24 year-old Bruno Rasmussen hails from the city of Bordeaux.
Last September he left France without a penny in his pocket and hit the open road. So far, Bruno has travelled to Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia.
I met Bruno by chance in Yerevan’s metro as we both got out at the Republic Square station. He was asking for directions to the post office.
I had a number of questions to ask this happy go lucky world traveller and Bruno graciously complied.
Bruno told me that he graduated as an ecologist from Toulouse University and specializes in butterflies. His father is a Dane and his mother French. The young man decided to spend some time travelling since work prospects in France aren’t so promising right now and it’s too early to think about getting married and raising a family.
“It was only reaching Armenia that I found that the border was closed with Turkey. So I’ll have to go back to Georgia and cross over from there. I’ll trek through Turkey, spend some time in the Balkans and then head back to France,” Bruno told me, adding that he’s glad that he decided to visit Armenia.
Did you know anything about Armenia before coming here?
Not really. But it’s not because I never picked up a history book. It’s just because I prefer to get an idea about something by seeing it the one time rather than hearing about it a thousand times.
So what have you learnt about Armenia by being here?
Well, I first learnt about the Genocide. Then I started to read about your history. But what really interested me was Armenia itself, the people. By way of comparison, let me say that in Poland I would have to go knocking on several doors to find a place to crash for the night. Here in Armenia, especially walking through the villages, people would come to the street and wave their hands to invite me inside. Armenia is an ideal country to travel by bus.
But what about your other expenses? I mean, you still have to eat.
These things are easier to solve than finding a place to sleep. I’ve been in Armenia for two weeks now and will be leaving today. I have been staying in a small out of the way village in Lori called Halavar. A family gave me a place to sleep and I helped out with the household chores. I also learnt to make yoghurt.
So how do you pay your travel expenses?
I find odd jobs to do. In the Ukraine, I worked at a horse racing track for a while.
What exactly motivated you to leave France and travel so far afield?
First off, I like to experience new things and Armenia was a piece of exotica for me. The second reason is my love of the mountains. Don’t laugh, but I always saw the Caucasus Mountains in my dreams even though I had never seen them in person. Coming to Georgia and Armenia was a dream come true for me.
What are the differences between the mountains of Georgia and Armenia?
I stayed in Georgia for one month. Walking through the mountains and forests, I wouldn’t meet another person for days. It’s not like that in Armenia. Even in the most remote mountain valley a shepherd will suddenly appear with his large flock. During my next expedition I will try to spend more time in Armenia. I really like the place and its people.
The two of us then headed to the Kilikia Bus Station on foot. As we crossed the Haghtanak Bridge, I pointed out the Ararat Cognac Factory to Bruno and told him that it had been sold to the French. I wanted to see what Bruno’s reaction would be.
- I didn’t know about the French connection. But I had heard that Ararat is considered one of the finest cognacs in the world. They always talk about American imperialism but there’s hardly a word about the French variety which is omnipresent. In the Ukraine, for example, the biggest supermarket is Carrefour. I also spotted a lot of French stuff in Georgia and Armenia.
Saying goodbye to Bruno at the bus station, I asked if I could get in touch with him via Facebook to send a copy of our conversation. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that he’s not registered on any social website. He uses the internet only to receive email and to read academic literature.
- Social websites, especially Facebook, wouldn’t afford me the time to truly live, to experience the world and its people. I’ve been travelling around for less than a year now, but I’m convinced that travelling is the easiest and most convenient way for me to satisfy my interests. While I might have discovered many new things via Facebook, I would have experienced much less. Life is truly interesting, especially outside the world of social websites. All that I see and experience, like this conversation we are having, I write down in my diary at the end of the day. It’s a way for me to relive all that I have lived and felt, even down to the tiniest detail.