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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

 

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Visas Take Three: They Responded!

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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,


“For us it has been really easy as we both have EU passports. Stevo- Austrian and Chanel -Polish. This has made all of our Europe travel no problem. We have visited places like Turkey and Australia where we required visas, but other than that it has been visa-free. We purchase all our visas online at least a month before we enter. Places like Thailand and Dubai were also not an issue as we didn’t stay longer than a few days but it would be possible to have a free visa for a month or so. Our budget is really tight, but we definitely have visas in the budget, so the Australian and Turkish visas we needed were part of the initial budget.”

This is also relieving because it means that I have a better understanding of how I will be traveling. SInce they have Visas that are apart of the Shengen territory, it is very easy for them to travel within the Shengen Zone. That’s bad news for me, but hopefully the travel agent I am meeting with tomorrow will give me some good information on how to avoid those headaches.
I suppose I will adopt their method of the one month Visa application rule. All of the Visa happenstance will be easier once I get out of most first-world countires such as the European Union. It looks like most nations in Africa are either “No Visa Required” or “Visa Upon Entry” both of which are much better than shipping Visas out through the mail.
Updates will come in this week about how it went with Mayfair Travel. Until then, hook me up with some Visa and Travel Tips that I can incorporate in my adventure!!

Finding Ways to Travel On A Budget

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Traveling on less than 100 dollars a month. Is this possible? I believe that it is!!

I actually believe that I can travel on 60 dollars; mainly this is spent on food and food alone. (Occasionally, you will need to pay for visas which can be anywhere between 25.00 – 100.00 depending on your location and or national status)

But of course, this is traveling in a way that is anything but glamorous. No dining out, no paid museums, no trains or buses or boats to anywhere that I can’t walk, and certainly NO HOTELS!!!

The key?

Couchsurfing. Workaway. Camping.

Couchsurfing is essentially spending a night or two at a strangers home (Usually someone who does a fair amount of travel themselves) on their “couch.” Or floor, or spare bed, etc.

Workaway is when you stay for a longer period of time to offer work services in exchange for a place to sleep and sometimes meals to eat.

Camping is just like it sounds. You whip out your tent and sleeping bag, you get down and dirty with nature, and you wake to the most wonderful sight of the day: the golden sunrise.

Each one of these avenues provides a wonderful experience, far from the common tourist, that really digs into the culture of the land that you are vagabonding in. The less money you spend, the more adventure you will have- and that is the ultimate goal of this kind of traveling: to have an adventure, to grow in experience, and to connect with hundreds of fellow wanderers.

Traveling this way is sure to remain cheap and affordable, and you can easily make this happen with little money. You don’t need to be a billionaire to waltz across the world: You just need to think outside the confinements of currency.