Valparaíso, 30 January 2020
We left. The meeting with the group was at the Fiumicino gate for boarding. Many of us already knew each other, for others it was the first time. A hug, a handshake, a smile: these will be some of the travelling companions with whom we will travel every kilometre of the expedition. The rest we will meet between Paris (where we will have a stopover) and Santiago de Chile.
Excitement, desire to arrive and set off with the motorbikes along a road we have all heard of, but few have travelled. And it’s a crazy itinerary that awaits us! We joke around, diluting the boredom of a very long – and rather uncomfortable – flight with a few laughs, a movie, and sharing some memories of the last mission to Africa. We are all electric, pawing, and wishing we were already there, on the road.
Before we left, we had confirmation that the motorbikes (and vans) would never arrive in San Antonio – the seaport in Chile where, according to the agreement, we were supposed to retrieve them. The ship broke down a few days ago near Valparaíso, about 100 kilometres to the north, and decided to stay there. With a transfer organised on the fly, we are guests of the Colegio San Damian de Molokai, in Valparaíso, the city of colours, of ups and downs, of Pablo Neruda (here, there is one of his three houses, La Sebastiana, named after the Chilean poet in honour of its first owner and builder).
On the way, first by train and then by plane, I stopped to look at the clouds from the window. It happens every time I start a journey, and every time in their form I find the footprints of the road ahead. These here taste of salt and wind and I know they will keep me company for the next two months.
For me, this is the first field mission (the 2018 mission in Africa I experienced in reflex, in the documentary’s editing frames). We have important work to bring home, the excitement (and responsibility) is great but even more so is this feeling of freedom to be here, among the colours and steps of Valparaíso.