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On the last leg of this Journey!

View Crossing back on Zaspirucho's travel map.


This blog began with this trip. I started writing every week or so, and kept it going through the US, India and SE Asia. The nature of the travel changed, waves gave way to trains, tracks to wheels, and still I wrote. Yet now, in this final leg of the journey, it feels more difficult and cumbersome to write of what has been; but lets try!

After some months of zig zagging through Europe, finding love and not, I sit on a café in Barcelona. Last entry I had just left Romania and sped towards The Hague. Since then I have lost trains, visited friends, met Theo Jansen, got to Paris in time to recover my new credit card, worked in Belgium, and crossed France. Not bad, ey?


Few things will make you feel more stupid and impotent than getting on the wrong train, and realizing it too late. It's just money, you tell your silly self, breathing deeply to stop your heart from bursting through your eyes, as you contemplate the thought of spending the night on a Czech train station. But there will be another train, everything works out in the end, if you only let it flow. Getting on the wrong side of the platform cost me a bit over a hundred euros. Not a mistake I'll make again soon, you can be assured of that.

So after a week of trains I got to the Netherlands in time for the beach demonstration. I biked from Rotterdam to The Hague; it was a windy day, not too good for biking, but just what you need to see a Strandbeest walk.


For the creator of a life form, Theo Jansen is incredibly human. He gave his rehearsed talk and demonstration just as playfully and smiling as if it was the first time he talked about the subject. He loves his walking beasts even when they refuse to behave properly. Only his props betray how many times he has shown them, the torn paper and old tubes. I have seen his presentation before on TED, analyzed his design and spent hours looking at diagrams. Still, it is another thing to see the beasts live, walking in front of you or carrying them on your shoulder down the beach.
“Yes, send me pictures!” he said, when told I wanted to build a vehicle with his mechanism. And I will, after I figure out how! The design is not ready to leave the beach, as he put it: “they don't like the rough terrain, just the hard, flat sand.” Well, guess that's where I come in, no? A project is in the works! Just need to settle down for a bit and make it happen.


Then I made it to Paris. Three years later, I sat on the same table I sat that first time. St. Christopher's Inn, Northern Paris. A lot has happened in this time. Many roads and countries have seen my feet, on many floors has my backpack rested. That orange rucksack is the only thing that's the same, all else has changed, the carried and the carrier. I met with the past in Paris, had coffee with it, with her, with them. We walked the streets and talked of the future. Then I left, glad to live in the present.


After a year abroad, I must say, I'm quite exited about returning to Mexico. Two years ago I got depressed after buying the ticket back. Not this time though, now I can only think of all the friends and family and food! I don't know how long I'll stay there. At first I said two months, but with projects and birthdays and weddings coming up, there is no estimate I can give anymore. I guess it will be the same as always, a week at a time, living each day until the road calls again.

But for now, Barcelona! I got here planning to spend a mere handful of days, but then heard the talk: I arrived just in time for Las Fiestas de Gracia. And after seeing everyone getting ready for it, streets being closed a week in advance, people making decorations out on the sidewalks, posters appearing on walls... Tension is building everywhere in the Gracia neighborhood, it feels ready to explode. I guess I could hang around a few days, no? Right before crossing the Atlantic, completing this first trip around the world.

And now here are two photos of Arq café, because they are awesome, and it is my most favouritest of places in Rotterdam.



And delicious!

And delicious!

Posted by Zaspirucho 10:22 Archived in Spain Tagged trains barcelona paris friends netherlands backpacking rotterdam fiesta working past strandbeest theo_jansen Comments (0)


Of where I've been, bank hurdles and the present track.

sunny 19 °C
View Crossing back & Re-Europe on Zaspirucho's travel map.

For six weeks I barely wrote a word. Not just here, but my journal famished too: only a couple pages to account for over a month; poor thing. But I am on a train again, earth rolling beneath my feet. And moving calls to words in a way that staying put does not.


So, I arrived in Rotterdam, where I did not find the story I was looking for, yet I decided to stay. With pride I saw the days pass, staying put, not hurrying onward. But there was something missing. Maybe if I had stayed just a bit longer... but by the end of the second week, I was on a plane bound for a warmer place.
The Netherlands I found... strange. For all it's beauty and charm, I kept talking about rat races and recalling old conversations with conspiracy theorists, their claims that Big Brother is no longer watching, for he has no need, since we write the log ourselves. According to the internet's wisdom, citizens of the EU can work in the Netherlands for up to three months, without being formal residents. And it must be all true and easy if you have a set life back in your home country. Which I don't. There is a fun triangle they use to make staying around more difficult for anyone slightly outside the system.


To get a job, you need a bank account. To get a local bank account, you need an address (and a resident's number usually), and to have an address you need a contract, therefore you need a job. So you need a house to get a job, and a job to pay for your house. And work cash? Forget it. There's places where they don't even take cash anymore. So basically, its very, very complicated to just up and arrive. If you are already part of their system, be welcome. If not, kindly do not try, or be ready to don your rat costume and run.
So I left for Romania. I enjoyed it the first time, and though it was a rash decision, I'll stand by it. It was a month of cooking, enjoying, and just living. I saw many new movies, we watched all of Breaking Bad, and I never repeated a recipe. Some days I did not leave the house, many a day did not own a morning. It was great.
I left Rotterdam with the idea to make this project I've been thinking of for an embarrassingly long time, yet haven't really done anything about it. I want to build a functional vehicle using Theo Jansen's walking mechanism. That's the What. Don't ask me Why. But I had a plan, and my notebook grew rich in designs and ideas. Then I faced reality.


I decided to fund the thing myself, since I can't explain it well enough to look for sponsors. Then I spent the better part of a month trying to get my money across the Atlantic... Tired of annoying people and Western Union's fees, I decided to take care of it myself. I thought the best way (or rather, the least bad way) to do this, would be Paypal.
So I deposited money into my Mexican Paypal account. Then made a Romanian one and transferred the money. All was fine, so minus a good percentage, I had my money in Europe. Or somewhere. That's when the truth got in my way. See, if I had just lied, everything would have been simple. But since, when I opened my new local Bank account using my Spanish ID, a Spanish address was expected. Otherwise, if I gave an address in Bucharest, I would need some proof of residence. Or something, it was all fuzzy and lost in translation. They even got my name wrong. But I got the account in the end, with fake name debit card and everything... But since it was set to a Spanish address, I could not deposit into it from Paypal Romania, as I later learned. But I am not K., so eventually I got it.
By then I had explored material depots and scoured Ebay for pieces and Chinese made ball bearings. But with my budget, I realized I had to size down. From a house sized project, to a car sized one, then a bicycle thingy. By the time I actually got the money, more than half of my allotted time in Bucharest had passed, and I was no closer to starting than when I left Rotterdam. I decided for a scaled model.

And then, without a warning, the travel bug struck. "I'll leave halfway through August", I said one day, then stared off into distance. By next day it was "the end of July". Then “this weekend”. Once the wanderlust set in, only trickery and a half priced train ticket kept me in place.
And so it is that I find myself on the go again. After a month in Bucharest, I decided to follow the original plan. I made no scale model. Instead, I'm going to meet the original designer, and see his creatures first hand, maybe even ask a question or two. I'm off to meet Theo Jansen.
By train. From Romania, back to the Netherlands.


Posted by Zaspirucho 03:24 Archived in Romania Tagged budapest netherlands romania plans time backpacking rotterdam goodbyes bucharest working thoughts Comments (0)

A place to go

sunny 20 °C
View Re-Europe on Zaspirucho's travel map.

I was in Budapest, listening to some funky Szkojani Charlatan's carpatian tunes. Dorka stood to dance, but I felt too at peace to follow her, instead I produced my notebooks. I described the surrounding scene on one and journaled the day on another, when...
“Are you writing a poem?”, asked a man.
“Ehm, no. It's just a bit of thoughts release.”
“Oh. I see. And what are you writing?”
“Well, right now... that I think I should go to Rotterdam.”
His eyes widened. “Rotterdam? Well, then you should meet Jitske! Here, have this postcard. That's her name, add her on Facebook! She has an exhibition tomorrow here, so you should contact her.”
Who is this guy? I thought, but didn't ask, only smiled at his words. I had been precisely looking at my reasons to visit Rotterdam, when he gave me a new one.
Now I know that his name is Julius; that day he just gave me the postcard, advice, and left. But my world is one where you trust random strangers you just met in a bar. This attitude got me a job and place to sleep in Cambodia. It got me friends in France and now in Rotterdam. It's awesome.

Now, some cities have passed between here and Krakow. I set out from Istanbul with the firm idea of going to Poland. I thought I might stay there a couple of weeks at the least, then left on the third day. Some stories are better left in memory, where they can be remembered in an ideal form, like a book that finishes on a high, happy note. Not that I had a bad time, no. But as my friend Nathan said, having expectations is just planning your disappointments in advance. In contrast, I expected nothing from Poznań, and found there everything. It is a beautiful city, with a dollhouse historical center plaza. A great place to meet people and just enjoy the scene, to walk and bike and talk and cook and be. Too bad I still don't have a working camera.

Then in Berlin I spent too little time. There's many people I wanted to see! Like Gabriel from highschool, who inspired me to write of my travels, or Sabina, from whom I wanted to learn some tango, since I couldn't in Canada. Then there's Gabriele too, with whom I stayed two years before, and also... But in the end I only saw (that I'd met before) Nina who, like Gabriele, was a classmate from my Basque course in 2011; and Bettina and Jannika, who'd Couchsurfed with me a year before, in Mexico. Just some days, and then I left for Hamburg. I hadn't been there before, and it was a thing of: visit now, or maybe have no one to visit later; so even if it meant staying only a handful of days in Berlin, it was worth it. And anyway, I can still go back!

It seems I'll stay in the Benelux for some weeks, to rest my bones and maybe even do something productive, for a change. I've been here for only a couple of days, yet already it seems I'm involved in one or two projects. And next week they need people for serving drinks somewhere, and Jitske said Dutch language is not required...
So lets see how this thing goes. In the meantime, we are here!

Posted by Zaspirucho 14:18 Archived in Netherlands Tagged art people budapest travel poland netherlands rotterdam nomad working ransack Comments (0)

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