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One day, he sent me a text message in which he wrote:
- “I had a nice walk.”
Knowing the animal, I answered him:
- “What do you mean by : “a nice walk?” “
He sent me a picture of the Everest base camp. Hilare, I wrote to him :
- “Some call it expeditions.”
He is like that Jerome: a modest adventurer.
We met in Dakar in 2003, thanks to a mutual friend: Christophe.
Christophe, it was another one of those anonymous adventurers. He had toured Africa in 1998, crossing the Congo and Angola, then at war. Jerome and he had met at the Niger border that Christophe had smuggled through. Jerome was then the tutor of the children of the President. He lost his job a few months later during a coup d’ état. Well, I guess I’m not so sure anymore. In any case, coups d’ état in Africa is almost banal.
So in April 2003, I was in Dakar, when Christophe sent me an email advising me of the arrival of Jérôme, who had decided to take a long bike ride in Africa. But unlike me, he already knew Africa perfectly well. After losing his job as a tutor, he was working in one of those unlikely jobs, which only Africa can offer: he was a project manager for an airborne geophysical survey company. In short, he spent his time in the bush managing teams in charge of checking airplane zones to detect areas likely to contain minerals.
Even though I was 10 years older than him, I was his Padawan: he taught me the art of track driving in Africa. Without him, I don’t know if I would have been able to continue my journey.
When he arrived in Bamako while I thanked him for his patience with me, he replied:
You know, the galleys in Africa, I know. On the other hand, I congratulate you on your pugnacity. With the number of falls you made, I would have turned back.
We continued on the road together to Yaoundé, from where he had to go back on a mission.
The years that followed we saw each other from far and wide. Sometimes I’d phone him. He would answer me from places all more improbable than the others: Alaska, just before taking a helicopter flight or Gabon about to embark on President Bongo’s plane.
Then, in December 2014, he set off again on the roads, but this time by bike. His journey lasted 2 years and led him to Japan (His itinerary is visible on this site, and his photos and texts are available here). He competed alone and by bicycle with snow-covered passes at 4800 m. He meditated with monks in monasteries in Nepal and Japan. He was stuck for a few days in no man’s land between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Then in December 2016, he came back. At the age of 45, he decided to take the nursing exam, which he successfully passed a few months later. Then, as he had time, he set off again on the bike routes around France.
That’s who Jerome is. A buddy, an unusual guy, an example.
Well, I think he’s gonna kill me by reading this post. He doesn’t like to be talked about.