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Adrar des Iforas, Mali, 1935Adrar des Iforas, Mali, 1935Pierre Verger was one of those rare persons who only follow their own choices and know how to face with serenity both the pleasures and displeasures of this way of life. Many of his contemporaries also decide to leave for remote and ill known countries, but Verger goes further: during many years, he remains constantly on the move and immerses himself in the varied cultures he encounters. As he distances himself each time more from his homeland, Verger ends up feeling a stranger in his own town.

Verger starts his first trips in Europe: by foot he goes around Corsica, before visiting the Soviet Union during the commemorations of the fifteenth anniversary of the Revolution. In the years that precede World War II, Verger often gets on his bike - at a time when cars are still a rarity - for short visits to neighbouring towns and countries. While in Spain he is mistaken for a German spy and incarcerated for a few days. It is in the South of France and in Italy that his European tour finishes. Italy makes a great impression upon him for its natural landscapes, historical cities and famous monuments.

A bordo do Tatsua Maru, Oceano Atlantico, 1934 A bordo do Tatsua Maru, Oceano Pacífico, 1934 His great travels start in Oceania, where he remains for more than a year. In Tahiti and the nearby islands Verger lives in a traditional hut, sharing the life of the locals and discovering an exuberant nature. But he is even more fascinated by Asiatic countries. His visits include Japan, China, Vietnam and Laos. In the Philippines Verger recognises the traces of its successive waves of populations: Spanish churches, Chinese restaurants, Californian houses; he also meets tribes with very peculiar customs such as the beheading of neighbouring people. In Vietnam, he goes skiing with Emperor Bao Dai. In Cambodia, he considers becoming a Buddhist monk before giving up for ethical reasons.

At the cultural opposite, Africa gradually seduces him. Verger enters through the North and crosses the desert with the Tuaregs. He discovers Senegal and ultimately obtains a grant that allows him to make longer stays in West African countries, especially Nigeria and Benin. For about thirty years Verger commutes between the Gulf of Benin and the Bay of All Saints, continuously looking for the similarities between those two regions deeply linked by the vicissitudes of the slave trade. Wandering through marketplaces and villages, researching archives, participating in countless ceremonies, received by Kings, Verger constantly deepens his knowledge of the cult of the Orishas.

Keromarka, Tinta, Peru, 1939Keromarka, Tinta, Peru, 1939But Verger is also a fine connoisseur of Americas' multiple faces: the sky-scrapers of the United States, the heat of Mexico, the politeness of Peruvian Indians, the music of Cuba. If he visits several other countries, it is for Brazil and more especially Bahia that he nourishes a passion. One of the reasons for this is that "this is one of those rare places in the world where one can live at one with people of various ethnic origins." The hospitality of the Bahians allows him to seal numerous friendships and to know intimately the popular customs of Bahia. From his arrival in 1946 until his death 50 years later, Bahia becomes his adopted land.