- There are notes and proposed additional chapters for this story
- There is a new lifestyle, which is right around the corner, facilitated by the collapsed borders within Europe and the advent of hand held internet technology and the rapid development of three separate types of websites typified by trashwiki.org, hitchwiki.org and bewelcome.org. This is a story about how it might work. Be welcome to improve it, add completely new chapters and characters, real and less real, make it your story too.
You don't have any money and you are in Zagreb. You go to Hitchwiki and it tells you the best place to get out of the city. But this is not all, short funds, but long time and internet access at the library, you read all about the routes to Am*dam, the hassles of the Ruhrgebiet (the megacity around Bonn/Cologne) and how to best avoid the Swiss police.
You have always believed in starting early, to show the first drivers you are serious about getting where you are going. Quickly, you are on the road. Your first driver is carpenter from Munich, who used to hitch when he was younger. You maintain the casual conversation and when he gets on his cell phone call from his girlfriend, you retreat to your own internet enabled cell phone. You look for the best exits near his planned end stop in Freiburg Germany. You remember when hitching was much harder, more guesses more walking. It is still quite daring, but you have the kind of confidence that Ford Prefect had reading the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
There is a small village of wagons about 3 miles from the most southern exit. They offer themselves as an overnight place for hitchers and there are several good reports from people who have passed thru. You walk from the exit to Star Village and are just in time to go dumpster diving for dinner.
Dumpster diving in Europe is often different than in the US. While they are not all open, the dumpsters which are dont suffer from the various discouragements used in the US, broken glass or motor oil sprayed on the food to keep pesky dumpster divers out. You borrow a bike and ride with Ellen of Star Village down to the local market which is just closing. She already has a relationship with several of the vendors and they have put food aside for her/ Food which was destined for the trash. Ellen has entered a lot about the Freiburg farmers market on trashwiki. There personalities, their willingness to deal with strangers, the layout of the market and location of the best dumpsters and the best times to be there.
Back at Star Village various contributions make up the eclectic dinner. Carefully prepared food, some from the garden, some rescued the farmers market, a few things purchased. There is a young woman, Sabrina, who is also interested in hitching to the Netherlands. While she is not willing to get up at the crack of dawn, you're convinced you will do better hitching with her. And it is safer as well.
You get up early anyway the next morning. Help with some gardening, fix a couple of bike flat tires as your contribution to Star Villages all volunteer economy. You write your own entry in Hitchwiki encouraging those who come after you to Star Village to bring chocolate for Ellen (for an example of an excellent annotated hitchwiki map of good spots). And about your experience in the farmers market in trashwiki.
Sabrina gets up at almost 11 AM and you take the bus to the hitchwiki recommended hitching spot. The weather is threatening, but her smile brightens the day and my mood. A driver stops and after his admonishments of how women should not hitchhike, we settle into the drive to boarder town of Aachen. Sabrina gets a ride into the train station where she will pay for the last part of her travel. But i dont have the option, my wallet remains empty. The Bewelcome.org hospitality website shows several entries for Aachen, but there are no phone numbers and the local ambassador does not seem to be answering their phone. It's getting dark.
Hitching is largely useless at night. You could ask people at gas stations, a common practice in Germany, but you are shy, preferring exit ramps and willing drivers. The night is not threatening rain and the cars are not stopping, so you roll up in your sleeping bag under a big tree (tents are too bulky). Exhausted from walking between gas stations and exit ramps, from maintaining conversations in your limited English, the sadness about losing Sabrina's fair company too soon - the high speed traffic noise nearby does not slow your sleep.
The Dutch are not as friendly with hikers as the Germans. One driver explained that it is because all the student aged persons have rail passes and that there is limited number of hitchhikers and they are less trusted for being indigent.
Finally you arrive at your host home, a former squat called Zhaba, long since legalized on quite favorable terms. Natural candidates for radical hosting adventures. . The accommodations are not palacial, but they are friendly and reasonably clean. Happily they are experienced with guests and give you a set of keys as soon as you show up. You were guided there by Casa Radio which you found in BeWelcome.Org. Casa Radio is a combination placement service and city ore, which is directing you in. Casa Radio is actually a collection of hosting locations that you were in communication with before you left Croatia. They promised you a place tho they were not sure where it would be in Am*dam, as your plans solidified you texted Casa Radio and they confirmed your final location. Unable to afford the beautiful mass transit, you walk the last mile and half from the A2 exit to Zhaba. You're tired, but the places is comfortable, despite your space being quite small.
One of the most important services BeWelcome.org offered was low skill temp work for foreigners. They keep a listing of urban gardening, light construction and demolition work, dog walking, cleaning and cooking jobs. The website uses a reputation system, which almost all users put quite some energy into maintaining good online reputations. It was through offering better services like Casa Radios landing assistance and work opportunities for folx new in town that lead to it stealing most of the members to CouchSurfing.com
In the morning there is muesli and left over fruit salad from the night before. A group of Zhaba kids will fix a leak in the roof after breakfast. You get to talking to Tatiana, who is writing a flog. Flogs were originally stories written by traveling bloggers would write about other peoples stories, written with the intention of selling ads (with Google Ad sense or similar services) and bringing in lots of readers. They were called flogs because they are in a blog format and they were peddled off to readers (flogged). It is a bit like soap opera writing, except that the characters are real and the stories twisted.
But Tatiana's flog has morphed also. It is her story of her adventures, designed to keep the readers excited by her unfolding story. But more than excited, Tatiana keeps a set of about 30 avid "premium readers" engadged in a personal e-mail dialog about her life.
"They are mostly parents and werents (people who wanted to be parents but were not). Some are having with Tatiana, who will occasionally drop reference to her correspondence with her advising aunt in her flog, her "aunt" is really the collective wisdom of her premium readers. Possibly unlike their actual children, premium readers find Tanya (Tatiana's digital identity) at least willing to listen and respond to their suggestions. Though Tanya offers little in the way of real concessions to her advisers, for her reckless lifestyle is part of what makes her so attractive. Tanya is popular with tens of thousands of unique hits each day, but the premium readers are keeping Tatiana feed and entertained - tho she still hitchhikes and runs a foul of the authorities with some regularity. Tatiana is 19 and was born outside of Kiev.
- This article can be found under http://tinyurl.com/digitalnomads and is being turned into a collective story at Digital Nomads