“How a meeting with an explorer allowed me to get to know myself better”

Every week, the chronic phenomenon of New York Times on love is offered to you exclusively, translated into French, by International mail. This Sunday, the story of a meeting between a city dweller and an explorer that everything separates, but who nevertheless shared an experience beyond words.

“Wind at twenty knotssaid the email. I think of you.” At the bottom of the page, we could read: “Transmitted by satellite from the high seas.” The one who sent him was somewhere in Antarctica, where he had been dozens of times before, on a cruise ship.

The ship had its own captain and crew, and he was the expedition leader: he was responsible for setting the route, supervising staff and guides, and supervising 50 passengers who could afford to pay a fee. with five figures to face 2,000 miles of hostile ocean and set foot on distant and icy lands.

“I thought of one thing, he wrote in January. I don’t know what you have planned for April, but I could come to California for two or three weeks. I would love to do a few hikes in the national parks. ”

I told him I was okay with it, but he answered me with a new proposal: he could get me a plane ticket to the Solomon Islands and we would sail the archipelago. We would explore coves, inlets and bays and camp on the beach.

Almost foreigners

“Maggie, he said, I know that’s a lot for a first date. I await your response with trepidation. Is this too much for you?

He asked me if that scared me. Which it was. I was scared (among other things) of sunburns, sea crocodiles, unexploded ordnance from WWII, and one very simple thing: When we were left alone on a small boat, we might discover him. and me that we did not like each other after all. We had never kissed. We were almost strangers, and he was 30 years older than me. I was 32 years old.

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One of my friends called him “the sea bass”. Another, “the old sailor” [référence au poème La Complainte du vieux marin, de Samuel Taylor Coleridge]. He led such an adventurous life that, to me, the concept of age no longer applied. He lived most of the time on boats and spent his vacations traveling Siberia by snowmobile.

I had met him during an exploration trip to the subantarctic islands, in the south of New Zealand, of which he was the guide. Although swept by the wind, these islands have a relatively mild climate and are teeming with life: there are giant flowers with prehistoric looks, king penguins by the thousands

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