I came to Bordeaux this weekend in order to find something I was looking for. Not sure what it was, anyway.
It's not my first time here, I had already been in the capital of Aquitaine 6 years ago, within my first solo travelling.
It's strange how things can change so much in 6 years; not really the places, but ourselves, the way we see and think. Earlier this week, while talking with members of the Basque Geographical Society, we came to the conclusion that you yourself are half of the trip, the other half being the place and the people.
The place and the people only fill half of your travelling glass, the other half is left empty for you to fill with your own thoughts, feelings, knowledge, choices and mood. Those change greatly over the time, so you always have new experiences.
I'd fancy to think that 6 years ago I was somehow a very different person, there were still many things I had to do and many thoughts I had yet to reach.
I didn't like Bordeaux that much back then.
For instance, I didn't know French. I could manage with the basics but I was kind of isolated while travelling in France. I support English as international language, but that doesn't mean you are going to get any further if you don't know the local language, which is unavoidable to grasp the real personality of the place and the people.
On my first trip to Bordeaux (after wandering in Brittany for some days) I met an American guy at the youth hostel, and I felt that we could share much more than what I had with locals previously.
That really struck me and I promised to myself to jump over that barrier, to break those artificial borders that separate my hometown from France. Bordeaux is as close to Bilbao as Zaragoza is, and much nearer than Madrid.
We don't have to live back to back, and in any case, if Spain and Spaniards want to keep on ignoring France, we Basque shouldn't, because we already live at both sides of the fictional border and the cultural continuum between us and Garonne river is uninterrupted.
In short, that's what State centralism and modern globalisation carries, feeling apart from your neighbours while sharing random modern traits with people that live miles and miles and oceans away.
Knowing languages helps against that, but what could we ask anyone if mastering English is still a great challenge for many people.
This time I have met this Swedish guy whose main ability was to rap, and had a couple mind-blowing stories to tell. He had done really nothing in life but travelling, because when he started travelling at 18 years old (now he's 28) he met so amazing travellers that got rapted by wanderlust.
He had many plans for his life onwards, like building an all-terrain vehicle with his bike where he could sleep and travel and satisfy his vital needs.
I felt like being critic with this kind of attitude (at least for the time being) because I still have a view of life in which I should be doing something productive, but something I really love and something at which I am good and feels natural to me, and besides it gives some cultural or social value to mankind.
I don't want to fall into purposelessness myself, of which I'm afraid, but I have nothing against that philosophy of travelling; I admire it, in fact, but still I think that freedom junkies are self-centered.
There is something I could completely agree with him. That cities can be considered museums of people, and we find great pleasure from just beholding people passing on the street, doing their daily duties. It's one side of the trip discovery.
I have spent most of the Saturday doing that, promenading through Bordeaux, taking nice pictures both with my mind and my camera, so in a sense that was my task there.
The climate was colder but sunnier, more Continental than the mostly Atlantic I am used to. It rained almost everyday for the last two months in Bilbao and I was really fed up with wet coldness. You could see pure bliss on my face while I was walking, so much liking of what I was seeing. I think I had a smile on my lips for the whole day.
I loved the positive mood poured out of the bleached white walls and people's laughter. But Christmas is getting closer too, and I suppose that that cheered up a lot.
Bordeaux had a monumental and elegant air, a city of long history and self-esteem, with a hint of Britishness into it too.
Anyhow, I felt eager to integrate myself in the French ambiance.
I know there are hidden corners I'd like to discover, but I'm in no hurry, I will have time if fate provides.
I wanted to feel the city, to perceive how it breathes, and finally I did it. Short but intense. And I like what I saw. Nothing else has to be said.
If we all learned to see everyday life through traveller's eyes, we would live in an enhanced reality... our imagination would complement what we see and every day would be an adventure. Here's a proper way to live.