“Oh, I’ve travelled a lot! I’ve been around quite a bit! Well, I was lucky because I lived through the post-war boom. At that time, I could start a new job and whenever I had enough I would tell the boss “I’m leaving”. I would go away for 5-6 months, and whenever I ran out of money, the boss himself would come to me: “Hey! Would you like to come work for me?”. Nowadays, young people do so many years of higher education, and then they find an unpaid internship… at the UN [laughs]!
I’ve travelled everywhere. In Africa, Asia, India, Nepal. In the north of India, I went to Ladakh. It had been opened for two years only, it used to be closed. Wow, it was beautiful! I’ve travelled everywhere in Brazil. It’s the country I know best. I speak Brazilian you know! But I’ve never opened a book [laughs]! Immersion, that’s the best thing! Travelling has helped me a lot. Meeting different populations and ethnicities. If I had a son I would tell him: “Travel!”.
I’ve done a lot of mountaineering, that’s what motivated me to travel. The challenge is maybe to put your life at risk [laughs]! That’s when you realize the value of life. But some of us don’t make it… many don’t. Sometimes you have to say no. I always say “a good mountaineer is someone who dies in his own sleep [laughs]!” Well, he does need a little luck too! You have to learn how to give up sometimes. Sometimes you don’t have a good feeling. Sometimes you’re thinking “Oh! We did so many kilometers to come here, we need to do the Mont-Blanc” and then boom… it’s all over. Sometimes you have to take a tricky crossing and you’re telling yourself “Oh my! I can’t make a mistake!”. That’s when you focus and you do what you have to do.
Mountains are like women, they each have their own charm [laughs]! But the highest one I climbed was the Demavend, in Iran. It’s a volcano. It was difficult to breathe because of the sulfur vapors. But now we can’t breathe because of COVID so… it’s not any better [laughs]!”
(Parc Mon Repos | translated from French)