|Armand in the middle with his cousins Henry to his left and Tom to his right|
In an inexplicable twist in the tale, I recently found myself by the languid lanes of Trieste in Italy, knocking at the doors of a Mediterranean Villa with a splendid view of the Adriatic Sea below and a hill full of forests above. And within this villa, I found the boy with the bike. Armand Monnoyer is Belgian and he had celebrated his 20 years of existence on our planet only two days before I met him. A nephew of my hosts, Armand could well be my son and what endeared him to me right away were his shy open smile and his current occupation of biking through Europe in search of his own true self. A yearlong project that he had started around August last year; of which he was now in his final leg of five months hoping to return by the end of 2014 summer.
I spent few days with him taking long walks by the sea, helping together in the kitchen, eating homemade breads and jams, sharing stories and laughter and dreams both old and new. He reminded me constantly of my youth, of my biking through some of the most inhospitable and non-bikable terrains in the world and I wished every moment that I could throw my worldly caution into the wind and go biking again to the end of the world, forever free and footloose and reckless as a sweeping gull in search of supper. When he left us finally I promised that one day I will tell his story and here it is; Armand this is for you wherever you may be, whether you read it or not, this is your story and your voyage and your dreams, of which I had the privilege of sharing few moments.