Sometimes you go on a trip that lasts only a few days. This does not necessarily mean that these short stays are less interesting. It was often on a trip of a few days that I had encounters that eventually led me to a much bigger adventure …
2014 South Korea, Seoul, Incheon
My very first trip to the Asian continent was a two-day transit in Incheon. In this short time, I managed to take two trips around the city, visit the memorial of the Incheon invasion from the Korean War and appreciate Korean cuisine. More to see another time … but rather in the countryside. Koreans are skilled builders of skyscrapers, but I am not a lover of the concrete jungle.
2012 Belgium, Tremelo, Saint Damiende de Veuster
I have written elsewhere about what Father Damien means to me. Someday I would love to go to Molokai, where he lived and where he died serving people with Hansen’s disease. Instead of dreaming of reaching the other side of the world, I set out for a more accessible destination. From Paris, where I was studying, I went to Leuven. From there, I made a pilgrimage on foot…in the same shoes that I wore to Santiago Compostela…to Tremelo, the village where Father Damien was born.
2011 Spain, Madris, World Youth Days
I have missed WYD twice. The first time I was in Ireland, the second time on the island of Wallis in the South Pacific. In 2011, WYD was fortunately held in Madrid, just a stone’s throw from Paris, where I was studying at the time. I did not go to Spain alone. Together with my friend Debrice, we went with a group of our young people from the missionary family Donum Dei. The whole week was very intense and rich, culminating with the weekend at Cuatro Vientos in the presence of the Holy Father Benedict XVI. For me it was not only a profound spiritual experience, but also a turning point for my future life. Among the enormous number of young people at Cuatro Vientos, I “happened” to meet the only group of seven pilgrims from Vanuatu. Among them was the priest of the mission in Lowanatom, whom I had visited in 2008 and with whom I have been in contact since then. The result of this meeting was that after finishing my doctoral studies in Paris, I went to work as a teacher of computer science in this mission in the Pacific.
2011 Spain, San Sebastian
During my Ph.D., I worked on part of my research with Ramón Moreno from Spain (Basque Country) at the Universidad del País Vasco in San Sebastian. International scientific cooperation needs to be strengthened, so together with Ting, a colleague from my lab, we went to visit Ramón for a few days. The official part of the joint research and the presentation went smoothly, and for the rest of the time Ramón proved to be an excellent guide, making it easy for us to believe that the Basque Country is the best part of Spain. After all, where there are friends, there is always good.
During a trip to Vittoria, I felt a bit nostalgic. Five years before, we started the Camino de Santiago from here. I even found some yellow seashells on the pavement and I wished to take my backpack and go to Santiago again…
2009 Italy, Rome
My brother’s name is Damian, after Father Damian de Veuster, and for him and for me, this missionary from Molokai, the leper island, is an example of life. When it came to his canonization in Rome at the end of 2009, it was absolutely impossible for us to miss such an opportunity.
2008 Italy, Lombardy
On our pilgrimage to Santiago we met many people. Some of the friendships have lasted for years…like the one with Mario and Angela from Italy. Two years after the Camino, they invited me to Rezzato. This gave me the opportunity not only to meet this nice couple again, but also to discover this corner of Italy that I had never visited before. And since Mario is a passionate mountaineer, we climbed some beautiful places in the Dolomites together.
Many times since 2004 - Italy, Carmagnola, Casa Fratelli Maristi
It began with my first short trip to Italy in 2004, to the house of the Marist Brothers in Carmagnola, near Torino. At that time I could not speak a word of Italian, and it was thanks to the truly paternal care of Brother Giuseppe that in a little more than two weeks I acquired a decent foundation in the language. After that, Brother Enrico threw me mercilessly into the waters of classical Italian: “Divina Commedia”, “I Promessi Sposi”,… and, surprisingly, I did not drown. For my part, I helped another of the brothers with computer science and advanced text edition… at that time he was 92 years old. I realized how wrong people are who judge others by the numbers of the year of their birth. The house of the Marist Brothers in Carmagnola became one of the places I return to most often on my travels. There live some of the best and wisest friends I have ever known, whose average age is over eighy…but who have the most youthful soul.