“On a certain Thursday of 2001, I had sworn to myself that I would never set foot there again…”

French traveller-writer Sylvain Tesson is a hero to me. Every time I travel, I wish he could be there with me. Because his brave soul defies challenges that scare me, because his sharp mind understands what I just perceive, and because he writes about these experiences beautifully. If only he could be with me every time I hit the road, I would have a fascinating and magnificent book about each and every of my travels.

Today’s prompt of the Blogging 101 learning programme is: Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third sentence on the page and work it into a post.

There is a pile of 13 books on my night table at the moment – the top one today is of Sylvain Tesson. It is a collection (in his and my native language French) of all the short notes he published in various magazines from 2006 to 2012. Page 82, a note from November 2007: “The Transall moves towards the capital. I am coming back to the Afghan country for the sixth time. On a certain Thursday of 2001, I had sworn to myself that I would never set foot there again“. And yet here he is, back in Afghanistan…

There are also moments when I swear to myself not to come back somewhere: when I have been there seven times already. I feel that seven is a good number, and that I should diversify my future destinations more.

My seventh time in Russia was in March 2013. And so, I have sworn to myself not to go back. There is so much to see elsewhere, so many incredible landscapes that I am to see and so many experiences that I am to live.

But how long am I going to withstand?

Russia calls me, all the time.

I think of the immaculate snow in the taiga, of the shimmering golden domes of the churches, of the infinite mystery of the blue waters of the Volga river.

I think of the soothing melancholia that invades me during long train journeys.

I think of my love, the Baikal lake, chameleon of the seasons, that I have seen only in autumn and in winter so far, and how heart-breaking it is not to see it in spring and summer.

It is hard to resist. But once more, I guess that Sylvain Tesson has expressed what I don’t even yet understand: promises do not matter, when travel calls, we have to go.

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