Saturday, December 21, 2013

all roads lead to Granada, part II: wine country

previously on hitchhiking stories:

It took me the same amount of time to get from Berlin to Utrecht than from Utrecht to Lille and it's a third of the distance... hitchhiking works in mysterious ways. Finally I met Matylda, a friend of a friend of mine. We almost meet last summer for the hitchgathering but she didn't go. Only stayed one night in Lille but it's alright, I was there last year.


The 800 Km between Lille and Bordeaux seemed doable in one day except for one tiny little detail: Paris was in between...

and now...

The night before leaving, me and Matylda were checking google maps for a decent petrol station before Paris. What is next might not say anything to you but it did to us: there were two huge petrol stations on the A1 before Paris, one right after exit 11 and the other one after exit 7. I thought that getting to the closest one will increase my chances of getting a ride across The City of Light

After saying goodbye to all the nice peeps I met the night before, finally meeting and exchanging stories with Matylda, getting a few gigabytes worth of music and sleeping only for a few hours, I was ready to whatever may lay ahead of me. Of course I was hoping for the best. I thought that if by any chance I would get stuck in Paris it was better just to find a place to crash there instead of trying to cross it. It took me almost two hours to cross BXL.

By 8 I was already on my way to the first petrol station on the motorway and after a coffee and a baguette with Speculoos pasta I was on my way to the petrol station closest to Paris! But wait, this is still not a victory. I still had to cross one of the most populous cities in the world. The city that once took me 4 hours just to get to the place to start hitchhiking.

I was smoking a cigarette in front of the shop when a guy asked me, what I'm assuming since he had a cardboard sign, if I was going to Le Mans or Angers. I smiled and said that I also was going there. He kept telling me spells in french until I realized that he thought I was a driver and not a fellow hitchhiker.

So far I found all rides quite fast so standing for more than half hour I started to become anxious. Will I need to go into Paris? not particularly in my wish list for the day. I still had the sign that the couple in Kielce gave me, the one that had written "Kraków" in it. Now it had also written "Le Mans", "Angers" and "Paris". I was goofingly showing all destinations to drivers, didn't work in getting me a ride but at least I made smile more than half of the people I showed it to. Partial success from the making people smile point of view.

My saviour came in the form of a spanish/french speaking portuguese driver, Tomás. There was some kind of prohibition for trucks: they weren't allowed to cross Paris. Instead, they had to go around it, meaning that going on the ring road will add 1,5 hours to the already long 600 km gap. By 19h00 I was about 90 km from Bordeaux. So close yet so far away. Portuguese people "weren't" going in my direction (Bordeaux). Long story short: after a tasty baguette with eggs, ham and cheese with french fries courtesy of corsican driver, a coffee courtesy of a spanish driver and some fun talks with spanish drivers (including an ride offer to Sevilla) I accepted the fact that I was not going anywhere that night. I slept inside the truck, very uncomfortable in the passenger seat but hey it wasn't cold and I had a roof over my head.

Guillaume, a french hitchhiker whom I almost met earlier this year in Tallinn offered me an "emergency couch" if I ever made it to Bordeaux. Well, here I was, very close to it. He lives in a small town north of Bordeaux, a couple of kilometres to where Tomás was actually going! 

Staying with him and his dad and brother was something truly extraordinary. I felt at home all the time.  Guillaume showed me his city. We shared stories. I never got bored staying in Saint Loubès. We are very similar except that I cannot play one single music instrument and he can play 89 instruments. He's a wizard when he's playing the piano. He taught me the super basics on how to play the contrabass. It was harder than I thought.

Bordeaux is a lovely city. Big but nice. The center can be seen in a couple of days. It has some lovely architecture all over, multicultural neighborhoods. It's home to the longest pedestrian street either in France or Europe. Googling that I found that there is another longest pedestrian street in København, so who knows. The longest or not, it's a very nice street full of life. On one end is some sort of immigrant neighborhood, really cool. Full of kebab restaurants. The other end being the posh end of the street, not so cool but still nice.

I didn't want to leave Bordeaux/Saint Loubès without hitching with Guillaume. We tried to hitch to where his mum lives, Arcachon but no one picked us up. I guess the green hair was scary to many people maybe? Near Arcachon is the tallest sand dune in Europe, Done du Pilat. I have to see that, I have never seen a sand dune before. Hitching to Arcachon didn't work but I'm a stubborn bastard so the next day we successfully hitched the 15 km between Saint Loubès and Bordeaux. 15 fucking kilometers and it only took one hour and two rides! Regardless, it was fun!

Bordeaux is a hard place to get out from but Guillaume drove me several kilometers to the first petrol station on the motorway heading south. He said it was big but it was nothing extraordinary. Anyways, it was super helpful to be in that place. Many many truck drivers heading south to Spain... Spain, many people say it's hard to hitch. My first and only time hitchhiking in Spain was alright. I mean, wasn't slower than other places I've hitched but now it's winter. Things are different in winter.

I asked several portuguese drivers, nothing. Finally I found a ride with Vicente. Actually he was walking towards me to ask me where I was going... I was in Madrid before sundown.

Saint Loubès at 6 in the morning 



Guillaume playing the piano

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

all roads lead to Granada, part I: KRK - Lille

What can I wrote about Kraków that I haven't written before, I don't think I can write something new. Or maybe...

...there is something, not travel related but an important thing, for me at least. I was happy to be part of my friend Mateusz's graduation party. He graduated something, I don't know what. Someone asked me "you are some kind of friend" to what I answered: "he's my friend not my girlfriend!"

For some reason that I'm still trying to figure out, earlier this year Justyna and I said that we were going to the zoo my next time in Kraków. Not only did we go but we hitchhiked there! We hiked to one of the mounds in town, there was some kind of race. There are no cars allowed on the hill in which the mound is. The only car allowed that day belonged to the organizer of the race. We hitchhiked the only car allowed on the bloody hill! 

Sadly it was time to leave. Given my past experience hitchhiking on sundays I decided that I was going to take the bus to Łódź where I was supposed to meet the girl I was going to hitchhike west. 

Contrary to my own (hitchhiking) "rule" of asking regardless of what might happen, I didn't ask the driver of a car with DW (Wrocław) license plates because I thought that the car was not going in my direction... the guy asked where I was going and not only did he take me but drove me all the way close to Berlin!

One night in Berlin is never enough and I couldn't catch up with a lot of people but it was nice to be back to the place it was my home at the end of 2011. Arthur, you are a great host as always, until next time!

The same goes for Utrecht, I can't really write anything else, except that it was a great stay with Edy and Marinda. I realized this time that Utrecht is one of those places I will always go back over and over and over and over.

It took me the same amount of time to get from Berlin to Utrecht than Utrecht to Lille and it's a third of the distance... hitchhiking works in mysterious ways. Finally I met Matylda, a friend of a friend of mine. We almost meet last summer for the hitchgathering but she didn't go. Only stayed one night in Lille but it's alright, I was there last year.

The 800 Km between Lille and Bordeaux seemed doable in one day except for one tiny little detail: Paris was in between...


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

of wet snow, borders, porsches and other stuff


I said that I was going to try not to describe my travels but I think this time is worth it given the fact that it was close to hell to get from Kaunas to Warszawa.

The last time I hitchhiked with a guy was terribly slow, this time was no different. Although started quite good when we got a ride to Marijampolė. After that it was when hell started...

The first ride came after less than 30 minutes of waiting and off I was direction PL. This girl dropped me off before the turn off to the city. Bad place. After unsuccessfully trying I decided that I needed to move past the entrance. I just changed spot but the situation was the same. No one would pick me up. It was very cold. There was a petrol station nearby in which I had a coffee and after a short warm up break I went to the road again. It was getting darker and colder. I was beginning to scout for places to sleep. One option was going into Marijampole and send an emergency CS request the other staying at the petrol station because the lady employees were really nice. I was leaning towards the latter one which involved not going far from the road.

After I almost had lost hope of getting out of that God forsaking place a bulgarian truck driver stopped. I just got in. First, he said that he was going to take me to Suwałki but somehow changed his mind and dropped me off not even at the rest stop before the border. I got off the truck a few kilometers before! What the hell!? well, at least now I was only a few km from PL.

I got to the rest stop just as it was beginning to get dark. I was outside the entrance when this weird shit started to fall from the sky. In the air it was snow but when it hit the ground, or my jacket, it was water. I knew I've seen this weird shit before but I didn't remember how annoying it was and certainly I didn't remember it even had a name. One thing for sure: I dislike that wet snow.

One hour went by. Lots of truck drivers going in and out of the restaurant. Another hour went by. Lots of truck drivers going in and out of the restaurant. The only thing I had in my stomach was a bowl of chocolate cereal that Kristina gave me, an apple and a coffee.

Finally, after 5 hours of freezing my ass, of asking 735 drivers if they were going to Poland, I decided to crash inside the restaurant. I chose a table in the corner, the only one with a power outlet underneath to charge my phone. I ordered a tea and stayed there until the next morning. The employees were really nice not kicking me out. I even slept, very uncomfortably but at least it was not cold and wet.

Brand new day, brand new attitude. I immediately started asking everyone that was going or coming from a truck. Dafuq is wrong with these people? Why aren't they going to Poland!? 90% of the drivers where heading back to LT whilst the rest were not going to take me.

I decided to walk to the polish side. I crossed the lithuanian former border structure and right after it  I saw a polish truck parked and asked the driver if he could take us, he said no.  Walked a bit more and decided to go back to the LT side when two lithuanian policemen checking the driver / truck's papers. They checked my passport, saw that everything was alright and gave it back, then they left to annoy more people in another spot in the border.

30 minutes later I was on my way to Suwałki. Another half hour and a truck driver gave me a ride to Augustów. I wanted to ask him if he could use the CV radio to ask if someone else was going in my direction but suddenly I was in Augustów. There I found a ride to Białystok. I was praying not to get dropped at the beginning of the city. Once I had to walk across town to get to a good spot direction WAW. The other time at least I hitchhiked to the other end going back to Tallinn. This guy dropped me off at the other end of town, the perfect spot to reach Warszawa... I still have hope in the world :-) There I was confident that we were going to find a ride fast, who knows, even a straight ride!

After some 15 minutes I hear someone yelling at me, two guys that drove by and came back.  They were going to Ostrołęka. They gestured that this place was in a straight line to WAW. It was, through Łomża... I've never  taken this road before but it was too late anyway.

In Ostrołęka I was stuck for a while. I was already thinking about what to do if I don't manage to leave. Tea in Macdonald's and I had renewed energy and went to the spot again. 15 minutes later and I was on my way to the center of Warszawa.

Like when I went to the gathering, I only spent one night in WAW and off I was to Kraków. It took me several rides to get there but all of them were well worth it. All of the drivers were really nice. Never waited for more than 15 minutes. One of the rides left me on the side of the road before Kielce. Some road construction workers gave me a lift to Kielce but were super nice and drove me to the road leading to KRK. I was freezing. Had a coffee in some restaurant and after having a google translated conversation with the owners, the husband drove me to a petrol station... on the main road! I was about to put my stuff on the ground when a car stopped. A while later I was only 70ish km from Krakók. I was walking and thumbing at the same time when a Porsche Panamera GTS stopped. I couldn't believe it... and the driver was a girl! I have the photos to prove it. And she spoke a bit of spanish!

By the way, if anyone knows how to make an alias of a hidden folder or how to show hidden folders on mac, please help me. After I inserted the memory card in my friend's windows pc, all the photo folders are hidden. Immediately I looked for them in my mac but didn't work. The folders are in memory card limbo. The photos are there, somewhere hidden inside the memory card but unaccessible. Please help!

Wojtek, he drove me to Kaunas
old town in Kaunas
 

Kristina
Vasily
 

Marta 
Marta and her Porsche Panamera GTS

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

distances

One of the biggest mistakes I can make is to underestimate the distance between two places. I mean, Riga is not very far away from Tallinn, roughly 300 km. I was super sure that I was going to make it quite easy. I didn't. Well, kind of.

It was super hard to leave Tallinn behind. I wanted to leave at 7 so I could be at the (HHing) spot around 8. Nope! I started having breakfast around 8. I had all my shit packed and ready. I just didn't want to leave. Had one last cigarette with Liisa. I promise, I will improve my rolling skills so next time I will roll them in no time!

The hardest part about traveling is when you have to say "see you later" to the people you care about. Hard and I hate it! Why can't I take them with me? Why can't they just come with me? Sorry for the sudden burst of selfishness, it's maybe because I still haven't had my morning dose of caffeine.

Finally had the courage to leave. Manuel walked me to the bus stop. By the way, there were no controls, I was nervous the entire time! I was very anxious. A few times I've tried to hitch out of Tallinn but only once I was picked up. I had the help of hot blonde that time. This time is was the green haired, pierced and skinny me. A bit more than an hour later I was standing just before the turn off to Haapsalu. Finally! I succeeded, I managed to hitch out of Tallinn on my own! I was only 30 km away though. 

Another couple of hours and I was in Pärnu living my worst nightmare: getting dropped at the entrance of the city. About three hours later it was getting dark and I was already looking for a plan B in case I had to stay the night there. Thought about going back to Tallinn but doing that would mean only one thing: not leaving again. As tempting as it was I needed to keep going. The walk across town took two me hours. Half an hour later, Wojtek, a weed smoking polish truck driver was offering to take to 30 km past Białystok. Maybe he was just talkative, very talkative or maybe he was very high. Most likely the latter one. He had a gazillion stories to tell. He was in the middle of the storie when suddenly he stopped talking. "Wait, what was I telling you?". Are you fucking kidding me? You were telling me something 30 seconds ago and you already forgotten about it? he was funny as fuck though. At the beginning it was funny but then he kept smoking and we got to a point that it was not funny anymore, in fact it was scary.

Six hours later, a bit of salad and goulash I was in Kaunas.

I was more than sure that I was not going to make it to Kaunas in one day. I was even starting to doubt that I was going to make it Riga! Contrary to my own "rule" about starting early, this time I started late. I was still at less than halfway by the time I could had be in my destination if I had started earlier. But then in a turn of events, when everything seemed lost, when I almost had lost the hope of even leaving Pärnu, when I was thinking of logging into CS as ask for an emergency couch, everything changed. Not only I found a ride but that ride would take me to Kaunas, almost 600 km south.

To round up things, I'm staying in Kaunas with a wonderful host. In a few days I will hitchhike to Poland. I will not do it alone. I'm hitchhiking with a guy from Vilnius. Let's see how it goes.




Sunday, December 1, 2013

(un)comfor(table) zone


Disclaimer: There is no right or wrong way to travel. People travel the way they please. I respect that. Please respect my own way.

When I was still living back home I used to frequent fancy pubs. Didn't mind a lot of spending lots of money in partying, gadgets, nice car. Went out practically every weekend. Then one day in 2008 someone introduced to Couchsurfing and it was then when all began to change.

During the year I hosted, traveled and hung out with CSers I met all kinds of travelers: week long holiday travelers. Foreigners wanting to learn spanish therefore staying for a few months immersing into the culture. Long term travelers staying in hostels and couchsurfing. These ones where the ones that really intrigued me.

They were traveling for months straight or even years. The key word they mentioned was "low budget". Many people in Guatemala save a lot (or use their credit cards a lot!) to travel. Then they go back to work more and start saving again, or to pay the debts they got into.

It took me a few years to finally leave my comfort zone. When I started to travel I stayed in hostels, not many but still. Well, only in Central America. In the States and Europe I have never paid one single night of accommodation. In the States I didn't hitchhike. I took trains, car shared and even flew twice.

Summer 2010. I met Jass in København and he told me about this wonderful place in Amsterdam: Casa Robino. There, I met more wonderful people and that told me about this thing called the hitchgathering. In the couple of pre-gatherings that I attended I met more wonderful people. One person in particular caught my attention: Tomi. When I met him he had been traveling moneyless for a few months. If he can, why shouldn't I give it a shot? I still suck at traveling moneyless but that was a turning point in my life when I decided that at least I was going to travel spending as little as possible. I quite good at it, except when it comes to booze and girlfriends.

I stayed for year in Estonia. I got quite comfortable here. Not that is anything wrong with it but it's just that I liked me more when money was the least of my concerns. My friend wrote that the comfort zone is inside your hear, like my happy place. In my case is not exactly like that. It's so easy to eat Macdonald's or go to Rimi to buy a frozen pizza... or two. A couple of days ago I cooked something for the first time in a few weeks. Cereal, sandwiches and pancakes from Knight House don't count.

I don't even know what I'm writing. I had my last shift last night. My last shift at Alur Hostel. my home for almost a year. I'm very sad. Timing sucks. Timing is shit.

I'm leaving Estonia in less than 24 hours. I think, I  hope that this small roadtrip to Portugal will help me  leave my comfort zone again.

Not sure how often I will post after I leave. For sure I will not write about the road itself but about life on the road. I will try not to describe the trip.

I have a long, cold road ahead of me. But people will make it warm. Eeer, that came out wrong, anyway, you get my point. I was hoping to start hitchhiking without snow but the first snow came yesterday.

There are no "goddbyes" but "see you laters"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

new life = new haircut

A few months ago I wrote something about life being like a bad haircut. It actually is. 

Last week I decided I needed to change some things in my life. Later that same week I had an eye opener. Things needed to be done. I have improved myself since then, even though it has been only a week.

And yes, I have a new haircut that it's growing on me even though I only had it for about 24 hours. Or it just "don't matter no more".

Today is the day that I hit the road 4 years ago. I've changed a lot. Life has changed me, a lot. I'm far from being the same person I was when I left home. Home? Yankees have a saying "home is where the heart is". Where is home? What is home? I carry my home on my back, it's a 50L+10 Salewa backpack.  Who will I become in the next 4 years? I guess I'll find out in four years...

Monday, November 4, 2013

speaking of

...my soon to be fourth anniversary of being on the road...

Someone asked me if I was going to celebrate and said no. What's the point? I mean, I can go out to eat or (most likely) to drink any day. Instead of celebrating being 4 years on the road I should celebrate 4 years of not quitting and going back home. Now here I am, in Estonia having a free beer while attempting to write something meaningful and interesting (good luck to you!). Now if I end up writing something meaningful and interesting then that is something that I should have a drink to... or eight.

It was not long after I started my travels (long ago back in late 2009) when I was in Costa Rica finishing up what I used to call "the first leg of my travels": one month from Guatemala to Costa Rica (I quit dividing my travels into legs long ago, actually don't even remember when) when my couchsurfer in San José asked me how I funded my travels. I have to be honest, I started traveling with the insurance money after my car was stolen. I paid off debts and with the rest I took off. But the answer now is: I work every time I need cash.

I worked for what? three weeks in a Asian fusion restaurant that I'm not going to put up the link because for a change, they fucked me up not giving my last week's paycheck. It was not a lot but still. After I moved to North-Eastern Florida I worked for two (again) restaurants: The Burrito Gallery (you probably seen me wearing the Tshirt in some photos but now is probably being worn by some  motherfucking thieve) and The Uptown Market. I'm know for not particularly being a fan of the US but I knew that going there and working a few months would get me enough money to travel and it did for a few months. In my 6 month long stay in that country I worked a total of 3 non consecutive months and traveled for the other 3.

I was in Prague drinking my life away with the best and cheapest beer I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. but I needed another job in order to be able to leave and keep traveling. By now all of you probably know that my main form of income is working in hostels (and now that we're into it, my main form of outcome are booze and girlfriends). But I also had so far other ways to make a bit of that precious item we use in this capitalistic world we live in, that necessary evil, that thing that unequally distributed among people, that... alright: money!

I was working my ass off between two jobs. It was around my second month in Prahaha (in Spanish only, sorry) when I needed another way to make more money. Talking about it with one of my colleagues he told me that I could take over his side job because he was not able to do it anymore. "What is it about?" I asked. "you will have to pose nude for a group of art students" he told me... So there I was, showing my naked and very boney body to some 20 czech students, some of the cute girls.  So far doesn't seem that bad and it actually wasn't except for the fact that the classroom didn't have heating!  What was hard was not to get the awkward boner because standing next to me was this gorgeous girl: long black hair, ocean blue eyes, tattoos - one just above her perfectly trimmed and pierced vagina.  Now you see that it was hard (no pun intended) to do the job? I actually made more money doing this than the money I was making at the hostel. I was able to save up all this and live (and drink) from the money I was making from the hostel. It was also hard to stand (or sit) in the same position for 45 minutes straight!

If I'm not working I try to at least not spend the little money I have therefore I look for work exchange positions. This is how I landed a bartending gig in the Nicaraguan Pacific. It was  Hogmanay, it's super fucking hot but it was good. I also volunteered or was enslaved by (the owner of the hostel I would later work in Panama City, Panama in which I also got fucked) in the small "mountain" town of Boquete. It was not that bad, I mean the town. There was this huge flower and coffee festival, didn't see any of the flowers nor the coffee but I saw a huge amounts of alcohol. This was earlier in 2012. I met some nice people like Mario, we met up again in Heidelberg earlier this year.

I also volunteered for two hostels in Colombia. One is owned by this nice dreaded German Couchsurfer married to a Colombian. The place was awesome, the people I met there were equally (or more) awesome, except for the Mexican asshole. I met Ilona and I visit her in Switzerland a year later. Anyways, it was not what I was looking for and I left. I found myself (along with the person I was traveling with) in the city of Armenia a few months later working in exchange of accommodation, (toast) breakfast and unlimited Colombian coffee, which is almost as good as Guatemalan coffee... almost.

But what I really wanted to talk about but I had to go all this way around the bushes is about my brief incursion into the Estonian (short) movie industry. Carlos, one of my colleagues is going to film school and got me a part as an extra in a short movie promoting an Estonian fashion designer. It was cool! Not only did I have my own scenes, you can see my arm once and my ass a few times, well my trousers filled with air given the fact that I don't have an ass! They even paid me for doing this! Certainly not a lot but I would've done it for free!


I guess this entire entry is also like an update of what I have been doing since "my three year anniversary". 

I've given myself a certain amount of time to re-evaluate my shit, I mean my life: where am I going. What am I doing? When am I doing it?. Nothing is keeping in Estonia, unfortunately. Big changes are coming. I have been here for almost a year, that's the longest I have ever  been in one place. My feet are starting to itch. I wanted to settle somewhere temporarily and I did. Many good friends of mine are already or are going to South America and even "worse" they all are asking me to join them down there! World Cup is next year in Brazil. Would be super awesome to party the hell out of Brazil with Alonso. Andre is about to hitch the boat to Colombia. Tomi is in lovely Nicaragua. Matt is going to be in Argentina sometime in March. Lempi's dream is to go to South America. Jass is looking for a boat soon.

It's going to be sad when I leave this place. Very, very sad. My happy place. Estonia became the only place I could call it happy place. I don't want to leave but I have to. I'm a traveller, that's what we do. Go places to fall in love with them. I'm not leaving now but I know that the day will come and is not very far into the future. But I know that I cannot be too far away from here. No matter where I may end up, no matter how far, how deep, I know, I will keep coming back here.

I feel weird. 

I've discovered that I'm a better writer (or less worse?) if I have a beer with me.

I still feel weird. 

No, I'm not drunk. I wish I was but I'm not. 

I just want a hug.

Don't know what to think.

What's wrong with me? A lot!

I want a puppy.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

weather

Sometimes happens to me that when I don't have anything else to talk about with the person I'm with I start (or the other person) to talk about the weather. 

I figured I could apply this to my writing: I don't have anything else to write so I will write about the weather.  Actually it's not a bad thing to write about the weather. It's autumn. Summer is long gone... if it in fact we had summer...

It's amazing how you can adapt to the environment. Not only humans can do this, during the Industrial Revolution, an species of butterfly changed color adapting to the new environment. Like that butterfly I too adapted to the environment. I think I knew it all along that I was going to end up in Estonia because the first time I came to Europe was winter and I chose Norway... fucking cold and fucking dark!

I'm going to fast forward from Norway to Czech. I'm living in lovely Prahaha (not a typo error) and from what I heard it was one of the coldest winters in many years. Average temperature was between -15ºC and -10ºC with some days a bit colder. Felt colder due the fact that I had to stand completely naked in front of art students drawing my boney body. Poland was also fucking cold but I had a lot of sex making it alright.

I was back in Europe and left Estonia in the beginning of autumn. I was now leaving in Berlin. I've gotten used to the weather so well that in november I was still wearing havaianas outside. Early november at least.

So I said I can adapt. The other night I went for a walk and I thought the weather was "chilly". It was -2ºC. What the hell happened to me!? That was the first negative so far and it will only get colder (and darker).  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I'm just pointing out that I'm used to this kind a weather.

The reason why I don't gain weight is because I have a fast metabolism...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

what I have learnt


The other day I read my friend's facebook status, it was something like: "this is what I know by now". After reading that I felt inspired to (attempt to) write a few thoughts and well, this is what I have learnt (or not) so far during my time on the road:

I have learnt through hitchhiking...
that there are still good people in the world. Basically I learnt to trust people. Maybe too much I may add. I've hitchhiked all over Europe, Central America, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador and never, NEVER had a bad experience. Alright, I had a bad one: when my brilliant travel companion managed to get all our shit stolen.
Since I'm a shy person, HHing helped overcome my shyness. Given the situations I get myself into I've become a more resourceful person. 

I have learnt that friendship... 
is when true friends will be there regardless if you talk to or see them often. Last time I was in Guate it was so disappointing that the vast majority of my "friends" couldn't even take 30 min (or even less!) to say "qué putas vos serote?" Only one took an hour of his time to have a coffee with me. A very few other hung out with me, hosted me, helped me (after being robbed of all my material possessions), to you my friends... a HUGE THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIENDS!
I have closer friendships with people I met only once  or with people that I have recently met than with those I have known for years. 

I have learnt...
how to leave my comfort zone. My first time in Europe I didn't hitchhike, I didn't even know the existence of CS, had no idea of what the fuck rideshare meant. I flew, I took trains and I stayed in hostels. 
That was then. This is now: I don't give a fuck wether if I stay in someone's couch or if I have to squat the small house (?) where the bank machine is. I always, alright not always, but 95% of my transportation within Europe has been done by hitchhiking. One thing is true: never flown inside Europe but I'm not counting connections to get to my final destination (I flew from Paris to Oslo and from Reykjavík to Brussel). I dumpster dive now.
I've become more persistent after being turned down for rides and having so maaaaany bad looks when I ask for a ride. I've learnt to be more tolerant for the same reason. And patient for the same reason.

When it comes to my romantic relationships... eeerr... hmmm
I have learnt... absolutely nothing!!!
I will keep making the same mistakes. Hhmm, they were not mistakes, maybe wrong choices? At the time didn't seem wrong...  So maybe, unlucky? One thing for sure is that I will never learn. I crossed the fucking Atlantic Ocean... twice and both times didn't work out but I'm sure I would do it again. Thank God my survival instinct is very much alive (now) and is preventing me to do dumber things. I still do dumb things. 
No, wait. I did learn something: take a hot shower and finish it with a cold one... but it's much nicer with her beside me.

I have learnt...
to be more patient. I had no other option. Once I was stuck for 12 hours in the same petrol station, although 6 of that half day were spent sleeping. Now I have a more positive attitude. During those 6 hours all I was thinking was that I didn't want to sleep in the bushes again!

I have learnt...
that karma does exist and it sucks!

I have learnt...
to never trust the police. I didn't trust them one bit before but in Colombia they were very nice so we left our shit at the police station in the beach town of Taganga and they kept my laptop and the girl's camera. It was broken but for me had more sentimental value and besides, I was going to fix it once I reached Guatemala.

I have learnt...
to become detached of material things. Not that I'm going to give you something I use but if I can live without it, then it's your! A guest gave me an awesome bicycle and 5 seconds later I had someone in mind to give it to. Never crossed my mind to sell it.

I have learnt...
not to plan. When I started traveling that was my main goal, go with the flow. I tried to stick to it, so far I have been successful except in two occasions, I will try to not have a third one but then again knowing me...

I have learnt...
that people is more important than places. To explain this I will use quote I used before that is actually one of my favorite ones because is so true! is from the movie "The Art of Travel" and it goes like this: "the only thing that matters in life is the people that you love, the hugs, the kisses (...) the actions we don't think about".

I don't know what else I have learnt and the song that I'm listening to right is not letting me think what to write. Well, I guess that these are the main things I have learnt.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

happy place!


Last year, in December I was writing about finding a state of mind (wonderland) and/or a nice physical place I like to refer to it as "my happy place".

I think I finally achieved that. Wonderland has finally reached my head and it will stay there!

I also think that I might have found my happy place. It's been under my nose for almost a year but it was not until a few months that I realized that Estonia might be indeed my happy place! it's funny because I always said that I never saw myself living here. Fuck, spend another winter in Tallinn? Alright, I wouldn't mind spending winter somewhere warm where I could swim naked in the ocean but I definitely don't mind staying here.

Estonia and Tallinn had become the country and city I've stayed the longer, surpassing the USA and Prague. I stayed in the US for 6 months and in Prague for 3 and a half. I have been in Estonia for 7 months in total and Tallinn for 5 and I'm looking forward for more!

Yesterday someone asked me how would I rate Tallinn in a scale from 1 to 10... I said 11. Why? Because I've met some wonderful people here. Because I keep meeting amazing people here.Because I've done some crazy shit here. Because Tallinn is one of the most beautiful cities I've been. Because I love the sound the snow makes when I'm walking. Because I love the long summer days. Because I love the autumn colors. Because I love to see a frozen Baltic Sea (and walk on it). Because Tallinn have a prison that held parties now and then. Because Estonia has beaches with pine trees instead of palm trees. BBecause the list could go on and on and on.

Wherever I go in the future, no matter how far I might end up, I will always come back to this place. Actually I've done it before. I was in the Southern Hemisphere last year, alright I was just a few hundreds kilometers South but still! now I'm 800 kilometers from the Artic Circle.

So here I am in Tallinn, Estonia a month short of being one year in Europe (this time) and about two of being 4 years on the road.

I'm actually really looking forward for the winter...




Sunday, August 18, 2013

was this a travel blog?

Last year I decided that I was not going to write only about traveling. I decided that I was going to write about whatever I feel like. Maybe lately I have writing a lot about everything except traveling!

Well, this post is dedicated to... papaparapaprapapapan... traveling!

Every year since 2008 there is a big event called The Hitchgathering. The first year it was held was back in 2008.  The organizer always play with the dates: 8/8/8, 7/8/9, 6/8/10.

The first event was in Paris and it was not called hitchgathering, back then it was Project 888 (I think). 2009 was in Ukraine, I don't remember the exact location.  For 2010 I was already in European soil and after meeting Jass in København and he telling me to go to Casa Robino (which I did) and meeting a lot of people that are still my friends to this day, I found out that the gathering was going to be in Portugal. I was in Holland, not far (?) from Portugal. Besides the fact I have never been there and hearing that hitchhiking in Spain was tough, I decided to go. I met more nice people in the pre-gatherings I went: Lyon, Barcelona and Lisboa. Didn't make it to Sines tho. Went back to Germany hitchhiking nonstop for 2,5 days.

The gatherings:
Paris - 08.08.08
somewhere in Ukraine - 07.08.09
Sines, Portugal - 06.08.10
don't remember the number nor the date but it was in Kara Dere, Bulgaria
near Ambraziskiai, Lithuania - 04.08.12
and my first gathering near Lazisko - 03.08.13


no,  few photos from the event...






Saturday, July 13, 2013

my mum always told that things happen for a reason

A year ago, I had to go back home to get everything stolen after having hitchhiking a lot. One warm evening in July I lost all my shit. All my material possessions were lost. I'm not the kind of person that is attached to material stuff but it's that I had some nice things given to me by friends, former lovers, family. It was today, a year ago.

One thing that I really didn't get the chance to fully enjoy was my travel hammock. After attempting to sleep in it with the girl I was traveling with after a few times I finally gave up and day dreamt about hanging it in my mum's garage and spend some quality time reading and sleeping. Never going to happen as it was inside my backpack and was lost forever.

My mum had always told me that things happens for a reason. Having all my shit stolen was maybe the beginning of the end. Or more like, halfway through the end. Now that I look back, it was for the better, way fucking better.

I am a magnet for crazy women. I've confirmed that. I was talking to this guy the other da and he told that actually I was very lucky with my previous relationships were with wackos. Why? I asked. Because everyday you have a new girl! This specially happened in South America. 

Maybe all that shit happened because some supernatural power wanted me back in Estonia. And God am I enjoying my time here! I really love this tiny country. Tiny? yup, it's about half the size of Guatemala. I don't what it is about it, maybe it's becoming my happy place? naaahhh... But what if it is? It's scary!

Like my mum told me, things happen for a reason. Things didn't work out last year, I had to come up with all my shit and came back to Europe. Came back to Estonia. At the beginning things weren't all that good so I moved back to Tallinn. Now things here couldn't be better. I'm happy. 

Someone is getting a post card soon because I'm fucking happy! 


Thursday, July 11, 2013

mid-fucking-summer

Photo by Joxemi
This was supposed to be posted before the "weirdness" post but I completely forgot about it. Maybe it was exactly because of that, of my weird state of mine... that I still have.

Maybe I should've waited until my birthday celebrations/midsummer were over to write something about it.

I knew that in Scandinavia celebrate midsummer. I think I had an idea that also is celebrated in the Baltic States, what I didn't know was that it was a big celebration over here. I've never been to any Scandinavian country during this celebration, or in summertime for that matter. My first time in Estonia I was a couple of weeks too late. Another thing I didn't know was that is celebrated on my fucking birthday! What are the odds for that!?

But it was not all happiness. The few Estonian friends I know were going to celebrate the bonfire in the country side. I was going to stay in Tallinn. I've heard that Tallinn was going to be dead. That was far from being the truth. I mean, there was a bonfire on the beach on Patarei prison. It was a huge (at least for me) bonfire.
Photo by Joxemi

I think I've spent my best birthday so far. I've drank with people from many countries. I've met new people. New wonderful people.

I don't know what else to write. I have been in a weird state of mind that prevents me to write something worth reading. Not that I'm good at it but at least, I would like to think, that it doesn't suck that much.




Monday, July 8, 2013

weirdness

Since a few weeks ago I have been in weird state of mind. I'm not sad or depressed, it's just that I feel weird. I feel like there is something that I'm missing or that I'm doing something wrong. 

Some things are not working out the way I would like to. But on the other hand, some other things came out of nothing,  in a very spontaneously way into my life and I love it! I would have never expected them. Me like it :-)

A couple of nights was the end of an era. Makes my state of mind even more weird. My havaianas finally died. They died the way I thought it was going to be: me walking around drunk. That's the way it happened. I was not supposed to go out the other night but it was my friend's last shift as he told he was quitting. He found someone to cover for him on his last shift and we went out for one.

I'm normally not attached to material posesions but this time is different. I bought the overpriced havaianas in question during my first Roskilde in 2010. I remember everything as if it was last week:
It was during the World Cup in South Africa, Brazil and Holland were playing. My friend Federico, a guy from the Den Gyldne Boenne and me went to watch the match at one of the camps. I had been speaking English for a few months nonstop (the only Spanish being when I called my mum). I saw a Venezuelan flag and told myself it would be nice to speak Spanish again; so I approached the group. I  left barefoot (took a group sitting beside us as a landmark to find my way back) but what I didn't notice was that the match had only about 15 min left. So I walked up to the group made up from two Venezuelans, two Brazilians and two Latvian girls (one of them wanted to rape me!). The match finished and everybody stood up. It was complete mayhem! Everybody was moving. Not only I couldn't locate my "landmark", I also couldn't find my friends! I lost the knock off havaianas I bought in Costa Rica the year before. Long story short: I walked back the 2ish km back to the Boenne. Then walked to the festival grounds and bought (what I thought it was an overpriced) a pair of havaianas. It was I think exactly three years ago. The start of an era.

I hitchhiked with that pair of havaianas all summer 2010. I took them from Denmark to Portugal to Germany to Turkey to Slovenia. Alright, Turkey and Slovenia were in winter... I crossed the Atlantic and hitchhiked in Mexico on my way back home. Came back to Europe and took them from Poland to Hungary to Denmark to Estonia. Back in Latin America I took them through Southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, briefly Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, through Honduras and El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. They passed away in Estonia the night of july 6th. A few things I posses had been for this long with me and to so many places. The other being my small Quechua daybag that I'm also not using anymore.

Perhaps I can fix them again...?

I started to read "The Accidental Adventurer" by Ben Fogle. There is a chapter titled "Still Finding Myself". Starts like this:"I returned to England a changed person. I had lived a lifetime of experiences in a year. My mind was full of possibilities and I wanted more. I wanted adventure, I wanted excitement and I wanted the freedom I'd gained from (...)". That's how I felt the first time I went back home. My version would be like this: "I returned to Guatemala a changed person. I had lived a lifetime of experiences. My mind was still in Europe and I wanted to go back and was full of thoughts, I wanted the excitement I'd gained while the previous year." Actually I feel that way everytime I go back or worse, I don't find myself. That's why I feel so related to the title of that chapter. I even wrote a entire post about this back in 2011.

I just read the April 2011 post I wrote and it not only happened in 2011, happened also when I went back in December of that same year. I had been going out with this girl I met in Krakow. I thought I was madly in love but I wasn't. Shit happens. Sorry. It was fun while it lasted. Not really the last days though. My "friends" back in Guatemala were busy with their own shit but I thought anyone can set aside 30 min in their busy schedules to meet but I was wrong. That has happened every single time I had been back. Estuardo, JuanMa and Braulio being the exceptions. Happy I got to hang out with them every time I had been back. Can't wait to do it again. Not sure when will this happen, probably not anytime soon. Or maybe soon, who knows. I don't know.

I'm still finding myself. Not being very good at it and at the same time I'm still looking for my happy place. I'm enjoying a lot my time in Tallinn this time around.

When people ask me if I'm ever going back home they seem surprised that I say that I'm not. I mean I will always go back for a visit as long as my mum is there. I don't see a reason to go back after she passes away. I don't see myself living over there anymore. I just can't. Don't know where I'll spend my days, don't know if I'll travel forever. I guess that if I find a reason, let me rephrase that: if I find someone somewhere I'll definitely give up traveling in a heartbeat. I said it before and I'll say it again: "the only thing that matters is the people (...), the hugs, the kisses (...), the actions we don't think about".

I'm really thinking if I can fix my havaianas...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

TCK

To begin with, what in God's name is TCK? TCK stands for Third Culture Kid. Am I one, maybe?

I came across this Buzzfeed article and I felt like commenting my own experience about the subject. The article is titled 31 signs you're a third culture kid.

1. You can curse convincingly in at least five languages. 
I don't think I can curse in at least five languages BUT I do know how to say cheers in MORE than five languages. It's more useful I think since I'm more of a drinking person than a violent person.
2. To everyone's confusion, your accent changes depending on who you're talking to.
Not sure about this one. Although, once I was talking to an Irish couple when suddenly the boyfriend interrupted me and asked me if I was from France. I said no. He then asked if I was from Spain. I said no. He finished with "you have to be from somewhere around Europe"...

3. And you often slip foreign slang into your English by mistake, which makes you unintelligible to most people.
A few years ago my friend told me that I was hanging out with too many British people. But I guess this   one was made for English speakers, anyway this happens to me while speaking Spanish. I used Spanish, Argentinian, some times Mexican (which is very close to Guatemalan) slang.

4. You're really good at calculating time differences, because you have to it every time you call your parents.
I was. Now I have a mobile phone that allows me to show two different time zones in the screen. I don't have to do any more calculations anymore. I just open the phone and that's it, I either call or not.

5. But you also have your computer programmed to help you out when your math fails.
Or when my phone fails.

6. You start getting birthday wishes several hours before your birthday, from your friends farther east than you.
Or west. Well, actually this starting happening before I started traveling because I know many people East of Guatemala. Now my network grew a bit bigger that I get the birthday wishes earlier or later. Don't you love time differences.

7. Your passport looks like it's been through hell and back.
Not yet, but getting there.

8. You have a love-hate relationship with the question "where are you from?".
More of a hate than love. Someone asked that not long ago. I told him where I was from. I asked is he had been to Guatemala. The answer... "I've never been to Asia". I think I learnt the lesson of not asking that fucking question again.

9. You run into elementary school friends in unlikely countries at unlikely times.
No. I don't have friends back home.

10. You've spent an absurd and probably unhealthy amount of time on airplanes.
No. I hitchhike everywhere. The only times I fly is between Europe and Latin America. I've never taken a plane inside Europe. I hope I never will.

11. And you definitely know your way around jet-lag recovery.
I will never be able to do this. I'm just not capable. I was skyping with this girl I had a thing with a few years ago, I went to bed before her. It was an 8 hour difference...

12. Your list of significant others' nationalities reads like a (I have to change this from the original title) football World Cup bracket.
eeeeerrrrr

13. And you're circle of best friends is as politically, racially, and religiously diverse as the UN.
Yes, but this was also like this before I started traveling.

14. Which is great, except that you "hang out" more online than in real life.
mmm. Maybe. 

15. So when you see your best friends, you lose it a little.
Read above.

16. You've had the most rigorous sensitivity training of all: real life.
I've learnt more in these almost four years of traveling than all of my life before traveling.

17. You get nervous whenever a form needs you to enter a "permanent address".
Not really, I learnt how to deal this with giving my mum's address.

18. You know that McDonald's tastes dractically different from country to country.
Thank God I don't!

19. You're a food snob because  you've sampled the best and most authentic of every possible cuisine.
Unfortunately not. I wish I was but I don't have that luxury given my sensitive stomach.

20. You convert any price to two different currencies before making significant purchases.
I don't do significant purchases and I always convert anything to Euro.

21. You don't call it "home". You call it "passport country".
I call it, the place that has this beautiful lake that Aldus Huxley said it was the most beautiful lake in the whole fucking world. Besides. "home is where the heart is"...

22. You often find yourself singing along to songs in languages you don't speak or understand.
Yup. Actually some of my favorite bands don't sing in English.

23. You miss BBM, but Viber and Whatsapp will do for now.
First of all, what the hell is BBM. Secondly, I don't have a smart phone. I still have the tablet my brother gave me but I couldn't get Viber or Whatsapp to work. Now I have a laptop and my phone is not a smartphone.

24. You're the  token exotic friend in your non-TCK crew.
Yes. I. Am.

25. Love it or hate it, you have a strong and well-informed opinion on the I.B. system.
I have no idea what I.B. and I sometimes forget what it's inside my bagpack.

26. The end of the school year was always bittersweet because so many people moved away.
Nope

27. And, no matter how many you say, good-byes never gets easier.
They actually get harder and harder to say.

28. But the constant flow of new friends more than made up for it.
But then I have to say good-bye to these new friends. But Johnny Cash said "we'll meet again (...) in some sunny place"

29. Now you feel incredibly lucky to have loved ones and memories scattered all over the globe.
I feel like the luckiest bastard on earth because of this.

30. You know better than anyone else that "home" isn't a place, it's the people in it.
I feel like the luckiest bastard on earth because of this. This is the main reason I travel, for the people, for my friends.

31. And you can't wait to see where is your life adventures takes you next.
True, but read above, people is more important than places...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

another year gone by

Another year has gone by. Another birthday spend in another country. One year older.

Bochol, Germany. 2010
Four birthdays had gone by since I started traveling. Four (actually 6: 2011 "celebrations" started in Hungary, then on the Slovakian roads and finished in Austria)

This time I'm Estonia and actually my birthday is during this big holiday of midsummer. Although is mostly big in the country side and most people will be away from Tallinn, there are parties for people in the city. Lucky me!

I wish I could write something interesting but I can't. I don't feel inspired, at all. Things at the moment could be better. Not that I'm complaining, because I'm not.

One thing is for sure, I'm going to have a beer (or eight) with good people. I will try not to fall asleep. Good luck with that. I'm going to a bonfire on the beach near the Patarei prison with my friends from the other hostels.

Cartagena, Colombia. 2012
The day it's not over yet so I maybe I can still have my birthday wishes come true. One is not happening unfortunately. I'm watching the Metallica Rock in Rio concert of 2011 and it saddens me that I'm not going to be able to see them play this year in Roskilde. Last year I missed it because I was in Colombia but this year being so close...

Roskilde is the perfect example why I don't like to plan. Although I had to in order to secure my spot in the Boenne crew. Every time I plan something, that plan falls apart. Shite.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kosovo: hitchhiker's paradise

My hitchhiking experience in the Balkans in non-existent. I wish I could say that I hitchhiked in every country in the area but I can't. On the other hand, I was an extremely lucky bastard. Twice. 

I'm not going to write details about my experience in Kosovo or the Balkans because I already did, a couple of years ago. A couple of years ago, seems like a long time and indeed it is a long time but doesn't feel like it. I miss the times when I was going from place to place but I love being in Estonia right now. I needed this, after the well, you know how it was in South America for me.

When I started hitchhiking from Romania to Turkey I was lucky enough to find a straight ride from Bucareşti to Istanbul. Three days with the same truck driver. Once in Istanbul he invited to join him and his family for dinner and then drove me to my friend's flat.

Then, when I was going back to Europe, through the Balkans I was again lucky. After squatting an chapel on the Greek side of the border, I saw a hippy van with French license plates. Long story short, Vincent took me from the border across Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia in around two weeks. I scratched hitching a hippy van out of my list.

This is the reason why I don't have any hitchhiking experience whatsoever in the Balkans. I must go back, but when I do this has to be during summer. Winter was nice but I would like to see the region in summer.

Lucky for me, Alex did hitchhike in the Balkans, specifically in Kosovo. I met him at the Loft Hostel in Budapest. He was hitchhiking from Vienna to Chișinău. 

Alex is one of the admins of My Backpacker Guides. Great site with great tips and reviews. You should check it out. The photos in this post are also from My Backpackers Guides.

Here's what Alex thinks about hitchhiking in Kosovo:


Hitchhiking is the most fun when in countries with a completely different culture to your own. One obvious reason is that you can explore many places that you have not yet seen. But even more fascinating is your chance to get completely lost in moments that convince you that despite your extensive travel history you have still plenty of things to learn from others. And in what better way you can do this than by hitchhiking? One of those unconventional places is Kosovo, Europe's youngest country, which, so far, has not been blessed with a particularly good reputation. Alex from My Backpacker Guides has used this opportunity to dive into an experience that has left more than a positive impression.

In his recollection of his days spent hitchhiking in Kosovo he draws an appealing picture of the war-torn country which is recovering fast and keen on leaving the negative reputation to the past. In fact Kosovo is in a state of rapid reconstruction supported by stability and progress in the reconciliation process with Serbia. What is more, the people of Kosovo make that country so special: According to Alex, Kosovars are some of the most friendly and hospitable people in all of Europe.

In his hitchhiking report a few tips on accesing Kosovo by bus are followed by a description of the people and an account of the experiences he made while hitchhiking in the South of Kosovo. Alex mentions the language barrier as a part of the experience to engage in captivating conversations with the curious locals rather than denouncing it as an obstacle during his journey. "I feel that the most exciting experiences of my hitchhiking history have been the ones where communication seemed difficult at the begining", is his concluding statement. 

if you are interested to read about the Kosovo hitchhiking experience check the post by Alex here!