well, it's weird to pen or type these words, but the noneck officially has returned to NYC. at 14h30 on the wings of Swiss Air LX22, he arrived at JFK and rode the A to the L and into the arms of brooklyn coworking. ok, the weridist part is that he's jobless, homeless but never friendless.
for the next month and a half while he sorts out the odd jobs, couches, spare bedrooms, empty nests and the sort... feel free to shoot him a line, invite him for dinner and let him sleep on your couch. just don't ask him when he's going to shave or cut his hair... he's going to milk those for a while...
speaking of milking or shall i say working with your hands. brooklyn coworking is going to be hosting brooklyn jelly this week, too boot there's going to be a bit of an open house. so if you're interested in meeting the myth over a cup of joe, join the jellies!
"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.
after yesterday's adventure in the wastelands of future hubbub, i arrived in mumbai. under the cover of darkness, i quietly roamed the halls of the international terminal.
greeted by a plainclothes custom's agent and without any questions, my passport was stamped and i walked into india. within 10 mins my bags were on a stroller and i was strolling into the humid night.
while my original plans were to spend the night in the terminal, things changed very quickly. on the day of my departure from cairo, former CiviCRM stunt man and current Drupaller, Yashesh Bhatia emailed me emphatically saying i should visit mumbai. upon telling him that i was just passing through, he told me that he would be at the airport dropping off his father and that he would be waiting for me.
in the hot sticky air, my bags and i stumbled out into the public waiting area squinting for a glimpse of a face i have only seen via email. tired, alone and without a working SIM, i quickly worked my way to get change and make a phone call.
after a bit of belligerence from a guy selling water, a young man wearing a hotel uniform pulled out his cell phone and offered to call yashesh. within a matter of minutes, chaos turned into peace. all of sudden, yashesh's friend/coworker (who's name escapes me at this moment) turned out of the crowed and ushered me to meet yashesh, his wife and three year old son.
driving though the crowed streets of mumbai, we talked about our geek history, the last 24 hours of travel, my time with the guys and gals of opencraft and my sadness leaving them. upon arrival at the Bhatia's family home, i was greeted by handshakes, a seat, a plate and a home cooked meal from heaven.
at 4.45 in the morning, yashesh and i drove to the airport. after a mad dash through the airport, i found myself watching the sunrise above the clouds.
words can not describe the thanks i have for the hosts who have blessed me with their homes...
as i discovered on day 18, pushing hard moving from country to country at an early morning hour, not sleeping and eating sporadically doesn't bode well for mental acuteness. actually, it's a recipe for disaster. no really, it was a total disaster.
speaking of disasters, my ipod nano stopped behaving and i was forced to do a factory restore. in many ways, i was looking forward to this moment. now, i am now left with a handful of albums stored on my hard drive and ambient train contemplation.
first, let me say thank you to all of my hosts. if the rest of the trip allows me to cross paths with exceptional characters like these, then i think the world isn't too far off kilter.
in paris and out of the blue, Aurélien Tabard came to my rescue. he gave me keys to his uncle's vacant apartment, and aurélien's hospitality didn't stop there. as he cooked dinner on the first night, we discussed our displeasure of the current political march to the right and the inability for the left to act coheranetly.
though our personal history, we compared notes on activism and our frustration working within the confines of political systems. both of us agreed that the bickering has to stop and activists must diversify their work.
we both recognized the opportunities that lie within technology. if we are unable to capitalize on building a digital world as free as our physical world, we are doomed to confinement. as aurélien introduced me to his phd thesis, we analyzed the opportunities that exist in integrating technology with our day to day actions. we both agreed that our future should not compete with our day to day, but should enhance our day to day.
first, thank you to all the new contributors! i know i haven't had an opportunity to put your names on the contributors page, but tomorrow i promise you will be listed...
departing nyc was amazing and sad. i really wanted to bring all of my friends. i would have settled on one. sitting to my left, on the laptop prohibiting iberia flight, was was a little lady from new jersey. on my right, sat two israelis who randomly met another isrealie couple. the four argued, laughed, cried and eventually settled down after some insane bollywood movie.
i would have paid $10 to curse at them in hebrew. every time someone walked by, the woman, who was standing, would bum them into me. when the fifth person walked by, i pinched her ass. ok, i know it's not kosher, but i thought she was doing it on purpose... too boot, she then moved... sorry...
to be honest with you, if i would have known that my flight had two hops, one to madrid and then another to barcelona, i would have never ventured out of madrid. instead, i sat in the madrid airport and stared at the wonderful sunrise...
in barcelona, i found myself with less than two hours to jam. despite this small problem, i jammed my stuff into a locker (4.10 euro), and hopped on a bus (3.90 euro). with a lightened loaded, i failed to sneak into a museum, but purchased two postcards (1 euro). then i walked to one of the grand plazas. with the high noon heat blazing, i hopped back on the bus for a quick nap at the airport (3.90 euro).
after a short flight and a shorter nap, i finally arrived in pamplona around 5 pm. as soon as i step foot outside of the airport, i noted the chilled air and knew it would be a long cold night (1 euro).
with a full load i walked around in circles. everyone whom i asked pointed in a blank general direction. in complete frustration, i approached a cop and pleaded with him for more information. in his broken english, he told me "500 meters, church, right, square."
walking and cursing, i found "punk rock" square, aka san fransico plaza. lined with punks, broken glass, and the stench of piss, i would call this little rectangle home for the night. after depositing my bags (3.40 euro) and with 20 euros in my pocket, i was hell bent on exploring the city sans expenditure.
as the day turned to night, i walked, walked, walked and walked. tired, hungry and cold, i made the poor decision to purchase a pamplona classic. within a bagett, sat some mayo, cured ham and cheeses. for 5 euro i also got a mini-bottle of water. it was a poor desperate decision, around the corner sat a lovely cafe and for 2.50 euro, i could have had the sammach.
for two hours, i watched family after family come into the the bright red coffee shop. in toe, children aged from 2 - 5.
for two hours, i watched mothers and fathers, buy endless amount of cookies. then they would sit and the kids would shove their mouths with pure unadulterated shugga. even with ear plugs, the screaming was unbearable. little would i guess, that this screaming would only be the start of a long night.
finally, after much marching, i limped back to "punk rock" square. for about 10 mins i debated on what i should do. option one, find a bar and drink the night away. option two, get sleeping bag and watch the festival of anarchy. i took option two. i really didn't have too much money and fearful of the glass studded streets, i took refuge on a clean park bench.
as the hours ticked, my body warmed. franky, i was worried. i was worried that i would fall asleep and would then have to fend off some drunk. instead, i discovered a new job. as people walked by, they would ask if i was staying awake all night. i would say yes, and then they would ask if i could wake them up in the morning. regretfully, i didn't ask for a few extra euros and offered protection from drunks...
finally around 5:30 am, i packed up my gear and headed north to check out the runners. the light was amazing... as meandered, i discovered hundreds still packing in the booze and a few sleeping in the urine filled doorways. as i hussled, you could feel the excitement.
have you ever felt the presence of lighting? well, it's kinda like that... with bag in tow and a questionable knee, i decided not to run, but to film everyone else. working my way though the streets, i saw fear. not just fear of a bull... fear of death...
what ensued, i can't even begin to describe. the insanity of pampalona's running of the bulls is unmatched in words. the hour and a half before the run, the air warmed and death loomed. my words have no real explanation of the insanity that festered within the walls of pampalona. you'll just have to see the video... ;)
(gotta run... they are locking the doors of the school that i'm in... grammer and spelling will come later...)