Jan, qui anime avec énergie un site d’informations dédié à l’univers du footbike, et qui avait déjà pris le temps de traduire un long entretien pendant ce Tour d’Europe, m’a à nouveau contactée pour recueillir quelques impressions à peine finie l’épopée continentale.
L’article est en tchèque, mais voici la version anglaise originale, pour ceux qui pratiquent la langue de Shakespeare :)
10 novembre 2016 : Entretien écrit avec Jan, de Kolobezkovy Portal.
« Blandine, we were in touch last time when you were around Nordkapp. How was Norway actually?
Norway was stunning. The northern part showed extreme contrasts, and though it was full of wild life and vegetation, I could also imagine how winters would make the whole thing still and frozen, more harsh yet. Actually, I realized afterwards how demanding it had been to me, because as soon as I reached southerner latitudes and the weather lost of its hectic character, my wild life (setting camp and spending nights outside, facing humidity and winds) turned more relaxed and felt like « holiday » touring. I keep very intense memories of the Arctic zone, and I will remember that period as a time when I reached a goal that was in sight since I began to kick north again in Minor Asia, so I was boosted with an almost shamanic energy, and afterwards, I had to find how to switch to another set of mind, yet still being in very special surroundings and weather.
Norway is massive. It’s living, the mountains and seas are as one big animal that distorts and reacts to the cold, the crazy winds, and the lights (so much in summer and so little in winter). It felt as if I could be trapped or taken by the somber summits; the cliffs, the rocks and the mounts are old and demand respect. Norway felt like it can be paradise, but turn into a deadly trap just in a second. I learnt much I believe there. I had the chance of living the white nights there (when there is daylight all night long), and also of seing an aurora borealis (they appear at the beginning of autumn) just before being too much south.
In Norway, country of extremes, I also experienced two extremes of my personal journey, I lived the hardest days and nights, and the happiest ones, when I found a way of living that set me « free ». I spoke of this in my last article on the blog « The Philosopher in the dumpster » [Diogène dans la benne, version fr] which relates the ethical conclusions I drew empirically from that period.
And then, the more I kicked towards the Gaelic, Anglo-saxon Europe, the more I met a familiar environment, but I could sense the Viking and Scandinavian cultural components much better. I felt that Scotland was a cristal condensation a European far western history, between North and South. Just as I felt during the whole kicking through the Balkans, Turkey and and Central Europe, the culturally fruitful tension and exchanges between the East and the West.
As far as I know, you were thinking about two ways of your journey. Why have you chosen going by to the Britain?
I think you are referring to the moment in Bergen when I wondered about going south through Denmark, Germany and Holland or going to the Faroe Islands?
The thing is, maritime passengers liaisons have disappeared between Norway and Scotland (UK). Culturally it was interesting to notice that, but for the purpose of the Europe tour, where I wanted initially to hop from Bergen to the north of Scotland, it was a complication. I knew I could reached by boat the Faroe Islands which are very near the Shetland Islands (UK), but from the Faroe there would be no boat, and plane was not an option in this journey. I would have to find a solution there, and was thinking about finding a cargo boat, but it’s very hard nowadays to board such vessels as a passenger, because of growing laws and bureaucracy.
I did not know what to choose, safety of the south itinerary that I was sure I could kick all along, or risking being stuck in the Faroe, with no money or alternatives to escape, but with a more adventurous angle. So I proposed to the online community to choose for me :) I was ready to do both of them. And they sent me to the Faroe, where I found a cargo boat sailing to Scotland, that accepted me on board, in less than 24 hours, after a day of research and making contacts… It was an incredible experience ! So this is how I reached the UK and Scotland.
So How was Scotland and Ireland?
I described what I felt about Scotland in the first answer, but I can add that Norway trained me well to windy and rainy conditions, that make also the reputation of Scotland. It felt easy, and after one or two days of adaptation, I discovered that I loved the country. There was still geographic similarities with Norway such as fjords (Lochs), and a relationship to the open and wild spaces that is very specific to Scandinavian population, with the addition of the Celtic vibe (and Saxon), and the unique lights and atmosphere of autumn in the forest. There was also a massive change in the architecture, that would show the exuberance of gothic old churches and castles, all in stones. No more wooden houses. Also, I was now speaking directly in the autochthons language, which changes a lot the experience. And I enjoyed so much going back to porridge, scones and crumpets, or vegan haggis, though everywhere in Europe one of my deepest pleasure was to discover and eat the local breads and daily food the locals would have.
By the way, the weather must have been tough. How had you been dealing with it?
I was very lucky in Scotland and Ireland, after one week of greynness and rain, there was sun for the whole last part of the trip ! It really felt like a reward… It was cold on some nights, just as it was when I began the tour a year before in France and Spain, and frost would appear in the early mornings. There I was, back to the first sensations, having to deal with frozen hands and feet when breaking camps, and constantly humid stuff. But it was easier, as I had gained experience from the whole adventure, and I was ahead of a real temperature drop and of snow. I know what I have to improve when I’ll be back on the board quite precisely and am impatient to do so, and affront colder temperatures, just to see :p
So, you are home now after some 10 months of kicking. How do you feel? Better then before?
12 months !
I feel very well :) Indeed, the journey has brought to me the experiences and lessons I was looking for, I have led the investigations I wanted on ethical and political levels, I feel I have tried to live in a sort of righteousness that had immediate empirical effects such as happiness. I have found a way that I’m eager to continue to explore, and I will rely on the knowledges gained to extend the field of exploration.
Was your journey kind of helpful to you? I mean may be different view of life? Physical or psychical shape? Or whatever?
Yes, to complete the previous answer, my physical condition is of course very good, and I feel balanced! Sure my approach of life is different, not that a « philosophical » vision would have radically changed, I’m still driven by the same quest, but rather it has evolved in the concrete manner in which I walk on the path to a « good life ». Things were confirmed, other became evidences, and I just have to carry on.
And now? Around the world?
Ha ! I’m ready and already working on the continuation of this way of life :)
Right now, I’m enjoying some weeks of sedentary life, whilst working on the next « part » of the adventure. Intimately, I’m somehow already thrown into it since Norway, and have been thinking a lot about it throughout the last countries kicked. I will little by little unveil the details, and global idea, as I’m also doing everything I can to make it materially happen ! It should be large-scaled, and very challenging ! I hope followers of the past year long adventure will be thrilled with it, and I’m looking forward to be back on the road and share everything I can :)
Stay tuned ! »
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3 (Thanks, keep going !)