Straying onto Asia

October 19th, 1954: It is the day of departure.

Claude was nineteen and left the family house for an undetermined period of time, probably the longest he had ever experienced. He planned to cross the Atlantic from a Mediterranean port. He got a passport and visas for France and Spain.

Since he did not have any savings, he would walk and hoped to find small jobs along the way. He would also hitchhike whenever possible, as on the way to Paris, his first stop. Unfortunately, the car was involved in an accident; the accident, being the first of many twists of fate.

Three days later, Claude arrived in Francoist Spain. Nights were long, cold, and frightening while days were disappointing, lonely, and exhausting. Hitchhiking did not work, the military was everywhere, and no one offered him hospitality or a job. The latter would have been highly necessary since he was robbed shortly after departure. However, he was willful, and after many attempts to cross the border illegally, he spent his last money on the visa. On November 5th, he entered the Moroccan territory and headed toward Casablanca where he was supposed to find a ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Days and weeks passed, but no ship for America arrived. He worked in exchange for food and a place to stay. Casablanca was disappointing but he enjoyed his autonomy.

On November 29th, he realized that his plan of reaching America by boat would never work and decided to leave Casablanca by road. On December 6th, he entered Tunisia and was offered a ride to Tunis by soldiers. Once in the city, he rushed to the Embassy to get a visa to Libya, but he was provisionally denied entry. Because he was upset, he crossed the border illegally. To avoid the police, he walked across the desert. Days and nights were a nightmare; he felt hot, cold, starving, scared, exhausted, lonely, and considered giving up. Luckily, he crossed the path of nomadic tribes. They welcomed him warmly, immersing him in their culture. When he arrived in a small village, he went to the police station and came up with a story to convince the police officer to put his visas in order. It was the first of several little white lies for his benefit.

Also, he was no longer hesitant to cross borders illegally and did so again in Egypt on December 22nd. He was controlled multiple times by the authorities but somehow managed to fool them. He spent Christmas in Alexandria where he got his passport in order as well as a visit to the doctor; he had been feeling ill since he crossed the desert. In Cairo, all expatriates tried to convince him by any means to go back home. So, he fled again, confident only in his love for travel.

The next stop is Port Said where he took a ship for Beirut. Immediately after, he took the road in direction of Damas in Syria. After a one-night stop and a visit to the consulate, he went to Iraq. He reached Iran three days later, on February 9th, 1955. He spent a couple of days in Teheran, preparing his next move, visiting the city, discovering the Iranian culture, and meeting other adventurers. If Claude traveled so fast, it was because he had his mind set on a goal: he would reach America through India and Japan.