Connessioni, il racconto di Alexis Lagorce, Warmshowers
Alexis Lagorce è un Warmshowers che ho consociuto ospitandolo a Genivolta qualche tempo fa. Lo sai come funziona Warmshowers? Serve ai viaggiatori, principalmente in bici, per farsi ospitare e per ospitare colleghi, una sorta di do ut des circolare il cui concetto mi ha da sempre affascinato. Si mette a disposizione casa propria (una stanza, un divano, uno scantinato, scegli tu) e chi viaggia nella tua zona può chiederti ospitalità – col preavviso che scegli tu.
Gratis, ovviamente. Questo perché tu inizia a ospitare, magari fatti scrivere due recensioni positive. Poi toccherà a te viaggiare, magari. E cercherai dove dormire, e ti verrà in mente che là fuori c’è una community di Warmshowers che fa quello che hai fatto tu, e magari troverai ospitalità proprio da uno di loro, di noi. Mi iscrissi prima della pandemia, e qualcuno riuscii a ospitarlo. Però sta stronza smorzò un po’ la voglia di incontrare gente, specialmente viaggiante, in casa. Poi in un modo o nell’altro ne siamo usciti, ed eccoci qua.
Alexis mi ha contattato qualche giorno prima del suo passaggio a Genivolta durante il suo primo e davvero coraggioso lungo viaggio (il ragazzo ha 19 anni) dalla Francia verso est, alla Grecia o alla Turchia, lo scoprirà durante il viaggio. Ho rispolverato un po’ di francese, ho fatto spesa per preparargli cena, trasformato il divano in letto per il viaggiatore e ho gonfiato le gomme per accompagnarlo un pezzo il giorno successive.
Grazie a questo incontro ho conosciuto una persona davvero speciale, un super viaggiatore, cui ho voluto chiedere qualche riflessione sul suo viaggio. Mi e ci fa davvero un grande regalo nel condividere la sua storia, un po’ come facciamo su Impronte – Storie a pedali, la rivista di racconti dei cicloviaggiatori, su cui vedrei molto bene questa storia. Come ha fatto Guido col suo magico racconto dell’Islanda del 1989…
Per non parlare di quando Warmshowers è servito a me, in viaggio. Ma di questo ti racconterò prossimamente, quando riprenderò in mano foto e video del viaggio in Italia con la splendida Marti.
Quello che leggerai qui sotto è un suo racconto – in inglese, dai che ho fiducia in te – del suo viaggio fino al momento in cui scrive, in Croazia.
E ora è ben più avanti, in Albania o forse già in Grecia!
Il racconto di Alexis, Warmshowers da Limoges
I’ve always dreamt of traveling. Who doesn’t? Since a few months, I looked for someone to travel with me. Someone with the same mindset, the same way of seeing the journey. A long journey, a discovering journey, a social journey, an ecological journey, a slow journey, a journey where the time does not exist anymore… Or almost anymore. I had to be back one year later to carry on my studies.
Suddenly, I realized that I was wrong. The quest was not about finding people to come with me. It was about finding myself. Then I packed my stuff, and I went off. Alone. Or not really. There was René, my bike, my best mate for this all-year long trip.
Today, it has been two months since I started. More than 3000 kilometers, and four countries crossed already.
Eating a fresh handmade Pounti d’Aveyron, a typic meal from this region made with a perfect blend of prune, chard, and pork. Riding the though cols of the Massif Central, savoring a glass of Cognac at the top with crazy hikers. Then going down its vertiginous slopes, and finally devouring a warm comforting Aligot – cheese, mashed potatoes, cream, garlic, what else? – with a native. I would have dreamt of this months ago. That was real.
Here, people do not talk a lot to travelers. I must present myself, show my interest in their culture, and they would possibly open their heart. Then I experience the dreamy views of the Esterel park. Mount Vinaigre, 618 meters, highest point of the park, a clear view of the sea and the horizon. My dearest wish would be coming back to France with a sailing boat. We’ll see. Arrived at the coast, I meet a skipper. His name is Rafael, a man born to travel. I understand that if I want to have the chance to be part of a crew, I’ll have to learn somewhere. Because boat owners don’t want people without sailing skills. That’s the next step…
I barely cross the border, and I find this farm. A small, self-sufficient, wood farm in the low Alps. The farmers speak not only Italian, but also Czech. I don’t speak Italian, neither Czech. I take advantage of the situation and I start learning Italian. Silvano speaks fast. Sometimes, I don’t understand. I ask to repeat. He repeats, the same way, the same speed. I still don’t understand. So, he carries on, and I just give up. But finally, after some days struggling with every word, I start understanding. What a satisfaction! Here, even though we work a lot in the forest and the garden, I experience the feeling of existing. Hiking in the snowy mountains, lighting fire in the stove, peeling chestnuts all day, savouring the delicious freshly made Monte Bianco – chestnut cream and whipped cream – with the same chestnuts we struggled with all day.
Then back on the road, I get used to firs and spruces – four punctures in two weeks. The freezing winter is now producing ice in my water bottles. After Torino, I follow the river Po. The landscapes here are boring, this is the flattest road I have ever seen. Therefore, I spend a lot of times in cities. I admire the gifted violinmakers of Cremona, the peaceful Certosa di Pavia, the piano virtuosos playing publicly in the city center… Above all, the Parmigiano Reggiano fifty months old, salted, and strong.
My daily routine becomes riding under the rain, drying shoes, struggling under the snow, drying shoes and clothes, sleeping under the storm, drying everything until every bit of my skin.
Finally, the “Ciclovia del Po” drive me to the Adriatic Sea where I reach the Slovenian borders. What I find here brings me the best feeling I have ever gone through since I started: mountains. Words are not strong enough to express the freedom and well-being that I feel at the sight of those hills along the coast.
One day, thirty-four kilometers, by night. As you can imagine, I don’t know much about the country. Apart from the fact that it is the best developed cyclable path that I have ever taken and will probably ever take on the route. Slovenians, bravo!
New year, new country, new language, new resolutions, new way of traveling. It all begins with Nicola. Then Peteh. Those aliens do not use smartphones. I feel lost. I used to check my smartphone every time, to post every day on social networks, to follow the GPS. I felt anxious as my battery was going down. I suddenly realize that social media have become my daily goal…
What would I be without my smartphone, what would define me without the thousand photos I took?
From now on, I will stop using the GPS. I start trusting the road signs, asking people for directions, deciding day by day what is the next stop. I also stop posting every day.
Just when I feel it, no more constraints.
This was the best decision I could take. It is a little less comfortable. However, I experience now proper adventure. And it is a lot easier to connect with people around me. «Dobar Dan», «Bravo», «Ugodan dan». That is about exchanging a word, a glance, a smile and the connection is created. Speaking with natives is not the simplest thing, but when it happens, it is wonderful. People have a lot of advice. They always want to protect me from the big bad world. They want me to try their home-made food, because «it’s better here than in any other house». I also have to visit this «must see place» and listen to the «best singer of all times».
Connection. That would be the keyword of the story. I ask every person I meet what their mantra is. Dejan’s one is «connection».
I feel this connection when the sun is finally shining after days of rain.
I feel it when I am so amazed by nature around me that I have to stop the bicycle and gaze.
I feel it when after several tries struggling with the wood, the fire is finally starting.
I feel it when after a tough day of wind and heavy rain, this woman rolls down the car window to invite me in her place.
Occasionally, I experience this deep sense that everything is interconnected. It is above words.
Today, I realize that I have been traveling for two months. Thousands of eye-contacts, hundreds of smiles, tens of meetings, and a few precious moments etched in my memory forever.
By the way, I am writing these words on my road book, a proper book, with proper ink carved in the paper. I will put it on a digital form, but for now, I enjoy the pleasure of writing. In this small coffee shop in Rijeka, enveloped by the brouhaha of Croatians speaking, I savor the contrast of this warm atmosphere and the heavy rain outside.
E bravo Alexis, grazie per essere passato – totalmente a caso – da Genivolta, anche grazie a quella genialata che è Warmshowers, per aver condiviso con me e con i lettori la tua storia. Ci incontreremo di nuovo per le strade del mondo e mi racconterai tutti inuovi viaggi che avrai affrontato. Intanto a te un grande in bocca al lupo.
E tu che leggi, se cerchi racconti di viaggio sfoglia Impronte.