• Clotaire Mandel

A matter of temporality

Often I’m asked since how long I’m travelling. And I have an exact amount of days to offer as an answer.

Lately, I’ve been told that because I stopped for a while in NZ, I surely must not have been travelling for so long. Because I’m not only pedalling, therefore not only travelling.

Always interesting to have people’s opinion on your own existence.

Anyhow, how do we perceive the time, how do we count it ? Is this general idea that travelling means cycling, walking, visiting, exploring without stopping. Every break, any stuff dropped on the corner of an ephemeral room would be a betray towards the almighty journey. A counter back to zeo.

Although, spending a longer period somewhere also help to recover, to digest and figure out what we did and how we did.

Also, profils are very different. Some will sell everything they own and go around the world, spending a material life worth of money for a big ramble.

In my case, I never owned anything, then never had anything to sell or trade. The things pretty clear from the beginning. If I keep roaming after a certain point, I’ll have to stop and work somehow.

The real question is not to know what a journey is or how time passes. But how everyone perceive it regarding his own aspiration and pace. His own way of living among the world.

For me, the concept was very simple. Cycling across every continent, and not crossing the french sign indicating my home country before that proviso point is achieved. This is the frame, the core.

What’s in between, it’s the content. And it is free to be whatever the road brings. Often, we see people running across the world from A to B. Organised, efficient. The journey of a lifetime. A trajectory, two names to quickly summarise it, and plenty of stories to fill the corners.

We can all go straight. Straight ahead, fast and efficient. But we can also betray the notion of efficiency and deepen the connection we have with people, with a language, a country, a culture. Just basically pfennig up to a whole new world of opportunities. Accepting detours, stops, going backwards sometimes. And what about the geographical complete non sens.

The sailor and writer Bernard Moitessier helped me a lot somehow. In Tamata and the alliance, I think he breaks the not on of temporality we might have of his lifetime. Reading that kind of author these days, we might think his travels around the world have been done in one go, finished, written, published, acclaimed. In an unique and deep breath.

But it’s the result of a very long and chaotic period. It’s about quick pit stops and also very long ones. Days or years.

It helps to understand that it’s not a necessity for a journey to be a pure and perfect continuous line across map and time.

Mostly, it must be the result of a very personal continuity, an not being the paste pattern of people who expect something from someone else’s journey.

As long the journey is not achieved, we hardly perceive anything clear of it its the blind eyes with have. We see it through people’s perception.

The logic of what we do belongs to me, and just me.

And if sometimes it as easy to disappear for years, then coming back all of a sudden, without people to have any clue of what precisely happened in the last years, now it’s a different story.

Social medias and sharing gives an almost live impressions and feedback of what we do. If stops were part of the global journey before as barely anybody would have even notice, now we almost have to justify what we do, where and why, mainly when we stop.


So yes I stopped bit, and yes my map is as chaotic and nervous as my general movements across the globe. But it could also be the secret recipe of longevity for the extra long term travellers. Having enough air to cross a life full of travels. And to do so, it’s sometimes needed to pull the head out of the water.

And here as well a very important notion, between long term and extra long term. Between short but intense hobo life which ends up coming back among the herd. Or the extra long distance through extra long timeframe. Stopping under a tree, forgetting the idea of time itself. It’s maybe driven by a weird sensation of eternal youngness, of a game to deviate out of the classical patterns. Letting the heart speaking, taking advantage of our passport benefits to know deeper with a longer stop in places. coming back as well, just to make sure we’ve took both left and right options at junctions.

One day I’ll have to come back. Which also mainly means that I feel coming from somewhere. That I have a place to reach back at some point.

And the return route is not only made of the very essence of life.

It’s made of concrete, struggles, lack, disappointments, disillusions, misunderstanding. And I would be too afraid of missing that part as well. Too afraid to come back with a very sugar coated version of what the world is. So I take my time. And I count the days passing as I want.

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