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.
After E-mailing that couple that’s been going all over the place, they finally got back to me =]
They said that they tried saving about 7,000 dollars to start- they didn’t say whether or not they reached this, or if they exceeded it. Who knows? They did say that they would rather not say how much money they got- understandable since they are still traveling.
They claim that they are not making any money at all through any means other than the Workaway hosts they have been staying at. This is encouraging. Though I wonder why they are advertising those companies on their site… Perhaps they got their traveling gear from them? Mystery of mysteries I suppose.
I asked how they work out the Visa problems and they said,
I make roughly 10,000.00 annually from my job- that’s after taxes. Here are my base income assets:
- I work as a part-time librarians assistant (or assitant as my name tag suggests) with an hourly wage of 13.00 (24 hours a week).
- I do not get benefits, I do not get paid when we have days off (Like for snow, holidays, and so on), but I do receive about three hours of vacation time and three hours of sick time every month.
- I also receive 73.00 every month for food stamps because I have a low income.
Now for the things that suck away my money:
- Rent: 675.00
- Wireless Internet: 65.00
- Electricity: 55.00
- Food: 100.00
So let’s do the math: I have about 10,000 dollars a year.
- Rent for 12 months is 8,100.
- Wifi for 12 months is 780.
- Electricity for 12 months is 660.
- Food is (Well if I have food stamps, it comes out to be only 27 dollars that I pay to make the full hundred, so for 12 months I pay out of my income about 276).
Total amount: 9,816.00
Guys, that sucks hardcore. That means that every month, IF I ONLY SPEND MONEY ON ABSOLUTE NECESSITIES, NOT INCLUDING BUS FARES AND BICYCLE REPAIR, I ONLY SAVE 184 DOLLARS A MONTH
Which means that it would take me a long time to save 10,000 dollars, right? Of course right. But the truth is that last month, I saved over 700 dollars. How is that possible?
- I do not have a car. I ride my bike (Yes, even in winter, it’s really not to bad), (An average savings of 9,000 a year).
- I split my one bedroom apartment down the middle and rent it out to another person (an average savings of 360-450 a month).
- I donate blood plasma (an average of 100 a month). *Edit* Not anymore =[ I lost consciousness and can’t do it anymore, too bad so sad)
- I buy from yard sales and thrift stores and resell them on Craigslist and eBay (An average of 300.00 a month)
- I also started giving guitar lessons to locals for 15 dollars a session , weekly, (30 minutes).
This is how you can save a whole ton of money: By reaching out and utilizing every single one of your assets and minimizing your expenses.
The excess money that I make from reselling goes to all of my gear needs. Everything that is in my Paypal account is what I use to buy my sleeping bags, my tents, my equipment, etc etc etc.
If you believe that you cannot save money while making a very low income, think again. If you know what you want, then get out there are take it, because ultimately,
“Money can’t buy you love or adventure”