A short story
A few years
in a life
I left France in 2015 not knowing what I was getting myself into.
I left hungry for adventure and eager to discover the world. What I didn’t realize back then was that my mean of transportation would transcend me to the point where I would genuinely feel alive and that it would allow me to witness incredible things.
Traveling on a bicycle, you get to live a dense experience, you meet many people on the way. You have time to share and learn, to appreciate life at a human pace. A recurring question people asked was, “Why do you travel?” Well, everyone does it for their own reason. I travel because it’s fun. After all, it makes me happy. I try and stay as a kid, always discovering the world with an innocent eye and experiencing new things. The world is an amazing place filled with such incredible people.
It is what drove me to keep on exploring, to climb all those hills and mountains, to fight strong winds in those endless flats, and to let those raindrops wet me to my core. Traveling on a bicycle, you hardly ever meet any tourists, unless you choose to. Most of the time, you are in touch with the people, the real ones, not the busy stressed-out city ones. You eat with farmers and truck drivers. The sun defines the rhythm of your days. Most of the time, you shower, cook and sleep in the wild. You forget all the comfort and assistance our civilized lives lock us in.
You realize how the simple things are all you need to feel truly happy, and you learn to appreciate the little pluses; a bed to sleep on, the privacy and comfort of a warm shower, a kitchen, a roof, access to electricity, and the internet, a fireplace to keep warm and dry your wet shoes. The list seems infinite as we have surrounded ourselves with so much.
Traveling on a bicycle and taking the time to appreciate all your surroundings is a unique experience. There are little shocks, cultural or physical. You didn’t just arrive; you are on your way. The road is the destination, and it makes your immersion into a country, its people, and its culture: a real journey. It allows you to grasp what life is really like in the places you find yourself in. Traveling on a bike makes you different from other people’s eyes.
You came here by bike! From where? Where to? You intrigue people. Therefore they react differently than they would with other foreigners because even though you do not belong here, you came here on your own, pushing on those pedals. They are curious, friendly. They want knowledge, not your dollars. Sometimes you can’t even pay for lunch because they feel privileged you have stopped in their village and spend time with them. They admire the way you travel and want to help you keep on going; they feel like they are doing a good thing by helping you out.
This is why I only came back 4 years later ...
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