014 to June 2015), which is where I experienced the worst winter in my life; out of the 90 days of the “official” winter, it rained, drizzled, snowed, hailed and was gray and windy for 85 days in total. You may wonder if I really counted these days and my answer is definitely yes for it was truly indecent to my soul.
Lucky me I was playing and singing in a music band on a regular basis and it really helped my energy move around and it simply saved my sanity throughout my stay. It was also a confirmation that even though people seem to talk nonsensically about the weather all the time, they are very reluctant to share their feelings and be emotionally honest about it.
As I started wondering more about my own ability to cope with the local climate until I figured out that the province (Fukui) where I lived sadly possessed the highest rate of suicide in Japan, and it was no coincidence that it had the worst weather pattern in the entire country.
(Photo: Japanese winter in Fukui, December 2014)
It is commonly assumed that the way we cope with the weather when travelling around depends on where we come from and it can be true that, in some specific cases, it has made us tougher as we have adapted through evolution. But then it is irrelevant to travelling because it only applies to one type of climate and we totally lose our bearings as soon as we get out of it for it is so different from one place to another, even sometimes in a sole country.
In fact, it is scientifically proven that the weather affects us because it induces a substantial change in the way we perceive colours, hence the world around us through the fluctuations of our mood.
In a physiological perspective, the natural light of the sun increases the serotonin level in our body, hence our happiness level as we simply feel more alive. Also, it promotes the production of vitamin D under the skin that regulates calcium and phosphate in the body, and a lack of it would lead to bone fragility and...fatigue, which can end up as depression in the long run.
Then, we could discuss the idea that one may be able to find its own Light within at all times regardless of the colour of the sky, but in an energetical perspective, sunny days also enhance the brightness of colours of our direct environment, which in turn improves the balance of our chakras, therefore the way we are attuned both with ourselves and with others.
(Photo 1: the Northern lights in British Colombia, Canada, May 2016- Photo 2: Rainbow in California, October 2018)
(Photo: camping in Alaska, July 2015)
If we agree that it is not questionable whether the weather affects us, it is just about how sensitive and aware we are of its fluctuations and how much we can take before realising too late that it is too much. Yet, it is never “too late” and everything always comes at a perfect time, whenever we are ready to understand and integrate it.
From there, it is much easier to understand that the collective consciousness of a specific location can be heavily affected by the climatic patterns for we all are connected energetically and it is something quite fascinating to observe when travelling overland.
For example, when I hitchhiked and camped my way through Mongolia and Alaska (respectively in July-August 2014 and July-August 2015), it was obvious that these places are ruled by so harsh a climate that it has to be taken into consideration at all times. In effect, the temperature can regularly get down to -50 degrees in winter and the thermometer remains below freezing level for 5 months a year (usually from November to April).
Consequently, it is no surprise that half the population of Mongolia is nomadic (knowing that the other half lives in Ulaan Bataar, the Mongolian capital and only decent city in the country) and I did not feel so different from these people for my life was a bit the same with my lifestyle and my tent as a portable yurt after all. The winter there is so intense that I even met some locals and expats in Ulaan Bataar (Mongolian capital) who were organising ecstatic dance sessions on a weekly basis in order to keep their energy flowing, to feel alive and hence avoid fatigue and depression.
Furthermore, when I transited through Fairbanks (Alaska) despite the very agreeable weather of the subarctic summer, I could rapidly perceive that locals had to be incredibly tough to be able to suffer the recklessness of Mother Nature as beyond the bone-chilling cold, they do not have any daylight for many months a year in winter because of being so close to the Arctic Circle.
It is no coincidence that not only men have learnt to do just anything in their quest of survival but also that amazingly enough, most women have become carpenters in theirs. Sadly enough, it is neither a coincidence that both Alaska and Mongolia are also two of the places where there is the most depression and alcohol addiction in the world.
(Photo: Camping into the Wild in Alaska, July 2015)
(photo: Jumping manta rays at sunrise, Mexico, December 2015)
After the unbearable Japanese winter, I decided that I would never experience a four-season winter again (at least intentionally) for my way of travelling and living was allowing me to make this choice. After all, I had now crossed North America and was meant to linger in Mexico for a while.
December 2015 marked an essential milestone in my trip because it was not only my first time in Mexico but also the first time my overland wonderlusting was going to enter the subtropical climate. One may argue that I also did that in India but it was for a mere week for a back and forth trip in the South before resuming the actual course of my voyage further North towards Nepal.
Yet, many folks who hear the word “ tropic” would immediately think of warm weather, blue sky and hammering sun but it is not that evident when it is not just for a two-week vacation and when it is about travelling or living there on a more permanent basis. In effect, the subtropical climate works with two distinct seasons; the dry season and the wet season. And the wet season (or monsoon like in Asia) is never a piece of cake when backpacking around because it is when the risk of exotic diseases and bacteria is at stake.
It has now been 4 years that I have not experienced a proper winter and I could not be happier about it. One may argue that it can be truly appreciable to put some different clothes on and feel snug like a bug in a rug at times and I can really comprehend this feeling in my own experience as I myself love the magic of the snow, but I do not miss it.
Travelling is always teaching us, directly or indirectly, what we really miss (or really do not miss) in our life when we no longer have them whether it comes to people, objects or concepts. It often reminds me of the first time I experienced Christmas and New Year in a warm location at the other side of the world. It was in Western Australia in December 2005 and it felt surreal to go to the beach and swim at that time for I had never been accustomed to that. Yet, it also felt like the most natural thing to do ever as well as an excellent reminder that the whole end-of-year frenzy with snowmen and hanging socks is something very relative according to the climate, hence the culture we live in.
Again, we can debate about the idea that Christmas is such a lovely time because the decoration, markets, food and especially people are so kind and loving but for my part, I would rather be in a place where there is no real Christmas spirit but where the people are generous, smiling and happy with their life condition the entire year.
For the last four years, I have completely integrated the possibility of following the seasons as part of my lifestyle, not only in the practical way but also in the energetical one.
In fact, the geographical pace of my long journey substantially slowed down in the meantime because I had to dig up more from inside I reckon.
I was willing to avoid the rainy season in Mexico and Central America although it is something very tricky to achieve due to the narrowness of the stretch of land that links Mexico to South America, hence because of the huge influence of the hot, humid Caribbean weather coming from the North.
What is more, since I was in a cycle of travelling back and forth to Canada and the USA in order to work there seasonally, I could naturally enjoy both the gorgeous Northern four-season summer and the not-any-less wondrous dry season in Mexico throughout the complete solar revolution.
(Photo: Camping in British Colombia, Canada, September 2015)
(Photo: The Colombian Caribbean, February 2019)
I could not dwell forever on that geographical routine between North and Central America for I also needed to move on in my voyage and keep defying new horizons, whether it came to physical or metaphysical ones.
Yet, the climate pattern was to drastically shift again in South America as I was getting closer to the Equator. In effect, from the influence of the Caribbean weather in the North (Colombia) to that of the Humboldt current in the South (Antarctic current that crawls up the Pacific coast of South America from Southern Chile to Ecuador due to the Coriolis force and the rotation of the Earth on its axis), I have been heavily impacted with regards to the course of my quest since I arrived in Colombia last year.
The equatorial climate constitutes a virtual line that spreads out about 500 kilometres on both sides of the Equator around the Earth and it represents an area where the main maritime and air currents meet each other, giving birth to a rather smooth, regular routine throughout the year, yet very irregular and unpredictable in the short term. Indeed, the impact of El Niño and La Niña is much stronger in this area of the globe than in any other part of the planet.
As a consequence, it makes it very difficult to predict the seasons and the colour of the sky. The Equatorial climate usually has only one season but this is only true in the Amazon basin as the heat builds up the humidity of the forest, which then condensates, turns into clouds and falls back to the ground, where it originally comes from (phenomenon of “evapotranspiration” or the short water cycle), pretty much on a daily basis.
Otherwise, the two-season, dry-wet pattern is predominant in the Andes and along the Pacific coast until Peru and then, the cold Humboldt current completely prevents the cloud formation and the already rather barren land gives way to the Atacama desert. It is the driest desert in the world, spreads from Peru to Chile and is the Mecca of astronomy with the most beautiful night sky on Earth.
Furthermore, it is also important to understand that Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are divided in 3 distinct climatic zones and are the only three countries in the world where it is possible to find an oceanic pattern (Pacific coast), a mountainous pattern (Andes) and a rainforest pattern (Amazon forest).
Meanwhile, the direction of my journey has not changed but the way of manifesting it on the physical level has. Indeed, after having hitchhiked through and camped on half of the planet (about 30000 km) in the first few years, and after having driven my own vehicle from Northern California (where I had stopped hitchhiking) and Costa Rica (where I sold it), I then entered a new concept of Teacher on the road with the South American section of the voyage.
I invested in a furnished van in Colombia and travelled the entire country with it until I reached Ecuador and crossed the Equator two months ago. Needless to mention that it feels like a tremendous achievement in my round-the-world voyage after having travelled overland all the way from Northern Alaska, since I first landed on the American continent from Japan in July 2015. I had already crossed the Tropic of Cancer overland in Mexico in late 2017 and the Tropic of Capricorn in Australia in 2007 but it is the first time ever that I cross the Equator line overland as well as the first time that I am back in the Southern hemisphere since I actually left Australia to go back to France in 2007.
(Photo: Driving through Ecuador, May 2019)
(Photo: Costa Rica 2018)
Regarding the energetical aspect of the seasons, putting an emphasis on following them has also assisted me in going along more and more with the flow of the astronomical and astrological events affiliated to them. All in all, it has helped me be more in synergy with myself, therefore with the world around me and it is no coincidence that I intensively delved more into both astronomy and astrology in the meantime.
Subsequently, I have set up my own permaculture gardens and looked after the plants according to the biodynamic principles (influence of the moon) and started teaching again astronomy and astrology. It has inevitably led me to the reading of astral charts and helping people to understand the massive cause-effect influence of the cosmos in their life.
At the end of the day, we should not forget that regardless of whenever they existed in time and space, all the ancestral civilisations had shaped their culture and customs according to the heavens; the sun (equinoxes, solstices and eclipses), the moon (its calendar was adapted to the Gregorian one in the late 16th century) and to the movement of the other celestial objects above their head.
The moon calendar is surely one of the most fundamental energetical aspects that impacts our life at all times and paradoxically one of the most neglected. In effect, if the Queen of the night has the tremendous power to move the massive masses of water of the oceans four times a day (two cycles of high tide and two of low tide through 24 hours), imagine what She can do to our body since it is composed of about 70% of water.
This is no far-fetched spiritual mambo jumbo, this is science for thanks to quantum physics, we know that our emotions are somatised all the way to the cell level in our body. Since the moon represents the emotional body in astrology, comprehending the heavens may help us be more effective in choosing the places where we want (or need) to live and travel, and channelling the emotional roller-coaster we often face in our human experience. We could then feel more attuned with our emotions, our body, our spirit, hence with those of others.
Overall, travelling influences the way we perceive the world around us whether it comes to people, cultures or landscapes and it also works the same when dealing with the intrinsic power of Mother Nature and its climatic patterns, especially when journeying overland. As a matter of fact, it goes even deeper than that when we realise that the weather can potentially ruin all the other aspects of a whole trip.
As I mentioned in the beginning of my narrative, climatology and astrology are both related to the sky and we all are intimately connected with these concepts whether we want it or not. For what lies above our head is a mirror of what we have deeply buried inside us. As above so below.
Thus, since we all are connected through the Eye of the collective consciousness, what lies within us is necessarily a mirror of what lies within others and vice versa. And it has to count for something in our attempt to connect and share with them.
Indeed, taking the time to learn more about the infinite stretch of Unknown above our head may improve our emotional honesty and vulnerability in both our human and spiritual experience. It is essential in our personal and collective evolution as spiritual warriors not only because it rules our existence to such a crucial extent but because studying the heavens is also part of what shamans do.
And despite the fact that we all have a unique Path, we all have the same potential of being a shaman in the first place on the soul level; not a shaman who charges a ridiculous $200 for a trendy Ayahuasca ceremony in the jungle using the flimsy excuse that “we all need money to survive”, therefore perverting the essence and value of the sacred medicine for the sake of money and materialism, but a shaman who observes and explores the flow of the universe within and around him in order to unconditionally share their wisdom and knowledge with his fellow beings, and to feel at peace with it.
(Photo: Mars and Jupiter at Playa Dominical, Costa Rica 2018)
This has absolutel(Photo: Sunset Yoga in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador, May 2019. Credits: Robin Braes)
After having driven more than 6000 kilometres in the last 4 months in Colombia and Ecuador (the 29th and 30th country of this journey) all the way from the Northernmost Caribbean coast of Colombia, I have now reached the Pacific coast of South Ecuador and decided to settle and recentre myself here for a while before I keep going on the geographical part of the journey towards Peru, Bolivia, and Chile at the end of the year.
Despite the fact that I keep studying the sky and climate on my way as part of being my very own shaman, the supposedly dry season here is turning to a fiasco, which could not be any more suitable in order to feel like staying in my hut close to the beach and focus on the indoors for some time in this new long-term cycle.
After all, yes, we can also focus on the Light inside and bring up massive amounts of creativity when we are aware of what the sky does to us.
Settling down here on my own after having ventured mostly accompanied by beautiful people on my trip in the last couple of years tends to remind me of the fact that I have put a lot of my personal work and writing aside and I have never been so eager to get back to it.
I have two main projects for the upcoming months; going back to the very beginning of my writings and publish a book as soon as the Universe conspires for it, and organising some courses and workshops with regards to a multitude of varied topics such as yoga, massage, reiki, holistic therapies and coaching, astrology, astronomy, tantra, home-made alternative medicine and emotional intelligence.
It represents a huge shift in my evolution since I have decided not to go back to the USA this year in order to dedicate my time and energy to my journey, whether it comes to its inward or outward perspective. I have learnt and taught all my life and am now ready to share all that I have been learning on my way so that I can become even more sustainable in my way of living and loving.
Only by unconditionally loving ourselves through both light and darkness can we love others and heal them by actually healing ourselves for all energy is utterly balanced in this physical universe. This has absolutely nothing to do with God or religion; This is the eternal balance between the Yin and the Yang, or else between the acceptance of both the human and spiritual experience in our existence on this physical plane and far beyond.
And in a world that promotes more and more duality and separation, the collective and universal unity, which we are inexorably connected with, can only thrive if we have the willingness to change ourselves and accept who we truly are. Only then can we and the world heal.
Being able to share a blog publication is always a great sign that I am having more time for myself. It also means I can also connect with the outside world after what has usually been an intense period of wanderlusting towards new horizons, whether they are beyond the limits of our physical body or not.
The fact of having the possibility to have someone read these few lines at this very moment is even more special to me because it had been four years (since my 9-month stay in Japan from September 2014 to July 2015) that I had not been capable of sharing much at this time of the year because of some supermassive energy vortex called Chacahua that was sucking me in. Those who have kept following my crazy adventures during all these years know almost as intimately as I do about this tiny Mexican island off the gorgeous coast of Oaxaca; It has not only bewitched my soul with her dazzling beauty but has also and especially taught me so much in terms of both my personal and collective growth through the beautiful souls I have met there.
I ended up having the most amazing life in Chacahua for ten months in total (out of three six-month cycles in Mexico between December 2015 and May 2018) almost completely off the grid with not having much more than my tent pitched inside a small cabañita (hut) on the beach and a well to wash not far from it. Being in Chacahua was the end of a longer-term cycle and surely the beginning of a new one since for the first time of my adult life, I could take as much time as I wanted (or needed) to sit back, observe my life and contemplate it so that I could figure out what I really wanted (or needed) to do with it for the new upcoming cycle.
Yet, this concept may sound slightly paradoxical with the idea of going with the flow and letting go of everything but after all, why would it be incompatible with the idea of knowing where we come from, where we are at and where we are going as a global direction in this existence of ours?
I believe that when we are fully attuned with ourselves, hence with the true essence of our soul, it is actually possible to See the flow of how events and encounters connect to one another in the long run to take us to a very point in time and space regardless of the natural dualistic judgment (“good or bad”) with which we humans tend to perceive an experience. The problem is neither about taking the past into consideration and see how much we have listened and learnt nor about discussing future possibilities among a infinite ocean of them.
The problem is that we usually get completely stuck with the past and we project ourselves way too far and too much in the future given that the Now is the only concept that truly exists in both our human and spiritual perceptions of life.
In fact, there never is a “problem” unless we judge and get stuck on a situation instead of perceiving it for what it is. Yet, I am fully aware that it is very tricky not to judge because we have been trained and conditioned to do so since we were born, both directly and indirectly, through social environment (including the “marvelous” media) and to put a label on anything and anyone all the time.
And at the end of the day, Chacahua (and Mexico as a whole) has allowed me to complete this process and to eventually take the time to contemplate and feel what I had achieved until then and where the cosmic winds may take me next. Not because I wanted to know what was going to happen but because I was actually very thrilled about the Unknown that was lying before my bare feet and about whatever would be waiting for me on the way.
Nevertheless, when I left and said farewell to Chacahua for an indefinite amount of time in March 2018, I could not imagine that it would have almost made sense to go back there at the end of the same year, after spending some intense months in the mountains and forests of California like I much enjoyed doing the three years before. But it would have “almost” made sense just because it was on my way to Colombia . After all, when I departed from Chacahua last year, I had no clue that I may go back again to the USA later on, which was an opportunity that came to me in August for heading there in late September.
Overall, I have remained open to the magic of what was meant to come to me and I realised that even though I had a new occasion to return to my beloved Mexico and Chacahua in order to close and open a new chapter of this life as I have done so many times there before, I felt that my energetical necessity of the moment was to go back to Colombia regardless of financial and/or geographical asspects. And it was not an easy decision to make. Or else, I did not even “make” anything and it turned out that it was what made more sense in order to shift cycles in the very long term and move forward in my life and my long journey around the globe.
Now, one might ask why go “back” to Colombia. Well, because I had already spent two months there from July to September, close to a tiny village named Santa Elena and located at 2600 metres above sea level in the Andes, one hour away from Medellin (the second biggest city of the country after the capital Bogota).
In fact, 2018 was a year of healing for me. One may argue that each and every single year is a year of healing for everyone but I still think that it becomes something much more powerful when we really put the intention to do what we really need to do in order to heal. Of course, the concept of “healing” sounds like our physical body is injured, which may be the case at some stage, but there are many types of injuries we can endure, especially when it comes to the emotional body.
I (and quantum physics) believe that all our injuries have an emotional cause, mainly manifesting themselves in a subconscious pattern. This precept justifies the fact that we tend to do the same mistakes and have to learn the same lessons over and over again. Indeed, digging down the rabbit hole is something that we all have to do at some point in both our human AND spiritual experience and it just depends on how deep we are ready to go.
By now, I have never felt so fit and strong and flexible in my life after doing a substantial amount of yoga, isometric strength and long stretching work on a daily basis for over a year. It is part of what the freedom of choosing this way of living has provided me with and it is not so bad considering that I am going to turn 40 in a few months.
Nutrition has been a very crucial part of it as well and I can say that the freedom that I have manifesting in the last couple of years has allowed me to exercise as much as during my university years 15 years ago. The difference is that I am so much more conscious about everything I am doing.
All in all, 2018 was a year of becoming even more aware of the ultimate priority I should give to my body as my very own temple and the vehicle that my soul has chosen to reincarnate on this planet so that I can fully channel whatever energies I am meant to convey and endure whatever experience I am meant to embrace for me to grasp whatever lesson I am meant to learn.
As you have already surely noticed, it is more important for me to share the emotional part of my quest rather than the geographical one along with its wondrous features along the way. As a matter of fact, both concepts are inexorably undissociable in the travellers's life, which is all about the magic of parting from an old routine for good and staying abroad from an extended period of time without going back to what we used to call “home”.
We then realise that Home can just be anywhere (even inside of us) and that we can create and manifest our very own reality just anywhere we fall in love with a place and its people and reciprocally.
2018 was also the year during which I crossed the most borders in my life; Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia and US. Yet, doing the same distance I did between Mexico and Costa Rica overland (8500km) with Rudy (my car) is still less than what I did when I crossed China from Tibet to Shanghai and then to Mongolia (9500km) in 2014. As always, Space and Time and especially physical borders are very relative concepts indeed.
From the moment I left Northern California in early December 2017, I drove about 17000 kilometres in total all the way to Costa Rica and the only reason for which I eventually did not make it to Panama is because it is truly a huge bureaucratic gamble to sell an imported vehicle in these countries. It made much more sense and far less costly at the time to sell Rudy in Costa Rica and fly out to Medellin, Colombia from there.
Overall, my second stay in Guatemala after last years's was not more exciting than the first one as it is really challenging to find authenticity in the human experience with locals in this country, far from the over-exploitation of mass tourism. My stay there (mainly in Antigua) was pretty much exclusively focused on the process of getting my back fully tattooed, which may sound slightly trivial in the first place and yet the achievement of a ten-year, long-thought project.
After concluding the explosive Guatemala adventure with the strongest and deadliest eruption of the Fuego volcano in forty years, an unexpected surprise was waiting for me on the other side of the border of El Salvador. And El Salvador did not fail to stick to the true sense of its name for it “saved” me from assuming that I did not have much to do in Central America aside from geographically crossing these territories from point A to point B because they were on my way to South America.
Of course, nature can be beautiful just anywhere according to the manner we are able to enjoy our silences and solitude at times or according to the souls that we are sharing these special moments with. It is all the people we meet and the smiles we bump into on our Path that define and gauge the quality of our human experience. And one does not need to travel at the other side of the world or in a supposedly utterly different culture to comprehend that even if it may help a lot and considerably accelerate the process.
We can also discuss the idea that it is because we love to do something that we generate positive energies and manifest the “right” people in our lives but it is not always accurate in a sense that we could be in the most beautiful place in the world, it would not be as enjoyable as it could potentially be in we are surrounded by people who have a different energy frequency. Then, it is all about the timing of it along with synchronicity on the way.
In my very own experience, El Salvador was an exception to the local masquerade of the omnipresent tourism that has destroyed the genuineness of what used to be the heart of the Mayan culture in Central America.
I am certain that some fascinating local communities still exist somewhere in Central America but they are really hidden and/or forgotten and there is not much off-the-beaten track travelling that can be done there. I believe this has taken place over the last decades because it has become more accessible to travel, the countries are small and it is like a geographical funnel not only between Mexico and Colombia but also between the huge masses of land that are North and South America.
Central American States are so tiny that it takes us back to the concept of “property” in Western Europe, where it is actually very challenging to find stretches of land that does not belong to anyone. In fact, when thinking about it, it is almost impossible to do it in Europe unless you go high enough in the mountains where Mother Earth takes it rights back and the climate becomes to harsh to live there.
Consequently, everyone goes pretty much to the same places and it feels as if there were more people than in a bigger country because they are more concentrated in terms of density due to the limited space and possibility of movement.
There is not much obvious, visible ancestral culture in El Salvador (apart from a few temples here and there in the North) and the touristy side of the country is more focused on surfing along the Pacific coast as foreigners mostly come for that reason.
Nevertheless, despite the intrinsic beauty of the Pacific shore, it was further inland that I was dazzled by the pristine, virgin nature and the willingness of the locals to live in harmony with it in all its possible senses, to the point of driving through villages and barely being able to see houses since they are surrounded by all types of greenery.
Most importantly, El Salvador has this reputation of so-called “dangerous” country and even though a lot of those who watch TV and the news may not go to such places, they are actually a blessing for people like me. In effect, after 6 years and 4 months travelling around the world overland and after more than 16 years since I started backpacking or vagabonding, the most interesting local people I have met actually live in these “dodgy” places such as Turkey, Iran, Russia, El Salvador, Mexico and Colombia. Not only are they some of my favourite nations and cultures in the world, where I ran into some of the most hospitable people ever, but also did I feel so much safer in these lands than what I could feel in the USA, Western Europe or even in what used to be my hometown in France where I would hardly ever walk in the streets of the city centre at night.
Everything is a matter of perception.
In recent years, Honduras has also gained a reputation of being one of these “unsafe” locations but again, I did not really take that into consideration before crossing its border.
Sure thing was that I did not intend to stay there for the simple reason that Honduras has also become the new worldwide frenzy on the American continent for cheap scuba-diving as Thailand used to be in Asia before they ruined all the reefs by over-exploiting them. I did not want to participate in that consumerist farce and in the superficial party atmosphere that is usually affiliated to it.
Then came Nicaragua, which was meant to be the actual highlight of my Central American journey and where I thought I would stay for weeks exploring the place, at least when I originally planned the trip. It was a totally different story when getting to the border since a nebulous, intense conflict had been born in the country between the people and its government and the fancy of lingering there for some time rapidly vanished. Subsequently, I ended up crossing Nicaragua in 4 days from the Honduras border to that of Costa Rica, 400 kilometres further.
It was a pity because I had heard so many beautiful things about this country and it could have been a huge disappointment not to be able to travel properly there.
However, to be perfectly honest, it was not a dissatisfaction at all because I did not feel that there was anything waiting for me in Nicaragua. I gladly accepted the synchronicity of not feeling welcome there and of having slipped through its numerous barricades on the road, which was quite intense at times especially in the South. Yet, I never felt in danger for locals understood it was not my war.
Meanwhile, I did see beautiful landscapes on the way but nothing truly exceptional to the eyes of the experienced, off-the-beaten-track traveller. Furthermore, I do not think that any country in the world is worth 17 dollars a night per person for a shabby dormitory, which is almost as expensive as Japan and quite common along the Pacific coast of Nicaragua.
I then thought it would be much more interesting to travel Central America with a van in which it is possible to sleep (especially during the rainy season as camping is close to being impossible). But I have to refute this idea because again, in my humble opinion, Nicaragua and the entire Central America have been already way too much spoiled not only by mass tourism but also by the influence from the North...or from the West, depending on how you look at it.
It was high time to cross the Costa Rica border and even if it is one of the most expensive countries I have ever visited, at least it did not fail its reputation of also being one of the most beautiful places in the world when it comes to its stunning scenery and biodiversity.
There are still many beaches in Costa Rica that can only be reached by boat, which is quite a meaningful symbol that this country is truly a gold mine regarding its amazing wilderness and the hidden jewels that are still to be explored. This land sets one in immersion to learn the language of Nature. But only to a certain extent.
It is no coincidence that, consciously and subconsciously, I have most enjoyed my time journeying in bigger countries almost all my life (Australia, India, China, Russia, Alaska, Canada, United States, Mexico) because to the exception of New Zealand and La Reunion Island (which are not “big” places by definition yet scenically spectacular in essence), they are where nature remains sovereign with greater free space, hence where it is accessible and coherent (to my experience) to connect and commune with Her.
Therefore, these territories are where it is possible to encounter our very own freedom and to fully let go of the permanent conditioning and distraction that we all experience on a daily basis on different degrees and levels.
Even though I somehow did enjoy my stay in Costa Rica, I did not feel like I was really at my place in Central America and spontaneously decided not to go to Panama as originally planned and to fly straight to Colombia. Consequently, the overland voyage that I have not done between Costa Rica and Colombia has become only the second section I have not explored for this round-the-world trip after Pakistan (between Iran and India) in late December 2012.
Nevertheless, there happened to be an exception to the overwhelming mass tourism in Costa Rica and it was the three delightful weeks I spent at Playa Dominical as I was dealing with all the bureaucratic paperwork nonsense when trying to sell Rudy (my car) after 8 months and 6 countries of loyal company to one another.
I had always felt like arriving in Colombia would be an important milestone in my journey because of being the gateway of entering the exciting, long-awaited South American adventure that I have kind of delayed for the last couple of years.
I have just bought a van because I believe it is what incarnates the balance of what I need at present in my evolution after hitchhiking half the planet and suffering enough the rough experience of local transportation. I am about to get started again my long road trip around the globe, this time around South America and I truly look forward to that. The idea is first to head from Colombia to Patagonia (Southern Chile) and then back up through Argentina and Uruguay towards Brazil.
Yet, I do not know much about how much time the journey is going to take as I have, in fact, never known from the very beginning when I left France in September 2012. The difference, nearly 6 years and a half later, is that I am more and more willing to finish my journey and establish my own space of tranquility, learning, sharing and healing somewhere in harmony with nature, and South America is beckoning at my soul somehow.
Thank you for reading me and for being in my life. 2019, and especially its astronomical and astrological patterns, is going to be a thrilling year and I take advantage of the situation to wish you a captivating revolution around the sun in which all your dreams come true because of putting the intention to manifest them in your very own reality regardless of what people think about it.
I wish you to embrace as much your human experience as your spiritual one because they are both fascinating in themselves and one cannot go without the other.
I wish you to be yourself and find your true essence and to be passionate about it and to be surrounded by the people that love you unconditionally for that reason. I wish you to keep discovering the Universe both above our head as well as beneath the delusional border of our physical body.
Spread the Love.
I celebrated my fifth anniversary on the road on September 22nd 2017 in California. Five years; as I have often said in my writings (whether it comes to the blog or my books), it feels like it was both yesterday and a lifetime ago.
However, I had never truly applied this concept to such extent; I can easily picture myself getting my first rides and waits on the European roads, surrounded by the chilliness and dampness of the winter looming at the horizon, with my shorter hair and glasses that I still had not lost at the time (I mean, the glasses especially of course). And it does feel as if it were yesterday indeed.
Yet, it also feels as if I had experienced an entire lifetime on each and every single day of the journey, lifetimes that I have already lived sometime, somewhere, in another dimensional plane or galaxy, which have connected me with my true essence all the way to when I was still drifting in the cosmos as stardust. Because that is when everything started for each and every of us at some point.
Do not worry. I am not going to intend to tell you what has taken place in my millions of lifetimes since the time (although time had not been invented by mankind yet) I was hanging around as an atom amidst Nothingness. However, I just wanted to share the idea that 2017 (a number that does not mean much but that is very useful in order to express time since we have been conditioned to believe that time is something linear) has been a truly fascinating Gregorian year in terms of re-attuning myself regarding where I come from, where I am and where I am going.
Of course, we are not only talking about geography and countries here; going places in order to become free and independent has definitely been a huge part of my journey but only as a tool to achieve my personal and collective growth in an indissociable way from one another.
It may sound pretty obvious that we all personally and collectively grow when travelling around but I believe it makes a substantial difference when growing becomes a priority over travelling itself. After all, I also do have to often remind myself that when I left Southern France in 2012 (after working as an English teacher and especially as a political activist for the Zeitgeist Movement in Amsterdam for a year), my only goal was to set myself far apart from materialism, consumerism and corporatism by leaving my conventional life in Europe and doing a complete hitchiking trip without money around the world in two or three years.
At least, that was what I was telling people when they were asking me about the timing of it, for I had myself absolutely no clue about what was going to happen from the very moment I would set my first foot on the tarmac and start my quest.
Since then, I long realised that I would not want to be that guy who would go to every single country of this planet as quickly as possible just for the sake of it because there is something about travelling that goes way beyond physical borders, whether it comes to those of a country, a culture, a language or of a human body.
I closed my bank account and kept 400 Euros that I did not want to use before getting to Asia for I did not want to get stuck without money somewhere in Eastern Europe or in the Middle East. I finally managed to travel without money for eight months from France to India, but after all, the whole concept of the journey had already “failed” when I could not cross Pakistan overland (I first wanted to do it without travelling by plane at all) from Iran for geopolitical issues at the time and had to illegally sleep and play the guitar on the streets of Dubai in order to buy a plane ticket to New Delhi.
Of course there are no “failures” in life and only experiences to be lived and lessons to be learnt, and it was already high time I shifted cycles for I was already so physically and psychologically exhausted; I had to accept that travelling around the world without spending any money would simply cost me my life. At the end of the day, travelling without money is surely feasible within the borders of a country but it is also simply impossible by definition since money is necessary at some stage when crossing overland borders and getting visas along the way. It may be doable to sneak through a couple of borders on the way but definitely not through forty or fifty in order to make it a round-the-world trip.
Overall, I had heard about some of the rare people who had intended to have a similar experience but they ended up giving up or else being sponsored and finally spend money, but I was not interested in neither of the two. Therefore, I needed a transition that would allow me to adjust the whole concept of my journey and keep going with it in a more viable manner, whether it would come to reconnecting with myself or with the people I would bump into along my way.
I had already understood that my journey was all about people and the tremendous lessons I would learn through their presence and guidance as much as they would from mine, whether it would be for the time of a glance, a smile or a lifetime and beyond.
Many things have changed since I left France and I believe that despite the fact that there have been many crucial turning points taking place in the last 64 months away from what I used to call home, one of the most fundamental ones happened when I arrived in Alaska from Japan in July 2015.
For the first time in years, after having travelled alone for so long, I realised that I now needed to share more on a physical level with people (not in the way you may think though). Consequently, for the last two years and a half, I have put the intention to manifest this concept in my life and, like Chris McCandless, I was meant to understand into the wild that happiness is only real when shared. However, unlike him, I was grateful to be able to cross the Teklanika River on my way back from the bus and to keep being alive on this physical plane as I can share my own story.
Paradoxically (or not), it has been since then that my communication with the outside world has also been completely failing, regardless of whatever intention I have put in the process. I have just been inexorably taken into the vicious circle of being willing to share all my stories but not being able to do so because of learning and growing in the most insightful places yet the most remote ones in the meantime.
Can you imagine that I spent 21 of the last 30 months isolated in nature (including 9 out of 11 in 2017) since I arrived in Alaska? What does it take to a human to be completely secluded, alone or not, and to camp and coexist with nature with just the bare necessities for such a long time?
Because I am personally still having a hard time fathoming it. Yet, it has been during this time that I have grown the most and that I also could not share it with my beloved people in the outside world. Because as I mentioned in a post last year, I have spent most of this given time in what has felt like a well-advanced dream stage (like in the movie “Inception”) through which I fulfilled the goal to extract myself from any sort of conventional structure and live and travel utterly off the grid. Because it is part of my intimate convictions to believe that living in a responsible and sustainable way is one of the answers to the masquerade of our current political, societal and economic model.
In fact, 2017 has helped me put the pieces of the Puzzle together; maybe not all of them and it may still be a long way to go but at least those that now allow me to perceive the bigger picture of this present incarnation on Earth and especially to understand it.
When I first got to Mexico in December 2015, I had hitchhiked from Alaska to San Francisco and stayed and worked in many sustainable communities along the way. Even though I was truly emotionally exhausted from my journey (that had started three years before at the time), it took me another entire year to eventually be able to materialise the context of actually fully chilling out without having to think of where I was going to go and what I was going to do next.
Overall, I had never thought that I would be capable of saying or writing that one day but I had completely lost my travelling mojo and whatever motivation to hit the road again; not because I no longer wanted to travel but because before doing so, I needed to digest all the intense emotions that had taken place into my life since the beginning of this journey, which I had never really had the opportunity to do.
Subsequently, going back to Mexico and Chacahua in December 2016 and spending five months there, after experiencing the ultimate self-sufficient adventure in the North-American forests (see previous publications) has allowed me to sit back and do nothing and not worry about it for the very first time of my life.
Of course, the term “nothing” does not have the connotation that one may think about in the first place simply because I still learnt a myriad of things in the meantime like I had never done before and the main difference was that I could finally process and integrate all the feelings that had taken place into my life until that very point of my existence. It does not mean that these emotions were “good” or “bad” for I have long taken anything that would come to me just as an experience as it should be; it means that I just needed to embrace and process these emotions for the very first time at long last.
For instance, you have to try to understand that some events had been so intense and I had had so little time to assimilate them that I was sometimes feeling unsure about whether things like travelling without money, hiking 300km alone in the Himalayas or going to the Magic Bus in Alaska had really happened for real. I mean, I had never had the opportunity to just appreciate it for what it was because I always had to make a decision according to a situation given to me and then move on so quickly.
On the other hand, everything that I have done in the last five years is absolutely surreal, especially when put together; travelling without money all the way from France to India, working as an industrial photographer in Iran, busking with my guitar in Istanbul, Dubai or China, parading as a Samurai in Japan, working as a University professor in Kathmandu, panning gold in Alaska, picking mushrooms for a living in Canada or working with some of my friends as a marijuana farm director in California, which does not even include the myriad of travel anecdotes that are affiliated to the (beautiful) madness of backpacking around the world overland for an indefinite amount of time.
For a long time, I could find my salvation and the possibility to let go through the process of writing my journals (and then books by the same occasion) since I realised it had long been like a “therapy” for me, also considering that I may not have been ready to share these emotions with the outside world at least at that time. And it makes sense; I was not ready to share them because I had never taken the proper time to fully integrate them anyway.
In fact, this is what my second stay in Chacahua eventually gave me the opportunity to do; to sit down and have a deep introspection about all these events, to take the time to figure out where I had been going with my life and to perceive and observe all the interconnections between each and every synchronicities that had occurred in the meantime. Since Alaska, the intention of my journey substantially changed because my personal and collective growth through my quest drastically overcame its geographical aspect for whatever it would mean and however it would impact my experience on Earth.
For the very first time of my life, this life, I could have the time to write as much as I wanted, share my passions and philosophies through teaching English, French, astronomy or astrology, without any involved money and only in the context of exchange of services, to look after my body through yoga, running, swimming and other poi choreographs the way I needed them, to learn how to make handcrafts and macrame and to make my own jewelry to give to the people I love, and I could do all these things in one of the most breathtaking places that I had ever seen in 15 years of travelling.
2017 has also been a year of other wonderful achievements in terms of human experiences.
Of course, there have always been outstanding human experiences at all times through my epic adventures but that year was special in a sense that I could see my father for the first time in five years (see previous post).
Along with the blood family connection, I had the opportunity to also reconnect with some more cosmic family and ancestral knowledge along the way, and despite the fact that I have had more time to share with my people in the last couple of years (especially since I arrived in Chacahua), the substantial difference is that I have had some inspiring companions travelling with me most of the time. Love also played its part of the game; because this is what we all are down here to remember and do.
At last, I got privileged enough to see my first total solar eclipse in my life in Oregon, USA, after having waited for that moment for 26 years, since I had started to study astronomy at the age of 12. It was well worth awaiting it and driving 30 hours in three day in order to enjoy some of the two most mind-blowing minutes in my entire life.
As I wrote these few lines, I was finally about to leave Northern California and head back to my beloved Mexico. I bought a 4x4 car and a new camera, and I had never been so excited to hit the road again, which is a truly awesome feeling after nearly two years of working on reconnecting with myself and on digesting and balancing out some of these energies and emotions that I discussed before. And it takes a lot of time and dedication in order to do so.
Interestingly enough, it is the first car I bought since New Zealand 2006 and the first camera since 2009. Regarding the former, it is mainly because when I started my journey, I wanted to hitchhike all the way from Alaska to Patagonia and even though I made it between Northern Alaska and San Francisco in 2015 and did a lot of hitchhiking in Mexico in the meantime as well, I had never been able to make it overland from San Francisco to Mexico City ever since.
In fact, the trip from San Francisco to Mexico became even more meaningful through the idea that it was eventually extended all the way to Chacahua, my paradise island in Oaxaca, where I am now doing the proofreading of my text so that I can share it with you as soon as possible.
Yet, I do not know how long I will keep Rudy, my car, because evolving and growing personally and collectively and using the spiritual tools that we run into on our respective Paths does not mean that we have to change our convictions and values; We can accept, adapt and readjust but it needs to have a balance in the long run, like everything does in this universe. I am surely not willing to give up on the way I love travelling in the longer term, which has always been about hitchhiking, camping and connecting with the locals and sharing with them in the most genuine, insightful manner as possible.
During these long days being “lost” in the remote Californian forests throughout the summer and fall, I long pondered about the evolution of my journey and the actual concept of Teacher on the Road. At the end of the day, life is a different journey for each and every of us and yet, our paths and souls always cross and intertwine with each other over and over through an ocean of infinite quantum possibilities. Life is not about having principles and getting stuck with them; it is all about having values and faith that help us accept, learn and go with the flow of every single experience that comes to us on our way.
Indeed, the fact of having travelled without money five years ago and of now having manifested money in my life through alternative jobs in the last couple of years does not have to be compared; they are just two very distinct experiences in themselves yet both truly amazing ones. Most importantly, my values towards money have not changed and I mostly travel in the exact same way that has allowed to get out and keep distant from my comfort zone and to remain open to the magic that have been taking place in my life ever since.
Furthermore, the global concept is still also the same; striving for the ultimate freedom and independence from materialism and consumerism along with all the values attached to them. And as you already know; Love is the Answer.
Overall, it is the same regarding my journey and that, I believe, of any human being on this planet; finding an equilibrium between the light and shadow that we all have within us, and embracing the short and longer-term cycles that allow us to get there.
The American adventure has granted me with the possibility to observe my evolution in terms of the many sustainable communities in which I stayed and/or worked in the last four years in Japan, Alaska, Canada and Guatemala as well as those I developed and ran with some of my companions in the States and Mexico in varied contexts.
Being sustainable as a community in any possible form is surely the future of humanity as a necessary evolutionary process in order to thrive but it is “only” a tool that we must learn to handle in the most efficient way as possible in order to implement a new, free educational and healthcare system for everyone. Only then will our kids become the seeds of more aware and emotionally intelligent beings that could happily and effectively co-exist with each other through unconditional love and compassion, healthy food and useful technology without neither necessarily being dependent on paper money nor be labeled as a hippie for doing so.
For my part, I eventually managed to travel the overland section of the road I was missing between California and Mexico in a couple of weeks through Nevada, Utah and Arizona, and all the stunning deserts and geological wonders on the way. I am now back in Chacahua and have finally been resting and reconnecting with the peacefulness of the ocean for a while. Talking about my future possibilities at that stage would be far too speculative to be really interesting but what I know is that I am going to focus on taking a lot of time for myself in the next few weeks before hitting the road again through central America.
I wish you to spend some outstanding once-in-a-lifetime moments with the people you love in the places you want to be with them. Sure thing is that one of these gorgeous places is definitely our heart and I always keep in mine all the wonderful people and places that have allowed me to get to this very point of my life. I keep telling myself that I would do exactly the same if I were to do it again; because I truly enjoyed the lessons I have had to learn until now regardless of how harsh they were and I look forward to the next ones for whatever they are.
Thank you to all of you who have never ceased to believe in what I am doing and that have given me so much faith and love for five long years and so far beyond.
“Like Solzhenitsyn, labouring in Vermont, I shall beaver away in exile. Unlike Solzhenitsyn, I shan't be alone.” (Timothy Cavendish in Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell)
Photos USA Road Trip 2017
Life, love, death; these are the existential questions that we all ponder about at times, sometimes all the time. But how do we do in order to reach a inner balance and peace once and for all?
We are first to perceive and understand these concepts before silencing the mind. We all hear about the precept of letting go and when we become able to apply it in our life on a regular basis, the ultimate concept becomes letting go of letting go, which is, in other words, quite close to the idea of silencing the mind when we understand that we all already have all the Answers inside, there is no need to worry about anything and we naturally rewire our conditioned neurons to shift from fear to love. Because these are the two most fundamental ass-kicking invisible forces that rule the entire universe.
Yet, it does not mean that we should completely stop thinking; it means that we should think differently considering that time is not something linear and we can just refer to the past in terms of life experience in order not to make the same mistakes over and over again, and to the future not in terms of fixed plans but in terms of a infinity of highly changeable quantum possibilities.
I would not recommend to anyone to travel the way I have journeyed for the past nearly five years, but I would definitely recommend to anyone to travel. The former part of the sentence is because each and every of us has its very own karmic Path that they need to perceive and there are many ways to achieve it, and the latter part because travelling is what gives us the opportunity to finally get out of our dear comfort zone. Then, most of us inevitably get back to it (the comfort zone, although some parts of the change will remain ingrained as part of the evolution of the person) and some eventually make radical choices and changes that take them toward ultimate freedom and independence.
Not everyone was born in a monastery in the midst of the Himalayas and one can do meditation and yoga as much as they want in order to thrive in the meantime but I am afraid that travelling is the only efficient way to get out of our comfort zone and finally see what lies beyond that smoke screen...and what lies beyond is usually very simple; our true essence. So why do we not all do that right away for it sounds so appealing? Well, it is because what seems so obvious in this world is not quite we are taught to think or do, and too few really take the time to delve into such things for they would feel socially excluded. Because our true essence is actually very different from what we think in the first place, which could be overwhelming at first, and this society is not suitable for people who think differently anyway.
At the end of the day, I do not think that travelling a lot of countries is actually necessary to get out of our comfort zone but I would definitely recommend anyone to hit the road because our soul wants to discover, explore and grasp places and concepts through all the other souls that we run into and with whom we share along the way. Because our ultimate challenge is to defy the horizon and the Unknown that lies beyond it.
It is what we are here for and to unconditionally love in the meantime in order to destroy our ego. Why shall we do such thing? Because the ego projects itself into our life as fear, control, security and stability, which is exactly the energetical opposite of what we need to free our mind and embrace the magic and the flow of the Universe.
As Carlos Castaneda wrote, it is beyond the horizon that a man stops being Man.
Why such an extended introduction for this first blog publication in a while?
First of all, because I always write an introduction for my blog publications, which is probably some remnants from a part of what I still am as a teacher, and secondly because I guess I had to justify myself (and to myself) why I have not moved so much on a geographical level this year compared to what I had thought in the first place and thirdly, and most importantly, this introduction is quite a adequate summary of what I have been experiencing on a energetical level through the last eight months (if not for the last five years).
So you might be thinking; but why is it an introduction if it summarizes what I have been doing? Should not it be a conclusion instead? Let's say that “why” is the most irrelevant question ever and yet, we all ask it all the time on different levels and degrees. Of course, it may be used for communicative, literary or introspective purpose but definitely not on a permanent basis. Because once again, we already have all the answers inside.
So I guess that the answer to this question is that considering that I have well integrated the prospect of the past, the present and the future happening all at once in the Now, why should a conclusion actually be before an introduction? It is all about conditioning again for in the end, it is always all about the intention that we put in doing just everything in life, which is interconnected with just everything else, and which will always be well perceived and understood by the people who know how to listen with their heart.
In effect, it would not make any sense not to share with you what I have learnt on my way (double negation) and how I have grown in the meantime. Everyone can talk about going places and even how they feel about it, and some people do it much better than I do. However, not everyone has the sensibility and/or possibility to write about what it feels to remain off the beaten tracks and far away from conventions for such a long time, and the drastic changes that it induces in one's life for good.
And for my part, I would not go back to what some call “normality” or “reality” for anything in the world. Do not get me wrong; I have faced challenges that have been way bigger than what I used to have before since I have changed my life, but they relate to a different perception and understanding of time, space, reality and the universe as a whole, and freeing our mind and reaching higher realms of Consciousness through this process helps us See the world and the universe as it truly is, which is something priceless and irrevocable.
In fact, this year is surely the one during which I have travelled least on a geographical level and yet, as we have already discussed the idea that the geographical aspect of the journey is just a tool (an important one though) in order to reach other realms of Consciousness, I feel that I have learnt more in the last 7 months (since I came back from the United States to Mexico last December) than in the former four years that had passed since the very beginning of this journey in September 2012.
On the other hand (if there is any), it makes complete sense considering that I have long thought that the evolution of Consciousness is something truly exponential, at least for those who decided at some point to embrace their fears and to transcend collective conventions (therefore personal limitations), in order to thrive.
When I went back to Chacahua, Mexico, last December, I was very aware that I was going to stay for a very long time, probably for months, since the idea was to finally rest properly and take some time to write and learn new things after years of either working or travelling or studying existential concepts.
It all came together as a whole on my beloved Mexican island and even though I relatively wrote a lot, I did much less than what I wanted in the first place. I believe this is most probably because at that very moment, I had forgotten that what I wanted was not quite on the same wavelength of what I truly needed. And we also tend to forget that what we truly need is generated by the universe in order to experience specific situations and learn the lessons that are affiliated with them, close cycles and transit into new ones in the short and longer term.
I eventually spent five months in Chacahua through my second six-month cycle in Mexico after that of last year. For the first time of my life, I did not have to work and generate money as a teacher so I could focus on many different things instead.
Meanwhile, the fact of not moving much on a geographical level helped me reinforce my convictions of sharing sustainable development through the local community as well as our first autonomous community in Chacahua. Indeed, apart from writing and remaining utterly alone on my local friends Ana and Leo's land for months, I still spent a substantial amount of time connecting with wonderful folks (both Mexicans and foreigners) and doing some exchange of services in terms, for instance, of giving English and French classes, and receiving macrame courses in return.
However, the main focus of the moment was, beyond gazing at the starry sky, colourful sunrises and sunsets, soulful moonrises, powerful waves, nesting turtles, playful dolphins or inspiring pelicans, all about developing the local community for I had the time, energy and means to do it. My beautiful friends and I spent a considerable amount of time helping building the place with local resources and setting up the permaculture garden, and overall showing the direction about how to implement a sustainable way of living even in a completely different culture.
Of course, I could not feel more at the “right” place at the “right” time with the “right” people, not only because everything takes place just as it should, but also and especially because I could delve even more in concepts such as astronomy, astrology, reiki, yoga, massage, runes and shamanism in the meantime, and overall because it was a very coherent continuation with regards to me establishing a sustainable community based on natural medicine and alternative education in a not-so-distant future.
It was then time to finally depart from Chacahua and Mexico in order to head towards Guatemala and pursue the course of my geographical journey.
However, the main difference with what I was used to doing is that I was no longer alone (at least on the physical plane), which makes a lot of sense according to the fact of having manifested that cycle more and more throughout the last couple of years, since I had arrived in Alaska. It is all about short and much longer term cycles and our ability to shift between them, remember?
In fact, I had never spent some much time with people on a regular basis than in the last few months, which is quite paradoxical to the idea that I had never felt so happy and complete on my own before. But all in all, it is only when we get to this point of having fought with our demons and feel utterly balanced that we encounter people in order to share our happiness and completeness, and not the contrary. And interestingly enough, this is also when we start learning and assimilating even more than before.
When I arrived in Guatemala, I quickly realised that for the very first time of my travelling life, I did not feel quite “right” in this place. Of course, the rainy season did not help much, psychologically and physiologically speaking, and I sometimes felt that I would rather wander and camp in the sunny, gorgeous, remote Yukon forests instead like I did last year, but I also realised that I had a much more important lesson to learn in central America through this process.
Not only did I not feel in synergy with the place (for example, I felt that Lake Atitlán, of which I had heard so many great things about beforehand, was beautiful but way too touristy for me) but also with the people, which was the real question mark about it since travelling is all about the people and teachers that we come across and learn from on the way. When some would recommend Lake Atitlán as a spiritual place where many courses can be taken, I have found nothing more than a “spiritual” supermarket that I have already seen too much in Asia and has never aroused my interest.
Yet, there were many wonderful, insightful highlights that took place in the meantime such as these ten days spent at the Fungi Academy, nested on the gorgeous hills above the lake (I truly hope that I will get the opportunity to write a proper post about this experience at some stage), in which people's endeavour is to develop edible and medicinal mushrooms in a sustainable community context.
Then, something truly amazing and unexpected happened; I managed to motivate my father to come and visit me, which we had been discussing for the last couple of years. He eventually came for a couple of weeks despite his reluctance about the rainy season and he, in fact, arrived just after my travel partners (Macarena -Argentina-, Simon and Lucas -France-) and I came back from the ascension of the Acatenango volcano on our own (two days, 3970m of altitude), which was a truly inspiring moment and my third time getting very close to angry giants of fire after La Fournaise (Reunion Island, 2003) and Tongariro National Park (New Zealand, Mordor, 2005). Gazing at Mount Fujiyama (Japan, 2015) or El Popocatepec (Mexico, 2016) were quite outstanding experiences as well but I did it from the distance whereas I hiked the other ones.
My father and I have quite distinct personality styles and it would not be exaggerated to say that I have taught him more to travel than the opposite (if he ever really did). In fact, before my first backpacking travel in Thailand in 2002, he never really understood why I was about to travel because he could not even conceive of exploring the world and other cultures. Well, the great side of it is that it helped me believe in the concept of reincarnation and I am overall glad that he could change his mind in the meantime and my own journey is not alien to that.
What is more, my father and I have also quite different (if not opposite) ways of travelling and I was quite concerned about meeting the “right” balance when he would come to Guatemala. Overall, I was by far the less worried of the two about his coming because I knew it would just flow the way it should, which is all about the magic of...letting go. For my part, I was taking it as a life achievement in the father-son relationship for whatever was meant to happen and it was good enough to me given that I have never been really educated as a family person.
Everything went perfectly well and I even managed to have him hitch-hike and camp for the very first time of his life. He kept on saying that he was doing it because I was with him but the most important part of it is that he truly liked the concept of it. Moreover, he got along very well with my companions in the meantime and I felt delighted that he could also share and learn with some of my other beloved people for it would not have made more sense otherwise.
The crew (we parted with Lucas in Antigua after of the descent of the Acatenango) and I went to explore the Northern part of Guatemala and its expensive but worthwhile archaeological wonders. Well, if you ever get there, please be aware that there are much more interesting and affordable sites than Tikal Again, it was a quite relevant context to see that Guatemala is one of these countries where tourists are treated like milk cows.
It is their choice and ignorance to act as such and treat travellers this way without any differentiation whatsoever. Nevertheless, of course there are exceptions like everywhere as there are morons everywhere, for everything is a matter of balance. Also, we should not forget that people become this way because some tourists give them the opportunity to do so, directly or indirectly. They would not make foreigners pay more than the locals if some foreigners had not somewhat accepted this condition before.
In the end, it is like in society; people do not take the time to think critically and independently because they would rather watch their favourite series on TV instead. So they then consume as much as they can without even pondering about the consequences of their actions. Travelling works exactly the same; people would do anything they can (and pay ten times more if needed) in order to consume the local resources regardless of consequences and get back home saying that they have done “everything” in this country, which pretty much comes to nothing if we really think about it.
Overall, everything is a matter of perspective. I remember this discussion with my father, in which he was telling me that Mexico was a very religious country. It is quite a relevant instance of what is really happening because after I asked why he thought so, he replied that it is because he was taken to a church during his tour in Mexico, where people were supposedly praying all over the place.
I said that it is just another of these nonsensical societal conditioning in a sense that Mexico is everything but a religious country. However, some people want my father (and millions of others) to go back to his country and tell his friends and relatives that Mexico is a religious country in order to make us believe that the post colonial judo-Christianity is still alive.
There are always two parts of the story for those who want to See the truth; regarding this very example, the other side of the story is that I was personally living in Mexico City when the pope came last year. There was just nobody on site (we are talking of about 10,000 people for a city of 24 millions inhabitants) and the corporate media was so desperate about it that they made a loop montage of the most crowded places in the city to make the world believe that it was huge. And they have sadly been very good at doing that throughout the massive lie of modern mainstream history.
Everything is a matter of perspective; most people consider as weird those who think and act differently, and those who think and act differently consider as weird those who are too “normal”. Yet, the world in which we are living in would not be so sick if everyone would not think and act like everyone else such as brainwashed zombies.
Then, we left Guatemala and went to Belize in order to both flee from the rain and get some scuba diving in the Caribbean This was quite unexpected in the first place as well because Belize was neither on my bucket list nor on my way, and I knew it would be an expensive country in terms of what I like to do and where I like to go. Yet, I could feel right away that the local vibe was amazing and we managed to hitch-hike a lot even being the four of us with all the gear (all the rides were obviously in pick-up trucks or trucks).
After that, the most magical part of the father-son journey took place; my father, Simon and I (Macarena went back to Mexico to travel with her friends there) randomly met the daughter-in-law of the owner of Glovers Atoll (a private island located in the middle of the Caribbean See, two hours away by boat from the mainland) and we found out that it would somehow cost us less money to stay on the atoll than to remain on the mainland for the last few days together. The decision was spontaneous and inexorable; we went to the island for five days until my father and I would have to make it back to Guatemala City for him to catch his flight back to France.
How magical it was there; I could see the centre of the Milky Way every single day for the first time in months (even the last month of my stay in Chacahua -May- was quite overcast before the beginning of the rainy season), the moon, the moonlit, deserted, small white-sanded beaches, sunrises and sunsets, the turquoise lagoon with nurse sharks and eagle rays gliding through it. I snorkelled and dived in the open see with green turtles and barracudas, I could cook everyday and get back to my daily yoga and exercising, and the list is non-exhaustive.
Unfortunately, my father could not scuba dive as we had thought in the first place but we still manage to go snorkelling and share insightful conversations together, which we had not had the opportunity to do in too many years. I guess that the point of all this is that he or I could pass away tomorrow and we would not have any regret about what we could have done and have not done together, as well as unconditionally saying “I love you” before it is too late.
My father and Simon have now both gone back to France and I hence embraced a new cycle of solitude again for my last couple of weeks spent in Antigua Guatemala. Interestingly enough, the weather was absolutely stunning when my father left and I was able to gaze at the Fuego volcano every day knowing that it was erupting like crazy with the entire mountain covered in shimmering lava rivers and the air vibrating with its fury. Even the local family I was staying with told me that they had never seen it like this before. And since I was staying with a local family and enjoying the experience very much, I guess that I was therefore back to what I love most.
Glovers Atoll was so magical that I decided to go back there for my last couple of weeks travelling in central America before going back to the USA for new adventures there.
Have I really decided that?
Well, we all have the choice to react the way we want to a specific experience given to us. However, it is scientifically proven (quantum physics) that the brain is a receptor and not a creator. I mean, even when we talk about creativity or healing, we are “just” channels of the energy that surrounds us at all times, especially available to those who have “chosen” to open new Doors of Perception.
I of course believe that I have not decided anything and that I was just meant to go to this island because my father came to visit me, and since everything is intimately interconnected, I was meant to go back there as well.
All in all, I think that given that Guatemala is relatively an expensive country, I would rather spend my time on a lone island in the middle of nowhere for almost the same price. I guess that this is the compromise I need in order to keep distant from my comfort zone as well as to know what I really need to keep feeling happy and complete.
We should all know that on our respective Paths; what makes us happy or unhappy, because at the end of the day, the positive or negative perception of an experience only exists in our mind. Our soul and heart just perceive it as an experience for what it is and for whatever lesson we have to learn in order to move forward on the Path of Universal Consciousness.
Since time is not a linear concept, the above could have been a great introduction as well finally. I leave you to think about it but please do not think too much. Keep on enjoying the privilege to be alive and able to “make decisions”. But do not forget that there is just to love and let go of letting go and nothing at all to be controlled in order to feel happy and complete.
Meanwhile, I send you a universe of love and light to keep in your heart until next time, whether this next time is on this physical plane or a more astral one.
So here I am in Mexico again, exactly one year after I had arrived here for the very first time, one year after having fallen in love with this fascinating culture and the wonderful people that populate it.
So time has stretched and condensed once again throughout the mind-puzzling mysteries of the perception of the space-time continuum; its short and longer-term cycles in which we keep dancing on the eternal, soulful music of the swirl of the universe. We are dancers of the cosmos whether we like it or not, and there is nothing we can do about it in the time given to us but to surrender to the magic of the Here and Now.
“Stretched” because the substantial amount of time spent in the forests of North America felt like an eternity (without any negative connotation here) and “condensed” because it also feels like this cycle of my existence never really took place now I am back in Mexico. Not that I do not realize that I am back here (double negation), which actually feels very real, but what I am having a hard time to integrate is, in fact, the prospect that I have been living and/or working in nature for almost 6 months in a row, further away from civilization and technology than I could ever imagine it before embracing the experience.
And then, there is Chacahua; the vortex of isolation and non-communication has become a giant galactic black hole and one might sometimes wonder whether communication that is not face to face has ever existed, which is why I happen to drop this post 3 weeks later that what I would have imagined in the first place.
Travelling and quantum physics have taught me that time and space exist only if one conceives of doing so according to the brainwashing constantly operated by our current societal model.
Throughout 52 months of wanderlusting on the road, I have therefore rewired my neurons to perceive these 2 concepts as very relative and subjective, and that unlike we have been conditioned to believe since we were born, there exists an infinity of actual realities according to the Paths we take at each and every moment of our lives, which intertwine in an Ocean of quantum and spiritual possibilities.
I have already talked quite substantially about the Canadian mushroom-picking experience in my previous publication, and I suggest you should (re)visit it if you want to have a glimpse of the bigger picture of my time wandering in the boreal forests of Northern British Colombia, the Yukon and Haida Gwaii.
It seems that I keep on manifesting exactly I want in my life; not with my ego that I have long left behind, but with my sense of intuition and connection that have been soaring throughout my long journey, especially in the last year and a half (since I had arrived in Alaska from Japan).
In effect, we can assume that we usually have two inner little voices speaking to us, and the whole personal work we have to do, on our respective levels and degrees, is to become able to make the difference between that of the egoical mind and that of the heart. I have long chosen to follow the latter regardless of how people would judge me, and it seems that everything is now coming together and falling exactly into place as it just should, which is, I believe, my reward for never having lost faith in the meantime.
So here I am in Chacahua again. I feel great, fit (lots of yoga, exercising and vegan/vegetarian diet throughout the summer) and definitely not as tired as I was when I arrived here for the first time last year. But I do need time to now digest and integrate just everything; not only the six months spent in the wild (which could constitute a entire book on their own for it was so intense and insightful) but also the last 52 months spent on the road after hitchhiking through gigantic stretches of land and crossing mountains, forests, tundras, deserts and oceans as a vagabond, a teacher, an artist, a healer, a writer, a photographer, a caveman, a hiker and explorer of the modern's day, most of the time far from civilization and its very limiting conventions that most people choose to follow and which I did not.
I have inspired and changed the life of hundreds of people along my way, and of course, as all energies are mutual and balanced in this universe, hundreds of people have inspired and changed my existence in return.
In fact, this concept is now so settled into my synaptic connections as “normality” that what most people actually call “normality” just feels like an old anomaly to me that completely disappeared from the current patterns of my life.
Hitchhiking and camping my way around the world without (much) money has taken me to places where no-one had ever set foot before, and since everything and everyone is inexorably connected through the concept of universal consciousness, I believe that this concept has allowed me to surrender to the flow of the universe in terms of the folks and epic situations I have run into along the way.
I now have the opportunity to step back from my long quest in order to eventually digest and assimilate all that I have done in my life so far, which constitutes a new crucial cycle of my adventure. I am now going to seize the priceless occasion to be capable of staying somewhere for an extended period of time so that I can focus on my writings, to the point of publishing some of the contents or at least share it to a much greater extend compared to what I have done until now. And the time is Now.
Is it the end of Teacher of the Road?
First of all, there is no end, and the end of the cycle is always synonym with the beginning of a new one, not only in a lifetime but also throughout the journey of the soul and its cycles of births and deaths. Without having to go so far (spiritually), staying in my Oaxacan paradise of Chacahua for the next few months will obviously help me recharge my batteries and provide me with the desire to integrate new stimuli and keep going with my journey (geographically) through Central America later this year.
However, even though my journey is not ended yet, finishing my books constitutes the ultimate priority of the moment and a lifetime achievement in itself, and not doing it would just compromise my further personal development.
For the first time in my adult life, I do not have to work in a defined structure, and, for the first time since I left France, I do have to work as an English teacher in order to generate money, which had always been a considerable part of my transitions in between journeys. In fact, as I write these lines, I cannot yet even fathom the consequences that this idea will have on my journey in terms of the burst of creativity and personal projects it is going to induce. And I do not want to fathom it for now anyway.
I just want to keep on enjoying each fraction of second of my life, each singularity and synchronicity for whatever is meant to be, because the power to manifest things into our life does not make us physically immortal (unlike the soul) and does not prevent us from assuming that tomorrow does not exist. It does not make any difference in my approach to the mysteries of life and the universe.
I just want to keep on surrendering to the Here and Now, to be Present in each very experience and lesson to learn that comes my way, and Mexico and its delightful, mystical energies is the perfect place for that.
I am in a mental state where I cannot socialize much, for the simple, yet complex reason of feeling completely detached from absolutely everything around me.
I do not blame people for not understanding what I am doing, but I do not feel like I have to justify myself either. After all, not only my way of travelling and living are unique but so is also the intellectual and spiritual knowledge I have gathered along my way. I am glad I have now become able to share the latter more openly with the people I have more recently met in Chacahua for it had not been something obvious to do in the past, maybe by antagonism not to like attracting to much attention on me...maybe because the real wisdom is about keeping humble and quiet because the one who knows that one knows Nothing.
As a matter of fact, very few can really understand what it takes to spend months in nature, away from everyone and everything. After all, there is just nothing to understand; just to accept the fact that I had a career as a professional basketball coach and as a university professor, and I feel a million times happier and more complete living on the road.
Yet, I keep on meeting a few outstanding people along my way as reminders that I am not quite alone, which helps me keep faith in my quest of ultimate freedom and independence from the conditioning that we suffer since we were (re) born on this planet, and that we have to get rid off at any costs.
I am a spiritual warrior. I feel complete and keep on thriving. I respect life for what is given to me for my time being on this planet, and respecting life is all about fulfilling our dreams regardless of what society thinks about it.
Why would I ever change this?
Even though I no longer relate much to the Gregorian calendar in my own reality, 2016 was a marvelous year during which I met (or met again) amazing people whether it was in Mexico or back in Canada and the USA, and I feel truly grateful for that. Of course, I had already met amazing folks before but 2016 was truly special to me in terms of the coherence of shifting cycles and the consistency of encountering them on my way.
Thank you to have always believed in me and supporting me from all the way back to the time I was stardust. Thank you to have shared wonderful moments with me on the road since I left France in September 2012, hitchhiking to the far East, as well as more recently in the secluded forest of the Yukon and California in inspiring communities.
Thank you Mexico and Chacahua, for this is where 2016 had started and have ended for me, along with the magical energies of this place that had me spend the last night of the year with the most incredible crew of beautiful souls ever all the way to some cosmic hugs as the sun was looming through the mystical golden glow of the Pacific Ocean.
Thank you for having me be able to share, listen, learn and teach on my way, giving me the priceless opportunity to be in love with Love at all times.
I send a bunch of good vibes, and lots of love, light and hugs on your path of the universal consciousness. May you keep shining on it as I will keep shining on mine.
May you fulfill your craziest dreams without drifting away from the Now.
May you understand that there is everything and everyone to love and nothing to fear, and that everything will be fine as long as you keep listening to your heart.
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit.”
As unbelievable as it sounds even to me, this is my first official blog post since I left Japan more than a year ago. And I feel delighted about this prospect.
Writing a blog takes a lot of time and dedication _needless to mention the unbearable translating part_ and I guess that being Here and Now has become so much of a priority in my life that I cannot really afford to write as much as I used to anymore, even though I have kept on writing my journals in order to finalize my books in a not so distant future, maybe as I intend to head back to Mexico at the end of the year and stay there until I eventually feel like resuming my long journey around the world overland and overseas.
Of course, I have thought so many times of writing about last year’s extraordinary adventures between the far North and Central America but I was always caught too overwhelmingly into the present moment in a way that has prevented me from communicating properly with the “outside world”. Of course, I will definitely take the necessary time to go back to that at some stage through the constant intent to share my surreal stories with you so that you can understand the bigger picture of my seemingly permanent thirst of sucking all possible feelings out of my existence, the bigger picture that everything is utterly possible. But it is not time yet. For now, it is important for me to share whatever I can with you according to the very little amount of time and access to technology I have as I keep on wanderlusting in the Wild.
When I left Mexico City and arrived in Vancouver, Canada, on May 19th, I did not have the foggiest idea about what was going to overall happen, and I just knew that I was just completely broke, and that I was to pick and sell mushrooms somewhere in the isolated North West of the country, which I had already explored quite substantially last year.
But I was meant to explore the huge, untouched area in a very different way this time, and my quest for mushrooms has taken me far beyond what I had ever imagined. The mushroom quest’s flow has led me all the way through BC and to the Yukon, where I stayed in the most remarkable, uncommon places. I have been through my longest period of consecutive camping nights so far _still ongoing_ after having pitched my tent for nearly 2 months in a row as I write these lines, just briefly going to “civilization” about once a week in order to resupply for food, or to the mesmerizing Liard River hot springs 140 km further South in order to refresh our bodies, minds and souls, before going back to “our” forest. In fact, I have not missed civilization at all as usual and I did feel like home a lot in the bush.
Well, overall, “civilization” is another of these very relative manmade concepts anyway. I sadly guess that a majority of inhabitants of this beautiful planet do consider civilization as being something connected with fancy cars, a lot of concrete and noisy, polluted streets around and a smartphone and getting stuck on it all day long, etc.
But why would not it be related to just being aware of what we are doing and, overall, about being Present? Why being “civilized” would not be the idea that one knows how to feel and love instead of speaking nonsense, how to commune with nature and learning how to accept who we are, without having the urge to be with people or like other people and fear to be alone, how to respect Mother Earth and to understand the magic of the cosmos through quantum physics or meaningful interconnectedness, how to enjoy each very moment to the fullest through simple things such as cooking, eating or sharing with people through the concept of Oneness, or how to help each other unconditionally without expecting anything in return.
During two months, I slept in my tent and went from the burnt forest, my camp that I set with logs and tarps and Buddhist flags to those of awesome people met along the dirt road that takes one to the mushroom buyers or else into the ultimate wilderness quest.
I started the journey with Andrew who I had first met in Budapest, Hungary, when I was hitchhiking and travelling across Europe without money nearly 4 years ago, on my way to where I am here and now, and then we met again in a sustainable community last year in Nelson, British Colombia. The magic of interconnectedness and meaningful synchronicities has had me meet a bunch of individuals all so different from one another at the mushroom camp, yet all fascinating in their respective ways. Despite having very different Paths, they are all, including myself, striving for freedom and independence in the same direction of the universal consciousness, which is why we all understand each other in the forest since we have made the same tremendous sacrifices to get to this very stage of our lives.
I finally left Barney Lake camp and the Yukon early July, after spending exactly 1 month in a burnt forest in order to pick morels and to supposedly get money in exchange of the hard labour. But it was all about the experience as usual for selling fresh morels for 7 dollars a pound after hiking in terrible conditions every single day means that one to pick a lot of mushrooms in order to save a little money. I have heard stories of inexperienced pickers who made 10,000 dollars through the season last year just by driving along the highway, but every fire is different and Barney Lake fire is a professional one with very little access to it and actually a very low production of mushrooms as well. And after all, it is not every day that one would tell a friend: “Oh, let’s go and hike in a burnt forest today!”
That is also why the amount of new knowledge about how nature evolves and recycles itself, which has poured in my brain in the meantime by roaming in such an atypical environment, is priceless.
In the end, I picked nearly 80 kg of morels in total during the month spent in the Yukon _more mushrooms than in my entire life until then_ and it was barely enough to pay my expenses in the meantime. But well, it was exactly the same for almost everyone, including those who had to sell everything in order to be able to go to wherever home was.
So, I am now completely broke again as usual but I always take it as something very positive somehow; First of all, I am used to it and this is when the magic of the Universe happens, and secondly, it also means that I have done everything until now for free.
In fact, meanwhile, I swiftly realized that picking morels cannot even be considered as a job for it would be a complete rip-off, and I often thought that I was getting paid to hike in the middle of nowhere in some of the most stunning and remote forests in the world. Then, money becomes quickly irrelevant and it is hard not to consider picking mushrooms as a privilege…at least for those who have chosen to embrace a very different way of life far from the erroneous conventions of the established institutions, far from the indecency of this so-called civilization that I have left behind for good.
It was a very physically harsh experience indeed, after which my body looked like a battlefield, and also a mentally exhausting one after hiking through marshes and windfalls almost every day. It has probably been more than a couple of hundreds kilometres and hours in total lingered in the intrinsic beauty of the Yukon in the end.
It is not about the distance, it is all about the concept of clock time that does not exist at all out there. I have hiked thousands of kilometres in dozens of countries, but it was on a trail _at least most of the time if not on melting river ice caps at springs or lost in the snow and fog, following yak footprints for I could not see more than five metres away for hours_ and a burnt forest is a place where one has to create and endure one’s own Path where most probably nobody has ever set foot before.
This is all about travelling and living off the beaten tracks; even the concept of working becomes completely part of the concept, and the entire mushroom picking experience has taken me to the point of being more immersed in the wild, far from the limiting conventions of normality, yet no longer walking on trails and sculpting them through the unknown for myself, which is what my life has eventually become over years of roaming around the world.
No electricity, no technology _but GPS, compass, topographic maps and music devices_, no western style toilet, no shower _had my first shower one week ago after five weeks dipping in lakes, rivers and hot springs_, no chemtrails of planes in the sky, no concrete, no pollution, no darkness of the heavens, no time, no phone, no TV, but with a substantial amount of bonfires, gorgeous, eternal sunsets and lit up nights, bears and bisons and porcupines and beavers and trouts and eagles, berry bushes and fireweed blossoming, survival skills and creative cooking around, with our hands that used to be as black as the rest of our bodies from the ash everywhere. The most simple things are always the most inspiring ones. Yet, distraction is okay as long as we are aware of it and willing to do something about it.
I did the road trip from the Yukon back to British Colombia with my Austrian friend Peter _met in the forest at Bobtail Lake_ through the magnificent Highway 37, all the way to Kitwanga in North West BC. Then, Peter made his way to Vancouver in order to head back to Europe and I hit the road toward Prince Rupert and the remote Haida Gwaii _Queen Charlotte Islands_ to the far West, with my German friend Woolgang and his lovely dog Yuki _”snow” in Japanese_ who I also randomly met in the Yukon burn before heading off and who offered me to come along with him.
The Universe has its own ways to bring the answers when it is time, and the new moon had brought a new very interesting short term cycle into my existence. All in all, I have been on the Canadian roads for about 3,800 km so far, which already more than last year’s hitchhiking trip, and the intense, varied emotional cycles experienced in the meantime have already been numerous.
I have been lingering on Haida Gwaii for more than a month already. Haida Gwaii literally means “the land of the Haida people”, and I feel proud to have been welcomed and accepted as part of the local community, sadly one of the last ones in the world where the natives rule a land in a Western established government.
Mother Nature is truly stunning and sovereign here and It reminds me very much of the virgin West coast of Washington State, which I hitchhiked last year on my way to San Francisco and Mexico, with one of the densest rainforest and wildest coastline in the world. I have already hiked and camped a lot between the Lord of the Rings like bewitching forests and the long, deserted stretches of sand and stones of the North Pacific shore with its innumerable geese and swans above and multicoloured agates and opals below.
It completely makes sense to be in Haida Gwaii in this cycle of personal evolution as this ancient place is populated by free spirited folks that delve in what could be compared to Chacahua’s “no pasa nada” atmosphere in Mexico. Yet, nothing can really replace and compare to the Mexican Pacific coast and the vibe of living barefoot and topless all year long. Yet, my spiritual Journey continues and I am eager to embrace each and every new experience coming my way for what is meant to be.
There is very little tourism on the islands and I had already perceived and embraced the blissful peacefulness of my surroundings after a mere couple of days camping and strolling on the empty beaches carved by the roughness of the open North Pacific due to the moodiness of its climatic patterns. I am glad I have been able to gaze at the stars again as albeit the nights were not utterly dark when I arrived, they are by now, and Mars and Saturn fill up the firmament with their shiny, gemlike splendour again, as I have been doing some carpentry jobs in exchange of services in order to survive, considerably camping on the beach, being inexorably mesmerized by the peak cycle of the Perseids _meteor shower_ as well as the second aurora borealis I could enjoy on this trip in front of a old ship wreck, which reminds us that the North Pacific Ocean is both unforgettable and unforgiving.
Once again, electricity and technology have been replaced by the gracefulness of bald eagles gliding around and the slow pace of the local life, which is in harmony with the tides and the open ocean that brings its culinary delights to the local wanderers. I really like the idea that it is almost a necessity to be fully sustainable to live on the islands. It makes a lot of sense when thinking that such a context inevitably involves a natural form of exchange of services and help among the locals.
I am broke but happy, and feel complete throughout my new North American adventures that have been lasting for nearly 3 months already. In a quite similar way to last year’s trip from Alaska to San Francisco, I have been immersed in the wild most of the time _or even more_ and I have even come to the point of comparing the present quest to an Inception stage 3’s experiment _sorry for those who have not seen the movie_;
Stage 1: Going to tiny, isolated towns like most of them are in Northern BC or the Yukon is already a surreal experience in itself.
Stage 2: From there, spending so much time on exploring burnt forests in order to pick mushrooms is so random and intense that it is worth a book on its own.
Stage 3: This is incarnated by the five day boat trip up the Kechika River where I camped with 3 friends in the middle of nowhere, first with a handful of other pickers along the river then with absolutely no living soul in a 40km radius but the local wildlife in the last few days of the trip.
I went back to stage 1 a couple of days since I left the Yukon, am now back to stage 2 as I reached Haida Gwaii and I have shifted many times again to stage 3 here as I have been wandering somewhere between mainland Canada and Japan in the middle of the ocean, somewhere at the edge of the world…which is also the name of the local music festival where I volunteered as a security staff recently, and where I met another crew of wonderful citizens of the world.
Will it ever be a stage 4 or more, will I ever make it back alive, I do not know and will leave it to the Universe for now.
I keep going on my path of embracing the off the beaten track life of a vagabond, and I feel truly blessed in my quest through the wondrous places and people I have encountered along the way. I also feel sorry that my way of travelling, which has turned into my way of living over the last couple of years, is actually so antagonist to the prospect of being more connected to the internet and sharing writings and photos with the outside world. I do share and care in a very different way; I teach and learn at all times on my way, whether it is locally at the physical level or through the Universe at the astral one. I know that the people that truly love me never judge me and take me for what I am, and this does not prevent me from missing and loving them dearly in a permanent way.
Thank you to those who have been trying to understand what the heck I am doing and have been supporting me all the way since I left France 4 years ago. Despite the fact that I am totally immersed in the magic of the Here and Now for the time being, the idea is still to go back to Mexico at the end of the year in order to settle for a while in my beloved Chacahua and give myself a chance to finish my books before resuming my long journey and hitchhiking further South. When, with whom and how it will be, I do not know.
For now, I am in the company of my Spanish friend Alvaro, met in India 3 years ago, with whom I spent a month and substantially trekked at the time in another remote and wild place; the gorgeous Himalayas. We are meant to stay together for an indefinite amount of time and that is good enough to assume, for having a travel mate is more than welcome in my life after having roamed around the world on my own for so long, despite all the extraordinary folks I have met along the way and without whom I would not be capable of writing these few lines right here, right now.
I guess that Chris McCandless was right when he said that “Happiness is only real when shared”, even though I still believe that it is fundamental to first conceive of what is true Happiness before even trying to share it.
That is all about the magic of quitting one’s comfort zone and embracing the impermanence of the Unknown for an unlimited period of time. I am not saying that it is easy and that I feel on vacation every day, it means that the concepts of having a job and taking holidays do not even exist anymore.
I have never felt so good and this feeling seems to be exponentially limitless; I definitely recommend it to anyone who is willing to be Free.
The Japanese culture could be compared to an intriguing orchestra; as a visitor, one incarnates the conductor whose ability to harmonize the instruments all together conditions the intrinsic beauty of the experience to the great delight of the audience; one’s soul.
Each country has its very own melody of course, to which one might find a resonance on varied levels as part of a personal and collective experience, but the Japanese one teaches one how to make the best out of fascinating contradictions. This is somehow a euphemism in a country where everything beeps or makes Nokia 3310 ringtone-like music whether it comes to kitchen appliances or the 5 pm curfew tune that plays every single day in every city.
The experience started with a detestable winter. Not because it was unbearably cold, but rather because of the constant greyness brought by the emotional fluctuations of the Sea of Japan.
I think it is a quite relevant instance to tell you that it snowed 19 metres of cumulated snowfalls at 2400 metres above sea level between November and April. It just sounds surreal to me, and that is probably why Tateyama, which is located about 100 km North of Fukui, is one of the mountains that receive the most precipitations in the world.
On the other hand, entire weeks without being able to see the sun and the mind-uplifting blueness of the heavens teaches one how to gaze at the Light that intrinsically shines within each and every of us at all times.
And then, spring finally burst into life, which was well worth waiting for as the Japanese nature shifted into some other divine dimension.
It began with the Sakura, which is the common appellation of the stunning cherry blossom in Japan and allows parks, streets and ancient Edo castles to wear the long-awaited outfit offered by Mother Nature and stand in beauty by displaying a lively farandole of whites and pinks to the eyes of the watchful passerby.
Japan has even more hidden treasures to reveal to the meticulous adventurer, and trekking and camping in the nearby mountains has given me the fantastic opportunity to discover the richness of the local flora. The forests are old here and are worth a scene of the Middle Earth, for people show them a respect that has long been lost in Western countries. One can appreciate blooming flowers of a myriad of colours at each turn of any paths.
Overall, the wintery moroseness of the surroundings was replaced by an overwhelming green that is so specific to the Japanese scenery due to the delicate melange of greens it puts on show, which ranges from the soft green of young bamboo clumps and Japanese maples to the murky one of the numerous stretches of cryptomerias in their midst.
Spring has brought along a substantial amount of joy and love, not only because it had been very much looked forward to but also most probably because green is the colour of the heart chakra and hence reconnects us to our inner nature.
In fact, I have had 2 lives in Fukui _at least for this time and probably more if I take my previous lives into consideration_; one through the somewhat stunning harshness of the winter and one since the sun starting poking its nose from behind the clouds in late April. There have been only 2 common factors to them; teaching and music.
Regarding the teaching experience, I have reached a stage in which whatever happens in the classroom utterly matches the convictions that led me to leave my sedentary life behind. Indeed, beyond the approach of practicing skills, teaching English far away from Western conventionalism gives me the priceless possibility to maintain a captivating balance with my students; I am always eager to learn about the local culture through typical conversation topics such as food or local customs, and for my part, I teach them about the cultures I have experienced throughout my varied travels, knowing that both aspects are great tools to considerably amplify the authenticity of the experience.
What is more, I introduce them to some of the subjects I have myself consistently explored throughout my personal evolution such as quantum physics, health, nutrition, geopolitical concerns, the body-mind connection or music-therapy, constantly keeping in mind that being open-minded is all about learning as much as I teach all at once.
There exists no passion in teaching if there is no passion in learning and vice versa.
All in all, it is truly symbolic to the interactional balance that takes place between all people; inspiring and being inspired, guiding and being guided through the flow of karmic energies.
As I have briefly mentioned before, this approach has a very peculiar savour with the Japanese folks due to the multitude of contradictions that exist in their culture, and it truly takes time, thorough observation and dedication to grasp them.
I think that the easiest way to succinctly describe the Japanese culture is to perceive it as an allegory of duality in all possible senses and that it incarnates, in fact, a subtle balance of behavioural extremes. For instance, the Japanese are some of the most conservative people I have ever met and yet, I have hardly ever met such open-mindedness through the diverse cultures I have already embraced. They can be very shy and distant in the first place but are always keen on socializing with strangers:
In addition, they intensely stick to their rich traditions and history through gorgeous clothing, art and architecture and yet, they somehow accept change and things are they are and should be in the Now.
My social experiment: trying implementing hugs as a conventional way of saying hello and goodbye at International Club, which has worked out pretty well I must say.
On the other hand, I cannot be fully objective in this analysis for my Japanese experience remained in the countryside of the country, far away from the effervescence of massive cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. In effect, those who have been following my quest from the very beginning have probably understood by now that one of the main concepts of my long voyage is to explore the less-travelled path in all possible ways.
I am actually convinced that lingering in remote areas is an extremely relevant manner to delve into the real side of the local culture and hence learn a considerable amount of genuine information about other people’s behaviours and customs, hence about ourselves.
Disputing this statement would be like assuming that, for example, going to or even living in Paris can be associated with visiting France. Well, it undoubtedly can on the geographical level but beyond this fact, Paris has absolutely nothing to do with the real French culture, and so on and forth regarding most big cities in the world.
As of music, I had not been so involved in its mind-soaring flow for years, and it feels good.
Travelling is always an appropriate context to immerse in it and the people I met and befriended through a common beat is countless. I believe that many travellers are also musicians because both approaches allow the soul to find a suitable ground for expressing itself to the fullest. Music and travel both encompass the ultimate concept of freedom beyond the limitations of societal conventions and the physical body.
Furthermore, everything and everyone is made of vibrations on a quantum physical level and we collapse the wave function of the particles by observing them, which creates what we call “reality” in our everyday lives. I therefore think that music resonates with higher realms of Consciousness and allow us to somehow remember our true nature through the universality of its language.
I had not played in a band since my 3-month stay at Reunion Island in 2003 and the reggae band I had there. Subsequently, I have felt truly privileged to share such delightful moments with my friends and band members Simon and Nagisa for the past 4 months.
The first “official” public performance of “Barefoot” _the name of our band_ was held a few weeks ago at an international gathering for exchange students where we played in front of about 100 people.
The music sessions with Simon and Nagisa are definitely one of the things that I am going to miss most when I leave Fukui, which is now imminent.
To my heart, Japan’s status has evolved in an extraordinary way since I left Kathmandu in June 2014.
It went from an I-have-other-priorities-so-I-will-not-go-this-time place _when I wanted to go from Russia to Alaska across the Bering Strait_ to an it-is-on-my-way-so-why-not place _when I realised it would be impossible and thus changed my route in order to reach Vladivostok and leave Russia from there instead_ to an I-have-17-dollars-left-or-a-3-month-visa-free-period-to-make-a-move place _before the English teaching position in Fukui miraculously came to me_ to, at last, an I-would-have-never-thought-that-I-would-stay-for-so-long-and-it-would-be-so-hard-to-leave place at present.
Throughout this new life-changing adventure, which I started out of Nothing again, I have been able to meet and share awareness with beautiful people, learn how to cook new delicious and healthy dishes, teach how to cook delicious and healthy dishes, learn how to play new music instruments, teach photography, live in a sustainable community, go on a fishing trip on the tumultuous Sea of Japan, and even incarnate a samurai for the annual Jidai Matsuri _festival parade_ in front of thousands of people.
But despite the great pleasure that plunging in the mesmerizing Japanese culture has provided me with for the last 9 months, and even though I had once again the possibility to extend my work period and hence stay longer in Fukui and Japan, I eventually came to the decision to resume my journey across the Pacific Ocean in July.
After all, in spite of the fact that Fukui is a charming countryside town with an appreciable slow-living pace, it still generates some sort of routine, which affects me after a while. I now need to recover the freedom that hitting the road provides me with.
Nevertheless, albeit I spent a huge amount of time doing my research about this concern since I arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun, I unfortunately could not find a private boat to do the big jump to Alaska so I will thus take a plane from Tokyo to Anchorage on July 7th.
Then, the idea is to hitchhike as far North as I can towards the Arctic Circle before heading all the way to Mexico via Canada and the USA over a 3-month period.
Indeed, that is the time granted to me in order to fulfil my new mission due to the regulations of the American ESTA visa programme. On the other hand, I am very happy with that for I am not at all interested in the Northern American culture _read: its modern culture_ and I am going to explore this area of the world mainly because of the splendid, untouched wilderness it offers.
Since I prioritized passion instead of financial gain when I chose to teach at International Club in Fukui, I have not been able to save much during my stay here, but it should still be enough to cover the 15000ish kilometres that will separate me from the Mexican border. After all, the only little money I need is with regards to eating as decently as I can along the way, and the most thrilling adventures and “coincidences” that have come to me until now took place because I have been travelling with hardly any money at all for almost 3 years. I would not change that for anything.
Aside from the route due South, there will be no plans as usual for the inherent approach of my journey is to surrender to the impermanence and unexpectedness of the open road. I only have one prospective Couchsurfing host in Fairbanks so far as I thought that it would be quite handy to drop off some of my gear on the way before going back and forth to the Arctic tundra in order to camp there on my own for a little while along with bears and the midnight sun.
The only thing I would like to do if the opportunity comes to me is to get in touch with self-sufficient communities in order to enhance my related skills for setting up my very own community after the round-the-world-journey.
Therefore, I will leave this section of the voyage up to the Cosmic Winds, and wherever and whoever they take me to. It will be just about hitchhiking, camping and embracing the Unknown along the way.
It will be just about the Wild and I, and I look forward to that.
La culture japonaise pourrait être comparé à un intrigant orchestre; en tant que visiteur, on incarne le chef d’orchestre dont la capacité à harmoniser les l’ensemble des instruments conditionne la beauté intrinsèque de l'expérience à la grande joie de l'auditoire; son âme.
Chaque pays possède sa propre mélodie, bien sûr, à laquelle chacun peut trouver une résonance sur des niveaux divers et variés dans le cadre d'une expérience personnelle et collective, mais la symphonie japonaise enseigne, d’une certaine façon, comment tirer le meilleur parti de ses contradictions fascinantes. Ceci est en quelque sorte un euphémisme dans un pays où tout émet une musique de type Nokia 3310 que ce soit au niveau des appareils de cuisine ou de l’air de fin couvre-feu de 17 heures qui prend place tous les jours.
L'expérience avait commencé avec un hiver insupportable; non pas parce qu'il faisait si froid que ça, mais plutôt en raison de la grisaille constante apportée par les fluctuations émotionnelles de la mer du Japon.
Je pense qu'il s’agit d’un exemple tout à fait pertinent que de vous dire qu’il a neigé 19 mètres de neige cumulés à 2400 mètres d’altitude entre Novembre et Avril. Cela me semble pourtant juste surréaliste, et ce qui est sans doute la raison pourquoi Tateyama, qui est située à environ 100 km au nord de Fukui, est l'une des montagnes qui reçoit le plus de précipitations dans le monde.
D'autre part, des semaines entières sans être en mesure de voir le soleil et le joyeux bleu des cieux enseignent, quelque part, comment contempler la lumière qui brille déjà en chacun de nous depuis la nuit des temps.
Et puis, le printemps a finalement décidé de jeter son dévolu sur la préfecture de Fukui, ce qui valait bien la peine d'attendre car la nature japonaise a alors basculé dans une autre dimension absolument divine.
Cela a commencé avec la Sakura, qui est l'appellation commune de la magnifique fleur de cerisier au Japon et qui permet aux parcs, rues et anciens châteaux de la période Edo de porter la tenue tant attendue offerte par Mère Nature et de se présenter en beauté en exhibant une farandole de blancs et roses aux yeux du passant attentif.
Le Japon a encore plus de trésors cachés à révéler à l'aventurier méticuleux, et faire de randonnée et du camping dans les montagnes voisines m'a donné la fantastique opportunité de découvrir la richesse de la flore locale. Les forêts sont vieilles ici et valent bien une scène de la Terre du Milieu, car les gens leur montrent une certaine forme de respect qui a été perdu depuis longtemps dans les pays occidentaux. Il est ici ainsi possible d’apprécier une myriade de couleurs à chaque tournant de chaque chemin.
Globalement, la morosité environnementale hivernale a été remplacée par un vert éclatant qui est si spécifique à la nature japonaise en raison du mélange délicat de verts qui la glorifie, qui va du vert tendre des jeunes touffes de bambous et des érables japonais à celui plus sombre des nombreux tronçons de cryptomerias parmi eux.
Le printemps a apporté une quantité substantielle de joie et d'amour, non seulement parce qu'il avait été très attendu mais aussi très probablement parce que le vert est la couleur du chakra du cœur et nous reconnecte ainsi à notre vraie nature intérieure.
En fait, je ai eu deux vies à Fukui _au moins pour cette fois et probablement plus si je prends mes vies antérieures en considération_; une avec la somptueuse consistance de l'hiver et une autre depuis que le soleil a commencé à sortir son nez de derrière les nuages fin Avril. Elles ont eu seulement deux facteurs en commun; l'enseignement et la musique.
En ce qui concerne l'expérience de l'enseignement, je suis arrivé à un stade auquel tout ce qui se passe dans mes salles de classe correspond exactement aux convictions qui m’ont conduit à quitter ma vie sédentaire il y a quelques années.
En effet, au-delà de l'approche de la pratique des compétences, l’enseignement de l'anglais loin du conventionnalisme occidental me donne la inestimable possibilité de maintenir un équilibre captivant avec mes élèves; je suis toujours enthousiaste à en apprendre davantage sur la culture locale à travers des sujets de conversation typiques tels que les habitudes alimentaires ou coutumes locales, et pour ma part, je les ai introduit aux cultures que j'ai explorées lors de mes nombreux voyages, sachant que ces deux aspects sont d'excellents outils pour amplifier considérablement l'authenticité de l'expérience.
De plus, nous avons également abordé quelques-uns des sujets que j’ai beaucoup étudiés tout au long de mon évolution personnelle tels que la physique quantique, la santé, la nutrition, les préoccupations géopolitiques, la connexion corps-esprit ou même la musicothérapie, en gardant constamment en tête que le fait d'être ouvert d’esprit signifie que j’apprends autant que mes étudiants lorsque j’enseigne.
Il ne peut pas exister de passion dans l’enseignement sans passion dans l’apprentissage et vice versa.
Dans l'ensemble, ceci est vraiment symbolique à l'équilibre interactionnel qui existe entre tous les êtres vivants de cette planète; inspirer et être inspiré, et guider et être guidé à travers le flux des énergies karmiques.
Comme je l'ai déjà brièvement mentionné précédemment, cette approche a une saveur très particulière au Japon en raison de la multitude de contradictions qui existent dans cette culture captivante, et il faut vraiment du temps, une observation approfondie et beaucoup de dévouement pour les saisir.
De ce fait, je pense que la meilleure façon de succinctement décrire la façon la culture japonaise est de la percevoir comme une représentation d’une certaine forme de dualité dans tous les sens possibles et qu'elle incarne, en fait, un subtil équilibre d’extrêmes comportementaux. Par exemple, les Japonais sont quelques-unes des personnes les plus conservatrices que j’ai rencontrés et pourtant, j’ai également rarement connu une telle ouverture d'esprit à travers les diverses cultures que je l'ai déjà expérimentées jusqu’à présent. Ils peuvent être très timides et distants en premier lieu, mais sont toujours désireux de socialiser avec des étrangers.
En outre, ils poursuivent intensément la quête de leurs riches traditions et intense histoire à travers de sublimes vêtements, l'art et l'architecture, et pourtant, ils acceptent en quelque sorte le changement et les choses telles qu’elles sont.
Mon expérience sociale: la mise en place de l’embrassade comme étant le medium pour dire bonjour et au revoir au Club International où j’ai travaillé pendant 6 mois, ce qui a plutôt bien fonctionné je dois dire.
D'autre part, je ne peux pas être totalement objectif dans cette analyse car mon expérience japonaise est restée située dans des zones reculées du pays, loin de l'effervescence des énormes mégapoles comme Tokyo et Osaka. En effet, ceux qui ont suivi ma quête depuis le début ont probablement compris depuis longtemps que l'un des principaux concepts de mon long voyage est d'explorer les chemins les moins empruntés dans toutes les manières possibles et imaginables.
Je suis vraiment convaincu que rester dans des régions reculées est une manière extrêmement pertinente de se plonger dans le côté réel de la culture locale et donc d’apprendre une quantité considérable d'informations authentiques sur les comportements et coutumes des autres, donc sur nous-mêmes.
Contester cette déclaration serait tel supposer que, par exemple, aller à ou même vivre à Paris peut être associée à visiter la France. Bon, il s’agit sans aucun doute du cas sur le plan géographique et linguistique, mais au-delà de ce fait, Paris n'a absolument rien à voir avec la vraie culture française, et ainsi de suite en ce qui concerne la plupart des grandes villes dans le monde, surtout au niveau des capitales.
Au niveau de la musique, je n'avais pas été autant impliqué dans son flux de sa pureté depuis des années, et cela fait du bien.
Voyager est toujours un cadre approprié pour s’en imprégner et les personnes que j’ai rencontrées et avec lesquelles j’ai lié affinité à travers un rythme commun sont innombrables. Je crois que beaucoup de voyageurs sont également musiciens parce que les deux approches permettent à la créativité de l'âme de trouver un terrain approprié pour s’exprimer au maximum. Musique et voyager englobent tous les deux le concept ultime de la liberté au-delà des limites des conventions sociales et du corps physique.
En outre, toute forme de matière est faite de vibrations d’un point de vue quantique et nous détruisons la fonction d'onde des particules en les observant, ce qui créer ce que nous appelons «réalité» dans nos vies quotidiennes. Je pense donc que la musique résonne avec plus hautes sphères de la Conscience humaine et nous permet de se rappeler en quelque sorte notre vraie nature grâce à l'universalité de son langage.
Je n'avais pas joué dans un groupe depuis mon séjour de 3 mois à l'île de la Réunion en 2003 et le groupe de reggae dont je faisais partie. Ainsi, je me suis senti vraiment privilégié de partager ces délicieux moments avec mes amis et membres du groupe Simon et Nagisa lors des 4 derniers mois.
La première représentation publique officielle de « Barefoot » _le nom du groupe_ a eu lieu il ya quelques semaines lors d'un rassemblement pour les étudiants en échange international où nous avons joué et également présenté des instruments ethniques devant une centaine de personnes.
Les sessions de musique avec Simon et Nagisa sont certainement l'une des choses qui va me manquer le plus quand je quitterai Fukui, ce qui est maintenant imminent.
Pour mon cœur, le statut du Japon a évolué d'une façon extraordinaire depuis mon départ de Katmandou en Juin 2014 jusqu’à ici.
Il est passé de d’un lieu auquel je n’accordais aucune priorité _quand je voulais aller de la Russie à l'Alaska en passant par le détroit de Béring_ à un « pourquoi pas finalement car c’est sur mon chemin » _quand j’ai réalisé que ce serait impossible et donc changé mon itinéraire afin d'atteindre Vladivostok et quitter la Russie depuis cette ville_ jusqu’à « il me reste 17 dollars en poche ou 3 mois de période sans visa pour trouver quelque chose à faire » _avant de tomber sur la miraculeuse position de prof d'anglais à Fukui_ pour, enfin, un atteindre le statut d’un pays dans lequel je ne pensais pas passer autant de temps et qu’il serait si difficile de quitter à présent.
Tout au long de cette nouvelle merveilleuse aventure, que j’ai bâtie à partir de rien à nouveau, j'ai été en mesure de rencontrer et de partager des idées avec de belles personnes, apprendre à cuisiner de nouveaux plats délicieux et sains, enseigner comment cuisiner des plats délicieux et sains, apprendre à jouer de nouveaux instruments de musique, enseigner la photographie et ainsi optimiser mes facultés dans ce domaine, vivre dans une communauté durable, pêcher en bateau sur la capricieuse mer du Japon, et même incarner un samouraï pour un festival annuel_ Jidai Matsuri_ devant des milliers de personnes.
Mais malgré l’immense plaisir que l’immersion dans l’envoûtante culture japonaise m'a apporté pendant les 9 derniers mois, et même si j’avais encore une fois la possibilité de prolonger ma période de travail et donc rester plus longtemps à Fukui et ainsi au Japon, j’ai finalement pris la décision de reprendre le cours de mon voyage à travers l'océan Pacifique en Juillet.
Après tout, en dépit du fait que Fukui est une charmante ville de campagne avec un rythme de vie lent et appréciable, ce type de vie génère une sorte de routine qui me lasse après un certain temps. J’ai maintenant envie de recouvrer la liberté qui m’est donnée par le simple fait d’être sur la route.
Néanmoins, même si j’ai passé une énorme quantité de temps à faire mes recherches sur ce problème depuis mon arrivée dans le pays du Soleil Levant, je n’ai malheureusement pas trouvé de bateau privé pour faire le grand saut vers l'Alaska, et je suis donc contraint à prendre l’avion depuis Tokyo vers Anchorage.
J’arrive le 7 juillet et ensuite, l'idée est de faire du stop aussi loin que je peux vers le cercle arctique avant de me rendre en stop vers le Mexique via le Canada et les États-Unis sur une période de 3 mois.
En effet, ils’agit là du temps qui m'a été accordé afin de remplir ma nouvelle mission en raison de la réglementation du programme de visa américain ESTA. D'autre part, je suis très heureux avec cela, sachant que je ne suis pas du tout intéressé par la culture nord américaine _lire : sa culture moderne_ et je vais explorer cette région du monde principalement en raison de la splendide nature sauvage qu'elle offre.
Etant donné que j’ai donné priorité à la passion plutôt qu’à un gain financier quand j’ai choisi d'enseigner au Club International de Fukui, je n'ai pas été en mesure d'économiser beaucoup d’argent au cours de mon séjour ici, mais cela devrait être suffisant pour parcourir les quelques 15000 kilomètres qui vont me séparer de la frontière mexicaine. Après tout, le peu d'argent dont j’ai besoin est juste pour manger aussi décemment que je peux le long du chemin, et les aventures et « coïncidences » les plus palpitantes qui sont venus à moi jusqu'à maintenant ont eu lieu parce que je voyage avec peu d'argent depuis presque 3 ans. Je n’ai aucune envie de changer cela.
En delà de la route vers le sud, je n’ai pas de plans comme d'habitude et l'approche inhérente de mon voyage est de me plonger dans l'impermanence et l’inattendu de l’ « open road ». Je n’ai qu’un seul hôte Couchsurfing à Fairbanks pour le moment car que je pense que ce serait très pratique de déposer une partie de mon équipement en route avant de me diriger vers la toundra arctique afin d'y camper pour quelques temps avec les ours et le soleil de minuit.
La seule chose que je voudrais faire, si l'occasion se présente à moi est d'entrer en contact avec des communautés autonomes afin d'améliorer mes compétences en développement durable pour la mise en place ma propre communauté après mon périple autour du monde.
Par conséquent, je vais laisser aller cette section du voyage au grès des Vents cosmiques et aux nouveaux lieux et nouvelles personnes qu’ils mettront sur ma route. Ce sera juste l'auto-stop, le camping et embrasser l'inconnu tout au long du chemin.
Ce sera juste le la Nature et moi, et je me réjouis à cette idée.
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”
Already 5 months spent in Japan and nearly 2 years and a half on my way around the world, during which my perception of time has drastically changed. The road has slowly but surely unraveled the secrets of the Now.
As I taught my students at university in Kathmandu, we usually deal with two very distinct types of times in our life: “Clock” time and “real” time.
The first one was made up by mankind and is therefore irrelevant to the eternity of the true nature of the soul. However, we need it in order to “survive” in our daily life and shoulder our way through the nonsensical rhythm imposed upon us by our fast-living societal modal.
Real time, as far as it is concerned, is regulating the way we truly feel the flow of unfolding events around us through the masquerade of watches and clocks hung on our wrists and walls.
Why is “real” time real?
Well, simply because it relates to how each and every of us perceive the flow of time, according to our unique personality type and life experience.
Indeed, an event that might seem quite long for me can also seem to be extremely short for someone else, depending on how we enjoy it. Hence, real time is a very relative concept.
For instance, queuing up 30 minutes in a line might feel like 2 hours and travelling 2 years and a half around the world might feel like…2 months and a half.
Ultimately, how we feel tends to change our perception of time and good moments give us the impression that time literally flies.
What is more, it is scientifically proven that changing the way we see and perceive something for a prolonged period of time rewires our neurons and nervous system in a different manner, which also impacts the way we see the world.
For my part, I assume that my very peculiar way of travelling and having been on the road for so long has completely changed my perception of time. And I believe it is utterly irreversible.
Time is constantly stretching and compressing around me as if it were a giant accordion and I one of its keys, even though this phenomenon is no longer connected to dualistic experiences _”good” or “bad”_.
For example, one day hitchhiking in Mongolia or Siberia was feeling like one week, as I had the impression that I could squash so many things in it, whereas one week teaching English in Japan might feel like one day.
Therefore, we can assume that our perception of time also relates to the way we manage our routine…or non-routine, as it is the case for me.
But since the experiences that come to us are just what is meant to happen, and since we are exactly where we Need to be at all times, the concepts of “good” and “bad” only exist in our mind.
However, this does not relate to how I appreciate the present moment, since ultimately, despite of the fact that I love both teaching and being on the road, I obviously prefer the latter by far. Thus, as “good” moments are supposed to accelerate our perception of time, it would not make any sense at all.
This is due to the fact that there is a tremendous difference between feeling happy _when I teach_ and in awe _when I am on the road_, which is a step further.
Many studies have proven that awe-eliciting experiences tend to make us feel like time is being extended, and more willing to volunteer our time towards helpful causes.
Consequently I just love both travelling and teaching in different ways, not in terms of “good” and “bad”, because they provide me with a true understanding of the nature of humanity as a whole. And our lifetimes on Earth are intimately correlated to how profoundly and intensely we connect with our fellow people, aren't they?
All in all, it is important to realize that when we start doing what we truly like, we hardly ever refer to clock time unless we really have to. It is all about we feel and perceive the world around us that makes a difference and give a true significance to our life.
Also, when we listen to our heart and make it beat in tune with that of the whole Universe, we understand that there is absolutely nothing to worry about regarding time, because whatever comes to us is what we need in order to learn a Lesson.
Beyond the concept of how I have perceived time since I left France in September 2012, I am also truly fascinated at the evolution of my life since I arrived in Japan in September last year.
It is somehow so easy to forget “where” I come from and take everything for granted as the events had been all set from the very beginning. Indeed, when I see my life today, I am settled and work as an English teacher in a small Japanese town called Fukui.
However, when I look back to what it was 5 months ago, it is tricky to realize that I had left Vladivostok with 17 dollars remaining in my pocket and that I had no clue about what was going to happen next.
Oh well, I had a contact at a guesthouse on Shikoku Island in order to help there for a while in exchange of food and accommodation but it was not anything that could give me an indication about how I would be able to generate a little money, and therefore continue my adventure after the 3-month on non-visa period that I was granted when I arrived.
Nevertheless, I knew that the answer would come to me by itself as it had always been the case until then…and it indeed did.
Hitchhiking in Japan and camping on my way was much easier than I thought, even though most people had never picked up anyone on the side of the road before.
I spent almost 2 months lingering in the mysteries of the myths and legends of the gorgeous Shikoku Island, in the South of the country, where I worked in a tiny guesthouse located in its very countryside. The whole place was truly beautiful and peaceful, surrounded by mountains, bamboo clumps, cryptomeria forests and emerald-green, crystal-clear rivers, in which I swam a few times.
Despite the remoteness of the village, the locals were truly kind and hospitable, which was quite astonishing, considering the overall shyness of the Japanese. In effect, from my experience, I have already been to very isolated areas in all the countries I have visited so far, and people tend to be a little apprehensive when they meet foreigners for the first time, which was not the case in Japan.
India and Nepal were also exceptions to this concept, but the Hindu culture is completely set apart and just incomparable to any others.
On Shikoku, I was invited to many local festivals and even to eat raw snake for the first time ever. The Japanese culture possesses a multitude of traditions and events that honour and celebrate Mother Nature and its inhabitants, such as for the stunning Koyo, which is when deciduous trees’ leaves change colours in autumn.
To me, it is very significant of how aware of their environment they are, in opposition to the Western culture, in which we tend to take everything for granted, without paying much attention to what is going on around us.
On Shikoku Island, I helped the guesthouse owners run the place in all possible ways, from looking after the guests and cleaning, to cooking and gardening.
I have not met many foreigners but the Japanese folks I bumped into were interesting most of the time. Indeed, there were plenty of them coming along on a regular basis for the owner of the guesthouse also runs a rafting company, which allowed me to practise this activity a couple of times, along with some kayaking. I had already done it many times before in France and New Zealand but it was just incredible to do it for free as part of my atypical voyage.
In addition to that, I encountered a bunch of lovely people who were also part of the guesthouse or rafting staff during my stay, with whom I got the opportunity to do simple but insightful things, such as gazing at the mesmerizing moon total eclipse or at the Orionids _shooting stars shower_ on the high plateaus of the island, last October.
Then, in early November, I moved back to Honshu Island _Japan’s main island_ thanks to my Swiss friend Max who also helped at the guesthouse for a while and paid for my train ticket. I do not know if I will ever be grateful enough to all these people who have helped me so far to keep going with my journey for having been inspired by it, for I would not have been very far without them.
I actually believe that it is what I have given out along the way that is somehow getting back to me in terms of energy frequency, since everything is a matter of balance in the Universe. What goes around comes around…
I spent a couple of weeks in a sustainable community in the countryside of Okayama prefecture, where I met amazing, lively people. We were meant to build hobbit-like houses made of earthbags in exchange of food and accommodation.
The job was much harder than what I had experienced on Shikoku and sometimes going from sunrise to sunset, but it was well worth it.
Furthermore, two Japanese women were cooking delectable and healthy Ayurvedic food every single day, and the colours present in our plates were as proportionally inspiring as the broadness of the smiles stuck on our faces. The surrounding energies were just captivating which also triggered a substantial number of live music sessions with a myriad of instruments, for there were many on spot; guitars _including mine_, djumbes, didgeridoo, maracas, with even a dash of Celtic culture since Gurvan, a French friend from Brittany met on site, had brought his Irish flute with him.
In fact, since I arrived in Japan, my life has been constantly surrounded by music jam sessions.
Regarding the community life, this experience was a brilliant occasion to acquire more carpentry and logistics skills, as well as more insights about how to build and run my very own community one day. It is a prospect that has been exponentially growing in my heart for a while, and probably in a more intense way over the last few months.
I am now convinced that it will be the ultimate achievement of this life, if it is ever part of what the Universe conspires for me.
Afterwards, it was time to finally go to Fukui where I started working as an English teacher at the beginning of December last year.
However, how come did I go from being a penniless vagabond to finding a job as an English teacher and getting a residency card, in a country where non-native language teachers are usually not accepted?
Well, first of all, I am still a penniless vagabond and I am not intending to change that status whatsoever.
Then, you can call it “luck” or "coincidence”, although I believe it cannot be labeled as either. It is just about the magic of my quest, the magic of anyone-who-listens-to-their-heart’s quest. It is about the synchronicity _or “meaningful” coincidences as Carl Jung called them_ that the Universe puts across our way when we are in tune and at peace with our inner selves.
One astonishing isolated event might be named a coincidence but someone’s life is just made out of so-called coincidences, it would be a quite ignorant and narrow-minded perspective to think that they are still coincidences…simply because coincidences do not exist in this universe; everything has a purpose and every unfolding events happens for a reason.
When I was on Shikoku Island, something thrilling happened.
I got in touch with Simon, a kiwi guy who I had met in New Zealand in 2005 when I was sharing accommodation in Dunedin with his best friend, Hans, who also became a great friend of mine.
However, Simon and I did not keep in touch for some reason until last October, when Hans told both of us that we were staying in the same country i.e. Japan.
Soon after, we exchanged a couple of messages and Simon eventually told me that a Canadian friend of his was going to have a baby and therefore looking for a replacement teacher in order to fully enjoy her maternity leave for half a year.
This is how it all started. A few days later, I had my first interview on skype and was hired for the job.
It was a perfect timing and again, it would not have been so fascinating if it had not been impossible for me to find a teaching job in Japan prior to getting there, even in big cities such as Tokyo or Osaka, in which I did not want to live anyway. It was a perfect timing because it would have been too early a week before or too late a week after, and I did not have any money to move on and cross the Pacific, or else to go back to Russia and settle there for the winter.
It was a perfect timing because everything comes to us when we truly need it, at a perfect time.
I have now been living and working in Fukui for the last 3 months.
On the one hand, time is flying as I have told you and on the other, I feel like I have already done a multitude of different things, which is definitely the case throughout my teaching experience at International Club _the place where I work_ with my lovely students. Also, random events keeps on taking place in my life such as playing the djumbe on the streets with total “strangers” or incarnating Santa Claus for the first time of my life to make Japanese children happy.
Food is never really far away and I have learnt how to make rice cakes _mochi_, sushi, maki and homemade soba pasta _fresh buckwheat pasta_, which I was recently teaching to Junior High School pupils during an event that introduced them to Africa.
Aside from that, my current lifestyle is relatively quiet and related to the harshness of Fukui winter, and its incessant ballet of threatening cloud coming from the Sea of Japan that bring rain, snow, sleet and hail, or a mixture of all of them, pretty much every single day since the beginning of December. We have had approximately 25 days of snow and more than 150 cm of cumulative snowfalls throughout the winter.
What is more, I have been writing a lot for my book recently and I started learning how to play the piano in early January. Simon and I have actually started a band last week with a couple of Japanese friends in order to go and play on the streets as soon as possible!
Of course, I am also learning Japanese, which is a truly captivating language.
At least, I can learn it and practise it in immersion for a longer period of time compared to the other languages I have learnt on my way, since it can be quite frustrating to be no longer able to use them on a regular basis.
I do not earn much money but I am happy with whatever life gives me, and knowing that I should have a little cash to resume my journey is good enough.
I am meant to work until the end of May, and then the idea is still to cross the Pacific by boat towards Alaska, even though the voyage will keep on remaining more important than the destination in itself. What I mean here is that I would not be surprised if I end up in Hawaii in the meantime.
We will see where the wind takes me.
Indeed, there is no need to worry for each unfolding experience will be worth living to the fullest. I do not have the answer for now but it will come to me when it is time.
Well, I guess that the Answer will be Love as usual…
Meanwhile, I am going to keep enjoying each and every second of my Asian life, for when I depart, I might not see this continent again for a very long time.
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”
Cela fait déjà cinq mois que je suis au Japon et près de 2 ans et demi sur mon chemin autour du monde, au cours desquels ma perception du temps a radicalement changé.
La route a lentement mais sûrement révélé les secrets de l’instant présent.
Comme je l’enseignais à mes étudiants à l'université de Katmandou dans leur module de techniques d'étude, nous sommes habituellement confrontés à deux types de “temps” très distincts dans notre vie: le temps «horloge» et le temps «réel».
Le premier a été crée par l'homme et n’est donc pas pertinent par rapport au côté éternel de la vraie nature de l'âme. Cependant, nous en avons besoin pour «survivre» dans notre vie quotidienne et tracer notre chemin à travers le rythme insensé qui nous est imposé par notre société.
Le temps “réel”, en ce qui le concerne, est la façon dont nous ressentons réellement le flux d'événements qui se déroulent autour de nous à travers l’écran de fumée des montres et horloges accrochées à nos poignets et murs.
Pourquoi ce type de temps est il réel?
Tout simplement parce qu'il fait référence à la façon dont chacun d'entre nous perçoit l'écoulement du temps, en fonction de notre type de personnalité et de notre expérience de vie qui est unique en soi.
En effet, un événement qui peut sembler long pour moi peut également sembler extrêmement court pour quelqu'un d'autre, en fonction de la façon dont nous en jouissons. Par conséquent, le temps réel est un concept très relatif.
Par exemple, faire la queue 10 minutes peut être ressenti comme l’écoulement de deux heures, et voyager deux années et demi autour du monde peut être ressenti comme...deux mois et demi.
En fin de compte, ce que nous ressentons à un instant précis tend à changer notre perception du temps et généralement, les bons moments nous donnent l'impression que le temps passe littéralement à une vitesse folle.
Qui plus est, il est scientifiquement prouvé que changer la façon dont nous percevons les choses pour une période de temps prolongée connecte nos neurones d'une manière différente, ce qui a également un impact sur la façon dont nous voyons le monde.
Pour ma part, je suppose que ma façon très particulière de voyager et d’avoir été sur la route pendant si longtemps a complètement changé ma perception du temps. Et je crois que ceci est quelque part irréversible.
Le temps est constamment en train de s’étirer et se compresser autour de moi comme s’il était un accordéon géant et moi l'une de ses touches, mais ce phénomène n’est plus connecté à des expériences manichéennes, comme cela a pu être le cas dans le passé.
Par exemple, une journée d'auto-stop en Mongolie ou en Sibérie pouvait paraitre comme une semaine, car j’avais l'impression que je pouvais y compresser tant de choses, alors qu’une semaine à enseigner l'anglais au Japon peut être ressenti comme une journée. De ce fait, nous pouvons assumer que notre perception du temps est également sujette à la façon dont nous gérons notre routine quotidienne…ou notre non-routine.
Mais sachant que les expériences qui viennent à nous sont censées se produire d’une manière ou d’une autre, et puisque nous sommes exactement là où nous devons être à n’importe quel instant de nos vies, les concepts de «bon» et «mauvais» n’existent que dans notre esprit.
Toutefois, cela ne se rapporte en rien à la façon dont j’apprécie le moment présent, car malgré le fait que j’aime à la fois l'enseignement et le voyage indépendant, je préfère évidemment ce dernier. Ainsi, comme les « bons » moments sont censés accélérer notre perception du temps, cela n’aurait absolument aucun sens si c’était réellement le cas.
Ceci est due au fait qu’il existe une différence énorme entre se sentir heureux _quand j’enseigne_ et émerveillé _quand je suis sur la route_, qui se situe à un échelon supérieur. En effet, des recherches ont prouvé que les expériences provoquant un état d’émerveillement nous font ressentir le temps comme étant prolongé, voire stoppé, et plus susceptible de partager notre temps pour aider notre prochain, comme par exemple faire du volontariat.
Par conséquent, j’apprécie juste les deux concepts d’une manière différente, non pas en termes de «bon» et «mauvais», mais parce qu'ils me donnent accès à une véritable compréhension de la nature de l'humanité dans son ensemble. Et nos vies sur Terre sont intimement corrélées à la façon dont nous nous connectons avec notre prochain, n’est-il pas?
Dans l'ensemble, il est important de réaliser que lorsque nous commençons à faire ce que nous aimons vraiment, il n’est presque plus nécessaire de se référer au temps de « l’horloge », à moins que nous en soyons vraiment obligés. C’est la façon dont nous ressentons et percevons le monde autour de nous qui donne une vraie signification à notre vie.
Aussi, lorsque nous écoutons notre cœur et le faisons battre en harmonie avec celui de l'Univers tout entier, nous comprenons qu'il n'y a absolument rien à s’inquiéter au sujet du temps, parce que nous devons pour apprendre une Leçon de chaque expérience qui vient à nous, quelle qu’elle soit.
Au-delà de la notion de la façon dont je ai perçu le temps depuis que j’ai quitté la France en Septembre 2012, je suis aussi vraiment fasciné par l'évolution de ma vie depuis que je suis arrivé au Japon en Septembre l'année dernière.
Il est en quelque sorte si facile d'oublier d’"où" je viens et de tout prendre pour acquis, comme si les évènements que se sont déroulés jusqu’à présent sont « normaux ». En effet, quand je vois ma vie aujourd'hui, je suis installé pour quelques mois et travaille comme professeur d'anglais dans une petite ville japonaise qui se nomme Fukui.
Cependant, quand je regarde en arrière à ce qu'était ma vie il y a cinq mois, il est difficile de réaliser que j’avais quitté Vladivostok avec 17 dollars restants dans ma poche et que je ne avais aucune idée de ce qui allait se passer par la suite.
J’avais bel et bien un contact dans une auberge de jeunesse sur l'île de Shikoku, pour y aider le patron pendant un certain temps en échange de la nourriture et du logement, mais ce ne était pas quelque chose qui pouvait me donner une indication sur la façon dont je serais en mesure de générer un peu d'argent, et donc de continuer mon aventure après les 3 mois de période de non-visa que j’ai obtenus quand je suis arrivé.
Néanmoins, je savais que la réponse viendrait à moi par elle-même comme cela avait toujours été le cas jusque-là ... et ce fut encore le cas cette fois ci.
Faire du stop au Japon et camper sur mon chemin furent beaucoup plus facile que ce que je pensais, même si la plupart des gens n’avaient jamais pris qui que ce soit en stop auparavant.
J’ai passé presque deux mois bercé au grès des mystères des mythes et légendes de la superbe île de Shikoku, dans le sud du pays. L'endroit était vraiment magnifique et paisible, entouré par des montagnes, bambouseraies, forêts de cryptomeria et par le vert émeraude de rivières aux eaux fraiches, pures et cristallines, dans lesquelles je nageais de temps à autres.
Malgré l'éloignement du village, les habitants étaient vraiment gentils et accueillants, ce qui peut paraitre relativement étonnant, compte tenu de la timidité générale des Japonais. En effet, d'après mon expérience, j’ai déjà été dans des zones très isolées dans tous les pays que j’ai visités à ce jour, et les gens ont tendance à être un peu méfiants quand ils se rencontrent des étrangers pour la première fois, ce qui n’est pas forcément le cas au Japon.
L’Inde et le Népal sont aussi des exceptions relatives à ce concept, mais la culture hindoue est complètement à part et juste incomparable à toutes les autres.
Sur Shikoku, j’ai été invité à de nombreux festivals locaux et même à manger du serpent cru pour la première fois. La culture japonaise possède une multitude de traditions et événements qui honorent et célèbrent Mère Nature et de ses habitants, comme en ce qui concerne le magnifique Koyo, qui est quand les feuilles des arbres feuillus changent de couleur en automne.
Pour moi, cela prouve à quel point ils sont conscients de leur environnement en opposition à la culture occidentale, dans laquelle nous avons tendance à tout prendre pour acquis, sans pour autant donner beaucoup d'attention à ce qui se passe réellement autour de nous.
Sur l'île de Shikoku, j’ai aidé les propriétaires de la maison d'hôtes à gérer l'endroit de toutes les façons possibles et imaginables, comme m’occuper des clients et du nettoyage, ou de la cuisine et du jardinage.
Je n’ai pas rencontré beaucoup d'étrangers mais les japonais que j’ai rencontrés sur place étaient plutôt intéressants la plupart du temps. En effet, beaucoup d'entre eux venaient de tout le pays, car le propriétaire de la maison d'hôtes dirige une compagnie de rafting, ce qui m'a également permis de pratiquer cette activité, avec un peu de kayak. J’en avais déjà fait de nombreuses fois auparavant en France et en Nouvelle-Zélande, mais ce qui fut tout simplement incroyable était de le faire gratuitement dans le cadre de mon voyage atypique.
En plus de cela, j’ai rencontré un tas de gens charmants qui faisaient également partie du personnel de la maison d'hôtes ou de rafting pendant mon séjour, avec lesquels j’ai eu l'occasion de faire des choses simples mais captivantes, telles que regarder l’envoûtante éclipse totale de lune ou au la pluie d’étoiles filantes des Orionides, sur les hauts plateaux de l'île, en octobre dernier.
Ensuite, je suis revenu sur l’île d’Honshu début Novembre _île principale du Japon_ grâce à mon ami suisse Max qui a également travaillé à l’auberge de jeunesse pendant quelque temps et payé mon billet de train. Je ne sais pas si je serai un jour assez reconnaissant envers toutes ces personnes qui m’ont aidé jusqu'à présent pour poursuivre mon aventure pour en avoir été quelque part inspirées, car je n’aurais pas été très loin sans eux.
Je crois en fait que cela fait partie des énergies que je partage sur la route qui, en quelque sorte, reviennent à moi d’une manière ou d’une autre, puisque tout est une question d'équilibre dans l'Univers. Ce qui va, revient...et vice versa.
J’ai passé quelques semaines dans une communauté à développement durable dans la campagne de la préfecture d'Okayama, où j’ai rencontré des gens vraiment incroyables. Le but du séjour était de construire des maisons qui ressemblent à celles des Hobbits en sacs de terre, en échange de la nourriture et de l’hébergement.
Le travail était beaucoup plus difficile que l’expérience de l’auberge de jeunesse sur Shikoku, allant parfois du lever au coucher du soleil, mais cela en valait la peine.
En outre, deux femmes japonaises cuisinaient des recettes ayurvédiques saines et délicieuses au quotidien, et les couleurs présentes dans nos assiettes étaient proportionnellement autant inspirantes que la largeur de les sourires collés sur nos visages. Les énergies environnantes étaient tout simplement captivantes, ce qui a également déclenché un nombre important de sessions de musique live avec une myriade d'instruments différents, car ils étaient nombreux sur place; guitares _la mienne également_, djumbes, didgeridoo, maracas, avec même une pincée de culture celtique sachant que Gurvan, un ami Breton rencontré sur place avait apporté sa flûte irlandaise avec lui.
En fait, depuis que je suis arrivé au Japon, ma vie a été constamment entourée par la musique.
En ce qui concerne la vie de la communauté, cette expérience fut une formidable occasion d'acquérir plus d’habilités en maçonnerie et compétences logistiques dans ce contexte, ainsi que plus d'idées sur la façon de construire et lancer ma propre communauté un jour. Il s’agit là d’une perspective qui a évolué de manière exponentielle depuis quelques années, et probablement d'une manière plus intense au cours de ces derniers mois.
Je suis maintenant convaincu que ce sera la réalisation ultime de cette vie, si cela fait toutefois partie de ce que l'Univers conspire pour moi.
Après Okayama et la vie de communauté, il était finalement temps de me rendre à Fukui où j’ai commencé à travailler comme professeur d'anglais début Décembre.
Cependant, comment se fait-il que je suis passé du statut de vagabond sans argent à celui de trouver un emploi en tant que professeur d'anglais et ainsi d'obtenir une carte de séjour, dans un pays où les enseignants de langues non-natifs ne sont généralement pas acceptés?
Eh bien, tout d'abord, je suis toujours un vagabond sans argent et je n’ai en aucun cas l'intention de changer ce statut.
Ensuite, vous pouvez appeler cela « chance » ou « coïncidence », même si je suis convaincu que cela ne peut pas être étiqueté comme l'un des 2. Il s’agit juste de la magie qui entoure ma quête depuis le tout début, la magie que n’importe quelle personne qui écoute son cœur peut entrevoir. Il s’agit de la « synchronicité » _ou coïncidences «significatives» comme Carl Jung les appelait_ que l'Univers met sur notre chemin quand nous sommes en phase et en paix avec notre soi intérieur.
Un événement étonnant isolé peut être éventuellement appelé « coïncidence », mais quand la vie d’une personne est uniquement bâtie sur des coïncidences abracadabrantes, ce serait un point de vue relativement ignorant et borné de penser qu'il s’agit toujours de coïncidences...tout simplement parce que les coïncidences n’existent pas dans cet univers; tout a un but bien précis ainsi que tous les événements qui s’y déroulent.
Quand j’étais sur l'île de Shikoku, quelque chose de passionnant est arrivé.
Je suis entré en contact avec Simon, un néozélandais que j’avais rencontré en Nouvelle-Zélande en 2005, lorsque je partageais un appartement à Dunedin avec son meilleur ami, Hans, qui est également devenu un très bon ami depuis.
Cependant, Simon et moi n’étions pas en contact jusqu'à Octobre dernier, lorsque Hans nous informa tous les deux que nous étions dans le même pays au même moment, à savoir au Japon.
Peu de temps après, nous avons échangé quelques messages avec Simon, et ce dernier a fini par me dire qu'une ami canadienne allait avoir un bébé et était donc à la recherche d'un professeur de remplacement afin de profiter pleinement de son congé de maternité pour six moi.
C’est ainsi que tout avait commencé. Quelques jours plus tard, j’ai passé un entretien sur skype et été embauché pour le poste.
Ce fut un timing parfait et encore, cela n’aurait pas été autant fascinant s’il ne m’avait pas été impossible de trouver un poste d'enseignant au Japon avant d'y arriver, même dans les grandes villes comme Tokyo ou Osaka, dans lesquelles je n’avais pas du tout envie de vivre de toute façon. Ce fut un timing parfait, car il aurait été trop tôt une semaine avant ou trop tard une semaine après, et je n’avais pas d'argent pour continuer à avancer et traverser le Pacifique, ou bien pour revenir en Russie et m’y installer pour l'hiver.
Ce fut un timing parfait parce que tout vient à nous quand nous avons vraiment besoin, à un moment « idéal ».
Cela fait maintenant 3 mois que je suis installé et travaille dans la petite ville de Fukui.
Comme je vous l’ai dit, le temps file à la vitesse de la lumière d’une part, et de l'autre, je ressens le fait d’avoir déjà fait une multitude de choses différentes depuis que je suis arrivé, ce qui est de toute façon le cas au travers de mon expérience d'enseignant à « International Club _mon lieu de travail_ avec mes étudiants.
En outre, des événements aléatoires ne cessent de prendre place dans ma vie comme avoir joué du Djumbé dans les rues avec un total «étranger», ou incarné le Père Noël pour la première fois de ma vie juste pour rendre des enfants japonais heureux.
La nourriture n’est jamais vraiment très loin de mon expérience globale et j’ai appris à faire des gâteaux de riz _mochi_, sushi, maki et soba _pâtes fraîches à la farine de sarazin_, que j’ai récemment enseigné à des collégiens lors d'un événement qui les introduit au continent africain.
A part ça, mon mode de vie actuel est relativement calme et lié à la rigueur de l'hiver sur place, et à son ballet incessant de nuages menaçants venant de la mer du Japon qui apportent de la pluie, neige, grésil et grêle, ou un mélange de tout cela en même temps, à peu près tous les jours depuis début Décembre. Nous avons eu approximativement 25 jours neigeux et plus de 150 cm de chutes de neige cumulées depuis le début de l’hiver.
Sinon, j’ai beaucoup écrit pour mon livre ces derniers temps et aussi commencé à jouer du piano début Janvier. Simon et moi avons également débuté un groupe de musique la semaine dernière avec 2 amies japonaises pour jouer dans la rue dès que possible!
Bien entendu, j’apprends aussi le japonais, qui est une langue vraiment fascinante.
Au moins, je peux l’apprendre et la pratiquer en immersion pendant une longue période de temps par rapport aux autres langues que j’ai apprises sur mon chemin, car cela devenait assez frustrant de ne plus être en mesure de les utiliser sur une base régulière.
Je ne gagne pas beaucoup d'argent mais je suis heureux avec ce que la vie me donne, et le fait de savoir que je devrais avoir un peu d'argent pour reprendre le cours de mon voyage est assez pour garder mon équilibre.
Je vais très probablement travailler jusqu’à fin mai, puis l'idée est toujours de traverser le Pacifique en bateau vers l'Alaska, même si le voyage restera toujours plus important que la destination en soi. Ce que je veux dire ici, c’est que je ne serais pas surpris si je finis à Hawaii en cours de route.
Nous verrons bien où le vent me porte.
En effet, il n'y a pas besoin de s’inquiéter car chaque expérience qui prendra place vaudra la peine d’être vécue pleinement. Je n’ai pas la réponse à ce sujet pour l'instant, mais elle viendra à moi quand en temps voulus.
De toute façon, je suppose que la réponse sera l'Amour comme d'habitude...
En attendant, je vais continuer à profiter de chaque seconde de ma vie asiatique, car quand je partirai, il est fort probable que je ne revois pas ce continent à nouveau pour un long moment.
"There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
“People are supposed to fear the unknown, but ignorance is bliss when knowledge is so damn frightening.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, The Laughing Corpse
After hitchhiking from Ulaanbaatar, I got dropped off at dusk by an old farmer and spent my last Mongolian night in the middle of nowhere, 100km from the Russian border, which I was meant to cross on the following day.
I was in the midst of the lush green steppes of the North once again and woke up with wild horses grazing in front of my tent, which was somewhat a perfect and very significant context prior to leaving this stunning country in which I had camped for two weeks in total, given that I would probably not come back for a long time.
In the morning, I could not help myself taking more time than I used to for eating my breakfast and packing up my camping gear as I was so much into the Now. I also realized how privileged I was to be there at that very moment. I gazed for a while at a few geese flying in their typical V‐shaped structure in the distance, heading to the North like me, with a bright gibbous moon rising right next to their epic flight.
It was overall a fantastic way to gather heaps of positive energies to go through the long day that was lying before me, especially with the Russian border crossing looming at the horizon.
When I got back to the main road, I started hitchhiking and it took me some time, as often, to get my first ride of the day. However, I was not in a rush, the weather was gorgeous and I was offered some tea by local road workers.
I finally managed to make it to the border in two rides and a third one in order to cross it. Indeed, it is forbidden to cross this border on foot and I did not have any more Mongolian money to pay for a minibus. A few minutes later, I met a Mongolian woman who told me that she would drive me through if I helped her sneak a few pairs of shoes, boots and socks to Russia.
Well, I did not really know what I was getting into until we were at the actual border where I understood that the search and control policy was paradoxically and unexpectedly much looser than all the other borders I had crossed until then.
What I thought to finally be my first ride to Ulan Ude ended up being a 3km ride to the bus station. I quickly realized that it would be difficult to communicate effectively for most people do not speak English in Russia.
However, this first misunderstanding was not actually one at all since my driver insisted to pay for my bus ticket to Ulan Ude, trying to explain to me that it would be very tricky to hitchhike in Russia out of the main roads.
When I arrived in Ulan Ude, 4 hours later, it was already late afternoon because of the time zone change. Nevertheless, I still had some energy remaining and my little Friend inside me told me that it would be well worth trying to make to Lake Baikal on that very day, 200km further, even if I was to get there late.
I met Nikolai, 35, a minibus driver who was actually heading to Baikal just to pick up some friends of his who had camped there the night before.
Beyond the fact that we had the same name (in its Russian version) and age (in its numerical version), we also got along very well in terms of life philosophy. His English was good enough to converse extensively about many world issues during the journey.
He dropped me off by the South Eastern bank of the mystical lake three hours later, after I had had a first glimpse at the sunset reflecting on it through the taiga on the way. It was a perfect timing indeed for the sun had not completely set, which left me some time to meet and hug Nikolai’s friends, to enjoy the sunset with them and to pitch my tent as soon as they set off.
I had always wanted to go to Lake Baikal for some reason.
Since I was a very little boy, I was passionate about geography and sciences and felt immensely attracted by all the mysteries surrounding the Russian Giant. It was at a time where there was no internet to virtually travel the world but only geology and biology collectable cards and atlases to discover our magnificent planet, longing to grow older at least in terms of being granted the possibility to explore the world for myself. I knew that Baikal was somewhere out there and that I would go to meet Him someday, sooner or later.
Furthermore, when I had to somewhat make a choice regarding what route I would be likely to take in order to exist Asia towards the American continent, going to Baikal was of an utmost priority, along with the Siberian taiga, which would also allow me to cross Mongolia and the remnants of Genghis Khan’s empire on the way.
I was at long last standing there on the fresh sands and its garnish of colourful pebbles, a few metres away from the crystal-clear water in one of its purest forms that one can find on Earth.
I was utterly alone again and somehow so happy to be so as for once, the feeling of sometimes being willing to share a special moment with special people was completely annihilated by the ecstatic magic generated by the lake and its surroundings, from which arose a feeling of absolute completeness within me. I was in pure harmony with Baikal’s energy frequency which resonated in the very core of my soul, along with the multitude of colour ranges emitted by the last minutes of the sunset, which felt like an eternity. The time structure had collapsed, reminded me of the timelessness of the place and I delightfully got lost in it.
Later on, after viewing a whole set of hues of yellow, orange, green and turquoise shouting both above and into the water, it was high time for another show which was a celestial one this time and I gazed at our mesmerizing luminescent Sisters again for a long while.
Even though I felt totally naked in the Now, I could not help myself thinking of our ancestors that had sat at the very same spot, tens of thousands of years ago, and who probably did pretty much exactly what I did, which also made me understand why they called Baikal a sea, for it is so gigantic and mysterious in geological terms.
The weather was unexpectedly quite warm and it took me hours to finally get into my tent for a little sleep after what had been a very intense day.
On the following day, I wish I had more survival food with me so that I would be able to spend another night at the same spot. This very first day in Russia had been tremendously captivating and I was somewhat very aware that it would probably condition the dynamics of my whole Russian voyage for the month to come.
Nevertheless, I was in a truly remote area and relying on my thumb to go places, hence decided to make a move and set off towards Slyudanka, a small town located directly on the lake’s bank, about 200km further West, where a Couchsurfing host was waiting for me.
Finally, I managed to get to Slyudanka on the same day where a cosy room was awaiting me in a “banya”.
A Russian “banya” is a small wooden cabin, usually juxtaposed to the main house, where the residents can enjoy a sauna and cold water indoor pool/Jacuzzi.
I spent 10 amazing days around Lake Baikal from its sandy shores, where I swam substantially in its transparent chilly waters, to its surrounding peaks and taiga, where I trekked for a few days in the cold and rain with my freshly met friends Angelika and Anastasiya.
Moreover, the whole feeling was probably amplified because Russia was the first “Western” country I was travelling since I had left Europe behind, in November 2012. After that, I spent two months in the Middle East and one year and a half immersed in the Hindu culture, in India and Nepal. After travelling overland through China and Mongolia, Russia was like a completely alien stretch of land that had nothing to do with its neighbouring countries, somewhat like an extension of Eastern Europe into Far East Asia.
However, I do believe that it was not the only reason for which I felt so intensely connected to these people. There was something more ethereal behind it, like if I had already spent an entire life in Russia.
Overall, I fell in love with the kindness, hospitality and open-mindedness of the people, with the sensuality of the language and with the gorgeousness and purity of the landscapes, especially when it came to Lake Baikal and its many legends and myths, along with its unique daughter Angora, the river that flows towards Irkutsk.
I was part of these people’s lives and they were part of mine, doing together whatever locals do together, from hanging out in a park or by the lake to playing basketball and trekking.
It was a truly complete experience all the way through.
It was quite sadly that I eventually left Slyudanka back to the East and Ulan Ude.
After hitchhiking all day, I arrived in Ulan Ude where I was meant to catch up with one of Nikolai’s friends, who I had met when hitchhiking to Baikal on my very first day in Russia. Again, Everything is Connected.
I met Dima on Lenin’s Square at dusk, and then we went to visit a friend of his for me to get a well deserved shower. That is how I met Marius and his lovely family; I was meant to get a shower at his place before cooking and sleeping at Dima’s and I finally ended up spending three days and nights with Marius, his wife Adrianna and their gorgeous and very aware four children.
Then, it was time to set off again and sadly leave these beautiful folks for an indefinite period of time, after exchanging many tight hugs to recharge my batteries and amass as much positive energies as I could prior to hitchhiking all the way to Vladivostok, approximately 4000km away, knowing that I had already hitchhiked about 1000km since I had crossed the Russian border.
In fact, I assume that in a better world, hugging would probably be the “official” manner to greet people and say goodbye to them.
The first day hitchhiking from Ulan Ude did not take me very far. I had six different rides to hardly cover 300km but it was a beautiful sunny day and I truly fancy just sitting on my backpacks in order to contemplate the surrounding nature, especially in such a magnificent place as Siberia.
On my fourth ride of the day, after I was asked to play the guitar in the car by my driver, which I did for a while, he picked up another hitchhiker on the way, who was stuck on the road since the truck she was travelling on had broken down.
That is how I met Masha, a 21 year‐old Russian girl who had been hitchhiking on her own all the way from St Petersburg and whose parents lived in Vladivostok, where she was also heading to. We spontaneously decided to hitchhike together or at least to give the idea a try and to see as it would go.
In fact, we had two more rides together before sunset and everything went perfectly well and our connection was brilliant, with even free food and drinks offered by our drivers on the way. We agreed to keep going together on the following day.
On the actual following day and therefore second day since I had left Ulan Ude, Masha and I met a truck driver, Igor, 44, who told us later that he had seen us hitchhike on his way a couple of times the day before. As a matter of fact, he had turned around to pick us up. Igor was driving from Irkutsk to Vladivostok and glad to have the two of us for the 3700km remaining so off we went, the three of us truly excited about the outstanding adventure lying before us.
In addition, Igor allowed us to sleep in the container of the truck, which was half empty…or half full, depending on one’s perception, so that we would not have to sleep in my tent in the already chilly Siberian night.
The four following days were very hectic since we drove all the way to Vladivostok with up to 19 hours of driving every day and usually less than 4 hours sleep. We were completely exhausted but the good thing was that I could enjoy all sunsets and sunrises on the way. I got the opportunity to take amazing photos through the broad windscreen of the truck, especially at dawn when patches of fog were invading the taiga with the rising sun struggling to make its way through, giving birth to a wonderful pastel colour set that helped me keep up with the good spirits for the whole day.
Masha and I finally arrived in Vladivostok safe and sound, even though we obviously needed a proper rest for a few days in order to recover from our respective epic journeys, from St Petersburg for her and from Ulaanbaatar for me.
Masha had contacted her parents in the meantime in order to ask them if I could stay at their place for a few days, which I happily did. They lived in the outskirts of the city and the area looked much more like the peaceful countryside, with their own laying hens, turkeys, geese, vegetable garden and fantastic banya of course.
I eventually stayed at Masha’s parents for almost one week for they were so delighted to have me and treated like being part of the family really.
Overall, I enjoyed Vladivostok very much. The city was pretty and I felt privileged to visit it with my local friends Masha and her boyfriend Sasha, for they took me to all the places tourists do not go, such as the remnants of the hidden underground bunkers and pretty much all the hilltops of the city so that we could contemplate the sunset from them on a daily basis.
I neither felt in danger when wandering in the streets at night as I was previously told nor any sort of narrow-mindedness considering that the city was closed to foreigners for geopolitical concerns from 1930 to 1992.
After all, Vladivostok is just like a typical Russian tourist destination where people enjoy the agreeable climate and the beauty of the surroundings like it can be done in Brighton, England or in Nice, France, with different cultures but similar features.
After hanging out in and around Vladivostok quite extensively with Masha and Sasha, I moved to my second and last Russian Couchsurfing host’s flat for a couple of days, which was much closer to the city centre, in order to get sorted with the boat tickets to Japan.
There I was, all set to go to Japan with 17 USD left in my pocket and no bank account. In fact, when most travellers would have freaked out about this very situation and gone back home, I was, for my part, truly excited about it.
I had been in contact with a host in the countryside of Shikoku Island, in South Japan, but I did not have the foggiest idea about how I would get there without money in such an expensive country, even if I managed to hitchhike my way through. I also had no clue about what would happen next in order to leave Japan in time.
Then, I would have either very little money or three months (no-visa status period of time) to find a job and generate a little money, whatever I would first run out of, either time or money, the two main things that had become almost insignificant in my life.
However, it did not really matter for I still had a 2‐day boat ride on the Sea of Japan and new fascinating adventures yet to come. I had become able to both seize the moment to the fullest and to look forward to the Unknown all at once. No matter what would come next, I was utterly ready to face it and to start a new chapter of my long journey around the world, for I had always known that the crossing of the Pacific Ocean would be one of the most crucial turning points of the Voyage.
“Would you like to know your future?
If your answer is yes, think again. Not knowing is the greatest life motivator.
So enjoy, endure, survive each moment as it comes to you in its proper sequence -- a surprise.”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
Après avoir fait de l'auto-stop depuis Oulan-Bator, je me fis déposé au crépuscule par un vieux fermier et passa ma dernière nuit mongole au milieu de nulle part, à 100 km de la frontière russe, que je devais traverser le jour suivant.
J’étais une fois de plus au milieu des steppes verdoyantes du Nord et me réveilla avec des chevaux sauvages en train de pâturer devant ma tente, ce qui était un contexte très agréable et symbolique avant de quitter ce pays magnifique dans lequel j’ai campé pendant deux semaines au total, étant donné que je n’y reviendrai probablement pas pendant un long moment.
Au petit matin, j’ai pris beaucoup plus de temps que d'habitude pour manger mon petit déjeuner et ranger mon matériel de camping car j’étais pleinement absorbé par l’instant présent. Je réalisais également à quel point j’étais privilégié d’être là à ce moment précis. J’ai observé pendant un certain temps quelques oies sauvages dans leur structure typique en forme de V au loin, faisant cap au Nord comme moi, avec une lune gibbeuse se levant juste à côté de leur vol épique.
Cela fut dans l'ensemble un excellent moyen de recueillir un maximum d'énergies positives pour la longue journée qui se trouvait devant moi, surtout avec le passage de la frontière russe qui se profilait à l'horizon.
Quand je revins sur la route principale, j’ai commencé à faire du stop et il m'a fallu un bon moment, comme souvent, pour trouver mon premier conducteur de la journée. Cependant, je n’étais pas pressé, le temps était magnifique et un bol de thé ne fut offert par les employés de la DDE locale.
Je suis parvenu à me rendre à la frontière avec deux voitures et une troisième pour la traverser. En effet, il est interdit de franchir cette frontière à pied et je n’avais plus d'argent mongol pour me payer un minibus. Quelques minutes plus tard, je rencontrai une femme mongole qui me proposa de me conduire à travers la frontière si je l'aidais à faufiler quelques paires de chaussures, bottes et chaussettes en Russie.
Je ne savais pas vraiment où je mettais les pieds jusqu’à ce que nous fumes directement à la frontière, où je compris que la politique de recherche et de contrôle était paradoxalement et de façon inattendue beaucoup plus souple que toutes les autres frontières que j'avais traversées jusque-là.
Ce que je pensais enfin être ma première voiture en direction de Ulan Ude a fini par être un trajet de 3 km vers la station de bus. Je me suis vite rendu compte que ce serait difficile de communiquer de manière efficace avec la plupart des gens car peu parlent anglais en Russie.
Cependant, ce premier malentendu n’en était pas vraiment un tout sachant que mon chauffeur insista pour payer mon ticket de bus pour me rendre sur Ulan Ude, en essayant de m’expliquer que ce serait très difficile de faire du stop en Russie hors des routes principales.
Quand je suis arrivé à Oulan-Oude, 4 heures plus tard, il était déjà tard dans l'après-midi en raison du changement de fuseau horaire. Néanmoins, j’avais encore de l'énergie restante et mon Ami à l'intérieur de moi me dit que ce serait bien la peine d'essayer de me rendre au lac Baïkal le jour même, 200 km plus à l’ouest, même si je devais y arriver un peu tard.
J’ai rencontré Nikolai, 35 ans, chauffeur de minibus qui conduisait vers Baïkal juste pour récupérer quelques amis qui y avaient campé la veille.
Au-delà du fait que nous avions le même nom (dans sa version russe) et âge (dans sa version numérique), nous nous sommes également très bien entendus en termes de philosophie de vie. Son anglais était assez bon pour converser longuement sur de nombreuses issues globales pendant le trajet.
Il me déposa sur la rive sud-est du lac mystique et mythique trois heures plus tard, après en avoir eu un premier aperçu avec le reflet du coucher du soleil à travers la taïga en cours de route. En effet, c’était un timing « parfait » car le soleil n’était pas encore complètement couché, ce qui me laissa le temps de rencontrer les amis de Nikolai, profiter du soleil couchant avec eux et de planter ma tente dès qu'ils partirent.
J'avais toujours voulu aller au lac Baïkal pour certaines raisons.
Quand j’étais petit garçon, j’étais déjà passionné par la géographie et les sciences et je me sentais extrêmement attiré par tous les mystères entourant le géant russe. Il s’agissait d’une époque à laquelle internet n’existait pas pour voyager virtuellement à travers le monde, et les seules valeurs sures étaient les cartes à collectionner de biologie et géologie et des atlas pour nous permettre de découvrir notre magnifique planète, avec un certain désir de grandir, au moins en termes de finalement obtenir la possibilité d'explorer le monde pour de vrai. Je savais que Baikal était quelque part là-bas et que j’irai à sa rencontre un jour, tôt ou tard.
En outre, quand j’ai du faire un choix en ce qui concerne la route que je serais susceptible de prendre pour traverser l’Asie, Baïkal fut une priorité absolue, avec la taïga sibérienne, ce qui me permettrait également de traverser la Mongolie et les restes de l'empire de Gengis Khan sur mon chemin.
J’étais enfin là, debout sur le sable frais et sa garniture de cailloux colorés, à quelques mètres de l'eau cristalline dans l’une de ses formes les plus pures que l'on peut trouver sur Terre.
J’étais totalement seul à nouveau et en quelque sorte si heureux de l'être car pour une fois, le sentiment de parfois vouloir partager un moment privilégié avec des gens spéciaux était complètement annihilé par la magie extatique générée par le lac et ses environs, qui émettait un sentiment de plénitude absolue en moi.
J’étais en pure harmonie avec la fréquence énergétique du magicien Baïkal qui résonnait jusque dans le cœur même de mon âme, en synergie avec la multitude de gammes de couleurs émises par les dernières minutes du coucher du soleil, qui me sembla comme une éternité. La structure même du temps s’était effondrée, ce qui me rappela de l'intemporalité du lieu dans lequel je me suis délicieusement perdu.
Plus tard, après avoir contemplé toute une série de tons de jaune, orange, vert et turquoise fusant dans et au-dessus de l'eau, il était grand temps de regagner ma place pour un autre spectacle, qui fut céleste cette fois, et j’observais nos envoûtantes Sœurs luminescentes envoûtante à nouveau pendant un long moment.
Même si je me sentais complètement nu dans l’Instant, je ne pouvais pas m’empêcher de penser à nos ancêtres qui s’étaient assis au même endroit, des dizaines de milliers d'années auparavant, et qui firent probablement exactement ce que je faisais, ce qui me fit également comprendre pourquoi ils appelaient le Lac Baïkal une mer, considérant qu’il est si gigantesque et mystérieux en termes géologiques.
Le temps était très chaud de manière plutôt inattendue et il me fallut des heures pour finalement entrer dans ma tente pour y dormir un peu après ce qui fut une journée très intense.
Le jour suivant, j’aurais aimé avoir plus de nourriture de survie avec moi afin d’être capable de passer une autre nuit au même endroit. Ce premier jour en Russie fut extrêmement captivant et j’étais très conscient qu’il conditionnerait fort probablement toute la dynamique de l'ensemble de mon voyage à travers la Russie pour le mois à venir.
Néanmoins, je me trouvais dans un endroit vraiment isolé et sachant que je comptais sur mon pouce pour me déplacer, j’ai ainsi décidé de me diriger vers Slyudanka, une petite ville située directement sur la rive du lac, environ 200 km plus à l'ouest, où un hôte Couchsurfing m’attendait.
Finalement, je réussi à arriver à Slyudanka le même jour où une chambre confortable m’attendait dans une « banya ».
Une "banya" russe est une petite construction en bois, le plus souvent juxtaposée à la maison principale, où les résidents peuvent profiter d'un sauna et d’une piscine d'eau froide couverte.
J’ai passé 10 jours merveilleux autour du lac Baïkal, de ses plages de sable, où j’ai nagé de nombreuses fois dans ses eaux froides transparentes, à ses sommets et taïga environnants que je parcouru pendant quelques jours dans le froid et la pluie avec mes amis fraîchement rencontrés; Angelika et Anastasiya.
En outre, l'ensemble de ce sentiment fut probablement amplifié car la Russie fut le premier pays «occidental» que je traversais depuis que je avais quitté l'Europe, en Novembre 2012. Après cela, j’ai passé deux mois au Moyen-Orient et un an et demi immergé dans la culture hindoue, en Inde et au Népal. Après avoir voyagé par voie terrestre à travers la Chine et la Mongolie, la Russie était comme un prolongement de terre complètement étranger à tout ce qu’il y avait autour, un peu comme une extension de l'Europe de l'Est au fin fond de l'Extrême-Orient.
Cependant, je ne crois pas que cela était la seule raison pour laquelle je me sentais intensément connecté à ces personnes. Il y avait quelque chose de plus éthéré derrière ce sentiment, comme si j'avais déjà passé toute une vie en Russie.
Dans l'ensemble, je suis tombé amoureux avec la gentillesse, l'hospitalité et l'ouverture d'esprit de la population, avec la sensualité de la langue et avec la splendeur et la pureté des paysages, surtout quand il s’agissait du Lac Baïkal et de ses nombreuses légendes et mythes, le tout étant en harmonie avec sa fille unique, Angora, la rivière qui coule vers Irkoutsk.
Je faisais partie de la vie de ces personnes et ils faisaient partie de la mienne, à faire ensemble ce que les autochtones font ensemble, de traîner dans un parc ou au bord du lac à jouer au basket et trekker.
Ce fut une expérience vraiment complète dans sa totalité.
Ce fut assez tristement que j’ai finalement quitté Slyudanka pour retourner vers l’est et Ulan Ude.
Après avoir fait du stop toute la journée, je suis arrivé à Ulan Ude où je devais rencontrer un des amis de Nikolay, que j'avais rencontré quand je m’étais rendu en stop sur Baikal lors de mon tout premier jour en Russie. Encore une fois, Tout est Connecté.
J’ai rencontré Dima sur la Place Lénine au crépuscule puis nous rendirent visite à l’un de ses amis pour que je puisse une douche bien méritée.
Voilà comment j’ai rencontré Marius et sa jolie famille; Je devais prendre une douche chez lui avant de cuisiner et dormir chez Dima et j’ai fini par finalement passer trois jours et trois nuits avec Marius, son épouse Adrianna et leurs magnifiques et brillants quatre enfants.
Ensuite, il fut temps de repartir et malheureusement quitter ces belles personnes, pour une période de temps indéfinie, après de nombreux câlins échangés pour recharger mes batteries et amasser le plus d’énergies positives possibles avant de faire du stop jusqu’à Vladivostok, à environ 4000 km de là, sachant que j’avais déjà fait 1000 km en stop depuis que j'avais traversé la frontière russe.
En fait, je suppose que dans un monde meilleur, serrer les gens dans nos bras serait probablement la manière "officielle" pour saluer les gens et leur dire au revoir.
Le premier jour en stop depuis Ulan Ude ne m'a pas amené très loin. J’ai eu besoin de six voitures différentes pour couvrir à peine 300 km, mais c’était une belle journée ensoleillée et j’aime vraiment m’asseoir sur mes sacs à dos pour contempler la nature environnante, surtout dans un endroit magnifique comme la Sibérie.
Alors que j’étais avec mon quatrième conducteur de la journée, après qu’il m’ait demandé de jouer de la guitare dans la voiture, ce que j’ai fait pendant un certain temps, il prit une autre auto-stoppeuse sur la route, qui était restée bloquée sur la route considérant que le camion dans lequel elle voyageait était tombé en panne.
Voilà comment je rencontré Masha, une jeune russe de 21 ans qui faisait du stop toute seule depuis Saint-Pétersbourg et dont les parents vivait à Vladivostok, où elle se rendait également. Nous décidâmes spontanément de faire du stop ensemble, au moins pour essayer, et on verrait bien par la suite comment les choses se dérouleraient.
En fait, nous eûmes deux autres conducteurs ensemble avant le coucher du soleil. Tout se passa parfaitement bien et notre connexion était géniale, avec même de la nourriture et des boissons offertes par nos chauffeurs sur la route. Nous décidâmes de continuer ensemble le lendemain.
Le lendemain, donc, et ainsi le deuxième jour depuis que j’avais quitté Ulan Ude, Macha et moi rencontrâmes un chauffeur de camion, Igor, 44 ans, qui nous dit plus tard qu'il nous avait vu faire de l'auto-stop sur sa route deux fois la veille. En fait, il avait fait demi-tour pour venir nous chercher. Igor conduisait d'Irkoutsk à Vladivostok et était ravi de nous avoir tous les deux pour les 3700 km restants, et nous étions très enthousiastes quant à l'aventure exceptionnelle qui nous attendait.
En outre, Igor nous permit de dormir à l’arrière du camion, qui était à moitié vide ... ou à moitié plein, en fonction de la perception de chacun, de sorte que nous n’ayons pas à dormir dans ma tente dans la nuit déjà fraîche de Sibérie.
Les quatre jours suivants furent très mouvementés puisque nous conduisîmes jusqu’à Vladivostok, avec jusqu'à 19 heures de conduite par jour et habituellement moins de 4 heures de sommeil par nuit. Nous étions complètement épuisés mais la bonne chose était que je pouvais profiter de tous les couchers et levers de soleil sur le chemin.
J’ai eu l'occasion de prendre des photos exceptionnelles à travers le large pare-brise du camion, surtout à l'aube lorsque des nappes de brume envahissaient la taïga avec le soleil levant luttant pour les pénétrer, donnant naissance à un magnifique jeu de couleurs pastelles, ce qui était excellent pour rester positif toute la journée.
Masha et moi arrivâmes finalement à Vladivostok sains et saufs, même si, évidemment, nous avions besoin d'un bon repos pendant quelques jours afin de récupérer de nos voyages épiques respectifs, depuis Saint-Pétersbourg pour elle et depuis Oulan-Bator pour moi.
Masha avait contacté ses parents entre temps afin de leur demander si je pouvais rester chez eux pendant quelques jours, ce que je fis avec grand plaisir. Ils vivaient dans la périphérie de la ville et l’endroit ressemblait beaucoup plus à une campagne paisible, avec leur propres poules pondeuses, dindes, oies, potager et la fantastique banya bien entendu.
Je suis finalement resté chez les parents de Masha pour près d'une semaine car ils étaient vraiment heureux de m’avoir et me traitèrent comme un membre de la famille.
Dans l'ensemble, j’ai vraiment apprécié Vladivostok. La ville était assez charmante et je me suis senti privilégié de la visiter avec mes amis locaux, Masha et son petit ami Sasha, qui m’amenèrent à tous les endroits où les touristes ne vont pas, comme les restes des bunkers souterrains cachés et à peu près toutes les collines de la ville afin que nous puissions y contempler le coucher de soleil au quotidien.
Je ne me suis jamais senti en danger quand j’errais dans les rues la nuit comme on avait pu me le dire, ni aucunement ressenti une forme d'étroitesse d'esprit, sachant que la ville fut fermée aux étrangers pour des préoccupations géopolitiques de 1930 à 1992.
Après tout, Vladivostok est telle une destination touristique russe typique où les gens aiment l’agréable climat et la beauté de l'environnement, comme cela est le cas à Brighton, en Angleterre ou à Nice, en France, avec des cultures différentes, mais des caractéristiques similaires.
Après avoir vadrouillé dans et autour Vladivostok de manière plutôt conséquente avec Masha et Sasha, je me rendis chez mon deuxième et dernier hôte Couchsurfing russe pour deux jours, qui habitait beaucoup plus proche du centre-ville, afin de pouvoir gérer le billet de bateau vers le Japon.
Le plus étonnant était que même si j'avais passé excellent moment en Russie et avais manqué de rien sur mon chemin, j'avais à peine dépensé $ 100 au cours de mon séjour de 3 semaines là-bas, ce qui signifiait qu’il me restait exactement 305 dollars en poche, principalement pour le billet de ferry pour me rendre au Japon, ma prochaine destination. En d'autres termes, il s’agissait à peu près de ce dont j’avais besoin pour quitter la Russie dans les temps et aller au Japon, tel que cela avait été pensé à l'origine.
Néanmoins, quand je suis arrivé au port de Vladivostok pour acheter le billet, on m'a dit que les billets de la classe économique avaient été vendus et que je devais acheter un billet de première classe pour près de 400 dollars, ce que dont je n’avais bien pas les moyens .
Après 30 minutes d'intenses négociations, j’ai finalement réussi à obtenir un billet de première classe pour le prix de celui de la classe économique à 288 USD.
J’étais là, prêt à me diriger vers le Japon avec 17 dollars restants dans ma poche et pas de compte bancaire. En fait, quand la plupart des voyageurs auraient paniqué face à cette situation et seraient probablement rentrés chez eux, j’étais, pour ma part, vraiment excité à ce sujet.
J’étais en contact avec un hôte qui résidait dans la campagne de l'île de Shikoku, au sud du Japon, mais je n’avais pas la moindre idée à propos de la façon dont j’y arriverais sans argent, dans un pays aussi cher, et ce même si j’arrivais à faire du stop jusque là.
Je n’avais également aucune idée de ce qui se passerait par la suite pour que je puisse quitter le Japon dans les temps.
Ensuite, j’aurais soit très peu d'argent ou trois mois (période autorisée sans visa) pour trouver un emploi et générer un peu d'argent, en attendant de voir ce qui s’épuiserait en premier, le temps ou l'argent, les deux principales choses qui m’étaient devenues presque insignifiantes au cours de mon Voyage.
Cependant, cela n’avait pas vraiment d'importance car j’avais encore un périple en bateau de 2 jours sur la mer du Japon et de nouvelles aventures passionnantes à venir. J’étais devenu capable à la fois de profiter d’un instant au maximum et de regarder vers l'Inconnu avec l’Insouciance d’un Enfant.
Peu importe ce qui allait suivre, j’étais fin prêt à y faire face et commencer un nouveau chapitre de mon long voyage autour du monde, sachant que j'avais toujours su que la traversée de l'Océan Pacifique serait l'un des tournants les plus fondamentaux de mon Epopée.
Journey around the world overland since 2012.