Will Work for Food

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I’ve heard it said that a person is never their true self unless they are sure they are alone; if this is true, then I must truly be a lunatic.

I have found myself, when walking in fields completely absent of others, reciting and reenacting whole musical scores such as “Jack’s Lament,” from The Nightmare Before Christmas or “If I Were A Rich Man,” from The Fiddler on The Roof. I leap from fences and logs and stumps, thrusting my hands to the sky, becoming quite animated- which made it all the more embarrassing when I walked right past someone I hadn’t seen. C’est la vie.

The Netherlands was a fun country. Rotterdam was cool, Amsterdam was overrated and smelled like tourism, marijuana, and sex but it was the ghostly sound of Dutch that seduced me. I love the way they say good morning, sounding like “Huda Morgen,” with a windy whisp of the throat and tongue on the R. And oddly enough, I thought I could understand them, even though mentally I knew that I didn’t. Such were the similarities between our respective languages.

It was in Amelo, far east, where I met someone that ended up more than a traveling acquaintance. Linda became my friend, and I actually spent more time at her place than I planned!! A first for me, as I am usually constantly moving. She introduced me to her Italian friend, and I cooked spaghetti with my homemade vegan recipe. Frederico said it was perfect, a great feat apparently, that a real Italian enjoyed a traditionally Italian meal prepared by an American.


As I live and breath, my favorite part of traveling is meeting new and interesting people who are willing to share their life with me. I have felt this multiple times with many, a sort of vulnerability that makes possible the great connection I feel- like a secret knowledge we share together. This is still somewhat of a mystery for me, however, and maybe I can understand it as I grow.

I have felt the first pangs of loneliness while sitting in a campsite in Amsterdam. I knew they were destined to come sooner or later- you can´t expect to uproot one`s entire life and not feel even the least bit lonely. But come the morning, I felt quite alright, and ready to take on the world once more. I regret nothing of leaving. I truly feel alive, a little anxious, but blessed all the same. Solitude is a gift, and I recieve it gladly. But it is still okay to miss people now and again.

I walked across the German border and took a train to Munster. Not sure where I should stay, I began walking towards a green splotch on my map (a possible Forrest?) and took a small break in a thrift store; I hoped to find a book in English, as the one I had was almost finished. In broken German, I tried to ask for one when a woman of about 50 or 60 spoke. “I have a book in English in my home if you’d like. It’s one of Steinbeck’s, but it was too complicated for me.,” she said. Of course I accepted. I made myself comfortable and waited for her return. A bad smell lingered on my clothing, and my thoughts were filled with doubts- “where would I sleep? It was getting late. What would I eat? Where can I clean my clothes” and so on. Upon returning, the woman gave me not Steinbeck, but a small collection of short stories, and then offered me a bed for the night.


“I invite you in because you have a good energy in you, and I hope that somewhere someone will help my own traveling son as I help you,” she explained. This isn’t the first time I’ve been told I had “Good energy.” A French man asked me where it came from and I honestly didn’t know what he was talking about. The woman gave me beer, cheese, bread, and other food that night. She helped me clean my clothing, and I slept like a baby.

Hannover was amazing: I met a group of couchsurfers and found a place to stay there after my CS plan fell through. Tip for anyone wanting to use it: Make sure you confirm everything so you don’t misunderstand like I did. All of them were interesting, to say the least. Garret, the guy who helped me, had hosted hundreds of people. There was a Frenchman who, “Didn’t know why he was in Germany.” He was quite hilarious, with a snarky and sarcastic sense of humor. Rebecca, a German shoe maker who invited me for tea the next day was an intelligent and kind woman. Upon meeting her she said, “You’re English is very good!” Which gave us all a laugh because I should hope it’s good- it’s my native tongue!!

I made my way to Berlin to meet with Claudia, one of the coolest, most chill persons I’ve ever met in my life. Actually, she reminded me of my dear friend Alex, and I told her as much. She took me to “The REAL Berlin,” where tourists don’t often go… Ever. This tour included three spots: Tippie Land- a homeless community where you can set up a tent and stay in, Kopi- a punk rock squat, and Yaam an African hang out. Kopi was amazing. The sign on their door read:

“We will not tolerate Facists, Racists, Sexists, Homophobes, Tourists, or Cameras.”

There was a drunk Italian man, fat, with a head too large for his body equiped with a winter hat way too small for his head. Other memorables would be the loud American girl, pierced to the nines, who sleeps in graveyards for their cheap and peaceful qualities, and a Finnish rock musician traveling around Europe.

After playing music with Claudia the next morning, swapping the guitar back and forth, I decided that I couldn’t take it anymore and bought my self a small guitarlini. Decked me 130€ but if I play on some city streets… 😀


I gathered by things and made my way to Karstadt, where, after missing my train twice, I met my first workawa hosts! They took care of six horses: Santos, Argus, Akazie, Arik, Abbe, and Aiva. I spent the next two weeks (ish), shoveling horse crap into buckets, painting doors, cleaning stables, and antagonizing the pet dogs (Not really, but come on, faking fetch throws is classic). One of the dogs, a black and white poodle named Nemo, seems to have taken a liking to me; whenever I would play the guitar, he would find a way to stroll over and lie down next to me. This, as you can imagine, made me feel quite cool. The other dog, Mahjo, was far too cool and highclass for my rugged ways. But after sneaking her some delicious treats, she warmed up to me.


At one point, I was playing the guitar and this huge, fat cat waltzes right up to where I am. It looks at me, and I look at it, and this must have signaled the creature. It jump upon the table in front of me, and steped right over the guitar and found its way comfortably resting in my lap, purring loudly, rubbing its head against me. Thanks a lot, cat. What did I do? The same thing any one who has been chosen by a cat does- pet the crap out of that thing and earn more purs. Teddy was his name.

Steffi, the daughter, works with training horses via positive reinforcement: a system of training that I can definitely support, with no beating, whipping, or otherwise painful wazs of mistreating the animals. She uses a clicker strategie and took the time to give me some basic lessons. I now feel quite confident that I can teach a horse (or any other animal) that a click means a treat, and a treat means I liked what you did, which then causes the action to resurface again and again. I learned so much from this workaway, that I am quite excited for the next ones. You can see her website here. Its in German so beware.

I am back in Berlin, spending a few days here before I head towards Poland and the Zakopane mountains. Packed up my bag again, ready to hit the road once more, only this time I am a little more musical, and know a little bit more in this world of endless knowables. Till next time, share this post, subscribe, comment below.



8 thoughts on “Will Work for Food

    Gracie said:
    September 26, 2016 at 12:16 am

    Oooh man Sam the work away with the horses sounds incredible I would’ve loved that. You know going back to the you have good energy thing, animals can sense it too. They come to you and trust you because they sense that you are a good person. I fully believe in karma. If you put good out into the world you will get good back. Like the woman who helped you because her son is traveling too. I’m happy you’re having a good time, keep sending the updates. I think of you every day, every morning I wonder where you are waking up, what your thinking and seeing. Every night I hope you are warm, safe and fed. I understand the pangs of loneliness. For me it’s not loneliness per say but a longing for your company and a knot of anxiety over your safety. You mean so much to me and the rest of the family I hope everyone who meets you realizes that you are very loved and missed every day. I miss our talks, I miss your face, your guitar playing. I know you’ll be home one day and this time will have flown by but until then I send good vibes into the world every day for you and eagerly await your next post. Love you, be safe xoxo


    Nicole said:
    September 26, 2016 at 1:34 am


    Love reading of your travels and experiences, the people you meet and the things you do. Your Mom has that same energy, you both have this sunshine that surrounds you. I pray you stay safe and keep on experiencing new adventures and people each and everyday. Love and hugs, Nikki


    Jim Gutacker said:
    September 26, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Luv it!


    Denny Barger said:
    September 26, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Nothing defines humbleness than being joyful while shoveling horse manure! The picture of you playing guitar helped me to see that you are growing more & more mature with every new day. I’m so very proud of you! Enjoy the journey.


    Mom said:
    September 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Oh, Sam . . . As I read your blog I was just filled with such pride; pride at the fact that you planned this and are following through, pride at the fact that people can see you the way your family sees you, pride at the way you articulate your thoughts and experiences, and pride at the way you love others. I agree with Gracie when she so aptly said, “For me it’s not loneliness per say but a longing for your company and a knot of anxiety over your safety.” Be assured that I pray for you everyday and eagerly await your next commentary on yet a new corner of the world. ❤
    The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
    The Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
    The Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.
    Numbers 6:24-26.


    Samuel Barger responded:
    September 27, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Hi! Sam Soooooo very good to hear from you and know that you are safe and well!! Miss your cheerful disposition and our early morning chats before work started. I can’t believe how many wonderful experiences you are having……sounds like a lot of work but a lot of fun as well. All your new-found friends sound so very interesting. It is nice to know in other countries people can be so helpful and kind. I am looking forward to hearing from you again soon……until then stay well and safe, Connie M.


    Kate said:
    September 28, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Sammy,
    As always, I loved your post! You really do have a good energy, people trust you, and with good reason. I’m grateful to all the people giving you a bed, clean clothes, or a meal. I just said to the girls, we should join couch surfers so we can help people like Sam, we’d probably meet some awesome people too! Tay goes, yeah, mom, sounds like a really safe plan for a family of children… lol! Maybe she’s right, but the kindness of the hosts you are meeting makes me want to pay it forward for my little bro. I love you Sammy! I’m so glad you’re safe, thanks for bringing us all along with you through your posts. XOXO Kate.


      Samuel Barger responded:
      September 29, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      You could sign up, make a profile, and choose the option “not accepting guests” so no one contacts you 😛

      Then you would have the option open! Boom! But yeah, having a family there might not be safe. But definitely sign up! It’s free!!!


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