And that was going on for a month. Seven days a week, 10 hours a day. But it was fucking awesome. Among many other things, I crashed a Mercedes, the police took me for illegal ice cream distributing (but first I gave away everything on the beach I had in the cart thingy - the kids went crazy), we were dumpster-diving and digging out feasts from the trash, climbing mountains. Hosting my friends on their Europe trip. Oh yeah, once my friends left me in Cannes after a party, with no money, phone or shoes. Fun fun fun.
And I was preparing my trip to Norway.
(Thanks for the photo, Kisanna)
There was this guy. After the hike in the canyon once again ended up at the lake for the night, and I’ve noticed that I was not the only one. I was curious about this man, partly because I haven’t spoken to anyone in days, and party because if someone doesn’t go to a camping, but sets up his tent at private property, can be interesting. The guy - I can’t recall his name - was around sixty, Italian painter, and comes here every summer to sell his paintings. He came with a scooter from Sicily and had as much stuff as many could fit on it. No wonder, the discussion started with ease and soon I realized that I was dealing with a real traveler. We were talking a lot about life, about the world. It felt good when he said that he’d like to see more young people like me. He told me about how he started off every summer, by hitch-hiking, stop for a week or two to harvest fruits, get some money; he was always reading, and once he finished a book he switched to whatever second hand bookstores gave him. And the time when he spent two months on motorbike with a girl in Spain, and they said goodbye to each other at the end of summer. They didn’t even think about changing addresses They were just traveling. Ten years later he heard about the girl again, she had a child. Of him.It was when he met his daughter for the first time. Since then they keep in touch, but not really. He’s still traveling.
The next morning I bumped into him in the village, when he was putting up his pictures. I had to leave, towards Toulon, I had to start working soon in the ice-cream business. While shaking hands, I told him that I hoped one day he finds out where he was actually heading, after so much traveling. I will never forget his answer: “If one day I arrive someplace, I’ll shoot myself in the head. If I’m on the road, then I am at home already. “
I ended up hitching down to the nearby lake, found a quiet place and set up the tent, probably on private property. The sun started to set behind the mountains around, the water felt warm, and I felt stinky. A swim in the bluest lake I’ve ever seen and I was feeling much better.
In the morning headed to the canyons of Verdon, which startedat the other end of the lake, and the river was sneaking through it for long miles. But I wouldn’t like to go in details about the following days. A lot of hiking, much more starving and thirstiness. And much more great shots.
Phil paid me for beer and handed me over a cigaretteful of hash as a good-bye present, than I headed towards the Verdon. By the evening I arrived in Moustier-St-Marie, a village carved in the mountains. Tiny place, very nice, but it was full of tourists. This is the last village before the canyon. I didn’t have much food left, I wanted to buy a baguette, but I could not find it anywhere. The bakery was sold out, the seller treated me condescendingly like a tourist or something, of course she had no idea where to buy any. They were everywhere. That dumb kind, the one who comes here with his caravan for twenty-five years already, planned everything in advance, spends his money on souvenirs, takes a photo of basically everything, wears his waist bag on his belly, usually good humored and kind even. French, German, Dutch all siti n restaurants and listen to live music. And they have mistaken me for one of those. There was this morning when I was walking alone for ten kilometers, not a soul for miles away, I loved everything in the world and wanted to embrace everyone. Now a million people around, and I felt terribly alone. I climbed a small path over the village, rolled a cigarette and stared at them from above. Then I thought of something and a huge smile spread across my lips: I have no idea where I’m going to sleep tonight..
I arrived to the last checkpoint of my trip, the valleys of Verdon, the biggest canyons in Europe. Some more amazing shots coming!
Around Gap I’ve planned a hike in the Alps, but things turned out differently, because Phil has offered me a lift all the way down to South. Came in handy, after the previous day’s hitch-hiking experience I had to accept it. I loved this guy. 36 years old and earns his living of playing the double bass in jazz bands. His whole being radiates peace and poise, with a sufficient amount of I-don’t-give-a-shit. Gap is nice, a small rural town, and you can discover the center in a couple of hours of walking. It was summer, I was at an outdoor concert, sipping beer, sitting on the ground with a guy, with whom we understood each other perfectly. He was born in Baltimore, was a soldier in Alaska, traveled in shitloads of countries, plans to speak 5 languages fluently before he’s 50, and he looked like someone who does not understand the word ‘career’. He was happy. Oh, and he had a huge beard. Maybe that’s the secret.
We left the next morning, it was really hard to fit two people and a cumbersome instrument in a tiny Peugeot 205, but we managed. He was talking about his ex-wife when I burst out of laughing. I didn’t mean to interrupt or to be rude, but I saw the most hilarious thing ever. I’m sorry, but I need to share this with you. As we were riding, a guy appeared in an electric wheelchair, walking his dog in the middle of the road. Yes, right in the middle of a five lane road. And as if the dog would have understood that it was not a place to be, it ran behind the wheelchair, stood up on his legs and started to PUSH THE OLD GUY!
Dear road D93. You motherfucker. The road to Gap was not incredibly long, but no one stopped. I have no clue how many kilometers I walked in the sun. At least thirty. Even people who picked me up left the main road after 500m . That’s how hitch-hiking works. It’s a matter of attitude, and at this point I’ve already given up. That’s why it’s not working if you’re a beginner, and that’s why you’ll be incredibly lucky, when you need it the most and I really want to get somewhere. Anyways, I just needed a hippie to pass by, (they always stop) it gave me hope for the rest. She lived in the van with her son that she was driving. A pretty cool mum. Then there was a guy with dreadlocks, working for a circus, who liked my story so much that he paid me a beer, and dropped me off at the center of Gap. Let’s go and find Phil, the couchsurfer!