My name is Bastien, I was born in France in 1984. As a kid, I secretely dreamt of travelling. I used to study planispheres in secret. I would daydream about Italy, Japan or Peru. Already, I saw myself Around the World but by plane.
But as I grew up, I listened to society. I studied successfully and got a good job. I forgot about my dreams and had a good career for eight years. People saw me as being successful. I also thought so. I was young and already a good earner, so I could travel the world without having to worry about money. My only limit was time: five weeks of payed leave per year. I arrived triumphantly in Venezuela where a family invited me to dinner. They owned three hens. They cooked the three eggs, served two of them to me and shared the last one between the five members of the family, happy to share with me the little they had. I was embarrassed, thinking how in France I could spend a fortune going out with friends at the weekend.
Having become quite an expert at my job, I was busy building tower blocks ever taller. Meanwhile, 20 year old Younse was content gazing over the horizon of the immense Sahara desert. As we watched the stars in the silence of the night, he would talk to me about philosophy and all the great French authors. He had read all of them. Not I. I was too busy making money. I reckon that in my career, I have partaken in the cementing of a surface area equivalent to 30.000 football grounds, ie an area ten by fifteen kilometers. Now, the realities of the world were clashing with mine. Being made redundant was like a liberation.
Having lost my job, I decided to go and live in Australia. I was terrified, but I put my plans into action and started by ridding myself of all I owned. My big day came, and I climbed into the family car to go. I was not sure I had made the right decision, but there was no turning back. I just had to make the most difficult step : TO LEAVE. On the way, there was tension in the air. No one knew what to say. My dad dropped me off on the motorway, where a car was waiting to take me to the airport. I kissed my family, nobody knew what to say. I got in the other car making a last sign to my parents. The driver started the car and my fears went away. I was 27 years old and was getting a flight to the to the unknown.
My stay in the kangaroo land was short, but intense. Alternating between adventures and odd jobs, I felt free at last. Then there was the accident that would change my life for ever. In a mere second, the World collapsed around me. With my pelvis broken in five places and a double pneumothorax, I was broken from head to toe, in body and soul. I had set out on this journey to feel alive, and here I was at deaths’ door. My survivors instinct fought and I eventually woke from my coma with paralysed legs, 15.000 km from home.
After being immobile in an Australian hospital for three months, I returned to France to finish my convalescence. Powerless, my family watched me groan with pain for seven months. Their eyes were full of sadness. Nobody could share my physical pain, but their presence when I opened my eyes helped me to get through each day. I used to sleep most of the time. It was thanks to them that I could find the strength to get out of bed to go to my daily physiotherapist’s appointment.
This ordeal made me feel closer to my family. However, when the doctor declared me fit, I quite naturally started to travel again. How could I inflict such worry on my parents ? On December 31st and with great apprehension, I set out hitch hiking once again, but didn’t forget to bring my crutches with me. However, with my body in this new state, it was the biggest failure of my life. After three weeks, while I was in Spain, I gave up. My legs would no longer carry me. I was weakened but not quite defeated.
I remembered the advice my physiotherapist had given to me : “ride a bike every morning”. Back in the bosom of my family, I found an old bike that was destined for the skip. A week later I was on the road again. I was 28 years old and determined to live. The magic took place: as I pedalled, my aches and pains disappeared. It was a miracle. It didn’t take more to convince me to keep going. Bastien the nomad was back.
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