Such experiences usually happen once in a lifetime. For Nathalie Cauvi, embarking on a round-the-world trip was an incredible way to combine her passion for art and design with that of culture and travel. What’s more, her skill as a creative designer helped her get a seat on the plane.
Nathalie entered a competition run by Bedycasa, a homestay pioneer, and won a 2 1/2 month trip called "Tour du Monde chez l'habitant" from 23rd June to 9th September 2014. Now with their feet back on the ground in Geneva, I sat down in the new blue-infinity lounge with Nathalie and Maël Sevestre, her cinematographer, for a lively chat about their whirlwind tour.
Hi guys, and welcome back! How do you feel since your return?
Nathalie: The trip was really emotional for me and coming back was a big change of rhythm, and personal matters occupying my mind whilst travelling can come to a closure, now that I’m grounded.
Maël: I’m pretty glad to be back in familiar surroundings as the trip was very rapid and intense. So now with my daily routine and seeing my friends again it’s good to relax.
In a few figures, you were two teams selected from three countries, producing ten videos per team, moving through ten destinations with back-to-back flights over five continents…aren't you exhausted?
N: Absolutely. I also tried to devote energy to my overdue tax declaration on the plane, encouraged by Mael but fortunately I could extend it until the 12th September, which funnily enough was also our return date.
M: Yes both mental fatigue as well as the physical. Now that I’m back in my rhythm of taking the train and doing my regular activities I can recharge.
So what was the biggest highlight of your 72 day journey?
N: Togo made a huge impression on me. We were tiring of the ‘walking wallet’ syndrome, being treated as a rapid source of foreign money. Togo didn’t have many tourists and during the 12 days there I had genuine exchanges with the people, kids and produced 3-4 drawings per day. Not to mention a very impressionable Prince whom I debated with…
M: The wilderness of Saguenay in Québec and zen philosophy of our hosts there was totally inspirational – the ’we work too much, enjoy life as well and take time to do what you like’ mindset helped me zone out from the fast-paced delivery of our work whilst travelling.
Sounds inspirational. But what made you first get involved in this competition, run by Bedycasa?
N: During previous travel, I always drew for my own pleasure. This time I had a structured timeline to my art, which was also a channel to share my passion and make it visible to a wider audience. Bedycasa have a humanitarian background that appealed to me and winning the competition and being sponsored was exhilarating. Plus, I got to involve Mael who is just great at what he does!
So Mael is pretty talented at film making? What’s the secret to making so many professional looking videos, like the one in Vietnam, in so little time?
M: It’s my job so I’m used to it. One secret is having good equipment and preparing the right kit, the other is having someone like Nathalie who knows what she wants and is pleasant to work with. We could anticipate a lot and preparing batteries and essentials before going into the jungle was key.
N: Haha! It was also having a cohesion and understanding between us. I once woke up Mael to record the thunder in Vietnam, as my video and artwork ideas came to me there and then. Sorry Mael.
And before Asia you were in New Zealand, my home country. I hope you had a friendly welcome?
N: Yes and it was such relief. Finally a place where the people were nice, open and good humored, like Leslie our adorable host.
M: Yes, we found that in ‘Down Under’ [Southern Hemisphere] there is a lot of trust in people, that they are welcoming and plus New Zealand is so beautiful. It’s a pity we couldn’t stay longer.
You’re making me homesick now. I hope you could understand our kiwi accent. How about the challenge of other foreign languages?
N: Vietnam was challenging, people pretended to understand and nodded their heads but in fact it was misleading at times.
M: South America was difficult, with our limited Spanish and very little spoken English by the locals.
Languages aside, how did the ‘host lodging’ concept work out?
N: It worked fine, however we often converted the homes into temporary work studios. That was unfortunate as they [the hosts] wanted to talk to us, so it was hard to balance with wanting to know people better.
What was the craziest thing you ate?
N: Some fried crickets in Vietnam. I had to confront my phobia. They tasted spicy!
M: For me the roasted guinea pig spliced open in Peru had an acquired taste, but there were so many little bones everywhere. At least there were French fries on the side. I can send you a photo.
No, maybe you shouldn’t. This experience probably made quite an impression on your friends and peers. How do you think it has benefited your career?
N: I’ll be more in demand now! I improved my English, storytelling skills and I learned a lot about video from Mael. I’m ready to go to another place if necessary.
M: For me it was the best result, as I was hired by blue-infinity, also thanks to Nathalie.
If you could repeat the experience, what would you do differently?
N: More time to immerse ourselves would be great.
M: Yes it was so fast paced and we would like to have avoided the capital cities for the small villages. The people we met had so much to give it was hard to rush things.
Finally, when’s your next trip planned or is your passport full? Can I come?
N: Well, I dream of visiting Antarctica, so I’m exploring the possibility of a boat trip near Cape Horn. I am so grateful to b-i and my manager for letting me take leave and pursue such a rich experience.
M: It’s super that b-i let Nathalie take time out for 2 ½ months, more companies should do it. Personally, I’m heading North to see my sister in Spitzbergen early next year. Filming will be hard as it’s gonna be dark there but I'll take on the challenge.
Watch the videos of Nathalie and Maël’s trips via this youtube channel: Team ArtVenturers
Nathalie Cauvi is Senior Consultant, Digital Marketing and Mael Sevestre is an on-call Consultant cinematographer, at blue-infinity.
Want to start a career like Nathalie’s? blue-infinity offers a flexible work schedule with sabbatical allowances to help you pursue your broader interests. Check out http://careers.b-i.com/
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