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Recharging batteries


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Hi there beautiful people,

 

A lot of time since the last article, and also a lot of exciting adventures that I want to tell you about.

 

After two weeks spent in the Pyrénées with my friend Jim. One morning, I felt the need to move. Something was tickling in my feets. I packed up, said goodbye -I do not like those moments, I’d rather like to be quick- and took the road back.

Well, to be honest, I needed to make an other goodbye. The kind of person that makes you realise that you are still alive. Still a Human. This goodbye takes more time though. Because sometimes, attachment is stronger than what it seems. Like a sweet dream that you do not want to be awaken from.

 

A few  days earlier, friends recently met during Nowhere festival invited me to join them in a farm in Dordogne, France. One of the curiosity of the farm is the self-sufficiency. Almost everything besides electricity and telephone is produced on site. The current project is to build a house with old tyres, clay, bamboo sticks and other natural and ecological materials.

 

During  this hitch-hike trip, I met admirable people, always having nice conversations about how the world could change with our own actions. Talking about our responsibility into this process, this paradigm shift that we are living in the contemporary society. The consciousness of a change that arises into people’s minds.

I discovered a strange part of myself . During those conversations, sometimes I slightly changed the reality, the nature of my experiences. I still do not know why. Probably to please the other person. Stupid way of doing so. I mean, if this person has stopped, this person does not need more explanations about my life. This person wants to help me so why create a story that enhance me ?

I presume that the single observation of this aspect of my personality is one step into the right direction. Assuming that I am not « doing right ».

 

A lot of different people helped me during these days and I am very thankful to all of them. Besides the rides, I had the opportunity of exposing my last thoughts and inspirations to those anonymous persons. Every time that I left a car, I was richer than before, with new perspectives. It was not an anonymous person anymore but an eye-opener. I left a friend. Relations should not be defined with time boundaries or so. Sometimes, it can not be explained withsense. It is simply living.

 

The few days passed in the farm where great. For once in my life, I felt useful while working. It was such a relief to work so modestly. The persons that I have met where really interesting. Different folks who are living alternative ways of life, who opted for changing their future. Trying to find new paths also, connecting with this paradigm shift that I have in my mind.

It is obvious, because I also decided to change my life, everything is now connecting to my interests. I think that because I have left behind me what did not make me happy, my senses are now widely open to hear and to feel what is good for me, what pleases me the most. Always looking forward.

 

A whole lot of new ideas in my mind, I come back to Belgium, just for a few hours before to go to the north of Holland. Friends are now my drivers. We make a quick stop in Paris. Quiet Paris in the XIVth district. Quiet Paris in august. Just the time to eat, I do not want to sleep here, back to the country.

Without Nowhere festival, I would never have met you : Harmony, Yohann & Cindy, you were the lights on my long way. You helped me going through the changes that affected my journey.

 

It makes me feel awkward to come back home. I know those roads, houses and trees by heart. But everything seem so different. My look has changed.

A shower and a nice bed. Short night before to leave Belgium. Going in the direction of Friesland. A beautiful region in the North of Holland that my friend Thibault asked me to visit with him.

Total shift in terms of landscape. In fifteen days, I went through the spanish desertic fields of Aragon, through the overcrowded city of Barcelona, through the mountains of Pyrénées, through the green country lanes of Dordogne and now, the North Sea !

We visited the island of Schiermonnikoog, a protected area with tons of birds, sandy shores and also, a hell lot of wind. Hopefully, the Sun rised at the end of the morning and let us admire the beauties of the island.

At the end of the day, it is time for me to join the road again. Heading to Greece. Time to say goodbye my friend.

 

Tonight, I ignore where I will be sleeping. I walk for almost two hours along the highway and, exhausted, I sleep on this pretty shitty rest area, south of Groningen.

Once in Germany, old demons came back. A young guy stops to take me to the next city, I grab my backpack and drop it on the backseat. Once the door is closed, the car is a starting, accelerating fast on the highway ramp. And I am here, without nothing, in the North of Germany. This must be a joke, some sort of specificity of the German humour that I have not discovered yet. Or the guy did not see me going into the car. I feel all my body shaking, everything is going so fast in my mind. This morning, I decided to put passport and money into my trouser pockets. Usually, everything stays in the backpack. A very happy coincidence.

What should I do ? Run into the next city or wait until this guy comes back ? I waited for a time that seems very long but finally, my driver is coming back and apologise a lot. He did not realised that I was not in the car. After a couple of kilometres, without answers to his questions, he looked on the backseat. U-turn.

After these afternoon emotions, I decide to walk for some hours. I sleep in the front of a church, rain pouring around me. Lightnings in the sky.

 

I wake up early after a short and not very relaxing night. My first ride offers me the breakfast. Maybe a better day than the previous one.

It is strange. I always have something in common, something to share with my fellow drivers. For most of them, they also made a lot of hitch-hiking when they where younger. Some sort of brotherhood and mutual assistance comes with the time spent in the vehicle. The exchanges of informations, beliefs, ideas makes both of us renew our minds at the end of the ride.

At the end of this day, I entered into former DDR. All of my meals have been offered and Petra, my last ride, leaves me a little bit of money into my hands : « Go eat something ! ». Sometimes, help comes from the unexpected ones. I did not thinked, even one second, that my story since Spain could make people so happy to hear it, or so helpful with me. Of course, this is not a very common story but let’s be honest, everything is fine for me. I eat every day and I can sleep in a relative comfort every night.

 

Nights and days are following each other until Praha, where I decide to take some rest via the Couchsurfing.org network. I was welcomed by a very nice family. Kateřina And Tomás are taking care of me with kindness. They make me discover the beautiful capital of Czech republic while going out of the classic tourists spots. I really enjoyed it. I also discover a country splitted in two for vague reasons. The former Tchecoslovakia and the actual Czech and Slovak republics seem so close for their inhabitants. Language, culture, customs are almots the same. An other political choice that has not received the approval of the population.

I go out of the city with a big smile on my face, lots of memories in my mind and well-rested. I arrive the same day in Slovakia. The border is pretty ugly. Lot of trucks parked. The night is falling and I arrive in Bratislava. It gets darker, it rains more and more and I ring at the first door because I do not know where to sleep tonight in the city.

I was warmly welcomed by a nice family. Patrick and Ivetka are so nice with me. I sleep like a baby and during the delicious breakfast, we talk a lot about philosophy and religion. We shared a lot over christianism. Patrick is believer, I am absolutely not. We agree both on the facts that behind the curtains, there is a lot of good philosophy inside the Bible. He offers me a copy of the Bible because I have told him that I want to read it once in my life. My travel is opening my mind, even though my non-beliefs to any religion stays. Being interested into something does not mean accepting everything. This is critical thinking. And my curiosity that drives me.

I am driven at the Hungarian border with all the support of Patrick.

 

A guy and his wife accept to drives me to Budapest but asks for some money for the diesel. Deep inside me, I find that this is ridiculous. I only have two hundreds Czech Koruna with me, merely eight euros. I feel stupid giving this money. At the same time, I do not care. At least I am going forward. But I won’t pay again for being driven in the future. Lesson learned.

I do some « fast-food tourism » in Budapest. An other crowded city who smells pollution and dirt. Too much for me. I take the train to go out of the city and I try to join the highway back. This is not for tonight. I sleep in the middle of nowhere. I am getting happier while the distance between the city and me is growing. I feel the lone wolf part of me arising tonight.

This day sucks. No cars, bad roads, very few traffic. I realise in the end of the afternoon that it is Sunday today. I yell, I curse the heavens. It won’t change nothing. I remember the sentence of my friend Jérôme : « You already have a negative answer with you, so if you do not ask, you will stay with this one and if you ask, the worst scenario leads to what you already have. »

I take note of this one but I am still on my nerves. I take a nap and continue to walk, it will calm my soul down.

This evening, I arrive in a city suburb. The supermarket is still open at a very late hour. I buy some junk food and eat it to compensate my lack of courage this day. I never asked anybody any help. I have just made some passive hitch hiking while raising my thumb up. I have delayed the necessity of taking actions and I focused on complaining.

I know that asking the question is much more easier but it requires confidence and courage. Tonight, those feelings have escaped me. Maybe that I am too tired

The family moto is « Spe & Constancia » which is translated by hope and perseverance. I always had the hope. I am a dreamer afterall. I begin to understand that I lack practical works for the perseverance.

First lesson of perseverance.

 

I sleep under a bus shelter.

I wake myself up with the early workers, five o’clock. They seem afraid of me (do I look like a homeless person ?). I walk for three hours on the side of the road, my feets are so wet because of the morning dew.

I am grumbling since six in the morning.

I fall asleep in the car of my first drive. A twenty five minutes ride that shorten the distance with the Serbian border. However. his thought makes me smile during this short siesta.

My next ride is a security guy. When he stops on the side of the road, I am frightened. May I walk on side of the road ? Nothing of that, the guy is just helpful.

I was dropped at the Serbian border by a mom and her daughter -it’s true that the serbian girls are very pretty-. They recommend me to ask to other people, stuck at the border, if they can drive me further. It pays for. Less than five minutes later, I have a ride heading to Beograd.

Second lesson of perseverance.

 

My Ukrainian driver is going fastt, so the two hundred kilometres are done in less than an hour and thirty minutes.

After Beograd, a guy stops. He calls a friend of him who translate into english. Very nice attention. After a few minutes, he shows me his police plate. Damn’ ! What have I done ? Nothing to worry about, he is not on duty. This must probably be my « institutional forces day » . I feel uncomfortable when he talks to me about his former sniper role during the war. He is proud of having killed seventeen enemies.

I am balanced between being happy for his kindness or feeling awkward having been driven by an ex-soldier…

It makes me think about the war. What is changing after a war ? Borders have been settled, so what ? Everybody takes his own life back, having a job, having a family. Nothing is really changed in the end. This nationalist feeling, this pride makes me feel bad.

 

Then comes Slavko. When I first talked to this trucker, he was rude, pretty busy while checking his trailer. Then after some time, he came back to me asking me what I want.

This guy has been nice, simple, generous. Plus it was a three hundred and fifty kilometres ride. The night was falling down so he asked me : « Where are you sleeping tonight ? » (try to roll the r). « Here and there, I answered, I have my hammock with me ». « No way, it is cold and dangerous on the highway rest area ! I have an other bed in the truck. You sleep here » .

Besides this help, his simplicity fascinated me. Simple life, simple actions but everything was so truthful and so full of life. In any of his moves or words.

The morning after, he leaves me not so far from the Macedonian border with my third lesson of perseverance : always ask !

 

I fall onto an other guy who is proud of his country, he compares me the Albanians in Serbia with the Mexicans migrating in USA.

My silence is the price to pay for my ride. But I do not like these kind of thoughts.

Then a Turkish trucker can drive me from the Serbia-Macedonia border to Thessaloniki in Greece. That is hell of a long distance.

His English is very hazardous -mine too actually, but this is not the point- but we can communicate. He explains me about the Dutch and German having the reputation of being gays. I explain to him that the mentality in these countries about the gay and lesbian communities is positive, people are open-minded. So he decided to ask me to « go out of the road for five minutes. C’mon Nico, you’ll like it ». Pretty straight-to-the-point. I refuse, staying polite and gentle with him. And then this never-ending silence. I am totally knocked out and tired but I resist to fall asleep. He begins to talk again and explains me that in Turkey, the Muslims are against the homosexuals, that he has a family and a wife -he had nobody in his life few minutes earlier-, that all the Turkish community in Belgium is full of Kurds, they do not speak Turkish but Kurdish. He explains me that the Kurds have killed many Turkish people.

I am not feeling comfortable at all. Tired, there is still more than hundred kilometres to do in his truck on small roads. This ride will be very long.

I feel relieved when he says that he must stop at the border because he finishes his shift on the tachometer.

This morning, Slavko told me about the Kosovo war. It was only due to the resources that are in the Kosovo grounds. That the medias have spreaded the so-called hate between the communities in this region. And all of this mess to receive US depleted uranium bombs on families, friends and childrens.

Finally, what makes me feel bad is not the national pride, but the pride itself. This absolute negation of other’s people way of thinking. The non-tolerance about the differences.

I can not choose my road comrades for sure. But I can think and have my own mind about it. I do not know if I can still handle with pricks in the future.

 

Finally, I arrive in Thessaloniki with the help of this Greek singer. He can not speak a single word in English but he finds a friend who speaks German -better than nothing- tells me the name of every single object in Greek and drives me into the city center after having driven me through the mountains to his village. This Elvis-Presley-looking man was very funny and he was smiling all the time. A very good way to finish the day. Joy can not hurt.

I sleep in the bus station, waiting for the first bus to Lefkadas. Those encounters have probably calmed my hitch-hiking intentions and I am tired of being on noisy highways.

 

It is almost four o’clock in the afternoon and I finally arrive to Lefkas island to meet my friends. They will arrive in a couple of days. I take some time to visit, to be with myself again, to take some rest on the beach.

Those wonderful beaches with small pebbles and lovely turquoise waters.

This week is still too fresh in my mind to tell something about me. I know that I have met lovely people, lovely improvisers. And I am glad to have spent some time with them.

 

Today, I am on the road again. Heading to North. Croatia first. I have an opportunity of playing in a movie in Belgium -still waiting for the casting news- or I can go work into the wine yards in France.

Or maybe an other project that can pop out suddenly.

Never bet on something when travelling.

 

I give you sunny thoughts dear followers,

 

Enjoy yourselves as I am enjoying this trip.

 

 

 


3 comments on “Recharging batteries”

 

  • maite

    09.7, 2014 at 12:04

    waouwwww
    following you , reading you ,just waouwww this adventure ! ENJOY !

  • nandi

    09.16, 2014 at 9:56

    you forgot to tell a little about Albania
    i passed you from borders of greece!!

  • Nico

    09.19, 2014 at 5:09

    I do not forgot my friend. There is so many people to tell about and to thanks :) You are one of my many helpers/drivers.

    Definitely I have learned a lot about Albania with your help.


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