Recoded: 16 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: end of the earth, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven, antarctica
Music: Don't Stop Believin' - Journey; Good Times, Bad Times - Led Zeppelin
About: i've made it to the end of the earth and don't have a ride to antartica. this is his first days' entry in a daily video diary documenting his stupid hitchhiking attempt.
(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...
Locations: Ahmedabad, India
Tags: citizen journalism, video volunteers, DRISHTI Media, Arts & Human Rights , stalin k, jessica mayberry, kavita das gupta, siddharth chadha, community media, participatory culture
Music: leaving you behind, Hermann & Kleine
About: the journey into understanding participatory culture doesn't start with digital technology. the study of participatory culture should arise from the understanding that one shoe doesn't fit all. since my time in ahmedabad, i've come to see drishti and video volunteers as the premier example of interactivity between online/offline, between old media/new media, between bitching and getting things done. the prime directive should not exist on earth. if we truly care about a participatory society, we must embrace tools as forms of technology and work hard to impart their use among all.
i hope you check out more of video volunteers work.
(this awesome photo is from flickr user leppre - check out frosty sunrise 2 in full detail!)
a week in ohio has brought about an level of personal intimacy that i wouldn't have found any where else. with less funds than i need, i've sprawled out on my childhood bed spending countless hours planning the next four months. between east coast offers of a roving camera man & thoughts of giving up, i find myself in a precarious position.
my life in ohio is simple. my life on the east coast seems extravagant. this journey around the world seems extraordinary. yet, i still look in the mirror every morning and see the same short bearded face. when i look down, i see the same small hands. with a warn out seat, my pants are five years too told. my socks holy. my back, feet, arms and legs feel the burden of the world.
my 29 years on this planet have been extraordinary. it's taken me quite a while to truly understand the detachment my parents gave me. growing up in the last decade of the cold war, in a small bedroom community of a military base, i was exposed to a world far beyond the reach of the three creeks that surrounded my suburban ohio house.
the journey from california to ohio is normal, a loving military couple moves to maximize wealth and opportunity to provide for themselves and their young sapling. a few years later, another young sapling comes along. all the while, the two work endlessly to teach their children of the family tree and the world's forests.
as the older sapling grows, the world takes it toll - accidents, fires, health issues, etc... but eventually the sapling realizes that the world's forest are massive. as he grows, he hears things that don't make any cense. he reads things that seem to have no tangible relationship to the world he lives in. yet, for some reason these stories are the notable stories - for some reason, these stories are the constitution of public discourse.
confuse by their importance and lusting after a deeper meaning - not all of these stores are lost. this young sapling knows that his forest and all the animals that inhabit the surrounding area must be similar to the one he reads.... they must be similar to all the stories he's been told... to all the stories he's dreamt... and with a slight hand of a shovel, he packs his roots, loads up an old VW van and departs to visit the forest beyond.
from the forests out east he sees an urban forest where trees are valued but not harvested. up and down the american coast he finds others who seek a grander meaning from sea to shining sea. across the sea, older sapling and taller trees that seek a similar exploration. across the world the sapling sees the stories, views first hand and oogles images of forests far and beyond - locations with out a single tree in sight - vast beaches of stubborn shrubs rooted on tiny rocks - vast urbanities where all trees have been removed...
all in all, after countless accidents, fires, health issues, loves and losts... returns to his original forest for a feast. like the year before and like any year after, the feast is more like any other family's... filled with it's unique quirkiness and unbeholden to any austere tradition - this family sits around revels in each other's stories, branches and quirks for a specialty ordered feast.
within a few days, this sapling once again departs into the unknown. this sapling has done it before. he's traveled the paths, climbed the rocks, trolled along the beaches and buried his head in the sand a few times. off in the distance there is a mountain, paths to the top are unknown, unproven and most fo the time unrewarding to anyone but itself.
beneath the ground, this sapling sees roots of many colors, shapes, sizes, from a million and one time zones. this sapling knows the roots are strong, healthy and ready to spring forth a new alternative ecosystem based on healthier soil.
while this sapling doesn't quite know his own destination, height or width - he's grown to know the trees, valleys and streems. he knows the glory of unity, the power of diversity, and the love of the world. he knows that he couldn't have done it without the unflinching support of a global family firmly rooted in passion.
thank you. blessing be with us all.
(this is a recreation a photo my father took of my mother in the same yard. click on your fav part and be transported to a magical day filled with globetrotting, house hunting & a birthday celebration.)
it's one hundred percent certifiable, my body has traveled around the world. on 24 may 1978, i was born at loma linda university hospital. on 12 november 2007, i drove around the hospital to seal the deal and officially proclaim my body around the world.
as a descendent of new world explorers, i am now the first modern hidalgo (of moca linage) to circumnavigate the globe. do i feel different?
yes and no. it's kinda like turning a monumental age. you've always dreamt of reaching the milestone, but wondered if you'd make it. nonetheless, you persevered over every oppositional thought and roadblock. i could wax on about how i feel like a billion sea shells or how there's a new spring in my step...
i know tomorrow will be another day - unscripted, unedited and unfiltered. many things can and will go wrong.
i know hundreds of people have placed me on their shoulders and carried my dream across the globe.
i know that i must work twice as hard to show my appreciation for the beauty of all things.
i now know nothing will stopping me from working the world's lemons into lemonade.
i know i am not alone.
(this is a total departure from most of my ramblings... i'm exhausted, but i want to get my "fresh" thoughts on "paper." all y'all should note i listen to the motorcycle dairies like a rechargeable battery pulls it's juice from the wall. track to track, i find an energy like none other... am i alone in this???)
from vancouver to Seattle, i sat with a cast of characters. boarding a amtrak chartered bus, i found myself surrounded by stereo typical travelers - the sports junky worried about customs, the hot college coed, the two friends setting out on a long journey, a preppy couple who had a copy of the ny times, a few hipsters, grandmas, etc...
as rain pounded the roof, we all waded through customs, reboarded the "secure" bus and shlepped to seattle. as we drove through the foggy morning in "upper northwest" (really it's all subjective, in vancouver they call it the lower mainland), the sun caressed the horizon which illuminated mountains to the left and large bodies of water to the right. somewhere through my drowsiness, i too caressed the mountainess coach chair to my left and to my right, i poured out a widow into a never ending water world.
once in SEA, i found myself in the same tiny train station from which i departed. with my eyes barely working, i found the seat assignment keyosk and requested an ocean view. as an FU to my mental state, the vending machine decided to stiff me on my morning ritual of M & Ms. after a solid five mins of cursing, banging and a 110% vagrant disposition, i convinced the machine of my worthiness and was granted my treat.
as i stood to board the coast starlight, i danced (ie wobbled back and forth trying to keep balance) as i looked around at my fellow passengers.
i wondered whom i would meet. i wondered whom i would befriend. i wondered about their destinations, stories, but more importantly, i wondered which cute girl would fancy this bearded flip-floping hobbit.
would it be the hipster from vancouver or the mid-20's vixen wearing an unusually light sun dress for a cold day?
would it be one of the three young college coeds or the layered granola crunching intellectual?
would it be the grandmother who's traveled around the world or would it be married woman traveling without her husband?
after scoring a seat with a rare electrical outlet, i crossed my finger on whom my join my bench. as my luck would turn, i got the acid washed early 40s stoner who interjected "dude" instead of "ahum" or "ahh." behind me and to the left, sat a woman who's disposition suited an afternoon cocktail party, not an early morning long distance train. directly behind me and next to the boisterous three cups of coffee, sat a cute fashionable question.
tipped with firey red hair, this late 20 year old sported flat-black calf high boots, a teal dress of notable distinction and black leggings. the dress looked really familiar. the style was something i had seen a few times before. either in nyc or sf or some other hipster sub-capital. i knew the cut, the frills and somehow i knew the personality would be interesting.
as the train departed, i fell back into my previous state of traveler's coma. an hour or so later, i woke up and ran to my lunch reservation in the a dining car. (btw, what a rip off!)
upon my return, i was blessed with the two women blabbing away and my bench mate passed out sporting a nice collection of drool. tired and alone, i settled into eavesdropping mode. as an observer, i've found myself enjoying the conversations of others... when you've already developed a distain for someone's attitude, it can be a real treat!
behind and to the left, the older woman clad in "funky" jewelry provided enough comments to paint a picture of a strong independent upper-middle class woman from the united states. sounding like a blend of a million and one other conversations, i dreamt she lived in a comfortable house, struggled with her life's investments and more importantly, she was more concerned how others perceived her and her husband. (all of which was confirmed as the conversation wore on...)
sitting to her right sat the fiery red head who was verbally amazed by every burning autumn leaf. from topic to topic, i heard an open, inquisitive and fiery disposition. too boot, i heard the voice of a self made woman. when she said the words "school of hard knocks" my heart skipped a beat. i wondered who was this woman. more importantly, i wondered how to interject an introduction.
by the stroke of luck, the conductor announced we would be stopping in portland for a "fresh air break." within a matter of mins... oh wait, snap! so, there was a glance. when the two got up to get lunch, i sat typing away. next to me sat mr. spicoli (as "fire" would eventually come to describe him). somehow, someway, we made brief eye contact, but too brief to be substantial. ok, if "fire" would have dropped a hanky, then it would have been substantial... so off they went... glare, look, glance noted...
then, when the conductor called out the fresh air brake, i hopped up and to my delight so did "fire." amazingly, mr. spicoli stood in front of both of us. as a die hard smoker, he was ready to pound a few sticks in the 5 / 10 mins we had outside. as we worked our way down the stairs, "fire" commented on the characters and i was taken back... was she talking to me? was she being coy or snotty? was she calling me a character?
regardless, i knew this was my one opportunity. if i screwed this up... i would be screwed up. so i shot back the classical "oh, i think we're all characters."
low and behold, that one little line set off a chain of events that would force me to turn around and hanging over the back of my seat for the next few hours. when we re-boarded the train, "fire" pulled out her old ibook and i was like... "whoa, can i steal some of that?"
in ease, i built an itunes playlist of rock n'roll, jazz, soul, 60's and cover songs... ahem, i am that high fidelity guy. i have that disposition where i judge people by their musical tastes. i know it's such a bad thing... and if you're female and i make you a mix tape. watch out! ;)
maybe it was her light blue eyes or her constant application of a fiery red lip gloss... but every movement seemed to be in slow-mo. i was completely transfixed from topic to topic - indian pizza, dysfunctional family, fashion, music, technology, social networks, self made adventures, etc... every comma, apostrophe, period and question mark had my total awe. if this wasn't enough, she was to be in vangroovy from monday to thursday, but had to cancel to attend her grandmother's funeral... instead "fire" routed to her way to seattle. can some one say "star crossed?
it was weird to think of destiny and the world that exists beyond/after this project. it was weird to have chet baker's "my ideal" stuck in my head after so many months of celibacy. maybe this is a T.M.I., but when i started this journey i dreamt about being a casanova and meeting the love of my life. i still dream that i will find the love of my life... but i now fear that the love of my life is something that's beyond any one particular person. AND that really freaks me out...
well, i now have a crush and an address in SF which will soon start to receive post-cards. :)
i know this is blog post is coming out a bit out of order, but seeing how i have yet to even tackle a summary of san fran, i'd figured i'd toss this up since gregory heller (old pal, recent facebook convert) posted a my most cosmical outfit to date. on background, i'll tell you that my jacket was tucked into the rear of my pants so it wouldn't get stuck in the spokes. (btw, it took me about a min to figure out why i was being pulled of the bike... one of these day's i'll learn to ride a bike.)
also in the video, please note the positioning of the break is not the best, when applying pressure, my forward momentum took over and i fell off the bike twice. ok, it was more than that, but i'm not going to tell you how many times...
like a ripe pear, i got to seattle just in the nick of time - from office nomads to lawrence lessig to saturday house to hackerbot labs to gosleepgo... everything was in sync on a loaned bike with an awkwardly sized seat, too long of a center support and a gut to large to bend over... SEA was a refreshing few days of contemplation.
there's a funny trend among people who are on the road. after a while, you get these funny ideas and after longer you realize that if your heart is in the right place, you really can't go wrong.... then after a longer gestation, you realize that you can do some really wacky and crazy things... best catalystizisms, forced resourcefulness, travel time and the shear realization that the world is too small to be taken 100% serious. oh sure there are serious issues at hand and we got a long road to change many things... but if you can't laugh at the situation at hand, might as well work in a cubical.
btw, i too made a video. it's a ghost hunting video. somewhere between saturday house and hackerbot labs, heller, Shawn McDougal and i stubbled upon SEVEN dining cars stacked up into one bad ass mofo of a diner.
shoveling meat is what andy's dinner does best! AND seeing how i'm in the northern part of america, people are nicer... after ordering a slab o meet, i asked our nice waitress about the history. the pride of andy's is a train car FDR used on one of his whistle stop tours. so after a bewildering number of questions and mazeonic adventure to find the bathroom, i started asking an increasing number of questions. one thing, let to another and we were told about a ghost.
somewhere in the nooks and crannies of this tired old dinner sat one tired old ghost, who after a bunch of prodding, howling and a idle threats - the ghost never appeared.
luck of seven goes ghost hunting in SEA from noneck on Vimeo.
thanks all y'all...
this morning, Janet Hawtin sent me the YouTube video above. to my surprise, Juan from Free Hugs has crafted an open invite for anyone to stop by his house and hang out. as a huge fan of people allowing others to work / hang out / hack at their house, this is surely going to be a treat!
not only does it seem that i'll be one of the first "youtubers" to visit, as my Sydney plans unfurl, my last few days seem to be overwhelming! nonetheless, you can count on me to make the best of a limited schedule... if you have any advice, tips, tricks. send them my way!!!
WED NIGHT - 17 Oct
- sleep on bus.
THURSDAY - 18 Oct
- 08h30 arrival at Sydney's bus station.
- morning, find wifi, have breakfast, coordinate contacts. (anyone have recommendations?)
- post-noon, meet up at Pitt Street Mall in the centre of Sydney with juan from FREE HUGS. we will hug people. (thanks janet for the introduction!)
- 19h00, sydney web standards meetup to hear jo kay talk about second life and mick liubinskas talk about "a trillion tiny transactions" (thanks christy dena for the invite.)
ps - anyone have a place for me to lay my head? it appears i forgot to coordinate a proper place to crash?
FRIDAY - 19 Oct
- 08h00 blogger breakfast at single origin. (thanks emily reed)
- Free day to document my final thoughts on australia with nice touristic backdrops. (editor's note - if anyone want's to be my host that would be fan-tab-ioulus!!!)
- Work my way to Juan's house and document any YouTuber's who show up / make our own YouTube video discussing the importance of an "open door policy" - (also see Coworking & Work at Jelly)
- Evening - Dinner with a Barcamp Sydney Organizers
- Spend the night at Juan's house.
SATURDAY - 20
- pack / organize / fret.
- 14h00 depart for airport and subsequently the United States of America. (i can't wait to find out what questions i'll be asked at customs.)
ok, now i'm off to explore melbourne!
for the past three months, i've been super diligent in making up an itinerary and following it. today, i screwed up. for some-reason, i didn't look at my flight details until it was too late. stuck in darwin two more days than i really want, i have many thoughts mulling an escape. conversely, i'm given much needed time to reflect. with my back up against the ocean, i have laid out a tight time table for my journey to adelaide, melbourne and sydney.
friday morning at 3 am i depart darwin; i arrive in adelaide at 6.30 am. upon touchdown, i am to trek to the central market, meet my friend jo, make fun of her, wish her a happy birthday and then get further instructions.
jo is also the second person who's meeting will span two continents (matan you were my first). jo and i first met in prague while she participated in TOL's New Media course. with the utmost joy, i get to spend the weekend celebrating her birthday and picking up where we left off... starring into the bottom of a glass.
with much sadness i am having to cancel my dinner plans with benbalbo.com and his coworkers. on monday, 15 October at 6.40 pm, i will arrive in melbourne via the Indian Pacific train. my hopes are to spend two nights catching face time with drupal enthusiasts, reconnecting with ben balbo and his peeps, ride trams snapping pictures of the notable street art and attempting to get a bite on the colonial tramcar restaurant.
on wednesday night (17 oct) at 20h i will depart via bus and spend the night driving to sydney.
with aspirations of a glorious sunset on camera, i will arrive at 8.30 in the morning. with 36 hours to gallivant through the sights, i am looking forward to getting the inescapable photo of the opera house. before i depart on the 20th, i am hoping to meet as many geeks as possible, have dinner with a bunch of bloggers, play a little AD/CD kerroke and visit the national maritime museum or the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
in just a few short days i will be in hawaii. that's right, in just a few days i will be in the United States of America. i'm heading back to the USA (pronounced OOOH-SSSA) to scratch off one of the two states i haven't visited (hawaii), sniff the followers and partake in the great American road trip.
coincidentally, hawaii and my reason for being back in the USA have a lot in common. in short, both are younger brothers - hawaii being the youngest of "the Union" and Joel Hidalgo being the youngest brother my parents have told me about. both are islands of culture surround by an unknown worlds. both are skinner and have had more girlfriends than i. in the next few weeks i will share beer with both of them.
hopping back into the USA is also an important milestone, it marks my halfway mark, and the smaller milestone of me circumnavigating the globe!
my plans for America are a bit different than the rest - they actually have quite a few people and locations to visit.
when i land on the continent, i will have three weeks to make it from oakland/SF to seattle - back to san francisco to Lodi (michael david wineries) to LA through san bernindio / loma linda (where i was born) to las vegas. in vegas, i want to pick up route 66, throw her over my shoulder and marry her. seeing how that's impossible, i'll follow her perfume through the plain states detouring in kansas to hop on I-70 and high tail it to ohio. through this long winded three week continental drift, i will have the least amount of money to spend, and will be purely dependent on contributions (ie meals, floors, couches, etc...).
the offer still stands if you want to join me... you just have to pay your own way, or fundraise your own way... but you are more than welcome to join me.
to ensure proper documentation and to give you a un-holds-bars voyeuristic view of my road life, i want to go live 24/7. sure you've seen it with justin.tv and justina.tv but this is noneck.tv. this is the guy who's dared to enter the lions den of Amsterdam, ride a bicycle, crash into a trolly track and live. this is a guy who has no qualms walking into a strip bar dressed like your stereotypical sheik to buy everyone a beer (offer only applies in the following countries - beerastan!) this is the guy who braved the israeli/jordainan border. this is the guy who braved cairo's dinners, contracted a 110° fever and lived. this is the guy who rode michael jackson to the prymids of giza (yes, i did use a saddle thank you berry much!). this is the same guy who walked phenom phen without a firearm. this is the same guy who's walked into cities across the globe not knowing where he'll sleep. this is the same guy who ate food off the floor after the 15 second rule. this is the same guy who's going to provide YOU a rockin four week road trip across America.
are you ready? are you ready to go live? (tap, tap, tap.) is this thing on?
if you're a corporate entity who has the wherewithal to provide a "capital investment" i'm willing to cut a deal. i'm ready to go cobranded. we take your logo plus my 24/7 show and for the entire time i'm in the USA, you'll have me as a walking, talking, internet loving advertisement. i'll even wear your corporate logo/badge/loin cloth/cheesehead/etc... as long as you let me keep the copy "open" AND i retain the rights to all footage shot during this time period. if you're interested, keep reading...
thanks for reading, i now have less than two weeks to convince you to pay for two things...
1. an awesome headset setup / service like justin.tv to bring you the LIVE american adventure. if you're willing to buy it, set it up and get it ready we'll start the show from your office.
2. a rental car (hybrid or zero-emitions please) and gas or electricity to putter from here to there. otherwise, just give me a boat load of batteries and i'll hitchhike. if i do hitchhike, i'll also need a gps so you can give you my last coordinates to pick up my body.
how does that sound? oh and mind you i'm also heading south, so if you're willing to pay for the bandwith i'm willing to go live on my south american journey... (can you hear me now?)
(Route 66 Motel photo by flickr user dawnnakaya)
i've landed on your big island with equally large ambitions. like the first taste of vegimite, i've tossed up my plans and now have something a bit milder. mind you, these plans are equally as exciting!
as i write these words, my ass sits in an overly priced internet booth which i can no longer afford. (and if you're just tuning in, i'm traveling around the world kicking the man's ass and saying "we're here to make this a better place!") SO with that in mind, mark these words as my little request for your contribution.
right now, i have contacts in adelaide, melbourne and sydney.
right now, i only have two set transportation plans.
- fly into adelaide on 10.10.2007 at 18.30h.
- fly out of sydney on 20.10.2007 at 18.00h.
right now, i'm thinking of the following schedule and realizing i won't be sleeping for the next 13 days while you fill in the blank spaces.
- Oct 10 - 13, Adelaide
- Oct 14 - 16, Melbourne
- Oct 17 - 20, Sydney (blogger dinner on the 19th, aka my last night.)
if you have any questions, please feel free to call me at +61.404.653.631
noel (a^t) noneck.org
in the whole scheme of things, i don't have too much time on this side of the planet. it really feels weird to be on the other side of the world and start making plans for halloween on the American west coast. it feels weird to think that i only have 13 days here in australia. like this trip, the clock is ticking and i don't have too much time to sleep.
after a few hours of sleep at chilli's backpackers, five to be exact, i got up took a steaming-piping-hot 20 min shower. then i walked the desolate streets of darwin to find an overpriced hamburger and beer. (btw, everything has the name backpackers in it.. i'll show you in the photos.) after a bit of scrumming, i found a vodafone shop, plopped down $30 ASD and ticked off to watch a glorious sunset.
if anyone wants to call or txt me, feel free to ring +61.404.653.631. it will soon be the only way to contact me in OZ. (i love that it's called OZ. some how i want to look to my left and see a bunch of flying monkeys and on my right a few munchkins.)
as for today's planning, the next few days seem to be more expensive than anticipated. (btw, will the fourking US dollar get back up there!?! it's really killing me that it is as cheep as the canadian dollar. btw, if you're not watching the news, one of the reason why the US stock market is really the US stock rocket, because it's cheep to play in a stock market when your "foreign" currency get's a two for one deal. ) darwin is kinda of a backpacker's trap and a drunk's heaven. everything is twice the appropriate cost. maybe it's a healthy economy. maybe it's the low population. none-the-less, i want to get out as quickly as possible but my options are limited.
1. i can hitchhike and run the risk of standing out in 110° heat for hours only to end up in a ditch under a few feet of soil. (most adventurous option)
2. i can take a bus for $700 dollars and spend 5 days on the road to Adelaide. (most outrageous option)
3. i can train south to Adelaide for $300 - 800 and spend 4 days winding through the country. (most romantic option)
4. i can fly for $200 - 300. (most sensible, least tourist option)
5. i can get "creative" and flyer every backpacker hotel/hostel/rv camp. then cross my fingers and find something suitable. (most idealist option)
note to anyone else planning this type of journey. DO NOT LIVE OFF OF A SCHEDULE! don't get me wrong, i love this trip. i love this journey. i love the people (well except for the mid-20 year old buxum, blond ozzy travel agent who looked at me and point blankly "ewww, indians!?! what do they eat? rat?!! i don't like them because they miss treat their animals."). i love the heat. i love the adventure, but at the same time i feel that my adventure is coming to a bit of a plateau.
now that i'm back in a "civilized" "culture" the luxury of walking into a supermarket (which i also did today) seemed so tame. i no longer have to doge mosquitos, flies, scooterist, bad fruit, bad meat, hawkish vendors and pickpockets. nope, now it's a world of "q's" and canned pees. oh the woes of coming back to "civilization"
oh well, at least i there's a large hot water tank someplace around.
this was original written somewhere over the south pacific.
as the hour turns, i cross the equator for the first time. in a nondescript tiger airways airbus, i find the toilet really doesn't flush counterclockwise, i find no big celebration, i find nothing special about this landmark event.
yet my heart, my head, and my stomach bounce in delight. it might have been the most recent copy of the economist or the $3USD korean ramen or 100g of a dark chocolate and hazelnut concoction. but somewhere deep down inside, i think it's because i'm finally making it to australia.
many years ago, when i was in junior high, i use to hang outside the principles' office. surround by wood paneling and a trophy case of the school's awards, my hacker/geek/outcast friends sat under the sole pay-phone wondering how we could harness it's copper to escape from our dreary midwestern lives.
on the weekends, my father and i would drive to book's and company (the most cosmopolitan book store in dayton, ohio) and pick up our monthly addiction of computer magazines, mondo 2000, and 2600. during the week, my friends and i would sit next to the principal's office and scheme up plans to take over the school's PA system or hack the LED student council sign or plan our next 24 hour LAN party.
we were kids. we were geeks. the internet had yet to find it's way into our daily life.
one day, in a fit of youthful frustration, i called quantas and made a reservation to Australia. before the agent hung up, my dreams were dashed. somehow i would have to muster $5000 USD and apply for a visa.
seventeen years later, i have taken care of the two.
while my original plans had me in country much longer than two weeks, my flight to hawaii came at a high cost - fly out on Oct 20th for a few hundred or fly out later and pay close to a thousand - SO my first three days in australia will be spent in darwin sorting my bearings, catching up on emailed contacts, planning my US roadtrip and gathering steam for my trek across australia.
on monday, 8.10.2007 (or 8.10.2007 depending on which side of the world you're on) humpy doo, katherine, newcastle waters, tenant creek, alice springs, coober pedy, woomera, adelaide, melbourne, and sydney will no longer be names on a map nor places a crocodile dundee movie. they and the places in-between will be filled with faces and their stories'.
my flight to OZ was enjoyable. jammed in the tail with a young newly wedded couple, we shared our stories of phuket over a bowl of noodles. as the husband dozed, i composed my thoughts on a road-trip across the outback.
upon arrival i found a short line for foreign nationals and expected to breeze right through. after a small delay with my "T" status. i was stamped through passport control into a customs waiting area.
being honest, i had check off the small little box saying "hi, i've been in close contact with farm animals." not that i actually touched any animals, but seeing how i was in the rural india country side i decided to play it safe. if they looked at my passport and asked me questions, i'd rather play it safe than attempt to hide anything.
apparently, that one little box, was enough "material" to lead me down a long road of questions, interrogation and bone shaking discomfort.
as i've kicked around filling out passport/customs cards, i normally enter researcher as my job title. in egypt, blogger or journalist might have received extra scrutney. in india, i entered as a "researcher" giving a "presitation" at a few barcamps. only on my entry into the UK did i recessive questioning on what type of research. everywhere else, my passport was scanned, noted and stamped without question.
in OZ i spent an hour preaching to the uneducated. confused and bewildered, the customs agent wanted to connect every physical little thing with the "research" i was doing. armed with thoughts of rejection, i started to get nervous.
then when i offered to show my website and a few videos, the customs agent eagerly said yes.
my downfall came when i presented my laptop with a lovely little sticker from CLUB 27. you know the lonely club of famous artists who have died for one reason or another at 27. drug overdose, murder, suicide - jannis joplin, jimmy hendrix, kurt kurbain - the image of a shotgun and sureng clued her that i might be a drug dealer. i then spent 20 mins answering my drug history. from my first puff to my accent in amsterdam i gave her a detailed history of accidents, pranks and idiotic.
on the outside my voice cracked, my hands shook and sweat pored down my face.
in the eyes of god, her majesty the queen and this female customs agent i walked into OZ.
a fellow traveler and new york buddy is in need of a hitch... he's made it from NYC to boise, and now needs to find his way to portland. if you know of anyone who can give him a few miles, shoot him an email at matt[.at.]aroundamericaproject.com. below his is request.
I hit a slight glitch today in the project. My ride from Boise, ID to Portland, OR this Sunday the 7th canceled. He was a shoe salesman that was going to give me a ride, but sadly he was canned last week. It was the last volunteer I needed before I made it coast to coast. Boise to Portland is a 7 hour drive, so I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do.
If anyone can help in any way or contact someone who may be able to help, that would be HUGE! :) Right now, it looks like I may be plum out of luck. I am sooo close to making it across the entire country.
Shoot me back an email if you have any (serious) ideas on how I can do it.
Thanks so much guys! And, thanks for watching and volunteering thus far. Wooh!
P.S. If for some reason this email reaches you and you have no clue as to what I'm speaking about, check www.aroundamericaproject.com.