Friday, December 18, 2009

My flight to Egypt via Prague from Frankfurt has been delayed 45 minutes. Then I missed my connecting flight. Then I fly back to Germany, Munich this time. From Munich I fly direct to Cairo. Arriving 18 hours later than I expected. Only much anticipated kisses from Trip can make this bearable.
Since leaving Lyon exactly one week ago, I have hitchhiked through Germany, spent 5 days in Copenhagen, trained back to Germany and stayed in a hostel in Hamburg and rideshared to Frankfurt for one night of Couchsurfing. Now, I am in an airline clusterfuck. I am also quite tired.
Leaving Lyon was a bit sad. I became comfortable there and made a few really good friends. Cieon, a Australian woman I met at La Friche’s bicycle workshop, came to stay with Fox, Tomas and I for the last few days I was in Lyon. We tandem’ed around Lyon’s famous Festival of Lights with bottles of wine in the water bottle holders, eating sugared churros and watching truly bizarre light shows. While the Festival of Lights may fall around the holiday season, it is far from a holiday light display. One installation featured 20 or so naked male mannequins that light up and speak in French in unison. Another was projections of love scenes on building walls. The most bizarre was a psycadellec movie project that took up an entire block and centered around a ticking clock with swirls, people running, falling and hanging from the clock hands, strange gusts of green wind and multicolored rainstorms.
I stayed in Lyon a few days longer than planned because the package that my mom sent from the United States was delayed at the post office. For some reason, unknown even to the post office, the delivery service needed address confirmation. The first day I learned this, I was told that only my mom could provide confirmation. The second day I inquired, I was able to confirm the address. Either way, my mom was on it and within minutes of learning about the situation had begun contacting the company and her friend in France to also put in a few phone calls. Way to go mom!
The package arrived and in it was three books, two undies, one pair of Smartwool socks, hippie deodorant and body scrub, an ear band, headband, a ring, glitter, a camera (!), and a very nice card that she and Kasey wrote together. Definitely worth the wait.
My dad also came through big time in Lyon. My debit card arrived but the PIN was MIA and I was down to my last 5 Euros but not SOL (can I keep this up? IDK! hahaha). My dad wired me 150 dollars which has comfortably sustained me for the past few weeks.
I had both my first and last ride on the second bike that I built to the metro station where Fox dropped me off on my last day in Lyon. It seemed to work well, but I would hesitate if you wanted to shift the back gears. The first bike I built, a beautiful and shiny purple frame with a blue starred seat and multi colored cable housing (which I looked extra hard for) was ruined…by me. I didn’t want to bother Fox because he seemed to be in one of his moods, so I welded a piece that directs the cable on the tube to the rear of the bike by myself. I only know how to use the arc welder, not the gas welder (is that what you call it?). Well, apparently only really good welders can successfully weld bike frames together using the arc welder. Well, apparently, I am not a really good welder. In the process of melting these two metals together, I managed to burn a 1.5 centimeter hole in the beautiful and shiny purple frame. Boo!
Ok, on to Copenhagen….
I arrived in Copenhagen on Friday, December 11th at around 8pm. It had been dark since 3pm. I had tried a few times to call my friend Noah, who lives in the city a few times without avail. I was unsure if I could stay at his house or if I should try and track down activist housing elsewhere. I made the decision to just show up at his house and go from there. Noah lives in a collective house of 22 residents called Bumzen. The house is covered in graffiti, art and posters advertising parties, demonstrations and political ideals. I ate dinner with the collective and they told me that it was fine to stay the night. They had not heard from Noah either.
News came the next morning, as I was filling up my water bottle in the bathroom before leaving for the Climate Justice Action march. Noah was arrested Friday afternoon, had been seen by a judge and would be spending the next three weeks in a solitary detention facility. The details of his case and the action (if any) are still unclear.
This information hit me very hard. Copenhagen was a police state. Police had the right to search me, the house I was staying at, preemptively detain me for up to 12 hours and if convicted, hold me in jail for up to three weeks. I was further reminded of this when I was woken up at 4am the next night to the news that police had surrounded the house. Luckily, they did not enter. Night watch was done from 10pm-10am every night to warn us in such incidents.
I look super normal so I was never detained or searched but my punk counterparts were hassled daily. I was also being really careful because, while the fate of the global climate is important, so is seeing Trip in Egypt on the 18th! I did have one near arrest however….
On the 12th at a peaceful march for climate justice from downtown Copenhagen to the Bella Center where the COP15 talks were taking place, the police rushed the bloc I was walking with. This attack came out of nowhere. One minute, I was walking along at a slow and steady (the only pace you can walk when you are in a pack of 100,000), talking to a fellow named Ollie from England about documentaries and the next minute, people were running forward and we were being ketteled in by police. Someone later told me that the catalyst for this was that police had pushed a guy and he responded by tossing a hand held Greenpeace sign at them. Panic ran through me. People around me began to sit down and occupy the intersection in protest to the police action. Should I stay in solidarity? Wait, solidarity for what? This was not the Bella Center, there were no delegates present, there was no issue behind this mass act of civil disobedience (in my mind). In a few seconds however, the police had made thedecision for me. A police line was being stretched across the intersection. Wait!!! Shit! Fuck! Shit! I cannot be arrested! I walked towards the line, which had not yet reached the other side and quickly tried to get around it. Police officers in full riot gear were rushing through the gap, blocking my exit. Ok..ok…I have to get out of here, I thought to myself. My panic was noticed by a journalist and he grabbed me by the arm, whipped out his press pass and we ducked under the police line. He turned around and went back in before I could thank him or even see his face. Needless to say, I have a new respect for journalism.
While the march continued, many, myself included, stayed in solidarity with the arrested activists. We kept warm by dancing to the samba bands and chanting “Let Them Go! Let Them Go!”
If it crossed your mind that I am stupid for walking with the anarchist block in such a high risk city…well, fuck off. I chose to walk with this bloc because rather than asking for billions of tainted dollars, false energy solutions, and other green capitalist inventions, this bloc demanded nothing less than revolution to save the fate of the planet, not just for the humans but also the animals and plants that we share it with.
One Solution.
One Solution.
One Sol-uu-shun.
Plus, I simply wasn’t wearing enough color to blend in with any other bloc J

This was the last demo that I attended. Police pretty much had folks detained at all of the other planned marches before they even began. One morning, they parked on the corner of our street, stopping and questioning young people as they walked in the direction of the upcoming demo.
Instead of attending demos, I went to a few presentations at Klimafourm. I listened to famous food activist Vandana Shiva speak about food sovereignty. I participated in a nonviolent communication workshop. In Christinania, a squatted town in the middle of Copenhagen, I heard Naomi Klein talk about the importance of climate debt reparations.
Back at Bumzen, I met other kids who came to Copenhagen because of the climate talks. Over the weekend, 40 members of the Finnish political group “Left Youth” stayed at the house. They were nice and all looked alike. Also at the house was a clique of punk boys. Two were American and had been to the Rondy and the Elliott Free State. The other two were English and I had a common forest defense friend with one. Crazy. I thought that because of all of these connections, I could be friends with these patch-clad boys. Nope. Their “punker than thou” attitudes proved to be too strong for me to crack…even though I beat them at foosball! They spent their days talking about police brutality, punk rock bands, and tattoos…blahblahblah. I brushed off their masculine exclusivity by assuming that they needed space to plan an action at the Reclaiming the Power demonstration on the 16th. I even signed up for a night watch shift and did it all alone (usually you are in pairs) the night before the action because I figured they would need a good nights sleep.
Stupid boys! They didn’t even attend the demonstration! In fact, they didn’t attend ANY demos. They just came to Copenhagen, hung out at activist spaces, making the rest of us feel uncomfortable and didn’t participate at all. To be fair, the English fellows were really nice and played lots of foosball with me and invited me out sometimes. It was mostly the American boys who really acted like they were better than the rest of us. It is so typical of sceansters like themselves to be too “cool” for the rest of the world, even if you were at the Free State together. I was disappointed in them.
By Tuesday I was really ready to leave Copenhagen. The energy there was so bad. It was a mixture of sadness, fear, unproductiveness, and for myself and other residents of uncooperative nations, shame. I booked a train for the next day.

Monday, November 30, 2009

La Friche: a rough translation of this French word means old, vacant factory. The physical translation of this word equals a 30,000 square meter squatted factory in Lyon, France.
La Friche is a legal squat, established ten years ago. It houses two circuses, two samba bands, potters, painters, sculptors, comic book writers, dancers, a basement dance club, around 20 resident caravans, an amazing bike workshop (more later), and dozens of other creative spaces.
About 300 people (so I’ve been told) use La Friche in some way or another. Only about 50 of those people actually reside in this semi-condemned warehouse with art, murals, graffiti, etc covering nearly every applicable surface (walls, windows, bathrooms, doorways…). For the past 20ish days, I too have been a resident of La Friche.
My connection to this place is through a person I know though the coop/forest defense scene in Eugene named Fox. Fox has lived in various squats in France for the past few years and in La Friche for the past 1.5 years. He lives with one flat mate named Tomas in a tall and narrow three story flat about 30 meters from the bike workshop.
The bike workshop, the flat and occasionally the circus room are where I spend nearly all of my time in France. Fox has created the most impressive bike workshop that I have ever seen. Besides all of the tools need to fix bikes, there are all the parts necessary to build bikes and the machinery to create mutant bikes and trailers and all other bike related paraphernalia that your mind can imagine.
Since arriving in La Friche, I haven’t really left. There are endless things to do and learn in the workshop and with enough hula hoop breaks throughout the day, there is little reason to venture out into the grey winter sky. The only real impetus to leave this chaotically creative space is for food. These ventures occur on Tuesday night, Thursday night and Sunday afternoon. There is a small, dedicated collective of people who have a very impressive and efficient dumpstering route. From these expeditions, we collect all of our food: yogurts, cheeses, breads, fruits, eggs, vegetables, soups, dried and packaged goods, sweets and more. The kitchen is fully stocked with nearly 100% recouped foods. Since arriving in France almost three weeks ago, I have yet to spend any money on anything but alcohol, toothpaste and dish soap.
Being at La Friche is the strongest, best, most attainable example of a societal dropout lifestyle.
The largest drawback for life in La Friche (besides the fact that I do not speak French), is that it is it has a horrible gender balance. Of the La Friche residents, only 4 are women (including me!). There is something about warehouse living that is not as attractive to women as it is to men, I suppose. Because I haven’t been here long and I do not speak French, I can’t really understand, nor fully explain.
The gender imbalance doesn’t really bother me as much as it may seem. Because I don’t speak French, I kinda live in my own world anyway; focusing on whatever my mind desires and that is rarely other people.
All that said, I was very excited when an Australian woman came to the bike workshop to fix the breaks of a friend’s bike. I was taking a break from my welding project by attempting to ride a mini clown bike (about 10 inches tall and 20 inches long), when Cion came to the workshop. She laughed but said nothing and got to work on her bike. Because I am so accustomed to not speaking the language and I didn’t feel up to a mime conversation, I ignored her for the majority of the day. It wasn’t until much later when I overheard a conversation she was having with Fox that I could understand that I realized she was an English speaker too. Haha.
I invited her to dinner and found out that she lives in Grenoble, about 90 kilometers away, at the base of the Alps, in an all women’s squat. Strangely, I had met one of her housemates a few days prior and she invited me to visit their squat the following Wednesday for an international march against sexual violence called Take Back the Night.
The Take Back the Night march has a long tradition in Eugene and for the past four years I have participated. When I learned of an opportunity to take part in the march in Grenoble I was really to not only see how they do things here but also to spend some much needed time around radical feminist women.
I arrived in Grenoble on Wednesday afternoon and found my way to the squat where Cion and the women who invited me to the march live. There was lots of energy in the house because many of the march organizers live there and were busy prepping for the evening.
At around 6pm we boarded the tram heading towards a local social center for a pre-march dinner of peanut stew, rice, somosas, carrot soup and cooked spinach. Cion doesn’t speak French either so we sat off to the side talking quietly to each other as I observed the scene and made comparisons between Grenoble Take Back the Night and Eugene Take Back the Night.
Overall, Take Back the Night in both cities attracts the same type of people (young, radical women). The Grenoble march is not open to men (neither was Eugene until just a few years ago). The Eugene march has police escorts to “keep the peace”….or something. The Grenoble march also had police riding at a alongside yet they never intervened with the march, not even when open, in-your-face shouting matches occurred between marchers and patriarchal bystanders, or when march participants decorated the route with wheat-pasted posters and graffiti promoting feminism and radical ideas. The energy of the march was pure, strong and empowering. This, I think, is universal.
Because my life in Lyon consists almost entirely of La Friche, I will write about the 4 days I spent in Grenoble.
Grenoble is a beautiful town (as beautiful as civilization can be, that is), situated in a valley and surrounded on all sides by tall, snow-tipped mountains and dispersed mountain villages. The views from any window in Grenoble are spectacular.
I stayed at the women’s squat and found the change of pace to be quite nice. My sophomore year of college I lived with only one room mate, Teresa but since then I have not spent any significant amount of time living with just women.
The day after the march, Cion, Lucie and I went on a hike up one of the mountains to the old fortress called the Bastille. It was a beautiful, crisp, fall day. I enjoyed the familiar crunching of oak and maple leaves under my feet as we talked and casually walked up the hillside. All of this really reminded me of the wonderful Cascadian autumn. The Bastille is a huge fortress with confusing, disconnected architecture and amazing views of the Alps and small mountain villages surrounding Grenoble.
As the sun set (earlier and faster than we expected), we descended from the fortress and made our way to a radical bookstore where they were hosting a documentary about the Senegal feminist movement and serving a traditional Segalases dinner of chicken and vegetable stew over a plate of spiced rice. This was my Thanksgiving dinner.
The next afternoon was “sport day” at the self defense club that one of the housemates teaches. Once a month the group trades in their self defense lesson for a few hours of random, crazy, fun, games and exercise. This is also an all women’s group. We played follow the leader, relays, did pushups, did balance and equilibrium exercises and I taught a bit of hula hooping.
Later in the evening, Cion, Lucie and canned our homemade, hand picked kiwi and persimmon jam and Cion made a delicious pumpkin and sweet potato pie (in my Thanksgiving honor).
Saturday morning the three of us hitched back to Lyon for Veloroution (Critical Mass). When I arrived back to La Friche, I was totally swept up in the energy of the warehouse as people ran around gathering mini bikes, tall bikes, cargo bikes, fixed gear bikes, signs, flags, portable music equipment and all other supplies for the fun bike-protest ride. I assumed that because there were lots of people putting lots of energy into crazy bikes, crazy signs, crazy flags and crazy music for Velorution that they would also include crazy costumes. So, I began to buzz around the La Friche free pile looking for a sweet costume to match my tall bike for the ride. The free pile is full of treasures, including pink and green striped jeans, a light teal shirt which I stenciled “VELORUTION” and an image of a girl on a tall bike kicking over a car, a yellow fabric that I fashioned into a tutu and the cherry-on-top of this ensemble was the pink converse high tops.
Well, I was wrong. And as a result, the only person in costume (minus Bruno the Clown, but I‘ve never seen him out of costume).
The ride was wonderful. The tall bike lasted almost the entire ride, until Fox ran into it as I stood next to it at an intersection, totally fucking the back wheel. So I spent the last bit of the ride being biked around in a cargo bike.See Photos:
Now I’m back to my usual routine at La Friche. I spent all day Sunday in the bike workshop. Not making bikes however, rather wind chimes out of bike parts! I sawed some old bikes frames into short tubes, connected them to a large cog at the top with derailleur cable, and hung an old front hub in the middle.
And now it is Monday, I will place my first frame on my new bike stand and start building a bike. I will also do laundry because all of my clothe are dirty so I have to wear the only clean article of clothing I have, my dress and some tights I found in the free pile to the workshop. I think it will match my workshop jacket just fine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The grand update:
When I posted my last update I was in the suburban beach community of Retamar on the Mediterranean sea. Since that update, I have moved onto France, but not without spending ample time on the beautiful beaches of southern Spain.
Here is my story:
After leaving Retamar, I went to the beach town of San Jose. San Jose is a magnet for foreigners located in the Cabo de Gata nature reserve. The reserve was established a few decades ago, after the town was built, so no further expansions can be made. Unfortunately, this does not stop developers from tearing down old beach shacks to build million dollar vacation homes within the previous boundaries.
I arrived in San Jose around 9am. The street leading up to the beach was lined with travel vans with wet suits hanging over the windows to both dry from their last use and offer protection from the evil morning sun that turns these caravans into ovens by 10am, easily. One guy was up, drinking coffee in the drivers seat. I approached him and inquired about a beach both suitable and safe for camping. It was obvious that I could have just pitched my tent right there in the parking spot next to his but I was looking for something a bit prettier and a bit more hidden. He pointed east, around a small mountain and said people often camp there. I thanked him and started walking. About 30 minutes later we reunited on the road; he was driving to Playa Mogul, 5k away, and I was walking to Playa Genovasa, 3k away. Since they are in the same direction, he offered me a lift and with the sun getting hotter and my pack not getting any lighter, I took it. You could indeed camp at Playa Genovasa, but there were still lots of caravans and a huge parking lot indicating that crowds of tourists frequented this beautiful beach. I inquired with some caravaners about more beaches beyond the hills and they assured me that there were more beaches and perhaps caves too! I began walking down the sandy path until I reached the next small beach. It was very beautiful yet lacking in caves or other hidden camping spots. At this point, I stashed my pack in some agave plants and continued over the hills in further search of the perfect spot. I walked about 2 miles along the rocky cliffs above the sea when I came to a very secluded beach. I scouted the site a bit, including a through test of the water. At first, it was really fun to be all alone, floating in the ocean, but then my mind started to wander off to sneaker waves, jelly fish attacks and all the scary things oceans can offer when you‘re out without a buddy. Swim session over.
I also decided that this beach was too far away and began retracing the rocky path. On the ocean side of one of the first hillsides a cave formation caught my eye. A natural, semi carved out cave on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean sea was to be my new home sweet home. I set up my tent, leaving off the rain fly so I could see the stars and moon at night, created a small cooking area and was quite content with my condition.
For the next few days I stayed in this beautiful place. One day, while hitching back to the beach from a food run in town, I met a guy that came to Cabo de Gata to snorkel. He had brought extra snorkels and offered to share. Lovely! We snorkeled in the beach near my cliffside residence all day long. It took me awhile to get the hang of the snorkel mouth piece, but once I started floating and relaxing in the waves it all came together. I saw rainbow fish, bottom feeders, pretty opaque schools and purple anemones.
After the sun had set, my snorkel buddy assured me that the Cabo de Gata lighthouse was a must see and well worth the 20K drive. He had lots of maps of the area and a good guide book so I assumed that he was on to something. Well, he wasn’t. But I pretended to be impressed as the chain link fenced, 1970’s era, tower flashed it’s unique light combination.
The most amusing part of this trip was the interpretive sign for the light house had a huge seal painted on it. Seals? I asked. In the Mediterranean? No, there are no seals in the Mediterranean. Why they made a seal the focal point of their sign is beyond me. My only guess would be that the Spanish word for seal is foca and the word for lighthouse is foco, or the masculine version of seal. Seems like a bit of a stretch to me…
This night was also Halloween. Spain doesn’t really celebrate Halloween though. There are small western influenced festivities for children and a few clubs have adopted the theme but it really isn’t big. After the lighthouse trip we went into San Jose for a drink. This is where I saw the cutest thing ever: elementary school kids performing Thriller in the plaza! Actually, this might be how Spain celebrates Halloween because a few nights ago I saw another school group doing the same thing on a local talk show. Or maybe this is part of the international tribute to Michael Jackson. Did they do this in the States?
From there, the evening went down as I expected. We drank some beers, ate some tapas, he told me that he was interested in me, I told him I was going home, end of story.
The next day I made a day for myself. This may sound funny because, well, everyday when you are traveling alone without a plan is a day for yourself. But today was a day for myself because I was not going to talk to anyone. I hiked through the hills of San Jose, admiring both the coastline and adjacent desert. It is in these hills that I found the connection between Gaudi’s architecture and nature. The wavy designs of the balconies and rooftops reflect their similarity to the curves of these natural cave formations. Very cool.
I kept walking, did some yoga on the beach, wrote in my journal, tried to meditate but the pokey rocks interrupted my peace, found another beach and went for a swim. Well, I tried to swim. I got about 50 feet out, still walking, when OUCH! A foot-falling-asleep sensation shot up my leg! Jellyfish attack! I dove back towards the shore and swam back to shore, afraid of stepping on more jellyfish. At the time, it appeared that I had recovered just fine from the quick moment of pain however, as I write this, almost two weeks later, I still have a mark about 2”x2” on the outside of my right lower calf. It feels like a burn and hurts to touch. Boo. I dried off in the sun and set off to my camp for a night of boxed wine, full moon, and campfire dinner.
After this, exact details begin to fail me. I might have stayed another night at this beach, I think I did. A quick consult of my journal would clear this up but it is far away at the moment (other side of the room). Anyway….
In a few days I found myself at the beach of San Pedro. San Pedro consists of a rapidly deteriorating castle, a few buildings in a similar state, a beautiful cove-esq beach, a beautiful freshwater fountain, perhaps 30 shanty homes and caves which are occupied by San Pedro residents for all or part of the year and three bars. San Pedro is unique because it is not a town. There are no roads, no signs, no laws. If you want to live there, you build a shack. If you want to open a bar, you hike in some beer. If you want to walk around all day with your 3 foot homemade bong taking and offering hits to whoever you encounter, that is ok too. San Pedro is like a beach that has been squatted and for some reason or another, has been provided with immunity from the Spanish police. It does help that there is no road to San Pedro, just a 5 mile trail that begins in nearby Las Negras. You have to bring in everything and take out everything. The only things available for consumption in San Pedro are fresh water from the fountains, beer from the bars, drugs from the guy who lives in the last cave on the left, and pomegranates from the trees.
You can stay in San Pedro as long as you like. I made friends with two Italian guys who were staying there for 2 months, then going further south to avoid the winter. I also met a guy from Switzerland who arrived the same day I did and was staying for his entire 6 week holiday. I also met two American girls! These were the first Americans that I have encountered during my travels in Spain. They were taking some time off of university to travel and heard about San Pedro via a hitchhiking ride. They only stayed in San Pedro for a few days before leaving for Granada. I also met a very nice guy from Czech Republic. He confirmed my previous notion that people from Czech are super nice. We swam really far out in the ocean together, shared travel stories over tea, and talked a lot about farming. He is a juggler and taught me a bit, I taught him how to hoop. I didn’t really get good at juggling but he picked up the hoop quite easily.
San Pedro was an interesting experience for me. I had lots of ups and downs as I dealt with the both the joy and restlessness of more or less doing nothing. Maybe I’ll walk to the beach, go fill up my water bottle in the fountain, climb the tree and read, listen to my iPod, etc etc. At times, I very much enjoyed this floating lifestyle while other times, usually when I was trying to imagine what was happening outside of San Pedro, I was restless. Internet was easily two hours away so I really didn’t have the means to contact anyone. I was mostly preoccupied with thinking that Trip had already left for Brazil and I missed the opportunity to chat or email him before he went to the Amazon for a two week expedition. (Note: his trip has been pushed back and he will not leave the States until November 23rd).
There is a huge windstorm plaguing the coast of Spain right now. Originally, I had my tent situated under the biggest tree in San Pedro. The tree is called Ape’s Bread or something like that, and has long seed pods that are very sweet, like tamarind, that you can eat. It was a great spot for a tent because the tree protected my from the sun until at least 3 in the afternoon. This spot however, failed me. During the first night of the windstorm, the gusts were so strong that my little one person ultra light was blowing over in half; the side of the tent was literally touching my nose. I was more afraid of a branch falling on me than the tent and until my mind started to wander off to all of the death-by-branch-of-tasty-seed-tree scenarios, I was prepared to stick it out until morning in my windswept tent. In the end though, I took the fly off (to avoid it catching more wind), weighted down the tent with all of my gear, moved my sleeping bag into the more sheltered tent of one of the Italian guys and stayed awake all night-unable to sleep due to worrying about my tent and the consistently loud gusts of wind that swept around the canyon of San Pedro.
This is probably the first time I have felt fully conquered by an element. It was strange. The gusts of wind are so strong here. They create such loud noises as they sweep around you that it is, for me, impossible to sleep. This was the first of three nights in which I was kept awake by these strong winds even though I moved my tent to a more secure location.
The evenings, before the wind started of course, were my favorite part of San Pedro. We would gather around a campfire, waiting for the moon to rise over the canyon wall. You could monitor the rising of the moon based on how much it illuminated the hillside directly across from it. At night the moon was so bright that you had a perfect shadow and no need for a light. We would cook a dinner over the fire too. One night, upon the insistence of one of the Italian guys, I made French fries over the campfire. This is a first for me, in fact before, I had never thought it possible. Yet they turned out to be some of the best fries I’ve ever made. Unfortunately, the entire process used up pretty much all of our wood supplies and I had to do a resupply the next day.
Had I not had further plans beyond Spain, I probably would still be in San Pedro; slightly sunburnt, hair becoming more and more dreaded by the sea water, trying to plan a day of swim, eat, walk to the fountain, etc. But, this was not my plan. And now I am in France. I am staying at a beautiful beautiful beautiful squat with a friend from back home. This place is crazy fun and warrants it’s own entry….later.
Well, thank you for reading this update, I hope that the story was worth the length. Lots of love.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I have left Granada. ¨Punk Rock Alley,¨ my first landmark in the city, was painted over; Rachel went back to Barcelona; the coast was calling me. The last few days inGranada were lovely though. I got to know more of the cave neighborhood, the cave I was staying in became home to five really wonderful travelers. I really love the traveler communities that form while you´re on the road. Bonds are made over cheap food and swapping stories about cities, experiences or life back home. The last few nights in the cave there was one girl from Holland, another fromAustralia, two guys from Czek, a german and me. Once, when we were all walking together, two kids took our picture as a part of their homework assignment. hahaha. We were a bit of a hippy circus.
The morning I left the cave I had a beautiful travelers send off. Only the boys were left at this point. They all woke up with me and presented me with various sweets andpastries that they had recycled from the night before, all knowing that sweets and pastries are my favorite. We ate cookies and chocolate at 9am because, in the words of one of the Czeh fellows ¨you can´t travel on an empty stomach!¨ It was all very sweet.
I got to Almeria, the southern coast of Spain around 4 in the afternoon. My final destination was about an hour or so away but the bus didn´t leave until 830pm. I don´t like arriving in new places at night. It is too stressful to have to find a safe place to sleep, food, andorient yourself in the dark. As travelers luck my have it, I met a couple about a month ago that lives near Almeria. They gave me their contact info and told me to call if I was ever in the region. I was in the Almeria bus station, with their phone number in hand, standing next to the payphone....hoping they wern´t just being nice.
I called, Juan answered. We chatted. Whew. Next thing I knew I was on a city bus to their house in nearby Retamar. Retamar, as it turns out, is the suburbia beach town adjacent to the rapidly decaying Almaria. The houses are new, the streets are wide and well lit. Sprawl at its best.
Location aside, I was welcomed into the home of Juan and Mary. I washed my clothe in a washing machine, showered in a proper bathroom (although I do miss the clandestine fountain baths), ate an amazing three course meal, and slept in a real bed. I haven´t had this combination since I left the States anddefinitely not in the cave!
Mary is from Morocco and she makes her own pastries, which we ate while drinking delicious Moroccan tea. My plan was to only stay one night, however that had to change when I woke up to find that my clothe were not yet dry and that Mary was planning to ¨prepare the couscous.¨ I have made couscous before, you probably have too. I would never call it ¨preparing.¨It is simple...or so I though. I then assumed that this was big. Tasty big.
Yep. It was. A huge platter of couscous, veggies, chicken (yep, I ate it), garbanzos, caramelized onions and a tasty mix of Moroccan spices. Yes, this was worth sticking around another day for.
In the evening, we went into Almeria so Juan could run some errands. This left me two hours to andar through the town. I started by going to the ¨tourist zone.¨ Hummm..not so much. I spot the Plaza de Torros, where they have bullfights. With ample time and tourist desires to fill, I walk towards it. It is closed. But through the gates I can see young boys, maybe 12 years old, practicing to be bull fighters. I watch as they fling the red blanket around as a pair of horns, backed by another boy runs at them full speed. Then they take out a bull on wheels. One boy pushes the bicycle bull and the others take turns stabbing in the back of the head with two swords. I watch all of this until my presence becomesembarrassingly awkward.
I will consider this experience my official bullfighting experience and will never feel the cultural urge to go to a real one. Another cultural experience I can check off is seeing a real flamenco dancer. One day, while eating clementines at a friends cave, his neighbor came out and started dancing. She is a flamengo dancer in a tourist joint downtown and was practicing for her show that evening. It was pretty amazing.
So now the plan is to find the hippy beach near Cabo de Gata that everyone keeps talking about and stay there for a week or so. Then I´ll work my way north, poco a poco. Love!
ps i saw a store that sells manaquins. the display windows were full of naked manaquins. haaha

this is a bit outdated...ill update soon. xo

“Everyone here came for one night, went out to the bars and woke up seven years later,” a man in the park yesterday told me. He is from Italy. The caves, the Albyzin, the guitar music and the beautiful environment and stable, sunny climate bring people here from all over the world. Why am I here? I’ve been here for close to three weeks already. Generally, I follow a routine as follows: wake up when the sun is high enough to light up the cave, carry my sleeping pad outside to a flat spot on the hill which has just enough tree cover to nearly disguise the city below and do 30-45 minutes of yoga, stretching and pushups. Once I’ve warmed my body up, I pack my bag for the day, grab my hula hoop and walk down the trail to San Miguel. At the fountain in San Miguel I brush my teeth, fill up water, sometimes take a bit of a bird bath shower and then continue down the recently installed staircase to the Albyzin. Without stopping, this walk takes 30 minutes. The next task is to find a café to order café con leche (which I douse in sugar) and pan con tomate. At this point, sometimes it is late enough for me to order a cerveza and receive my free tapa, but I’ve never done this. I sit in the café, usually with Rachel. We usually try and track down all of their outlets to charge our electronics, ensuring that she has music to make jewelry to and I’ve got computer battery. At the café, I write and she draws and we talk about our lives back home. In the afternoon, it is off to the park or the Mirador, a tourist viewpoint where Rachel sells her jewelry and I hula hoop. We eat a light lunch of bread and banana. The sunsets are best spent in the park drinking liters of beer or at the cave making dinner with the last bits of daylight. By this time, we are usually both starving and we begin to prepare dinner using the beer can stove that I fashioned for us a while back. Dinners are simple: lentils and tomatoes, pasta and garbanzos, the occasional splurge of a can of tuna. Evenings are up in the air, sometimes we stay in the cave, sometimes we go back into town. It’s a one hour minimum walk back to the cave from the center of town and we always take this into consideration.
When I first got here, I felt restless with this routine. I didn’t feel like I was spending my time abroad wisely. I wasn’t exploring the country, having crazy experiences, seeing new things etc. I talked about this to Rachel and another friend. We discussed the upcoming months of my life: Copenhagen and Palestine. These will undoubtedly be very intense months where I will need to be in the best mental state possible.
I generally feel that I don’t have many emotions. That I am a very stable person. That I have the ability to block hindering feelings during times of stress or difficulty. This is generally an asset. It allows me to move more easily from one task to the next or juggle multiple at once thus, increasing my productivity. However, I am beginning to realize that this trait is good for in-the-moment occasions, but it often leaves me without the ability to fully process, understand and learn from the experiences after they have occurred.
And that is where the value of my life in Granada comes in. I am allowing myself, with the help of great new friends, to experience, feel and process my actions and emotions. In the upcoming months, I think that I will be very grateful for the time I spent in Granada.
I’ve also struggled with the privilege that I feel I have, especially during my travels. I fully understand that the opportunity to travel is very rare and I am very lucky to have it. Sometimes this leaves my feeling guilty…perhaps I should be doing more. I’ll never know the answer to this. I’m learning about myself, about the world, but is it at the expense of someone/something else? The Elliott State Forest is still being cut down, there is winter gardening to be done, an LNG pipeline that needs to be stopped.
While I was walking down the stairs today, I thought about these things. I tried to put them into perspective. By the time I reached the bottom (there are about 250 stairs), I came to the conclusion that I cannot. I don’t know all of the factors in the world, and even if I did, what about the unknowns? The forces of the full moons? When stars align? When people act out of pure love and spontaneity? It’s too much. I decided to fall back my time-tested mantra of trusting others to do what is right for them and the people they love and trust that each person is working in their own way to create the world that they want to live in and the happiness as a result of these actions will be enough to keep us going.
And that is where I’m at. I am coming to understand how I interact with the world now, and how I want to interact with it in the future. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to be here, to have the time to do this. I hope that I will do a better job of letting emotions in, taking time to experience them and in the end, learn from them. And that is why I am still in Granada.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Granada. Oh, Granada.
I’ve been here for about a week and a half and although I want to visit the beach and nearby hot springs, cannot bring myself to leave this city. I have moved out of the house of South American jewelry makers, and into a cave overlooking the city. Cave life is quite common in Granada. Once occupied by gypsies or used as hideouts during the Spanish civil war, these spaces are now available for squatting.
Life in Granada is more than leisurely. It is super easy to live cheaply in this town and they take their afternoon siesta and Sunday as a day of rest seriously. Not even the dogs bark at you on Sundays.
While there is sprawl in Granada, most of the places I go are centrally located. First, there is the Albyzin. This is the old city of Granada. The houses are all white, the streets are all narrow, 3 meters wide, at best. I never really know where I’m going when I walk through the Albyzin because it all looks the same. It is small enough that if you have a general direction, you are probably fine. The only way that I can tell where I’m at is by memorizing the graffiti, which sometimes spans whole blocks. For example, when I lived with the South Americans, I knew that if I went down hill at “punk rock ally,” an ally which was painted as a tribute to the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, I was almost home. The graffiti here is amazing. Beautiful murals and intricate stencils.
In the hills above the Albyzin is San Miguel, an asylum for young boys. The caves of Granada are also located in these hills. It is a strange relationship that would never be allowed to exist in the States. Cave dwellers use the communal fountain at San Migual to collect water, wash laundry and take showers. Their parking lot is also a favorite for late night partying and car camping. Many of the “established” caves are located along the newly installed, ½ mile staircase leading up to San Miguel. Some of these caves have, water, electricity, a postal box marked “Cuava No. ##“ and one even has a separate cave for the family horse!
To get to my cave, you go past San Miguel, past the new condo development (wtf!?!) up the path of the next mountain and you’re almost there. It is about a 45 minute walk from downtown to the cave. The cave I live in is near the top of the mountain, about 50 meters away from Zona Militar. A military base where I’ve heard they develop technology for the USA and Israel. It has a small entrance, about one meter x one meter. It opens up into a cave that is big enough to stand up in and goes back about 40 feet. The cave has been outfitted by all dumpstered goods. It is quite impressive. The fellow who resides there full time is named Mira, and he is a master recycler, as they call it here. Right now it is Mira, myself, my friend Rachel that I met in Barcelona and another friend named Shanti live in the cave. It is plenty big for all of us.
Some of the highlights of the past week in Granada have been: the amazing feast Rachel and I had at Taran’s house (a friend of friend from Eugene who is also living in a cave in Granada). Taran’s mother and her friend are visiting from Independence, Oregon and they invited us over for a small dinner party with them and a few of their friends from Granada. There was orange bread, hummus, prawns, spicy peppers, roasted red pepper soup, potatoes and homemade sangria. The best part of the meal however, was the Chula hot sauce that Taren’s mom brought him from the States. Apparently he has been missing hot sauce just as much as I have. Oh, the funniest part of the night was when Taren met us down in Plaza Nueva. I wasn’t sure if I would recognize him, since it had been years since we’d met (on the infamous midnight rafting trip, actually). But luckily, I noticed a fellow walking through the plaza in Chacos…the official shoe of Oregon. I, also wearing Chacos, walked up to this guy and it was, of course, Taren.
Another highlight of Granada life was the night that I was able to scale the 15 foot wall to reach the ripe pomegranate tree on the other side. I had been drooling over this tree since the day I got here. So many; so ripe. Then on one lucky night, Rachel and I were walking home and…a car! A car was parked next to the wall. Being just drunk enough to work out the details in my mind, I scaled the car and hopped the wall. We brought home about 50 pomegranates that night.
I’ve also improved my hooping skills a ton here. I met a woman from Argentina who learned to hoop in Mexico. She has taught me tons of tricks. I also found a shop in Granada to buy sparkle tape. Well worth the 8 Euro spurge. So now my hoop looks beautiful!
There are also a few really wonderful meet up points in Granada which Rachel and I, along with most other travelers and artisans frequent. One is the Mirador, a viewpoint for the Alhambra. And the other is a park, the most amazing place to watch the sunset. Granada is a mecca for guitar players around the world and in the evenings they meet in the park and play together. During the day there are drum circles which create a nice beat for hooping.
Alright, this seems to be the end of the report for now. Love.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It is hard to find an appropriate time to sit down and write a blog update. I keep a travel journal too and have just started translating it into Spanish to (hopefully) improve my vocabulary and it takes a long time at each entry. But here I am, on a bus between Sevilla and Granada, I have just finished one of the most amazing books that I have every read (actually, listened to on my iPod): Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. I will never recommend another book to anyone, unless they have read this one first. It begins to answer the modern day Ishmal-ian question of “how things came to be this way.”
Alright, so now I am Andulucia, or southern Spain. Where according to one guy I met “the people are so hungry that they eat their letters.” Meaning that they have the strongest lisp in all of Spain. I made the decision to leave Barcelona after spending about two weeks there sola and while I met wonderful people and really enjoyed myself, the juxiposition between the shadowed and narrow streets and the bright sunshine of the human-made Mediterranean beach was starting to get to me. In addition, I was craving place where I, as a fair skinned, red haired, young American girl, could be a little more inconspicuous.
The decision to go to Sevilla was made by Sara and Christian. They had heard of a psy-trance music festival outside of Sevilla and since they just ended the festival circuit in northern Europe and were craving more, we decided to go. I think I have made more jokes about psy-trance festivals than actually considered going to one so I was eating my past words a bit and trying to be more open-minded.
Nope. No need actually. The “festival” was horrible. One small music tent, one makeshift food vendor, no bathrooms and no running water. Plus, it was not “just outside of Sevilla!” As it turns out, you had to take a bus from Sevilla to Fuenteridos, about 2 hours away! Luckily, I had a very foreigner moment of confusion and just walked onto the bus with what I thought was a free ticket (actually a bus schedule) and didn’t have to pay the 7 Euros. You see, the website for the festival mentioned a free bus to the festival site. Since I assumed that it was close to Sevilla, I assumed that they had made some arrangement with the bus company to compensate them for all festival-goers tickets. What they actually meant was that once you get to Fuenterhidos, there would be a shuttle, sometimes, to the site.
I was traveling sola at this point so I didn’t have anyone to rescue me from my silly logic. Whoops. Hula hoop to the rescue!! About halfway to Fuentriedos (and Portugal btw), the guy in front of me asks what the blue sticks are in my pack. I tell him about the collapsible hula hoop I’ve made and my subsequent travels. As it turns out, he participated in some forest defense in Sevilla where they were trying to cut down trees in a Plaza to make room for parking. He brought this up first, not me. We swapped living-in-tree stories for awhile then he shared with me the actual details of the festival. I was surprised to say the least. He isn’t going to the festival but the kid in front of us is and we are introduced. He says to come with him in Fuenteridos, that his friend is coming to pick him up and can take me too. Sure, why not? So, I’m sitting in plaza in this tiny town, about 30 miles from Portugal with this guy I just met on the bus, waiting for his friend. To my surprise, someone shows up and introduces himself to me as a friend of the guy and points to the car. I get in and we start driving…and driving. The website said that the festival was very close to Fuentridos. Well, its not. And when we get there, police are at the entrance to the driveway, checking a car of dreadlocked twentysomethings. We don’t pull in. Instead, we keep driving, pull off about a mile away, I get out for a breather while the guys make some minor adjustments to their luggage, we get back in, dar una vuelta and drive past the cops. Whew. Apparently, the festival isn’t exactly permitted. In fact, it is in a natural reserve. And the cops show up a few times, and sometimes fly over in helicopters. Whoops.
All things aside, there were two highlights of the festival. The first was the site. I camped up on a hill, above and away from the festival, in a grove of cork oak trees (the kind used to make wine corks). They are beautiful and shed their bark naturally, exposing a burnt red skin below. The second highlight was meeting a really cool girl named Zeta. She is from Hungary, living in Sevilla and studying computer science. She, like me, is not impressed with the festival and we bond over this. I end up parting ways with the Germans and going back with her to Sevilla and staying at her house. We drink tinto de verano (red wine and lemon fanta) and go to a flamenco show.
The next day, I go tourist-ing with one of her very nice roommates, Roxanna, around Sevilla. We go to an amazing old government building called Plaza Espanya. I think photos will be up on facebook soon. Everything is closed across Spain because it is a national holiday so it makes it a little difficult, but we spend the afternoon walking along the river that runs through the city, practicing Spanish and stopping for photo opportunities.
Did I mention that it was 39 degrees Celsius? Yep. Take that. Actually, right now it is 9:30pm and 23 degrees, according to the bus driver.

Trip booked his ticket today for Copenhagen! I am very excited to be in Copenhagen, even more so with him. I have been thinking a lot about my role there. And have decided that since I feel like I have vested interest in the fate the global climate, and that the direction we are currently going in isn’t even curbing our carbon footprint, that it is important for as many people to act as possible so that the solutions, if any, that come out of Copenhagen, best reflect the values of the people. That said, there is a global day of action happening October 24th. It is going to be huge in the States and I have seen lots of ads for actions here too. Go to to see what you can do to make our voices heard.
The other thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot is Trip and mine’s three months in Palestine. We are gong to take a ferry across the Mediterranean after the Copenhagen to join Code Pink’s Gaza Freedom March. Joining the march is pretty much our only chance of getting into Gaza and helping/documenting the apartheid state. I think that Trip explains our motivations for going best, so I’ll just paraphrase what he said. Throughout history there have been horrible atrocities, acts of despicable, unthinkable injustice. When you learn about them, you can’t help but ask your elders “Where were you? Did you try and stop this?” I fear that one day, a younger generation will learn about Palestine, in the same way that I learned about South American coups and past wars. I fear that they will ask me those same questions and I will have no response; because I did not respond.

Ok, we are almost to Granda, where I will stay for a few days with some more South American artisans, hopefully to be joined by Rachel from Barcelona in a few days and we can go camping! I hope that everyone back home is doing well. Feel free to send me emails about what you’re up to, daily life is fine. I heard that the leaves are changing, I’m sure the Campbell Club (perhaps Lorax?) is prepping for the Halloween party and Students for Choice is tabling at the Street Fair.

Oh, the other thing. I’ve been having the most vivid dreams the past few nights. They have all involved family members and last night the coop family. I must be thinking of you all so much that you show up in my dreams too! Love!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I have been in Barcelona sola for almost two weeks. It has taken me until now to get into the rhythm of traveling alone and without a lot of income. At first, I was always worrying about not having a place to stay, or something to occupy my time. Living without a plan out of a backpack is very very new to me and very very difficult for a Virgo personality.
I have spent the past few days with the young couple from Germany. They just got off the Psytrance music festival circuit and are traveling with a friend of theirs in a big green caravan. Sara spins a mini staff (about 2.5 feet long) and Christian plays the drums. Those two, plus me hula hooping, were able to create a small show and perform for tips from tourists. From there, we met a bunch of street performers and jugglers and made friends with them too.
It has been fun getting to know the city with Sara and Christian. They are really good at making friends with everyone. A few days ago we went to Parc Guell and ended up drinking beers with the Kung-Fu guy and finding a place for me to stay via a conversation with a Colombian jewelry artist!
For the past few days I’ve been staying at this really cool house way beyond the center of Barcelona (about 30 minutes by train then another 30 minute walk uphill). The house is occupied by a handful or so of South American jewelry makers. It is a fun place to be. I’ve been sleeping on a mattress on the patio under the nearly full moon. In the mornings we make a Latin breakfast of scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions and bread. From there, I usually leave the house, where at this point they have all finished their first, sometimes second joint and have begun to make jewelry with the sounds of the scrambled Spanish television in the background. I don’t understand the TV thing. It is obvious that there is no reception and a lot of the time there is an iPod playing as well, yet no one thinks to turn off the TV.
Last night, Sara, Christian, another German named David and I set out to visit a squatted ecovillage. The squat is, like the house I am staying at, very far from the center of Barcelona. It is located in an old hospital in a Lepers colony. They have turned it into a beautiful community center, café, garden, and sustainable housing unit for about 30 people. We went because we had heard that Sunday’s they gave tours of the place and served a big meal. However, when we arrived we found that the tours had been cancelled due to a circus performance! So we ate huge plates of pesto pasta, salad and vegan cake and watched a really really amazing circus complete with clowns, trapeze, dancing, band, cabaret and hula hooping! I have put in an email to the squat to maybe stay there for a few weeks later this month. Everyone was so busy with the circus that I didn’t get a chance to find someone that actually lived there.
On Monday the German couple went south to prepare for another psytrance music festival being held near Sevilla. I spent the day with another pair of jewelry makers, this time two ladies. Monday night I lost track of the time and missed the last metro to where I was staying. So, slightly tipsey from a little wet from drinking wine on the beach with David, I went to their house where they let me sleep. I think I’m going to stay there for a few days.
Overall, I am loving being in Barcelona. I can buy a bottle of Spanish wine for .81 Euros, swim in the ocean, make small jewelries, hula hoop, eat warm baguettes and free “distressed” produce from the market. It is a very minute-to-minute lifestyle.
I think I’m going south soon. Perhaps to meet with the Germans at the festival or to some cave houses that people keep talking about in Cabo de Gata. Once November begins I’ll start going north to prepare for COP 15. After COP I think that Trip and I will go to Egypt for a CodePink march into Gaza ( ). From there, we will stay in Palestine for about three months. After our tourist visas expire, a new plan to either: go back to the States, stay in Palestine, or travel around for another month will be made.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Greetings! I´m still in Barcelona, staying at a really great house on the opposite side of Tibidaldo (where the chruch/amusement park is located). I´m going to visit an ecovillage just outside of Barcelona today! Lots of love.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today began like total crap. I woke up stressed out about finding a more permanent place to stay since I am only staying at Roy's (a very nice friend of Miriam's who invited me without even meeting me first!) until Wednesday. The first thing I needed to do was find an internet connection and check on the couchsurfing emails I had sent and look more into work trade sites such as or These are sites where, once you pay a fee, like 20 Euros, you can email all sorts of people who are looking for helpers in exchange for room and board. I like this idea because it gives me a place to base out of and hopefully a lot of opportunities to speak Spanish (or Castillo (sp?), as they say here)....unless it is in Cataluña, were they speak Catalan to each other and Castillo to you. Ok, back to the internet search. Everyone here has locked wireless networks. There are dozens and dozens of networks because everyone lives so close together but they are all locked. For example, I am close enough to three networks to have four bars of service but they are locked. Boo. So I set out for a cafe. First, it is way too early. 9am to be exact. Everything is closed. I ask five shops and no one can tell me where to find internet. So now I am setting up on street corners searching for the elusive open networks. Yay! I find one. It is in a plaza. I sit, do a bit of work and then my computer runs out of battery.
I take the computer back to Roy's apartment to charge. I am feeling restless. No one couch surfer has returned my requests. I only have one more night of lodging. I do some sit ups and other exercises while passing the time and my computer charges. I decide that it would be better for me to take a walk rather than stay cooped up in an apartment waiting on electronics. I follow the noise to the government plaza, where my mom and sister saw the parade of huge, life-like historical Spanish figures, and find a protest! I think it was a union protest but the signs were not very visible so I can't be sure. There were maybe eighty adults standing outside of the government building blowing whistles like there is no tomorrow. What a great idea! The people inside were probably irate about the noise, so their cause and presence was definitely well known!
I return to a charged computer and head back out to the plaza where I was stealing internet earlier. Unfortunately, a construction project has begun and half of the plaza has been excavated with a giant backhoe. No biggie, I'll just set up next to the barricade. Nope. This is where big trucks enter and exit. No problem, I'll just go across the street and sit on the sidewalk. Now I am looking up places to work trade and emailing couchsurfers with people stepping over me and my backpack. Grr. I have had enough of that and decide to look for another place to steal internet. I pass a few cafes, all without wi-fi and find myself outside of Miriam's apartment. She is in London otherwise I would have rang but instead I sat outside and stole her internet.
The next crappy moment arises when my debit card is turned down from both worktrade sites that I was reluctantly signing up for. I am reluctant because I know that there are lots of great opportunities all around me, quite literally passing me on the street while I sit with my nose in the computer. Now I have a bank issue. I think the problem is that when my dad moved to Silverton, I changed the mailing address of my account to his new house. When I did this, I accidentally gave them the wrong zip code. I thought I had corrected this, but apparently I have not and because the actual zip code does not match the one the bank has and the wrong one does not match any map, it wouldn't work.
I send a few desperate emails, one to the bank asking them to remedy this asap and the other to Trip to get my routing number so I can just set up a paypal account. Still no word from couchsurfers. No farms contacted.
Fuck it, I'm going to the beach.
For awhile I had forgotten I was just blocks away from the Mediterranean sea. It gets so cold and dark in the small street corners that it is easy to forget the sunshine that lies just beyond the tall apartments. I go back to Roy's, put on my suit, grab my hula hoop and start out for the sunshine. Halfway there, I walk past two hippie kids selling a few trinkets and playing a drum. They see my hoop. We are friends. I sit and talk with them for a bit and then they decide also to fuck it and go to the beach since they weren't selling anything anyway. They are a couple from Germany traveling in a green caravan with a women they met at a psy-trance festival.
The ocean is amazing! There is such an extreme temperature change between the shaded streets of Barcelona and the beach. The water has tiny specks of something that make it look like gold. This dries to your feet when you walk in the sand and it is like gold glitter. We swim out really far and talk a lot about the bad travellers luck we are all experiencing. The girl, Sara, speaks very good English and the boy, Christian, is quite good too.
Next we lay on the beach. I hoop for a bit, Christian plays the drums. Sara paints a really beautiful design on my face. Having your face be touched by a cool, soft brush is so relaxing. I must do this more. Sara spins a mini-staff and with Christian drumming we make a plan to go out busking after dinner and dumpstering at the market.
I eat dinner with them in their green caravan. They make hippie mush: noodles, carrots, ginger, onion, garlic and lots of very tasty spices. I love it.
Next we go to La Boqueria where the night before I was able to find all kinds of produce. After a shopkeeper sees me picking up a fig he taps my shoulder and points to a table where they have left a pile 14 boxes high of the prepackaged fruit slices they sell. Gold!
We grab a bunch, share with others and set out for a feast! After filling ourselves with fruit we walk to La Rambla to try our luck with the tourists.
Within two minutes of us setting up, with Christian on the drums, Sara on the mini-staff and my on the hoop we have an audience! Within five minutes the police come and tell us we have to go. They say it is too dangerous Now I know why there are only statue performers on the streets. It's alright. We've made 2 Euros in five minutes. We walk to another plaza, on the lookout for police and set up there too. After just a few minutes I spot police coming (they wear bright yellow safety vests, how nice of them) and we bolt. We still made a bit though. We walk to another plaza, the one where mom had bought the icky-its walnuts ever. There is a Rasta guy playing Bob Marley on the guitar, performing for the outdoor restaurant. He invites us to join. Now there is a guitar, drum, mini-staff and hula hoop. We are a circus! And we make 4 Euros-not including the Rasta guy. Now we have attracted a crowd of hippies and punks. We sit down, share the rest of the fruit, trade some with the waiter for a warm, gigantic croissant and meet Norbert and Pedro. They live in a squat just outside of Barcelona. We talk for a bit about travels and they tell us we can go with them tomorrow to the squat to check it out. Horary! Housing problem solved (hopefully, as of writing this, it is only Wednesday morning, but I have faith that it will work out).
The next act in the circus is an old woman who used to be an amazing flamingo dancer. She orders the drum to beat and the guitar to strum and does a five minute show for us. Wow, flamingo is such a precise dance. She is cool and tells us to go to the cathedral to play. We aren't sure why but we follow her anyway. There we run into David, another German, who is spinning poi. Crazy, eh?
David has lots of great travel advice and websites that he offers us. We also make a plan to visit an eco-village on Saturday together. Then we attract jugglers, skateboarders, more poi spinners and a few other stragglers including a 50 year old woman from New York who used to be in the color guard. German, English and Spanish are being spoken, and then translated and then retranslated. It is very amazing.
At around one a.m. Sara, Christian and I start walking home. We are all so excited that our travelers luck has changed. When I leave them to go back to Roy's I feel drunk with happiness, I feeling that I can't recall having before, or at least in the recent past.
And that is where I leave you. At 2 a.m., writing a blog post about the day. Lots of love and hugs.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Road Trip Across Spain

Well, I've never been on a road trip across the USA however this past week and a half I had the "great American experience" Spain. Here is a bit of a story about it. I must warn that I didn't edit it too much (spell check, if you're lucky) and I'm still working on uploading photos.

After returning to the west coast from my grandma’s wedding reception I spent two days and one night with my high school friends Kevin, Adam and Nathan. Kevin and Adam live in an apartment in Oakland near an incessantly busy freeway. The complex was a typical Bay Area place with closely packed units and steep stairs. They had new across-the-deck neighbors. It was a strange transition to live so close to people and not know them, as you do in a coop. It was this idea that was behind my multiple attempts to say hello, introduce myself, or invite them over. We slept that night on the roof of the apartment thanks to Adam and Kevin’s ample experience with super tall painters ladders. I woke to rush hour traffic beginning at sunrise and found the entire Bay cloaked in a fog that soaked our sleeping bags.
My mom, sister and I spent the next few days in transit to Barcelona. Due to a delayed departure from San Francisco airport we missed our connecting flight to Barcelona. We opted for a night at the HoJo in Newark, New Jersey. We ordered Chinese food, they forgot the spring rolls and opted not to stick around to give us change and took a $7 tip. I tried out my traveling hula hoop in the hotel lobby. I’m working on shoulder hoop move that, according to the Youtube tutorial, should make people want to marry me. I’m not very good at it yet.
We made it on the Saturday September 12th evening flight to Barcelona. Mom and Kasey were placed next to each other while I sat the next row up, opposite side. I missed what I feel is the critical moment to make connections with my seat mates Ya know, when you’ve sat next to someone in silence for so long that it becomes awkward to say “hi” as if you just met them. Oh well, it was an overnight flight and they fell asleep. I on the other hand, was feeling something similar to when I left for college. I didn’t want to sleep because I didn’t want to wake up and be there. Plus there was free tv and videos and didn’t want to miss some of my last opportunities to fully immerse myself in American popular culture. I stayed up all night watching Gone With the Wind and the Simpsons. Observing daybreak from it’s daily beginning was amazing and made the sleepless night worth it.
Barcelona is a great city. We stayed mostly on La Rambla and in tourist areas nearby. Instead of getting a hotel or a hostel (can you imagine mom in a hostel??) I found an apartment on the website It was the apartment of Miriam Turner, a young British women getting her MBA in Barcelona. I don’t know much about her since she was away for holiday when we were there but I have strong suspicions that is the European version of a Burner. Here is my case: she is not one, but two metallic hula hoops in her living room, her bathroom counter has a corner dedicated to large, colored, slightly irrational plastic jewelry and sunglasses, finally, she was away on holiday with friends on the island of Isbiza Spain! If this last fact doesn’t shock you, it is probably because you don’t know that the rave was invented in Ibiza by European holiday’ers.
My favorite part of Barcelona was the Parc Gaull. The park was designed by the famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. I know this place is older than recreational LSD, so it begs the question: what was he on?!? It is a real live Who-Ville. The park winds around for hours, unfortaunaly, a storm blew us out of the park and into a café. Fortunately, the café serves chocolate con churros. The chocolate is warm and brought to you in a cup but it is far from the liquid hot chocolate you might imagine. It is as thick and rich as pudding. Served piping hot with freshly fried and sugared churros this is heaven on a plate.
We left Barcelona for Valencia, another large metropolitan town about three hours south. The toll roads and rapidly apparent evil travel duo (night and storm) put us all into bad moods. I soaked myself running between the car and the hotel asking for vacancies, getting credit cards and arranging parking for our rental car. Lakes two inches deep and 15 feet wide were created between us and the elevator from the underground parking garage and water seeped into the hotel lobby from the patio.
By the next morning the clouds were gone and we packed up for a stressful navigation across town to another hotel. The roundabouts in Valencia proved too smart for our American orienteering skills. We hopped onto a double Decker tour bus to see the main sights of Valencia. The tour narration is done via uncomfortable ear buds that you set to your language of choice. We saw sculptures, the BioParc, main plazas and the old walls of the city. My mom and sis were not very impressed with this town but I liked it a lot. It wasn’t as full of tourists as Barcelona, slightly smaller and more easily navigable, and there is an amazing park that runs the length of the city. I also found a more obvious counter culture in this town. I saw a squatters sign, political prisoner wheat pastes and interesting graffiti, We also had the best dinner yet in this town. We found a tasty Italian resturant and I had stuffed perogies in a mushroom cream sauce.
We left Valencia after two days for Granada. The famous Arab palace, the Alhambra is located on a hill overseeing Granada. After the Arabs were forced out, King Ferdinand and Queen Isobel resided in this ornate place. The Alhambra day was probably the best yet. In the morning we fund an amazing bakery to make us sandwiches that are actually full of vegetables (what passes for filling here is pathetic), spinach breakfast croissants and sweet bread. The Alhambra visit took us six hours and was well worth every minute. If you don’t believe me, look at a few of the one million pictures I took while in the palace.
Granada, even more than Valencia has a very public counter culture. Anarchy signs, squatter symbols and stencils are everywhere. The most decorated building I found was a Dunkin Doughnuts in a church plaza. Take that globalization. A city such as Granada, has not and never will know peace. In the past, due it its fertile soil, protective mountains, and the creation of the Alhambra fortress and now to it’s young culture and liberal university, social and political unrest is so fervent you can identify it with all of your senses.
The plan was to leave Granada on the 19th and start our way back north, stopping for a few days on the Costa Blanca. A late night decision changed that plan and the next morning we were traveling still further southeast to Morocco. We took the ferry from Tarifa to Tangier and stayed one night on the African continent. You can rest assured that everything you hear about being a tourist in Morocco is true. We were approached by a “guide service” on the boat and by the time we reached Moroccan shores had a hotel, guide, itinerary and car all waiting for us. It was the end of Rammadon and everyone was grumpy after their daily fasting, not even water. The Arabic language plus the shark like vendors

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Update from the States

Well hello there! If you're reading this, it is probably because I told you I was leaving and offered a URL to track me as I travel. I'll update this blog as frequently as blog-worthy experiences and wi-fi connections allow.
Trip and I have packed away 99.9% of our room at the Lorax. Most of it went to the dark attic storage unit or the front yard free pile. Both of these locations had their own casualties: my camping pot was packed away, most likely below the five to six feet of bags and boxes and my "wabam!" jeans (Trip's words, not mine :) that I scored from a neighbors free pile were sucked back in to the free pile vortex of our house never to be seen again; easy come easy go, I suppose.
I packed my life into my trusty $14 REI Scratch and Dent backpack and said goodbye (not before having a great going away party..see below). My life consists of: a sleeping bag, pad, soon-to-arrive one person tent (thanks girlfriend sponsorship!), two pants, two dresses, one tank top, one shirt, two jackets of different weights and long underwear. Also in my possession is a swim suit and sarong (after seeing Isa, Ian and Yoko with theirs in Baja, I can't imagine traveling without!), five pairs of underwear, three bras (2 sport, one regular), a hat, first aid kit which includes, but is not limited to: Tums, toothpaste (hippie kind), toothbrush and replacement head, meds: malaria prophylactics, yeast infection pills, Cypro for my weak stomach and Plan B! For entertainment I have a book given to me by Isobel, The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende, The Art of War zine, a tiny computer given to me by my dad and the most exciting of all: a blue collapsible hula hoop!
Trip and I had a proper Lorax sendoff last Thursday night. We rearranged the furniture to create the famous "Outdoor-tex" circular couch arraignments in the front yard. Friends starting coming at 7:30pm, and the delicious, one-of-a-kind Nikasi keg was tapped at 8. For the potluck, Isa and Ian made cowzones with homemade sauce, Tim and Mer made the most delicious tofu choco pudding, we provided fresh garden corn on the cob, salsa and chips and Teresa saved the day with not one, but two bottles of Champagne. The night included live art a la Amy Fox and my right arm, a bumpin kitchen dance party, fire spinning (yes, we were probably too drunk for this one) and a melodic water drinking circle to wrap things up.
We spent Sept 5-9th in Geneva, Indiana celebrating my grandma's wedding! Actually, she and her new husband eloped in July and this was the Stucky reception. I got to catch up with all my cousins and spend time with my step-grandpa Jerry. It was nice to be in very very very sleepy Geneva for my last few days with Trip. We went running around the lake, Amish watched, slept in, enjoyed poor cell reception and no wi-fi.
In the Indiana airport, as I boarded for California and he Oregon, we were the typical lovers airport spectacle: hugs, kisses, long gazes into each other's eyes and soft touches to the cheeks, completing the last bit of mental and physical memorization. I was in such a daze when I crossed security that I went to the wrong gate and waited in line for at least 4 minutes before I realized my mistake.
That leads me to now. I'm sitting in the airport in Phoenix, waiting for my flight to Oakland. Trip is en route to Oregon. I'll spent two days in the bay area finishing the final tasks (buy a lighter, mail student loan papers), then leave for awhile to be in Spain and a few other unknowns locations.