“On July 18, 1971, I boarded my first plane and I never stopped. »
From her home in Petawawa, Ontario, Francine Lévesque tells us how she made travel her life purpose. “As soon as I had an invitation, as soon as I had an opportunity, I was leaving,” she said confidently.
And if there’s one message she wants to convey, it’s this: never turn down an opportunity to visit a country.
To this day, she still remembers the warm blast of air stepping out of that first plane when she arrived in Miami more than 50 years ago. “It was very exotic at that time! I never lost that feeling. »
At almost 73 years old, she still has a country ahead of her to discover. Moreover, at the time we spoke to her, she was packing her bags for Croatia. With the same energy as a child on Christmas Eve. “Dream, get up and go. One day I read this and I said to myself: hey, this is going to be my leitmotif. »
In 1989, long before it became fashionable via the internet, she was already doing house swaps with her family. “I was getting the catalog from HomeLink Home Exchange. They had an office in Vancouver — the only one in Canada. The catalog must have been almost two inches high! And it was my bedside book; we chose the country or the house that interested us – there was only one photo! —, the dates, and from that, we wrote letters and we received answers. I was traveling every night,” she recalls amusedly.
Since her first trip, Francine Lévesque has always recorded her stories in notebooks. So much so that she found herself in front of a big box. “A real chaos. That’s when she started writing some stories about her travels and the people she met all over the world.
Then, when the pandemic hit, she found herself with plenty of free time. As soon as she was vaccinated, she flew to the island of Grenada, where she spent three months writing the rest of her stories, which were finally published last winter in her book L’envers du voyage — 50 stories d adventures around the world.
The only time she gave up was in the early 1980s; her daughters were still small and she had to fly to Egypt, just after an attack that targeted two Canadians.
While there have been a few misadventures she recounts in her book that involve “mega-tarantulas” in Mozambique or an awkward encounter with a lone buffalo that forced her to climb a tree, she doesn’t. never experienced what she calls “fear of the other”.
Yes, he happened to meet “not easy” people, like in Corsica, in the 1980s. “We had a plate of the metropolis on the car, and they claimed their independence. There was a group that was sitting on the hood of the car. I faced them, explaining to them that we too, in Quebec, had the same claim. Then there was this endless wait on the train at the Russian-Mongolian border, practically in the dark, his passport confiscated by the Russians. “But I wasn’t afraid. These are moments to tell, let’s say. »
The next few years will also be filled with travel for Francine Lévesque — and writing projects, too. “Since turning 70, I find that I have been in a very beautiful period of my life. We have a lot less worries and responsibilities. All that remains is to seize the opportunities to set off again.
Do you have any travel stories to tell us? Write to our journalist to share your stories.