"necessity is the mother of taking chances." - mark twain
(my shorter poetic version of this post was destroyed by a horrible binary accident were a few ones collied with a few zeros. normally this wouldn't be an issue, except when you're using beta software. this is now published in two parts. this is part one. video and photos will be forthcoming.)
sometimes there is a necessity to climb a mountain. sometimes that same necessity bears the most unusual fruit.
on day 190, i woke up at 6 am and edited videos. as 18h30 (6.30 pm) chimed in my mental koo-koo clock. i knew i was late. all day long, i had monitored reports of areolinas argentina's from fellow travelers. being at the end of the world, and only coming across one other traveler who would departing 30 mins before myself, there was nothing to note. as the phantom pendulum swayed, rumor wafted of crippling strike.
despite the fact i spent the previous day on the side of mountain, sprinting down two flights of stairs with 60kg of luggage was the most dangerous act of my entire ushuaian adventure. second to this sprint, was the fact i should have been at the airport one hour before my departure. racing through the crowed streets of ushuaia, emilo, my driver (the owner of the freestyle hostel) nearly picked off two undulate penguins. these penguins shared a resemblance to stunned european toursts.
as rastamax and i belted american hip hop songs, the 2006 renault, spent most of it's time on the left hand side of the road. flashing it's high beams and dodging trucks, jalopies and donkeys, the landmarks of the last month flashed before my eyes. i crossed my fingers.
arriving at the second smallest airport in the world, the three of us discovered lines winding their way from one side of the terminal to the other. i did not know that this convention of bewilderment, would be the first of 70 hours of waiting.
after an hour and a half of three lines and an extra hour sorting out why the plane's manifest featured one less person than sat on board, we departed for buenos aires' domestic airport. at 1 am, two fellow couchsurfers and i disembarked from the tail of the airplane and said our goodbyes.
with more uncertainty than republicans in texas, i found another renault and race car driver. for 30 minuets, we caressed the freeways of buenos aires.
arriving at the international airport, my driver sprinted back and forth looking for a luggage trolly. at 2 am, the shinny new facade of terminal A seemed calm. walking through the double sliding glass doors that bless 90% of the world's modern airports, i entered into a womb of sleeping passengers.
with several hundred people scattered about, i found no fracas. so, i found a small metal bench, i pulled out my trench coat, linked my luggage together, swung my legs ontop of my luggage and passed out. almost two hours later, i awoke to see my flight on the departure board and my checkin desk assignment. little did i know that the gates of hell were just around the corner.
starting at one end of the terminal, i walked past every check in kiosk. at the end of the hall, i found a sign that pointed me around a corner to the left. glancing to my right, stood wolves frothing at the mouth. (they really were unlicensed taxi cab drivers.) as i turned my cart to the left, i stood outside the gates of hell.
at this point there were two lines. the left was longer. it also entered a small arch and then made a sharp 90° turn. the line on the right poured endlessly into an abyss of mindless luggage carts. feeling a bit adventurous, i started my starboard navigation. like a 1980's atari game, zombiefyed passengers angling to get around the person next to them attacked me. unlike mario, dodging them was useless. i must have hit three or four carts until my nyc motorcycle skills awakened. then, i was dodging on coming / sideswiping zombie driven carts...
well that was until i hit my first foot. absconded by trash, the impact did not even phase this fallen soul. stopping in my tracks, i found myself in a sea of desperation, dashed dreams and an army of federal police. to my left, a thousand or so zombies standing in shapeless lines. to my right, families and friends camping in their own filth. this was a scene unlike any movie.
in front of the sea of people stood 20 federal police with 20 more milling in and out. behind them, 30 airport kiosks. at every other kiosk stood the remains of an Aerolineas Argentinas staff member. while my fellow glass-eyed wanna be passengers expended their last bits of sanity, i enquired "why is this happening?" no one knew.
as i approached staff members they just ushered me aside. according to the global distortion filter (USA Today, BBC News, The Canadian Press) - "it's a labor dispute." according to a comment on global voices, this was a dispute long in the making.
i bumped into some local tour guides and they said that since the 1990 privatization, aerolineas argentina has been one screwed up organization. not only is every other flight delayed by an hour or so, but every other year you'll find some portion of the airline on strike (airwise).
as i waited, a bull-horned police officer shrouded in a bullet proof vest would stand on a kiosk and announce a city and a kiosk number. within a smattering of seconds, the sound of smashing trollies were all around me. babies who were quietly annoyed, would wail as their parents and fellow passengers violently thrashed through a sea of limp limbs.
when the first plane was called out, i attempted to defend any sense of personal space. after three mins, i tucked my trolly into an artery of movement and found a quite place next to a poll. for a few hours, i stood, sat, stretched, skipped, sang, skanked, and spoke to my self. after rome, came new york. then they called out mexico city, then santiago de chile, then madrid, and then ushuaia.
one staff member reassured me that all flights for sao paulo would depart. around 6h00 (6am) a call came for sao paulo. they called for all passengers from the flights that would have departed on 10, 11, 12 to line up. three days of flights all attempting to be extricated on two planes. at that very moment, i saw the line stretch out past the gates of hell. i questioned my sanity.
if my flight was on the 13th and they were just starting to process three days of flights... i knew my chances were slim to none. with less than $150 USD in my checking account and less than $30 USD in my wallet, flying out on another airline would be impossible. with little sleep and less food in my stomach, my mind entered into survival mode. i need to find three things, food, transport and sleep.
as i calculated my options, my heart found only one. with no money to stick around for another week in BA, i rounded the corner and found the continental airlines office.
snaking my way from hell, i found a nameless door with a handwritten sign. with a swift knock, the electronic intercom buzzed "quen es?"
tired, i responded in english. within a few mins a grandmotherly looking woman opened the door. i explained my situation and she gave me a number to call. she also told me that the evening flight is full, but i could call houston and see what they could do...
with in 30 min, good news; i had a flight out of BA. the bad news, i would have to wait 40 hours for the next flight to houston.
i thought to myself, "40 hours! i can get a lot of sleep in 40 hours!" as i checked my watch it was only 10h30 on the 13 jan.
winding my way back through the gates of hell, i found my fellow zombies and told them of my departure. we wished each other "luck" and i wheeled my way out of hell.
beyond the point of exhaustion, i found an over priced sandwich, a cup of coffee for warmth (the whole departure hall was well over 25°C - 77°F) , and a beer (to knock my ass out). for the next 30 hours, i wrote down 98 lessons learned on this trip; i also finished "fearce invalids home from hot climates" by tom robins; slept; then i found another overpriced meal.
sometime around midnight, i found an air conditioning duct spewing fresh air and a cool slab of marble.
Agua from gallo1 on Vimeo. "A group of tourists requires water to the airport police, after remaining nearly one day, trapped in a Union dispute."
global voices article + video + reality distortion filter (BBC News, USA Today) + me = in houston recovering.
for now i'm licking a few wounds and trying to remember the past 3 days. more to come later... many apologies to brazil... by tomorrow afternoon, you'll have a lovely video, story and videos to boot.
Recoded: 23 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: freestyle hostel, paul lacoste, coworking, cowork central, fernando maclen, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: dirty water, by the standells - once in a lifetime, by the talking heads
About: today, i met a new traveler, paul lacoste. while he's from france, he's really a brother from another mother. after the two of us kicked around fruitlessly looking for a ride to antarctica, we ended up at the freestyle hostel's christmas dinner.
in the days of my youth i was told what it means to be a man...
five and a half months on six continents through 19 countries - spain, ch republic, germany, belgium, UK, france, netherlands, turkey, jordan, israel, egypt, united arab emerats, india, thailand, cambodia, australia, united states, canada, and argentina...
now i've reached that age and i try to do all those things the best i can...
today, i find myself on the eve of the seventh, the last and final continent - antarctica. like most of this trip, i have no set plan of transportation. tomorrow, i will wake up just like every other day and think of a solution.
no matter how i try i find my way into the same old jam...
buried within all of us exist the ability to transcend the normality of life and do something great. to others it might seem grand, and to others extravagant, frivolous and absurd. in the end, it is up to us to make the great decision on how to proceed.
using faith and trust, tomorrow, when i wake up, i will find a solution to my most perplexing problem - how to hitchhike to antarctica.
as i sit and wait for my plane to depart buenos aries, i can't help but rekindle a situation this past week. it amplifies everything i've thought on this trip. apparently to tara hunt i am not trust worthy enough to be an admin on the coworking.info website. yeah, i know this is petty, but bare with me. i do make a good point. apparently, my ownership of the domain and admin status on the wiki doesn't amount to a hill of beans. apparently, the linking of this project on the blogroll on blog.coworking.info was unscrupulous. comically, in our conversation she sights a "community rule" where only "space owners" & "members of the trust network" can have admin access. no were on the wiki nor google group do i find any mention of such conversation... i've asked her for justification and get a different answer each time. i guess i'll just have to trust her that i'm not trust worthy.
for the past five and half months, there has only been one other incident that someone outright questioned my trust. in that situation, the howly roommate of my first hawaian host was suffering on the verge of a complete mental breakdown with issues way beyond her control and need of someone to embody the evil of her white america.
good times, bad times... you know i've had my share...
regardless of tara's or this other woman's mental health, i've placed my own mental health and faith in humanity and surfed unforseen waves of trust. i've placed my lives into countless hands and countless people have trusted me in their homes.
it will forever surprise me that about a thousand people have placed their trust in me and this exploration. i would not be here today if it wasn't for the all the contributors, hosts and guides. thank you!
if you've enjoyed the journey so far, the next three weeks will be a journey unlike any other. sitting at the bottom of the world, i will place my life into the hands of those whom i don't know. fearful i am; in humanity i trust.
lyrics in italics are from led zeppelin's good times bad times...
from dat argentinean couchsurfing party.
"Growing in numbers; Growing in speed; Can't fight the future; Can't fight what I see" - moby
there are a few things that i've been told not to do... first, don't drink too much. second, never cut your own hair. third, don't reflect until your done with the journey.
all in all, i find myself reflecting day in; day out. when you find yourself touching the world, it's kinda hard not to reflect and think about the hot sand of israel or giza, the luscious rain of mumbai and houston, the trees lined avenues of phuket and endioven, the streets of buenos aires and berlin, or the gray days of vancouver and sydney. it is hard for me to travel the world and not see the similarities.
it's super hard not to reflect when every new smiling face asks for a synopsis of what you've seen, whom you've met and what you've loved. at times it's hard to remember and at other times hard to forget everything in between the faces, scents, languages, troubled situations and figments of my imagination that seemed more real than anything you could place in front of this poor boy from the midwest.
when i left new york, i set out to embrace the world and prove or disprove the things i've seen online. i wondered if the global network of geeks were just like the network of geeks i've met in north america and europe. i wondered what sat beyond the keyboard, monitor and mouse. i wondered who would embrace the world and embrace me. on 7 july, i set out to surf the net, build a few bridges and meet my global peers.
"Efforts of lovers; Left in my mind; I sing in the reaches; We'll see what we find" - moby
as each roosts and the sun crows, i want to share with you seven things i've seen. these seven things are not the end-all, be-all, but just a start of my digestion... this list is also the start of what i'm going to call the starfish generation or generation starfish (i can't decide which sounds better)...
in the back of my mind, i want to turn this idea into a non-profit that helps build capacity for under represented communities to create their own media outlets - from workshops, unconferences, collaborative work centers, citizen journalism spaces to art, photography, stories, video, etc. - i want to focus on my attention further engaging people who share my passion of story telling while creating solutions to the world's complexities.
as i've explored before, i now see a global ecology based off the seven topics. the seven topics are open examples of a pliable solutions that can be molded to engage community and solve problems. this project (luck of seven) has shown me a unique world filled with international tribes that cut right through planet.
heath row once asked me if i see these topics as the seven new wonders of the world... and while i didn't quite understand the complexity of my own argument, i now do. when this journey started, it was an exploration of my peers and the passions we all enjoy. after five months - sleeping in homes, floors, and couches; after five months of sitting around the global dinner table; after five months of shaking hands with the internet - i now see an opportunity to organize the organizers.
every bone in my body feels the radiating wi-fi signal. located in every home, village, town, and country sits a router. together, we send and receive. together, i know we can build a feedback loop to experiment with the best and the brightest programs to revolutionize our communities to offer programs and content that know no ideological boundaries.
i have discovered that many of us are timeless, nationless, genderless, ageless, classless, homeless, and tireless. this these are the seven tenants of the starfish generation.
we consume to refute the world around us. we internalize everything we read and internationalize our thoughts.
we are globe of tribes.
slowly we are growing in numbers, we are slowly growing in pieces. frankly, no one can stop us now. we are all made of stars. (sorry, i was listing to moby...)
to be honest, i'm scared crapless to think about this passion and know that i have to do something about it... as i set out from NYC, i knew my life would change. i knew the only thing that could and would stop me would be my fears. without a doubt, every morning i wake up and fear thoughts of failure. every morning, i know if i devout the honesty of my heart i will achieve the goals set forth. your unflinching support, your trust, your kind and harsh words of critique have taken me around the world to visit our peers. without a doubt this is more than a feeling... (yeah, that's right... go find your boston vinyl and turn it up to 11! otherwise, watch this video and drool at their pimp-stashes - speaking of pimp-stash, did you know about mustaches for kids? houston's currently has a competition. why don't you?)
i <3 coworking. i've been in buenos aires for 36 hours and it seems like a life time. between victor, fernando and BA's unrelenting couchsurfers, i am nursing an bad shugar, coffee, cheep wine hangover. after a brilliant night with candles burning at both ends, i woke up to lovely sounds of construction and a flurry of voices crammed into a small garden apartment.
today, marks my second day escaping the urban sounds of construction. nestled on buenos aries' equivilant of nyc's broadway you will find a long hallway. up four flights of stairs, you'll find the most romantic coworking location in the world, cowork central. with light flowing in from every angle with my knees melt at every desk.
i bow down to victor for this lovely photo, his maté and hard work at coordinating this week's meetup! while we are drupalistas, we also want to invite all geeks for wine, beer, meat, etc... if you're in buenos aires at 18h00 (6pm) on the 13 Dec, i'd love to meet ya at "The Meeting Place" (corner Lavalle and Montevideo in Buenos Aires).
(click on your favorite unfocused smile to see more photos from my time in houston. the back story to this photo is fairly remarkable. i walked into the Brazilian consulate and discovered that i had forgotten my headshots. with a point to the closest CVS over a mile and a half away, i knew that i'd never make it there and back before the visa window would close. as a buckeye, i knew microcenter as one of the first computer super stores to have fully functional products on display. located two blocks from the consulate, it was serendipity. with a quick "hello, i'm a geek traveling around the world..." mike from the printer section "demonstrated" the printer's ability to print out photos. in less than 15 mins, i was back at the console. THANK YOU MY GEEK BUDDY! YOUR RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS SAVED MY ASS!)
today marks my fourth day in houston, tx and i already feel at home. i must thank erica o'grady, matthew wettergreen, michelle calabretta, patrick and christina kwiatkowski and the mike from microcenter. like a long distance runner, i can feel the weight of every step. i know that this run, no matter how long i'd like to extend it, must end; ever step brings me closer to the finish line. yet, somewhere over the oceans of humanity, i know what i've set out to accomplish will never end. the final jaunt between houston and new york lies the sprint of a lifetime.
while my houston adventure is shaping to involve debauchery, religious, intellectual, artistic, spiritual, social and technological adventures... my psychosis is carefully balanced between the fine line of editing 15 hours of footage and planning out the last two exploratory months.
it's important to note that the next few steps are extremely important. while my travel funds are running on fumes, i still need to balance the acquisition of tickets with the need of cash to pay for these tickets. after much research and soul searching, there are two goals i must achieve
- visit antarctica
- interview the largest open source community in south america (aka brazil)
i'm tossing in argentina for a bunch of historical, logistical, political, and coworking reasons. if you're in buenos aries, you now have a coworking facility to visit - check out Cowork Central. i know i'll be looking forward to my time.
the following is a sampling of events and/or interviews i'm looking to achieve.
Dec 15th - Jan 11, Ushwaia, Argentina
- start my hitch hike to antarctica
- christmas and new years at the bottom of the world
- interview couchsurfers
Jan 12, Buenos Aries, Argentina
- back for a night / layover
Jan 13 - 27, Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Andre Avorio, barcamp & open source evangelist.
- citizen journalists
- potentially mozy on over to brazilla or Rio to interview a bunch of government officials / business owners who use open source. (i still need contacts!!!)
Jan 28, Buenos Aries, Argentina
- one last night in Buenos Aries / layover
Jan 29, New York City, USA
- arrive in my home city and couch surf for a week before traveling to an undisclosed location to present my findings.
if you know of someone who has a couch to spare, shoot me a line...
if you're in any one of these areas and would like to meet up. please, contact me...
if you know of any cool organizations that would augment this global documentary, shoot me a line...
if you have access to a government official or educators who promote open source, hook me up...