Category Archives: What about now?

Wingless jet lag (or The birch)

The birch is an explorer tree. When the wood starts conquering uncultivated lands, it sends the birches first. They adapt quickly and grow fast: if they can do it, the wood advances quietly. This wonderful thing has been told me in Santhià and since then I’ve been willing to make a metaphore out of it, without succeding.

To all those people who in the last three months noticed me backpacking on their lands, to all the drivees, the passers-by, the farmers, people in the shops and in the houses, on tractors and on bikes, to all those that might have wondered who I was, where was I from and where was I going, well to all those people – who will not read this post either – I say:

It’s pretty simple. My name is Paolo De Guidi, I come from Terni and I was going to Cambridge where I arrived on March the 17th 2010 after 97 days of march and 2036 kilometres. Of course, I’m not the same person anymore.

Three days after my arrival I’m still in mental confusion; the strain is mental rather than physical, the head is light, concentration vain, time perception is altered, springtime in blunt. Hours fly away and I feel inadequte to the situation. Shaved, scented, I wear a shirt with the same goofy amazement as if it was a space suit. I will need some time to fully realize where I am, what I accomplished, what to do now. I walked from Italy to England. I did it myself. But still, when I say it it sounds to me like someone else is saying it. What’s in between the me sitting at my desk in Terni writing the first posts and the me at the english desk trying to take a stock, well I just can’t say. I remember every single details of the adventure, I could walk back the same exact route without  a map, but the image of the travel, its concept, remain stranger to me. “Wo, you are the one who walked here from Italy, aren’t you? Awesome, how was it?”. What do you want me to answer? It’s like asking someone who just survived an earthquake “how are you?”.

In the last two weeks my mood and my priorities had changed: legs acquired a constant rythm and resistance; trip surprises were fading out being me so used to new; future dreams started overcoming daily reality. Apart from the breathtaking northern cliffs, France ran out of thing to offer. The project had just to be completed, the story had to be completed. Narrative needs mostly. It was time to accelerate, to arrive: most of all, the burning desire to hug her, the one that I could not stand anymore to greet on the phone before going to bed alone.

fearful, anxious, hypocondriac, always unsatisfied, super-critical, prejudiced, cinical and selfish: I found a girl who loves me regardless of all those faults, you see why it was worth the effort and speed up to meet her before loosing control. When they say me “you are great” it make me laugh: I’m very smal; I just ran out of envy and I concentrate the few courage I had in one single moment: the one when I decided that I was actually going to do it. Once you step out of your house with your backpack there’s not much to do but going on. The problem is that you risk to catch the travel virus. If you really esteem me so much, don’t say that I’m great. Go out and walk instead, walk where you usually drive. You’ll see that no greatness is required. You’ll find wonderful things, you’ll be fine. Trust me, I’m not great, may be a small explorer. Like a birch…

Now, I don’t know what will I do with this blog, if it will remain as a journal for memory or if it will evolve. We’ll see. For sure I’m not going back in Italy. In a few days mt team from Terni will join me (with traditional means), bringing me a couple of bags with clothes, laptop and other tools: from that moment I’ll be able to edit the other video and photographic materials I collected during the trip; to those who are interested I ask for a bit of patience, the final product will come soon. In the meanwhile, here is some highlights:

Aperitive award: Papà Marcel (Aosta), Le Bout du Monde (Vevey), Chou Chou (Champlitte), L’equinoxe (Arras).

I Want To Live Here award: Bagno Vignoni (Toscana), Cassio (Emilia), Vercelli (Piemonte), Cully (Vaud), Mouthier Hautepierre (Franche-Comtè), Escalles (Nord-Pas-De-Calais), Barham (Kent).

Duly Noted award: “There’s no such thing as bad weather. There’s only bad gears” (Michele),  “My ambition is to get Clint Eastwood’s wrinkles and Gandhi’s wisdom” (Maurizio), “My neighbor crossed the Atlantic in his car” (Luca), “To make cheese, just put flowers into cows” (Daniel), “Mola nen e bùgia!” (battaglione alpini susa 133° mortai).

p.s.: among the other reading instrument, my travel can now also be read through my Couchsurfing profile, rich in the opinions I left to my hosts and they left me (down on the left) after surfing their couches. A good register indeed, just as I anticipated.