In my flight to Portugal, I stopped in Cordoba. Once again, I didn’t find any host through the Warmshower network. I thought so spend the day in the town and leave before dark. I learn quickly that we can visit the Mezquita of Cordoba, unique in the World, each morning between 8:30 and 9:20. I can’t miss this opportunity to discover this splendid building. So I go in search of a quiet place to stay in town tonight.
I am now able to sleep in the villages, but in Cordoba the task is more complicated. The city of Cordoba is medium in size and seems relatively safe. The river Guadalquivir allows trees to grow and that’s where I’ll find a perfect site to hide me. I will be very very close to the small historic center listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but tourists don’t venture into dark corners.
I don’t know it yet but I would spend 3 days in Cordoba without any accommodation. Better and better …
I arrived early in town on the first day and it left me a little time to wander around and feel the atmosphere. Tourists are very numerous, and for me, it’s sometimes hard to bear. I’m one of them today, but with a huge bike and less discreet in the mass. The historic center is sumptuous and around, Cordoba remains a city like any other with its large avenues and popular neighborhoods on the periphery.
There are many things to see, also for free, on the small area of the historic center. You can visit the delightful patios, enter some museums or just walk around and admire the predominantly Islamic architecture.
I try first foray with my bike in the garden of orange trees from the Mezquita where you can walk freely. Quickly, the architecture of La Mezquita is forgotten, and the many tourists, landed by bus entire, look at me simultaneously and instantly point their camera or phone on me. I feel like a monkey that makes a face in a zoo … except that I don’t expect peanuts in return …
I have never been reluctant with those who want to takes a photo sometimes, I am getting used to, but in such numbers and in that way it bothers me a little. After all, I’m like everyone else, and I also have the right to visit the towns and sites full of history in peace.
What bothers me most is that in this situation, there is no exchange. Nobody talks to me and I will be one more photo among thousands of others in the holiday album. Many of them will never have seen Cordoba with their own eyes but only through the lens of their camera. Oh flower of Cordoba, Oh a bench of Cordoba with my wife sitting on it: Smile darling it is the holidays …
There are those who see the city with their camera
and others who discover with their emotions …
I get out quickly in the garden of the Mezquita, in which, because of the attitude of tourists, I feel oppressed.
I met a nice man who approaches me more simply. We discuss and after some usual questions, I tell him about the experience that I just live … he answer me:
“You just have to let you take in pictures and then open your hand to earn some money …”.
That doesn’t convince me at the time, because there will always lack exchange, although I must admit that this is an easy solution to offer me food. With my budget of 1€/day, I could easily earn in one day what feed me for a month …
Throughout the day, I observed the different attitudes of people with me. The majority of them only want to make pictures (mostly the bike than me matter). Only the unusual bicycle and the curiosity interest them without real motivation to discuss, learn, exchange … but I am most of the time very close to my bike, so I always appear into the lens.
The behaviors are multiple, following the questions that are running through their head (or not) in seeing me.
Some shamelessly station themselves before me, pointing their camera and take their picture. These are those out there that bothers me the most. I understand that this is the unusual bike that attract them, but what they will say if I did the same thing, approached close to them and taking a photo … a little weird no?
Others are smarter, they move away and use their zoom or trying to be discreet, looking away at the same time they take the photo.
Do you seriously think that I don’t see you ? Do you think I am as stupid as that?
Fortunately, some, politely, ask me if they can take a picture of the bike.
Finally, there are those I like most and who only come to discuss. The photo is optional to their eyes.
Throughout the day, the idea of selling my image stay in my head … after all this isn’t so stupid, if people enjoy this lifestyle why not stand by offering me a little money or simply what to eat ? I didn’t choose this life to be rich, feed me and talk for me is enough.
However, I block on the way to explain to those who would make a photo that it isn’t free … I didn’t choose this life relying on others to pay it to me.
For tourists without embarrassment, I have no complex, but I wouldn’t have the opportunity to find myself in this situation again this next few days.
I hear a French couple discuss. I overtake them and directly, the man get out his camera. I instantly telling him that I don’t wish that he take pictures. The experience of the morning was too much and I’m a little reluctant to pictures today.
I will attempt to see their reaction by saying that the picture isn’t free and I their explains why. In French to start it’s easier.
I submit that offer me something back is a way of supporting this lifestyle that demonstrates that cars and planes aren’t the only alternative to travel. This man loves cycling and understand the process. He looking for around to invite me for coffee and discuss various in exchange of pictures he have taken. No bar in the area,so his wife gives me the symbolic euro. We walk together discussing a moment.
If I hadn’t intervened, he would have taken her picture and will be gone without exchange.
It works, I have my first euro in my pocket and we discussed a while.
They resume the course of their walk, move away, and suddenly the man comes back to me and slipped me 10€ in hand, “With your budget of 1€/day, you’ll think of us for 10 days” he told me !!!
Incredible, it seems that I can live of the image of my lifestyle and this way of move, demonstrating that freedom and happiness can be found, without monetary wealth. A life very rich in experiences and humanity, while taking care of our Earth by moving most environmentally …
Without even reaching my hand, without deliberate action on my part, leaving people interested come to me, the bike, which is already a part of me, the tool allowing me to gain freedom, can also become my work tool, my livelihood …
I continue my tour of Cordoba, sometimes wandering the bike beside me, or take a rest when it’s too hot. Photos experiences continue.
I quietly eat in the grass and two Russian women sit on a bench facing me. They try to take a picture discreetly. “I see you” said I to them … and I go talk to them for a while. I return to finish my meal and write in my diary. Suddenly, they get up, approach the bike deposing 5€ on the ground … “for the photo” launch they to me. And we resume our discussion by taking a few shots memories together.
Later, two Spanish friends are witnesses at the scene of a new sales of picture. When I seat down, leaning against the outside wall of the Mezquita, they invite me to join them and order beer and tortillas that we will enjoy together while discussing a long time.
In the evening, when the heat fades softly, I sit in an air stream near the Roman Bridge. I write quietly in my diary. A trio of French working in Iraq, a Turkish and a Greek approach me to discuss. This exchange will take an unusual twist. Their questions are totally different, the matters discussed too. Some euros are offered to me again, and some more personal memories.
I find them the next morning to visit the Mezquita and participate in the very intimate mass in the magnificent heart of the cathedral to the sound of the gigantic organ. We spend all day together, and my bike will naturally be kept during this time at the bar named “La Bicicleta”.
But the reaction of people isn’t always so positive. If this situation regularly leads to a beautiful time of sharing, or just a long dicussion, money remains the sinews of war and talk to it tends to scare some. This allows me to quickly sort out the good and bad people. It is more to make understanding that I wish to exchange and not only a stolen photo, rather than seeking to get rich at any cost. For this, I would have done better to choose another life …
There will always be some people who will try absolutely anything to avoid paying. I understand in this World and especially in town, nothing is free and tourist areas are up prices.
I try to explain to one of them that the choice is his. I spent 3 days in Cordoba without spending money other than in a supermarket to feed myself. Meanwhile, I had enriching experiences with strangers and realizing visit too. You always have a choice. For the photo, it can just as well decide to delete it …
But this doesn’t happen really like that and I’d do the experiment several times during these few days. He attempts to divert many times the conversatiion not knowing what answer my arguments and invented excuses to flee. When he finally runs out of ideas, he goes simply by leaving me alone in the middle of the street, happy with his photo and the pleasurable feeling to have me defeated. There will always be those who think they are smarter, never follow the rules, without paying attention to the will of others: I call that disrespect.
The freedom of some stops where begin that of other …
Despite all this, today, despite the sometimes infernal weight of my road companion, for nothing in the World, I would change my way of traveling by providing me a more standard travel bike, more discreet, the same as all bicycle travelers of this World. This strange and overloaded bike is what allows me to easily enter in contact with the population and live human experience rich of emotions by sharing our visions of the World …
Join fast Facebook community to discuss with us !!!