Tired of dating sites or apps? A couple based in Bidarray, in the Atlantic Pyrenees, offers singles the opportunity to meet their soul mate. Since February 2022 Markotx Criado and Dorothée Devolder have been organizing free excursions, entirely reserved for them. The principle? Wear a backpack and meet strangers on a mountain trip.
The two lovers came up with this concept inspired by their idyll. They met a year and a half ago on an excursion. “Dorothee was unfamiliar with the Basque Country and needed advice. I drove it and then we made a friendship around our common passion “says the 44-year-old man. This friendly bond eventually turned into love. Today they live together with their two children from previous relationships.
“Wearing a smile is mandatory”
At the beginning of the year, Markotx Criado and his partner launched the Facebook group “Excursions for singles in the Basque Country”. “We thought the concept might appeal to some people who usually walk alone. This allows them to meet people who share the same passion and to create affinity. “
In less than 24 hours, 50 people signed up for this first excursion. “We were overwhelmed by the recordingsremembers the father of the family. We had to close them and establish some criteria. “ To participate in these outings between singles you must therefore seek love but also be a beginner or an experienced hiker. “A smile is also mandatory”he adds ironically.
Trips open to all
The organizers do not establish any criteria for hikers: “Our outings are open to everyone. But we still try to create balanced groups so that it is useful to the participants. “ Three excursions have occurred since the launch of the concept. Each time it goes the same way.
“The sixteen people do not know the route or the other people registered. The goal is to get them out of their comfort zone., assures Markotx Criado. Everyone is discovered for the first time at the meeting point. The couple then plans several activities so that the day’s hikers can get to know each other little by little, he indicates Southwest who participated in an edition “Games to discover your profession, puzzles to be solved in pairs …”explains the beret.
Markotx Criado and his partner offer them paths they know thoroughly. Firefighter alive, the father of a family hikes every day. The pharmacy technique, Dorothée Devolder joins him “as soon as he can”.
“We opt for paths accessible to all. We know where the shaded areas are, the different water points and the accesses for any rescue. The first excursion, we covered 8 km. But the further it goes, the more people ask us to increase the distance. “
“Four or five pairs” have already formed
Three months after its creation, their Facebook group has nearly 600 members. “We are very surprised. The concept attracts many people, including people who come from Béarn or Landes. Some travel a hundred kilometers to participate in our excursions! “ But do these people find love at the end of the day? Very proud, Markotx Criado states this “four or five pairs” formed through their dating. Many also become friends.
What if a hiker has a crush but doesn’t dare to go to the other one? “It happened that we were asked for the name of a participant after the excursion. But they usually succeed. “ For the 1940s, this concept has several advantages over dating sites. “It is the certainty of meeting a person who shares his passion. Then everyone turns out naturally. We all sweat … and we end up having a beer together. Nothing more friendly! “he concludes. The next excursion is scheduled for Saturday 14 May 2022.