Travel journals and transition tales towards an ethical and sustainable future

My name is Claire Blumenfeld and I have been running Peregrinus Mundi since 2015. This site follows the evolution of my life in the form of chapters. Chapters I to VI mainly present travel journals and photographs. Chapter VII follows my transition process towards a lifestyle based on ecology and well-being through three approaches that greatly interest me, permaculture, herbalism and eco-construction.

Changes to come

The end of the confinement is looming and I return to Provence with questions in my head.

The days go by, one by one, similar and different. My room is a cocoon and a prison. A sort of weariness lingers in the air. I am tired of this strange life, half cloistered in a tiny corner of an almost empty hotel. The employees of the hotel are leaving one after the other. But nature is beautiful. It is vibrant with colors, smells and sounds. It is spring. The calm and intoxicating spring that I welcome with joy far from the muffled noises of civilization. This suspended moment, these months in slow motion are a blessing to observe the earth, to reconnect with nature. I try to free myself from the grip of computers, the screen-gods, the almighty internet. But I am not really successful. Between walks in the valley, working on my website and meals cooked on a camping stove, I watch documentaries on the environment and the world. Then on intensive agriculture and its ravages. Then on the seed business, on our perverted relationship with time and animals, on alternatives and transitional movements. I discover all of this in a few weeks. A shift takes place quickly and slowly at the same time. A change whose consequences I do not yet fathom.

At the beginning of May, the University of Bristol contact me to inform me that I am selected to participate in a skype interview with the director of the Wildlife filmmaking course to which I applied last February. Euphoria, anguish and doubts fight in my mind. The interview takes place, filled with very  interesting exchanges and here I am again left in the dark waiting for answers. I have to wait for the beginning of June. A few days later, a good part of France comes out of quarantine. On May 11, we are again free human beings. The virus has not disappeared, but the rate of sick patients has stabilized and hospitals are catching their breath. From one day to the next, the streets of Chamonix are filling with people. But where were they during these two months? All these people ? Caulked behind the walls of their house? Like good little sheep. The McDonald’s on the corner of the shopping street reopens its doors for take-away and the small park next to the hotel is once again covered in rubbish. Two months of tranquility and cleanliness. All wiped in just a few hours.

The Mercure hotel where I “work” and live will not reopen these doors this summer. The decision fell in mid-May. Of all the hotels in the Best Mont-Blanc group, this is the only one to remain closed. The others will have to adapt to the sanitary conditions put in place and the decline in customers, but their doors will be open. But the Mercure is outdated and the director has decided to set sail. So the hotel will remain closed until the end of 2020 and will take the opportunity to do some work on the structures. For several days I struggle to try to find a job in the other hotels of the group. Work for the two summer months to keep saving for my possible expensive year in Bristol. But the priority is for permanent contracts. They must first be placed. The remaining crumbs, if any, will go to others. temporary contracts, seasonal workers, fragile and expendable staff. But there is none. So I do not force it. Something seems to whisper to me that it is not worth it.

At the beginning of June, I leave Chamonix to return to Provence. I leave the still cool mountains for the too hot heat of the south of France. I’m leaving Chamonix for the second time without having managed to do everything I wanted. What a strange start to 2020! In a few months all my ideas, prospects and plans for the future have been swept away. Good lesson to remind me that spending hours to make projects often turns out to be futile. It is already hot in Beaucaire, where my parents live. Summer is going to be a long time to endure. But I have to wait. Wait for Bristol’s response, which is slow in coming. It is already mid-June and still no answer. A strange feeling hangs in my mind. In England, the situation is less beautiful than in France and people are still confined. Will the coronavirus and the economic and societal crisis it will cause completely reverse my future? So I continue to document myself on these transitional movements, these other ways of living and working, these movements tending towards autonomy, sharing and solidarity which seem to take on their full meaning now. I continue to cultivate the little seed that is blooming inside of me and that pushes me towards another future.

The Chamonix valley at the end of May. The snow is still present on the heights but the trees are quite green. Once out of confinement, the hiking trails filled up a bit with people but after 1500m high places were still quiet.

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20 June 2020

Texts and photographs by Claire Blumenfeld

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Greater flamingos in Camargue, France © Claire Blumenfeld

Pink feathers

Pink, red and white. Poetic impressions about the Flamingo of Camargue.

Greater flamingos in Camargue, France © Claire Blumenfeld

Flamingo ballet

Movements of a colony of Greater Flamingos illustrated through rhythm and repetition.

Camargue, France © Claire Blumenfeld

Land of nature and men

What is Camargue? How have history and human exploitation shaped this deltaic plain? And what are the current challenges for the natural environment?

An artic fox - Hornstrandir - Iceland - © Claire Blumenfeld

Wildlife

Wild animals are a source of discovery and permanent inspiration.

Greater flamingos in Camargue, France © Claire Blumenfeld

Mimicry

Early January, I note the increase in belligerent behavior between Greater Flamingos and wonder about their mimicry.

Greater flamingos in Camargue, France © Claire Blumenfeld

Greater Flamingos

Aesthetic appearance, courtship displays, large colonies, Greater Flamingos are special birds.

Chamonix, France © Claire Blumenfeld

Changes to come

The end of the confinement is looming and I return to Provence with questions in my head.

Dévoluy, France © Claire Blumenfeld

Rays of light

Summer stretches between heat, walks and questions and my future branches off towards a new direction.

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