Sunday afternoon when I visited the public Zoo in Lyon after the shooting with Anne-Sophie, a big part of it was closed and I didn’t get to see all the animals. Monday morning I had to leave early so I could have time to hitchhike to Montpellier and I regreted not seeing the entire Zoo. But just before leaving I received a message from Maxime.
Maxime is a journalist and a photographer who worked for Monde and was an editor for Vice. He is now a co-founder and editor-in-chief at 8e étage, a Lyon media company who’s aim is to focus on information and not on news. I added him on Facebook after a comment on one of my Instagram pictures from Lyon, where he was saying that he lives just next to the place I photographed. We started talking and I told him about My Trade Trip. He wanted to write about it and have an interview with me. As I had to hitchhike and could not lose a few hours of chances for a ride, he was generous enough to offer me a payed place in a blablacar.com car to Montpellier after the interview. That gave me enough time to return the keys from Anne-Sophie’s friend’s apartment and see the Zoo on the way. I’ve never seen giraffes and crocodiles in my life so thanks to Maxime and Anne-Sophie I got that chance in Lyon!
I then met Maxime, we had a beer, we talked about my trip, about his and my experiences as photographers and then we hurried to the meeting point with the driver. He offered me a sandwich and a Coke, he carried my big backpack and he drove me to the meeting point with his car. As I was photographing him sweating with my backpack on his back, I realized that the guy in front of me was not only a journalist, but a kind-hearted guy who was putting his whole energy just so my project can move on. He was then and there a new friend.
In the car it was just me and Gilles, a landscape designer for the city of Beziers. This smart guy told me about the political corruption in France, the tricky freedom that allows the thieves to steal, the lazy to be lazy and the regular citizens have to pay for them. I saw through his opinions an unsatisfied nation, a country that thinks their president is a clown and an imminent extreme right future for a nation that demands action.
In Montpellier things took an artistic turn as I arrived at Maya, a Turkish art student who hosted me for the night. I got in touch with her via couchsurfing.com and when I arrived I met this cute girl who paints and sings at the ukulele. We did a mini jam session and then I listened to some of the songs that she composed. She told me about her dreams of singing on the street and living for a year in Sankt Petersburg.
As I layed to sleep on the little improvised couch that she borrowed from a friend so I could sleep on it, I could still hear her voice flying out the window and floating away through the echoing tight alleys of Montpellier’s historical centre. Another day was good to me and I could say with certainty that humans can be soft and gentle even with complete strangers.