*The interview follows from the previous chapter “Pushing”
Alps stretches across eight different countries, encompassing a wide range of traditions and cultures. You crossed a few. Does nature wipe out those borders in between countries or you can still get differences in between them?
We crossed three countries, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Obviously, borders are political, and in the deepest of the mountains, you can’t tell that you cross from one place to another, but as soon as you encounter a person, or a human-made construction or installation, even the most simple, you can almost immediately tell in which country you are. That was pretty funny.
In the route you did, how does the presence of man combines with Nature?
In Sud Tirol, all the houses look like almost fake, like if you are inside a miniature train scenery. We were surprised of how well preserved the architectural culture there and it was really nice, almost exotic I would say. And this, at less than 1000 km from home. You don’t necessarily need to go till the end of the world to discover new things. I think one the most visible and striking bound between man and nature there is wood. There is an extreme use and presence of wood everywhere. House are made of wood, there are countless sawmills along the way, people integrate objects, such as cart wheels, inside their wood reserve for decoration, wood sculptures in the villages, but also in the middle of mountain.
How does a trip like this change your perception of your goals and life? How are your values altered while you’re constantly focused on your path?
Trips like this connects you with the essential, they make you feel the experience of living with less. Of course, I’m not a idealistic hippie… I’m also conscious that during the trip, I don’t have to work and make money, raising kids or whatever, but still… I believe it can really help you to take a step back, and refocus on what really matters when you come back to “civilisation”. You also connect you with nature in a very intimate and ‘real’ way. When after two hours of heavy climbing, you can stop and drink water directly from a river, the concept of “preserving the nature” becomes something very concrete. Also, you are biking all day and you end up finding an isolated place to sleep in the woods, any kind of weather change has a direct influence on your ‘life’ .. so I can say that the relation with Nature was pretty close. Referring again to this previously mentioned Einstein’s quote; you can read as many articles in the press about the importance of ecology, if it’s not based on a a real experience, it’s only information that you will forget any time soon.
*The interview with Jean-Marc follows in the closing chapter of the Experience called “The sheltering sky”.
Photography. Jean-Marc Joseph
Clips. Jean-Marc Joseph
Interview. Vincenzo Angileri Editor