A former ŻfinMalta dancer left the island to cycle across 25 countries, planning to offer therapy for trauma but he soon realised he himself was receiving a different kind of healing.
Gabin Corredor, 28, who lives in Malta and France, thought he would be offering performances and workshops to victims of natural disasters, long-term hospitalisation, abuse and addiction.
“I left because I wanted to share and give something but soon realised I was learning from others more than I was giving them,” Mr Corredor told Times of Malta following his 26,000-kilometre-long trip that lasted a whole year.
Sometimes, all it took was a smile, hello or just a nod to forge a relationship.
“When I arrived in a village situated at an altitude of 4,000 metres in Tajikistan, I realised that people there were surviving on what we Europeans consider to be the bare necessitates,” he said.
“Dancing didn’t really have a place there and we couldn’t even share a word because of the language barrier.
Trip lasted a whole year
“So, instead, we shared a piece of bread, a cup of tea and a smile. That was enough – sometimes we need to get rid of the frills and just go back to our roots – of a human relationship.”
Mr Corredor cycled from France to Turkey and Kazakhstan, then flew to Hanoi and cycled to Bangkok. He flew to Ushuaia, in Argentina, cycled to Chile, back to Buenos Aires and up to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil before heading back to France through Portugal and Spain.
Apart from living on €5 or less a day and carrying all his cooking, sleeping and dancing equipment on his bicycle, the trip was so emotionally daunting he nearly gave up three times.
The first time was while crossing a desert in Turkey.
“It was tough. I had to deprive myself and ration water. All I had was my bike and six bags. I had left a comfortable job, a partner and my family behind and loneliness is hard to handle,” he said.
It took him two months to realise that, although he did not belong to the communities he was coming across, he was never alone. There were always people around me, he noted, adding that, in Europe people took everything for granted.
“We have a lot of commodities and often forget that it is just a matter of luck. We always want different things and chase different dreams but deep down we are all the same,” he said.
“All of us just want to be happy and I feel like we are losing the simple things that make us feel good and alive in Europe.”
The young man pedalled for some eight hours a day to fulfil his project, which he completed also thanks to crowdfunding.
One of the best parts of the Frenchman’s trip was sharing his dancing passion with Syrian refugee children in Turkey.
While the parents gathered at ad hoc centres to share handy skills such as sewing, he entertained the young ones with dance workshops.
He recounts another anecdote at an Iranian supermarket. The owner, who lives and works at the place, offered him a place and a warm ‘shower’ for the night.
“Two hours after meeting the man, I was sleeping cosy with a roof over my head. Without people the trip would have been useless.
“It was all about the people and the sharing of such experiences,” Mr Corredor said.