This has to be the first step ahead of many to come. I have been talking about this for more than 10 years and so I am breaking the longest trail of excuses and procrastination.
I took time to ride a bike with Danys who was just launching his bike-tour business in Cienfuegos, Cuba. I was his very first customer and his new bike (intended for me) had a slow puncture. He inventively found a solution (Cuba creates necessity at every stage and fosters ingenuity). This experience added to the feeling of camaraderie that I generally got from the cubans that I interacted with over the 4-5 days. I rode around the many neighborhoods of Cienfuegos and feel like I was going back to a place that I already knew, but for the first time.
De verdad, “Cienfuegos es la ciudad que más me gusta a mí”
Pero bien, que dices ahora? That might sound like the wrong language for this, but before Strasbourg was Barcelona. And that is where the thoughts really came back to me. I was going back to Strasbourg, but I was also a very different person. Not only had it been 20 years, but all my insecurities of a 19 year old unsure if he would take off, taking the doubts of his math teacher too seriously were gone. All I had to do was to find my old hood and really reflect. Much like Charles Aznavour’s mes vingt ans!
Unlike Aznavour that is looking back treasuring his 20s, I was not. To be honest, this was partly a victory lap. Ironically, the thing that brought me back to Europe and Strasbourg this time is very close to the thing that brought the most doubt in my life 20 years prior. This time, I am a proven success in the field that many doubted that I would get close to, let alone excel at!
I am going to find and add pictures of myself in these same places 20 years prior…
Cela me fait à nouveau penser à Aznavour et à sa chanson dans laquelle il raconte son arrivée à Paris. Pour moi, ce n’était pas la première fois, mais un retour après 20 ans.
I spent the night in a boat… not that way. I was at this AirBnB in Paris and I could not wait for the next morning so that I could set my target on Strasbourg. That is a place that gave me chills years ago!
So, I almost opted out of this trip. It was at the beginning of the year and I was not too eager to get anything squeezed too tight into my schedule. Additionally, I had no dreams of visiting Spain as is was probably some version of France with the difference that I did not know more than 15 words in the language.
The stone that the builder refused, shall be the head corner-stone! This trip seems to have set-off a whole lot of marginally related events that have brought me to new ground. There was so much to experience, eat, see, and a day before we were to take the train to France, I found myself in the hotel-room watching TV in Spanish and actively listening to lessons on Youtube… that has not stopped even after 12+ months