Hitchabout Nice – Antibes – Aix-en-Provence – Arles | back to Montpellier

I think it was the fastest I’ve ever gotten rides in my entire hitchhiking experience. Residing in Montpellier, France, I had decided to hitch to Nice, the day before. I had anticipated it, knowing that my sister and her British husband go there regularly to escape the York, England chill. It was these two who had visited Montpellier several years earlier on a regular basis. That put this town on the map for me. I liked the sound of it. When I’d googled the town back when I suddenly had the proposition to go to the East coast from Taos, New Mexico, I learned that it’s the fastest growing city in France, of which 25% are students that emerge during the academic year. I sort of made the decision to go there in particular, and base myself . I was actually still deliberating on whether Portugal might be a less expensive and lively place to live while I was purchasing the bus ticket from Paris for Montpellier. At some point I decided I wanted to be closer to other countries in Europe and also where I have a semblance of knowledge of the language.

Mont_Saint-Victoire Paul Cézanne

Mont Saint-Victoire notoriously painted by Paul Cézanne among others

Nice, didn’t appear to have any available couches to surf on. The weather which has been continually warm and sunny, dropped about 10 degrees with predicted rain. I decided to go anyway. My bicycle had just been stolen 4 days earlier in the middle of the day around the corner from the cafe I was working in. After the initial discovery, I decided it was a gift for whoever took it. They not only got bad karma, but also a bike that didn’t work. It was hurting my knees because the gears basically didn’t move and I had to get off frequently, to walk up hills. Montpellier is full of them. Many at gradients of 55ª angles.

When I’d arrived in Montpellier the first day I asked a woman sitting on the tram near me “where is the mont”? She discussed it with her friend and decided that she didn’t know. My guess is that the whole town is so hilly that they decided to call it Montpellier, which means mountain. So, the missing bike precluded transport into town outside of the tram TAM, so it was as good a time as any to check out some other places along the Mediterranean. Nice, France is really close to Italy and Switzerland. By the time I finally left the house after consulting google maps to know what destinations to write on a sign, it was going on 2pm. The drive is a little over 3 and a half hours.

I strolled to the end of these outdoor tables with people seated there where I spotted a large white clean piece of cardboard tossed on the ground beyond the tables. I was already steering myself towards this cafe to ask for cardboard. Nice start, I had markers. The entrance to the highway was basically right there. This area was a short walk from where I’d currently been living, conveniently on the edge of town. I noticed several cheap bus lines departing from there, Sabine. I incidentally had been told two days previously that I needed to move out by the end of the month, a day after the bike theft. I had two weeks to decide my next moves. That was another reason to make this trip, a few pairs of ears to discuss my options. I was now less convinced that I wanted to stay in Montpellier. The housing situations had been a challenge.

I watched traffic stopping and starting at a traffic light, and was standing right before an indentation in the road for busses, perfect for cars to pull over. I had written Nice on one side of the sign and was starting to write Aix-en Provence on the other, flipping it up for cars to read both sides, when the first small truck pulled over after only a few lights. I hadn’t been there more than 10 minutes. He’d been working in Montpellier for the day and was on his way to Aix. He’s an Albanian man from Kosovo, his name packed with consonants, Xhemil Iveseldaj.  He’s been living in Aix-en Provence among other members of his family, for 40 years. He was returning from his work week in Montpellier where he stays in a hotel. His boss pays for that, along with his tolls and I guess all travel expenses. He works in such a specialized field, that he’s been accustomed to these long commutes for years, sometimes sweeping countrywide. He’d previously commuted to Paris from Aix, and before that by plane to another town. I learned a fair amount about his life and his two sons. He is one of 7 siblings, five brothers and two sisters. He said in Albania the families tend to be even larger. He said he doesn’t believe in a ‘God’ but in nature. We agreed about that, ‘Nature’ is our ‘god’. I asked if he believes in climate change. We discussed it for quite a while along with other topics.

He had missed his turnoff and I was wondering if I was going to be dropped off in the middle of the highway at an inconvenient place, but he then went back through toll booths, and tracked back to the highway where we were now still heading towards Aix-en-Provence en route to Nice. He’d seen the Aix on my sign. Works every time to have a sign. Xhemil always seemed a bit impatient when coming to any toll, as if seconds shaved off his time were going to critically screw up his day. I guess he was simply in a big hurry to get back home at the end of his workweek. He brought me to a good place where all traffic was heading in the direction of Nice.

I was happy to find a bathroom next to an odd parking garage area where on one side there were buses, ironically, one on its way to Nice. I had covered half the distance already and didn’t bother to approach the bus to ask the driver, preferring to hitch. Someone saw my signs and was yelling out to me from the top story of this large round parking garage building. I ignored him/them. It took about 6 minutes, maybe less, for a car to stop. I heard the responses from above as I was getting into the vehicle. The driver was Olivier, a local who lived in a little town with a great view of this mountain outcropping Saint Vincent from one side. He was on his way to Cannes for the evening. Olivier is an engineer, specifically works on plane engines. He lived in Paris for a stint, said he learned a lot working for Air Bus. He still works for them, and was relieved to move back to his home ground.

Mont Saint-Victoire, Paul Cézanne

Olivier says this landmark outcropping of rock Mont Sainte-Victoire, changes color frequently and has been a feature of many painters.

He and I had a nice rapport. We talked the entire time and really had a lot of similar points of view about the quality of simple things in life that give it value. He dropped me off at a very convenient location at the entrance to highways from Cannes. I was sorry to see him go.

My next ride was with a professional chauffeur, John Christopher. He had made sort of a precarious stop to pick me up. I guess as a local he knows what he can get away with. He was going to pick up his clients on this late afternoon to take them to a fundraiser gala event, hosted for wealthy families who were donating money to hurricane victims in Saint Martin, a French island in the Caribbean. He has worked for this same family exclusively for 15 years. He said that this event was perhaps at a hidden location. He knew that football stars, actors and actresses were going to be there among the very wealthy patrons. He described what these evenings could be like, and how he had to always be available for and and all things that might occur. He might have to make the commute over the bridge to pick up one item left behind, or drop off kids at different places. I enjoyed this little scope into the lives of the upper crust there, from the chauffeur’s point of view. A very gentle guy, he left me off before taking his route to the home of his employer. We left with smiles lingering.

Nice, France first shots - pastry and me

A bridge separated me between where I stood where everyone seemed to be racing to their next destination. I’m guessing I was at St.-Laurent du Var by this bridge. I wondered how long this ride would take, since now I was extraordinarily ‘out of place’. A hitchhiker with a backpack among demonstratively expensive cars and high income drivers. Surprisingly, a car stopped. It was Raphael a medical student in Nice, where he also was raised. He looked distinctively Spanish or Italian. He did me the courtesy of using his phone to dial my contact number and drop me off after crossing into Nice to a very familiar cement way lined with Palm trees before the beach. The Promenade des Anglais is where a demented man drove a truck moving down pedestrians on Bastille Day on the evening of 14 July 2016. The Nice attack killed 86 people and injured 458. Sound familiar? The whole area has since been reinforced to block vehicular traffic, involving bringing in full-grown palm trees with cranes.

historical Nice, France and cemetary

I wound up spending several days in Nice, endowed with lovely weather. Took various local rides ferried to different parts on cool excursions with family into the hills looking back down over the city. I had particularly wanted to see Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

Nice page 1 of second group inlaid stones

Nice, France inlaid stones

When it came time to leave, I finally noticed a text message on my cheap French phone, an invitation from a friend I’d met years earlier, who had actually invited me to stay at her and her boyfriend’s place. I texted her back explaining I’d missed seeing her text. In a little while I made my way to make a start, found some cardboard and what appeared to be the entrance to highways. I stood there a short time up in the hills. I saw a dread-headed girl across the street who when she crossed, approached to tell me she’s hitched a lot, and if I’m going to Aix-en-Provence, I’d have better luck down standing down by the water – once again before the Promenade des Anglais. I thanked her and walked down the hill. When I turned the corner I saw a group of people waiting for a bus a hundred yards away. I thought to myself, they’re probably wondering about what I was doing. Within several minutes, my first ride stopped. A smartly dressed man in a nice car on his way to Aix-en-Provence. I laughed to myself at how easy I made it look for the people standing there waiting for a bus. He made a phone call to his wife indicating he was on his way. I mentioned that I’d come from Montpellier to Nice and still was trying to figure out where to land. He mentioned that for using English, Aix-en-Provence would have better opportunities than Montpellier due to its larger influx of British because of the nearby seaport. He convinced me in fact. He said forget Montpellier, it’s mostly a college town, whereas Aix has an English speaking presence and a sophisticated flair.

mazza

mazza

 

Manu

Manu

The text was from a woman whom I’d met with her boyfriend 5 years earlier in Krakow, Poland. I was now getting out of the car upon receiving the text, only half an hour or so from Nice and 100’s of km before where I thought I was going. That was a great timed text, minutes before the Antibes exit. I had a splendid visit with these friends and their wonderful feline creatures. It was the therapy I needed, the playful cats along with friendly and inspiring conversation and inclusion.

Edwige and Bernards in Antibes

Edwige and Bernards in Antibes

 

Edwige, Antibes

Edwige in Antibes

Edwige and Carol Antibes

Edwige and Carol Antibe

I departed from my friends and the kitties in Antibes who I was already missing. Once again I got fantastic rides, two rides from Antibes. A young baker, boulanger, who told me stories of his life and his wife and 2 kids. At the moment that I noticed a sign for a rest stop I asked him whether there was another like it prior to where he was going. He wound up immediately pulling over, because he in fact was getting off soon, where the town was so small he explained I’d probably have very fewer ride possibilities than here at this highway stop. I parted farewell from this sweet guy and was walking into the rest-stop restaurant and showed my signs to the people as I was walking by them. They were a couple, and happened to be driving to Montpellier. I said that that’s where I live, but am going to Aix-en-Provence. They said they could take me there, it’s on the way. I hung with them a bit at the outdoor tables after I returned. We had a few interesting exchanges before getting in the car. A huge lovely white dog accompanied by a man entered the picture. I said, ‘elle est belle’, and the girl laughed, saying she has exactly the same type of dog, whose name is Belle. It’s unusual for a couple to offer a ride, very rare. They have to be really confident with one another, and these two were. Thomas and Gwendoline were very animated. At one point I mentioned out of the blue that I’d like to go to Istanbul, and they laughed, saying they’re going there next Thursday. They each engaged in conversation the entire time. We really connected. He owns 2 businesses in (IT), one which he originally started doing web design and the other advising companies on how to work more efficiently. She isn’t currently working. We talked the whole time, They were on their way to Montpellier to visit his father, and in fact he drove me into the center of Aix-en-Provence which he loves, and Gwendoline had never been.

Eight weeks earlier I wouldn’t have been able to understand but a quarter of what they were saying, now 8/10th percent. She spoke some English cuz she lived a year in New Zealand doing a WWOOF with baby sheep! She visited Australia too. She joked that she’s probably more conservative politically than he. He described that he believed the French president Macron would have more possibility to take a center stage in the global political arena. As we were driving into Aix from the highway, I commented that I believe trees may be more conscious than we are. To my surprise, Thomas the computer guy, heartily agreed, saying that he despises that people believe that they’re at the top of the pyramid of life, when in fact all life forms have intelligence. Thomas so much admires the town, that I decided after walking around a bit that for my saturday night, I’ll stay in Aix-en-Provence, regardless of where I may or may not sleep.

Aix-en-Provence, France

On this late summer Saturday afternoon in the street of Aix-en-Provence  I came upon a group of woman doing a spontaneous dance exercise; an an all female dance troupe. They were doing an improvisation exercise in their practice. I sort of guessed that this is what they were doing. Later when they were less involved in any presentations, I asked a few. One woman with eye that met mine with a sparkle in her eyes and large smile approached me and handed me a flyer.

She was in fact the director who organized this theatrical dance art group. http://cie-mariehelenedesmaris.com

I had decided to stay there regardless of not having looked for couchsurfers. It was a Saturday evening, it’ll be fun. I asked the right couple on my walk, who described several different options, pointing to areas on a map I had of specific areas to find things going on.

I went to a cafe to catch up on writing and organizing my pictures, and wound up hanging there into the late hours, with co-workers and guests. As the evening progressed, I was invited not only to stay that evening, but for an extended length of time, if I was demonstrating that I was doing the work I needed to do. I could now stay at this apartment there in Aix-en-Provence with these two brothers. However that vanquished at the point that the one breached my trust, and caused me to launch myself out back into the streets of Aix with the approaching dawn. It seemed like it might have been the semblance of a good thing, if not for the immediate security violation. One of the brothers was already in bed, it appeared. I was ushered into a room, fine, ah, but wait, no lock on the door. I waited before getting into bed with my pully and pack on by the door. listening for a few moments, when suddenly the door swung open, with me standing right there. I’m sure it surprised him as much as it did me; bursting into the room allegedly having misplaced his cell phone. Not only did this maneuver make me feel quite uncomfortable with the thought of sleeping there, but it also immediately dissolved that opportunity. So, I was heading out from Aix that morning, and still not sure what would define my future. This town hadn’t particularly welcomed me; no couch surfers, no housing possibilities and no tolerance for an opening in a bachelor den that was the epitome of neglect.

 

Arles, France, Nice, hitchabout

I hitched to Arles from Aix-en-Provence that morning. Maybe I’d go to Nimes (Roman ruins in both towns) on the same day.  The two cities located in the Occitanie region of southern France, were an important outpost of the Roman Empire. Nimes is known for its well-preserved monuments such as the Arena of Nîmes, a double-tiered circa-70 A.D. amphitheater still in use for concerts and bullfights. Its Maison Carrée white limestone Roman temple and Pont du Gard tri-level aqueduct are around 2,000 years old. I wound up staying in Arles instead.

Shortly after arriving at a good departure point in Aix, a woman stopped in her sleek car. I assumed the boy of about 11 sitting in the passenger seat was her son. She was an attractive, well dressed, middle aged woman who appeared professional, everything intact.  She was on her way to Nimes. The song that was playing on the alternative rock station was fairly pop, and each of the songs became progressively more hard-edged. The music didn’t seem to go with her appearance at all. The volume was so high that it impeded the ability to talk. When I asked, she staccato answered that she lives in Aix. That was my first and last question in an attempt to engage them in conversation. Her son and she didn’t say a word to one another the entire time.  She drove very fast and agilely on the highway on her way to Nimes, maneuvering efficiently. I was surprised she picked me up at all.  I pictured that she was dropping her son off at a midway point in an agreement with her ex, as they trade time with the child since divorcing. I decided that she was annoyed to have to drive him there, the hour and a half, now wait, 3 hour journey altogether to drop him off in Nimes and return; an invasion on any other activities she might have wanted to do on that Sunday. I didn’t ask. I let them ‘not talk’ to one another or me. I felt sorry for the kid. The music was quite loud. The silence was fierce.

Michael Jackson T-shirt, Always Be Yourself

Michael Jackson T-shirt
Always Be Yourself

I’m sitting in a cafe putting these pages together, sitting near the bathroom entrance. Many people flow by. One guy was waiting in line, a tall Arab guy, I saw in between the edges of his jacket a skeleton, and I said pointing, “is that Michael Jackson”? He said, yes and opened his jacket. I said, trying as I could in French, after multiple plastic surgeries that destroyed his cartilage, he’s now a skeleton. He said, exactly. He and I were both laughing pretty hard at this point as he was now walking into the bathroom, since it wasn’t supposed to be that obvious. I asked him when he came out to get a shot of the shirt, which is even more hilarious, saying below the image ‘Always Be Yourself‘.

In Arles I met a man whose eyes met mine from where he was perched on a balcony of this cloister.  I was like, what, are you WORKing there or what? Later we met on the stairs where he offered me an extra ticket to the last day of the photo exhibit there. He’s local. So, he’d waited until the last day of the exhibit to finally go see it. I had the impression that in this town that flowed regularly for most months of the year with tourists, that it was well stocked with woman accessories.  I wondered whether he took advantage of this, and lead a sort of double life. I was sort of expecting that we’d hang out together more, but he had other plans, probably a dinner gathering, or going home to dinner with his family. He bade his farewell and disappeared into the dusk, cutting through this building. Perhaps I seemed too risky, an American woman who happened into the town and didn’t know where she was going to sleep that night.  It was a nice exhibit. I wound up wandering away from the middle aged man who vanished to walk up a hill to find myself watching bats fluttering about and looking out over the valley, and instead talking to some young North African teenagers.

I had wandered around the periphery of the olympic Roman stadium and along streets in the town looking at the sites. I had gone into a lovely church where I learned some history. It was later, much later that my bed found me.  I was walking around a building and saw this little sort of fenced in courtyard that was merely following the contours of the rounded building. There was a low decorative iron fence around a small curved plot of soil, encasing a few bushes and a tree or two. I spotted large pieces of cardboard neatly wrapped up and tied together stacked vertically on the outside of this area. I learned years ago from a French (North African) truck driver that cardboard can be used to insulate from the cold. (Who I wound up driving with through Italy to Germany where during Ramadan, he’d chain smoke and start drinking his coffee before the sun came up or went down, and had packed a delightful gourmet assortment of foods home-made by his wife who packed them for his holiday fasting). I picked up the cardboard, pulled the pieces out, saw that they weren’t soiled and laid them out to form a platform to lay on. I had no sleeping bag. It wasn’t cold. I felt quite safe there and happy to not have to carry my backpack any more.  A pretty ‘sleepy’ town, I didn’t sense that anyone was going to look for me there. I didn’t sleep, but was comfortable. The night before in Aix-en-Provence I hadn’t slept at all.

I had already decided to stay in Arles that night. It was still pretty warm, September 25th, 2017. Later that evening, my resting place found me.

Arles rockin an auberge cardboard style at the hidden concave of a building

It was the last ride, Phillippe Lu, (great grandparents or grandmother came from China to Cambodia, where his parents were from. It was the intelligent conversation I had with him and his power of persuasion, which now convinced me after all that I should in fact plant myself in Montpellier; offering English courses with all the university separate buildings spreading over the north of town. He said I could make €15 to 20 per lesson. He texted his son to get the coordinates of an umbrella organization for all the universities called CROUS. He helped to give me some wording for a sign to put up. I since had looked up C.R.O.U.S. and gone there several times to get as much information as I could from what I’d written down while riding with him. They had info about housing, the university of lettres (languages) and basically I followed through and later wandered the labyrinthe of different buildings that a part of the university, that spreads across the north part of town that had been 50 years ago, fields. When I’d returned to Montpellier I was now homeless and searching through many different sources, mostly online, for housing. It was on the eve of the beginning of the month that one friend pointed out a site I’d already disregarded, judging that it was too expensive. I told him I’d already looked at that one, and it tends towards more expensive listings. I noticed that my friend had fr.fr in the beginning of the web address and mine us.fr, because I had first viewed it from the United States (I started viewing housing listings from the moment I booked an inexpensive flight). Turns out the subtle difference in the website made a huge difference in what was offered. The local listings offered a category unto themselves, anglophone families looking for English native speakers to live with them for reduced rent in exchange for some prerequisite time and activities. I’ve since found the most remarkably perfect situation, a win-win.

my signs for the return trip

my signs for the return trip

Montpellier Zoo, Jardin des Plantes

Montpellier Zoo Jardin des Plantes and street pics

It started, or rather was continuing a year ago in another desert, in the high desert of New Mexico, bordering Colorado. Luna was Bill Light’s dog, who built his home in the canyon 5,000 feet above Santa Fe, New Mexico en route to the ski area. His wife had died a few years earlier. I stayed for several months in a cabin adjacent to his home which he built for his daughter. I lived there in the autumn of 2016.

I quickly became a fan of going on walks with his dog Luna. She was a fan of walks as well, and would actually come over to the cabin and tap on the door with her foot. Wow! She absolutely loved the excursion off the property and a long a path cutting through a narrow valley to the National Forest land. In the late summer twice with Luna, I was exposed to bears. It was because Luna discovered them, and barked them into submission.

 

Luna, Bill Light's, Santa Fe New Mexico 2015

Luna my friend at Bill Light’s cabin in Santa Fe New Mexico 2015

I lived in the cabin next to Bill Light’s home in my first months above Santa Fe, New Mexico where my nice landings began. Luna and I would cut through trails up to the National Forest land and then either move further into the canyon’s or launch up to the ridge. These became my sketching/water color excursions. Luna launched and climbed the hill with ease and I followed.

Bill who had an earlier bought with cancer which had gone into recess, got it again, and died from pneumonia since I had moved out. It’s a strange thing that he was there and actively doing all sorts of things, and now gone. I don’t know what happened with Luna, certainly she was completely at home in the mountains. I hope a neighbor took her in. Besides seeing lots of deer in the late summer and the few incidences with Luna barking a bear and her cubs up a tree, I would mt. bike into town from there, regularly. I cycled 7 miles up 5,000 feet to get to the property. I never used any bike lights or reflectors, despite the fact that there were no street lamps. My eyes would adjust whether it was a new or full moon. i figured it was a good way to balance out staring into a computer screen. I find a bike wherever I go and also animals that I love. Now there are stray cats where I am, and I’ve just landed, with muscle and sweat and help with several bike mechanics, a bike that I am delighted to ride.

Now there’s no dog present like in Santa Fe and the ones I affectionately grew acquainted with and loved immediately in Taos, New Mexico the following spring. There are a bunch of stray cats however here in Montpellier. It occurred to me to look for a used bike at this place I’d become a member of months earlier. Le Vieux Biclou. After asking a guy in the street when I knew I was in the vicinity of the bike shop if he knew of where it’s located, it turned out he was on his way there. There I spotted the mt. bike I wanted, and the following day during opening hours learned of its one major obstacle; a seat post jammed all the way down that wouldn’t budge. Several technicians, pounding and myself instructed to scrape off the rust of the now ejected post, and a day later going to another bike shop to get a lock appropriate for the rampant bike thievery in this town, I purchased bolts to replace the quick release wheels and seat, and was assisted in mounting the lock to the frame. After riding it the second time i realized that this bike runs flawlessly, enabling me to climb any steep slope with ease. Stoked!

I’ve since made my signs and printed them and edited my contact cards. I wanted to get this blog out, put up the signs in various excursions, and begin today on a singular path to complete my book between my father and mother’s birthdays. That’s pretty immediate. The difference, no noose around my neck to pay a rent that squelches my time and psyche.

And as is typical, I ask for donations. Thanks! PayPal Donate Button  Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

carol keiter, blogger, Nice

blogger in Nice

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Climate Change for Skeptics or Believers | Sam Harris Interviews Climate Expert Joseph Romm

 

Two hours of attentive listening. Make the Time. It is so well worth it!

This two hour podcast is extremely informative. Sam Harris directs the questions in a very intelligible manner. His guest, Joseph Romm, an author, blogger, physicist and climate expert, is fantastically eloquent and articulate. Each word he uses, each sentence is jam-packed with information; displaying his knowledge about the subject of science, human behavior, economics and the politics of power and persuasion.

Sam Harris podcast, audio interview with Climate Expert, Joseph Romm

Sam Harris podcast audio interview with Climate Expert Joseph Romm

Sam Harris podcast, audio interview with Climate Expert, Joseph Romm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is especially for people who don’t believe that Climate Change is caused through the actions of human beings. Yet is even more persuasive and full of facts for those of you who are already convinced that man’s actions are inextricably linked to Climate Destruction. His guest who wrote the book “What you Need to Know about Climate Change”

LISTEN to inform yourself, regardless of what your opinion is.

 

Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz, blogger, currently completing by first eBook, musician and composer, has no income, zero. I spend time communicating these things, reading, researching, writing, conversing, because I am passionately interested in the subjects of in particular, saving the environment and habitats of animals from human greed and destruction. I have the time to ponder and consider these things, because my world is not centralized around an immediate family; I am single, and ready to engage in any task employing my language and communication skills, anywhere presently.

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carol keiter squinting in the Montpellier, France sun

carol keiter blogger card

carol keiter blogger card

Hitchabout to a casting call for a political satire TV show filmed in Albuquerque, NM

It was a remarkably successful hitchhiking journey to ABQ and back to Taos, with the generous help of friends, who made my sojourn to Albuquerque to answer a casting call job for a day. I write about it because I learned a lot from talking with each of the drivers. Props for hitchhiking, in which one comes across locals who more than likely are delighted to share information about their own region and its history, as well as stories about their own family. The driver’s were white and various shades of brown; Native American and Spanish, representing each race that live together in this region.

Pueblos of the Southwest

Pueblos of the Southwest

I turned down the first 3 rides, intuitively, and took a fourth to the edge of town, to a better place for people to stop.

While in the process of doing the final research, edits and writing and illustrating of my eBook in the final countdown, I received a phone call. It was from a casting company I had registered with a couple months ago, knowing that both of my sources of employment were going to end with the season: in this case, ski and school. I accepted the job, even though with a slight disappointment, it wasn’t going to take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a one hour and a half drive, but Albuquerque, NM, adding another hour; a 133 mile drive.

My only choice to get there, hitch. Upon speaking with the representative of the casting company about the potential call time, I realized that I would have to hitch there the day prior, and figure out how to get to the TV shooting site (yet to be announced), by 6am, or earlier.

Turns out that by contacting my friend living there, who was out of town visiting her home town, she responded immediately, gave me the phone number of her husband who then responded and gratuitously and generously gave me his time and the transport and shelter that I needed.

I only wanted to mention the hitches:

It is the second time in my life that I have turned down rides. Both times occurred in New Mexico. Typically, I feel quite comfortable with those who have stopped to offer a ride. I turned down the first 3 rides, trusting my instincts. Another I trusted to give me a lift to a better departing place with more room for a car to pull over. Within a minute of that ride which was welcomed, a man stopped with whom I had a great conversation the entire time. It was my Albuquerque sign in the early afternoon in Taos, that drew his attention, since he was returning to there after coming to Taos to do mold testing on a structure. As I’ve said before, typically the people who do stop for hitchhikers, are as interested in telling their stories as they are in hearing yours. So we chatted about many topics. I learned about his sons, their projects and several fun stories about their characters, among all sorts of things that we discussed.

Turns out the filming of a political satire TV show, Graves went from 5:45am to 10:30pm, lots of waiting time and repeated filming of the same scenes. Regarding takes, I almost felt I could have been a stand-in after several hours, having heard the lines so often. I opted to stay again in ABQ that night and join my host and his son, driving to Santa Fe the following morning to go to Meow Wolf.

drought, southwest, wikipedia

drought southwest wikipedia

On the ride back, I had one after another great ride. First, a gentle, soft-spoken Native American man who is a jeweler who presents his crafts among other Native American artists 5 days a week in the Santa Fe playa. He explained that he was born in Northern Arizona, and I assume that he is Navaho. He said that his parents moved from there, because there was no work. Several times he mentioned the fact that there is no water. He said that one makes a presumption about water coming out of a faucet. They didn’t have that luxury. He said he attended 7 different schools between his junior and senior high school years, because his parents kept having to move to find employment; from Arizona to California to New Mexico. Each of them are deserts which have experienced droughts. He emphatically stated when I asked if he was coming from work, “no, I work for himself, making jewelry. He says he lives behind the hill of Pojoaque where he let me off, happily with his Pug.

The next ride was with a man and his 11 year old son. Anglo, mixed ethnic (Mexican mother) son, he mentioned all of the different pueblos in the area.

He was driving an exceptionally beat-up Suburu, still running like a charm. I went with them on a few errands on their way home. I accompanied them to the Pojoaque

Pojoaque Pueblo, New Mexico

Pojoaque Pueblo New Mexico

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pojoaque,_New_Mexico . There, the son enthusiastically bound into the library to pick up the books he ordered, several pounds of these slender Japanese hardcover Manga (漫画? Manga) books, part of a series, whose storyline just keeps going.
Considering the fact that I’m in the final edits of my own eBook geared towards kids and young (and any age adults), it is quite impressive to see this enthusiasm bordering obsession with this genre. Having taught in more than 2 dozen schools this past year in the Santa Fe public school system, I saw middle and high school students both embracing anime books (pronounced an i mae).

Anime charicters with tattoos

Anime charicters with tattoos

As the father smilingly responded, you have to have a story that the kids are interested in reading! He spoke about how miserable he was working at a local Casino, and that he makes far better wages and engages with all sorts of people who are friendly and kind, in the hotel in which he now works in Santa Fe.

The third ride was with a young Spanish man, who is 3rd or 4th generation Taoseño. He described the struggle that his great grandparents had when prior to New Mexico being declared a territory in the early part of this century, that previously in the late 19th century, the United States came in and basically just kicked people off of their land, who had been living there prior to the discovery by Columbus. Perhaps this coincided or was subsequent to Mexico territory becoming that of the US. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_Cession His great grandfather and a group of others pulled their finances together to purchase acres by land they valued very much, by El Salto. This they did not to develop, but to protect it from development, to preserve the wilderness, beauty and the habitat of animals there, for all to enjoy. We talked continuously. I learned that with his carpentry skills, he is widening doors and making his home wheel chair accessible for his step son, who has cerebral palsy. I said, so you must indeed have made the commitment in this relationship. He is happy to do this, loves his son and is proud of his daughter by his first marriage, who will now work as a dentil hygienist for a female dentist entrepreneur who rolled into Taos, an eccentric and imaginative woman, who has resurrected and improved a number of local dental practices by incorporating state-of-the-art technology. The dentist woman rides a harley apparently. The technology they use, rather than exposing patients to potentially harmful x-rays, is audio sound technology, so that one can image the cavities and so forth through sound waves. Pretty interesting. It’s called ultrasound technology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23706922

As I said at the beginning, the neat thing about hitchhiking, is that one comes across locals who more than likely are delighted to share information about their own region and its history, as well as stories about their own family.

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Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz ~ As an avid blogger who is presently picking up where I left off with my eBook to complete it and and beginning again to compose music, I ask you rather unambiguously and unabashedly to please donate, if you are able. !-))

Carol Keiter le_blogger, writer & illustrator, musician & composer

Carol Keiter le_blogger, writer & illustrator, musician & composer

European Hitchgathering Liptovská Mara, Slovakia | August 8, 2013 | my hitchabout

This blog has been far too long ‘on hold’, mostly because I’ve been busy since my return to Berlin, Germany with relocation procedures, updating resumes with new contact info and searching for work. August 24th dates one month since my arrival in Berlin. The day after my arrival, July 25th, was the MayanDay Out of Time”, with the following day starting the new Lunar year. I realized this only in retrospect, though did feel on the day following my overnight sleepless flight as if I was in a zone without time.

My arrival intentionally coincided with the beginning of an event which tipped the scale, in terms of drawing me ‘Back to Berlin’, a couchsurfing event.

In between acclimating to my new location, time-zone and preparing for a short but sweet dj debut at the Saturday night party of the CS event, I began to map out how I would hitch to the ‘European Hitchhiking Gathering 2013’ in Slovakia, which I’d been introduced to through a Facebook group while still back in the United States.

European Hitchgathering Slovakia 2013

European Hitchgathering Slovakia 2013

I decided that there couldn’t be a better way to seriously start exploring Europe, on not a low, but no budget, than by continuing my hitchhiking tradition. As always, I began looking at google maps and ‘get directions’, to plan my route.

google_map_slovakia_location_hitch_aug3

I also consulted ‘hitchwiki‘ in which people share their experiences and recommend the best routes.

Hitchwiki resource for finding gas stations adjacent to cities along highways and their 'hitchability'.

Hitchwiki resource for finding gas stations adjacent to cities along highways and their ‘hitchability’.

And used bvg.de to figure out which stop to get off the train to just exit Berlin, after consulting the Berlin S & U Bahn transit maps. Hitchwiki is an excellent source to see where gas stations near cities are located, with recommendations provided by other hitchers about the hitchability of a place.

Having no accessible printer available, I began drawing my maps, which I prefer to do anyway.

Map of route Berlin to Slovakia

Map of route Berlin to Slovakia

Hand-drawn route map Berlin, Germany to Krakow, Poland.

Hand-drawn route map Berlin, Germany to Krakow, Poland.

Word-of-mouth as well as the hitchwiki site suggested that I begin my journey at a highway rest-stop southwest of Berlin near Michendorf in the Potsdam district. I was pleased to find a busy gas station and other hitchhikers there.

Five hours later, I’d met some of these other hitchhikers, particularly two guys who I learned were from Estland (found out later that is Estonia). They were having similar luck to mine. By the sixth hour I was offered a swig of Vodka from their bottle after we talked a bit. By the seventh hour, I decided to alter my route. Instead of heading to the destinations in Poland that I had already penned out, grabbing some bakery paper at the train station in Berlin (where I met an Israeli guy who observed that I was probably hitching, congratulated me and gave me some fruit & chocolate and wrote down my blog addresses).

European_Hitchgathering_Slovakia_sign_Wroclaw

European_Hitchgathering_Slovakia_sign_Krakow

I now decided to head to this outdoor music festival that was beginning that evening in Poland, just over the German border directly east of Berlin.

Woodstock  An open-air music festival in Poland

Woodstock
An open-air music festival in Poland

I had already thought of heading to this festival perhaps on my way back from Slovakia, so already had looked over the route. I realized that it would be probably be over by the time I got there, so decided to head there first, since it appeared that other hitchers with signs for this festival, had been picked up.

Kuestrin, Poland, Kostryzn is the Polish name of the town.

Kuestrin, Poland, Kostryzn is the Polish name of the town.

Now I held up the sign to go there, with the Polish name of the town.

Kostrzyn Poland

Kostrzyn Poland

Within minutes of making a new sign for Küstrin, Polan (Kostrzyn, Polska) the Woodstock fest, and approaching one car with 3 guys, I learned that they were on their way to Woodstock from Leipzig. They took me along. They were friendly and compatible the whole drive. They offered that I sleep in their car while they slept in their tents, sounded good. Once we arrived to the grounds, they proceeded to unpack their car and set up a table and chairs. I stayed with them, talked, hung out, laughed and we decided eventually to head over towards the festival grounds. Yet as we were about to leave after I’d put my pack in their car, something occurred that caused me to feel uneasy about leaving it there. I grabbed it out of their car and started walking with them as we left. I felt that it was painfully obvious that I was taking it with me. Yet something about the amicable tone had started to morph, I don’t remember exactly what.

Once we started walking, I realized how cumbersome carrying my pack would be. They quickly agreed that I should just leave it in the car. I laughed timidly, confiding that I had had a tinge of not trusting them, as we walked back to lock it inside the car. However, once we started walking again, pretty quickly the tone changed. Two of them walked a few paces ahead of the rest of us, talking quietly to each other. Something about their behavior made me once again feel uncomfortable, as though they were hiding something.

Within the first hours of this 4 day festival, already the parked cars in the fields began mushrooming into a big maze. After walking a quarter mile and getting more and more of a sense that something felt wrong about the situation, we approached a cross-roads. As I was contemplating what to do, suddenly one of the two talking turned around and said, “So, what are you going to do now?” After having wandered through fields of cars and now getting into a thicker crowd, I wondered if I would remember their car if we were separated. I had no phone. Explaining that I’d have to stick by them because my stuff was in their car, the same guy who was no longer smiling but rather short and almost hostile, was confronting me. I had to make a decision fast, we were approaching the gate with a mass of Polish police officers standing in a barricade. I walked away from them and approached a policeman. He didn’t understand German nor English, and acted confused and actually as if I was the person who was the problem. I then turned towards these guys again and said that I wanted to get my bag from their car. Without the slightest hesitation, the friendlier one promptly said he’d walk with me there, while the others stayed behind. I think they were nervous about my action and wanted to get rid of me. Strangely, the guy who had been friendly the whole time, was once again warm and talkative. We wandered through all of the separate car parking lots, and as we approached theirs he asked if I had a lot of money with me. I still wasn’t sure what to expect, thinking that he could even here ‘lose’ me and disappear, but he didn’t. He opened the car and I grabbed my bag without incident. Then instead of just dissing me, he engaged in conversation and we walked back to the same place where his friends waited near this entrance way. I was pretty surprised that he was as friendly and talkative as he was, and actually saying that I should join them, when in fact, I thought that they had been planning to leave me behind and rob me. Ten minutes later we were back by the cops and crowd, where his friends were waiting. I walking about three or four steps with them and within seconds, the friendly guy who was walking and talking with me immediately changed his tone, and was now once again walking side-by-side with the other ring-leader guy. He changed back to being sly and furtive, now that he was back with this other guy who was more of a leader. I was so happy that this drama was over and that I had read their strange behavior and intuited that something strange was happening. And I listening to my gut response and acting quickly. I was now off on my own at this massive gathering, sporting my pack and realizing that I would have to really be alert at a festival with probably already several hundred thousand people, since the combination leaned towards getting ripped off.

Happy to have divested myself from that troubled vibe, I was more than content to come upon the first tent with good sounding beats, where I danced for a while. Later I found a place to sleep under trees and as the sun rose, moved my location to shadows from trees holding off the hot sun. In the morning I wandered towards where the nearby stream was to have a little swim before heading back to negotiate which direction to take towards Krakow.

It was clear that I would miss the pre-gathering in Krakow.

Facebook pre-meet hitchgathering in Krakow

Facebook pre-meet hitchgathering in Krakow

Which I researched closer.

Krakow pre-hitchgathering

Krakow pre-hitchgathering

and made one of my own maps to figure out how to get to this place once arriving in Krakow.
Hand-drawn location of pre-gathering in Krakow.

Hand-drawn location of pre-gathering in Krakow.

Obviously, I missed this Thursday event, since it was Friday already. Once I figured out which direction to go in from the festival, I stood by the road. Across the road I saw two young guys standing and asked them if they were hitching as well, mentioning that I intend to hitch to Krakow. The one explained that they were waiting for his Grandfather to pick them up to have lunch. Confirming my direction, a few minutes later I was just off the road and heard someone call out. I looked up and it was one of these guys holding a map. As I got to the road I saw it was a map of Poland. He not only offered me a ride with his Grandfather, but also I was invited to join them for lunch. I was delighted. We went to a restaurant not far down the road. The two are studying biotechnology in Warsaw. They each spoke fairly good English. We had nice conversation and the Grandfather was very gracious in wanting to treat me to various Polish dishes. It was a very pleasant introduction to warmth of the people of Poland. The grandson firmly stood by his biotechnology choice of study, saying that it gets a bad rap because of the alleged dangers of bio-agriculture. He assured me that this was not true. (I’m one of the people believing that genetic engineering of seeds is by no means proven to be harmless.) After the meal, they let me off at a place along the road where I could begin my hitch to Krakow. The grandson, once again revealing his helpful and proactive nature, came over to talk to the driver of the next car who had stopped immediately. While he spoke with the man, I realized that I’d left my sleeping bag in their car. It was a huge relief to have realized this before they took off and to get it back. When I returned to the other car, as he continued to talk in Polish oblivious to the fact that I couldn’t understand a word, I decided not to drive with him. Thanking him, I got out of the car before he had even began. The two kids and grandfather were already gone. I was unsure of whether to bother making this long trip and stepped off the road. As I walked away, I heard a yell. I approached the van as one guy said he had seen my Krakow sign. The other guy was facing nearby trees taking a leak. When the one said that they were going all the way to – and beyond – Krakow, it was clear that my decision had been made for me.

Both in their mid-thirties, the passenger extended most of the conversation. I felt completely comfortable with them and certainly could communicate better than with the older worker guy whose car I exited. About 40 minutes into this ride that would take about 4 hours, I kept hearing the driver say the same thing. I thought he was saying curve, as he sped along the 2 lane highway, cutting into the middle lane to pass. Oh, there is no real ‘middle lane’, but the Polish style of driving, in which like Russian Roulette, you go for making a pass, hoping that someone in the opposite direction has not also decided to overtake the vehicles in the middle lane from their direction. The center of the high-way of two lanes, becomes the passing lane, literally – splitting the lanes – with some cars driving on to the shoulder to let you pass, and others not. A while into the drive I asked in German what ‘curve (coor vaa) meant. The passenger who was the most talkative, explained that it meant ‘f*$#’ fuck. Not the German word for curve at all. The driver had been swearing about every 6 words.

We were making time, and I was white knuckling it most of the way. It was a fantastically good ride, fast and direct to just outside of Krakow. Despite nervousness about the status-quo Polish driving habits, I felt very comfortable with the two.

Now evening, my last ride from a gas station just on the outskirts of Krakow, was with a polished and professional man who without question gave me a ride. He was dressed very business-like. He works for his mother’s successful hand-painted and hand-blown Christmas ornament business. She had worked for this kind of business during WWII and had lead a strike in her factory against the Russian owners. She was fired, yet wanted to contribute income to her family in addition to her husband. Getting advice and council from her uncle who managed his own similar business, she started out on her own. Her good business skills paid off, with an international business which he and his brother now have taken over. He spoke excellent English and was quite diplomatic.

More to come!! as the evening in Krakow turned out to be delightful…

America in Decline: Built Through a Series of “Great Steals” | written by Louie Davis June, 26 1988 for his ElderHostel students |

I was recently introduced to the following paper, written by Louie Davis for his “Elder Hostel” students on June 26th,1988. Elderhostel  – now called “Road Scholars”  http://www.roadscholar.org/ – provides continued ‘travel education’, offering a wide range of subjects and geographical areas. (It could be that these travel educational voyages are a bit similar to the new trend of expeditionary, as opposed to classroom learning https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/hitchabout-san-francisco_expeditionary_learning). My parents participated numerous times through the years with courses on various subjects, which they’ve valued greatly. It was pointed out to me how strikingly relevant the content of Davis’s paper is, considering it was written in 1988, because many of the issues are facing all of us currently. Davis writes about the decline of the U.S., and the ways in which America rose to power through a series of “Great Steals”. He wrote about issues which he’d researched thoroughly, providing accurate and frighteningly prescient details. He describes problematic situations which were recognized then, which ironically affect our contemporary population now in 2012, and the various mechanisms people (still use) to avoid dealing with an issue. I believe it would be worth everyone’s time to read this, particularly as a presidential election hovers before us. I have typed his paper word-for-word, with the addition of a comma here and there.

Due to the fact that our American two-party system is buttressed by corporate interests and lobbying groups, with each continually rivaling each other, this system continually obstructs progress and any chance of moving in ‘healthy’ directions. I propose developing a (non-partisan) international panel, to oversee with ‘checks and balances’, programs and operations taking place globally. This would be instituted to hold all nations, and their citizens, accountable for shifting production towards building renewable energy and facilitating jobs which move the world in the direction delineated by Davis at the conclusion of his paper. Ironically, this idea was already created, it’s called the United Nations. However, it has become clear that the UN is by no means an egalitarian organization, equally representing each of the different member countries. Rather, it tilts towards the weight of those countries with more wealth and power. Is a non-partisan, incorruptible panel – not tainted by the pressure of corporate greed – possible? Please let me know.

Louie Davis’s letter June, 26 1988:

Dear ElderHostlers,

I received so many expressions of regret that I did not get to finish what I had to say in that last class about current events and the “Relative” Decline of the U.S., that I thought that I would take a few moments to outline my thoughts on that subject.

I do indeed believe that the nation is going into (already in) a decline, relative or not. The following remarks will indicate why I think that we are going into a decline and why I am pessimistic about our ability to reverse it.

I have sometimes characterized the wealth of our nation as being derived from a number of “Great Steals”.

The first Great Steal was the taking, with near genocidal action, of the land from the Indians. I have however been happy that I was not born south of the Rio Grande where the killing of the native population was so much greater, at least in the early years of Spanish rule.

The second Great Steal was the way in which farming methods developed that rapidly destroyed the productivity of the land. Almost simultaneously with the destruction of the land in the eastern colonies was the stealing of black labor from their homelands in Africa. Of course as one studies the history of farming in the USA, one finds that it was not until the dawning of this century that any thought at all was given to conservation of land, and certainly not forest lands. The people of South America, and elsewhere, who are now engaged in the rapid destruction of the rain forests, have a good example through the actions of their earlier North American neighbors.

When I was a CCC boy in Kansas (’36 to ’39), we were facing the destruction of the “bread basket of the world” by dust storms. We, the CCC boys, planted millions of trees along roads and field boundaries to slow down that destruction by providing wind breaks. Those wind breaks have now been largely cut down and plowed up to provide ever larger fields for ever heavier machinery, as ever larger corporations acquired the land for giant nonoculture farming [According to wikipedia; nonoculture is an ecological environment lacking in biodiversity or foundation species, defined as a bastardization of the word monoculture.]  (P.S. The dust is blowing again).

Right now the great Ogallalah aquifer, in Kansas and Nebraska, is on the way to being pumped dry to provide water to support corn farming, which supports giant beef growing operations. Which incidentally cause massive pollution of the rivers. The game, and point of discussion, in places like the Kansas legislature is how to so control the drilling of additional wells to make sure that those who have already invested large sums in such operations, recover their investment by the time the water runs out and forces the farms back to dryland wheat farming.  

This raping of the land was not confined to farmland. The forests were first burned to provide open land to farm between the Great Plains and the Atlantic. With the expanding population, whole states were clear cut and then fires raged uncontrolled, sweeping over vast areas.

As I mentioned, during the Civil war, skills were developed that provided the know how necessary to organize great operations. Those operations were geared to make money by the fastest possible way. The heads of those operations are commonly called “Robber Barons”.

The U.S. became a nation based on the consumption of raw material. During that time, a practice which haunts us even today in the setting of railroad tariffs, came into being. In order to aid the extractive industries, the cost of shipping raw materials, was (and still is) set lower than the cost of shipping finished materials. Today that practice mitigates against the use of recycled materials. The last time I checked, raw sand for bottle factories could be shipped more cheaply than crushed bottles.

The Third Great Steal is being practiced today on a scale too great for most of us to comprehend even if we wanted to do so. The third great steal is very simple: we are stealing the future of our children and grandchildren. In order to pay for the material things for which we have so much desire, and the military buildup that we are told that we must have, we are finding ourselves in the ultimately destructive position of selling the real estate and securities of the U.S.A. to foreign investors. That which we do not sell immediately, is in a great sense mortgaged.

I have read that one securities house in Japan now holds one third of the debt of the US federal government. (At this point let me urge you to read a fiction story called “The Panic of ’89” by Erdman. It will grab you.) One of the reasons that the U.S.A. is hated by the Central Americans is that they were held in commercial fiefdomship by American companies such as United Fruit. In much the same way, we are already beginning to hate Japan, but we owe our souls to the company (Japanese) store.

One has only to look at the sad state of American manufacturing to note the real effects of our decline. Not only are many countries producing goods cheaper than we are, but they are also producing them better. Even if Japanese cars are produced in the U.S.A., they are perceived to be better built than identical ones bearing American names, built in the same factory, which will sell in the U.S. for higher prices than the identical American named models. In a high tech business, American computer chip manufacturing companies complained that Japanese companies were dumping chips in the U.S. at unreasonably low prices. So an anti-dumping order was promulgated. The prices were trebled and the result was that the American companies could not match the import quality, and right now there is a shortage of those chips on the American market awaiting better American quality.

Much of the blame for such troubles can be laid at the door of American CEO’s. For example, GE got out of many engineering and manufacturing businesses because Jack Welch said “that is not the kind of business I want to be in”. In the process, he laid off 132,000 employees and became a giant financial, insurance and leasing operation. (Perhaps I should note: he laid off 131,999 and me.) During that time GE was paying no federal taxes. Reagan believed lowering taxes on giant corporations would give them resources to generate new products and hire more employees.

It is easy for us to look back and note the destruction of the environment by our forebears. The present destruction that is going on is viewed in a number of ways.

Way 1) It is not happening, at least we must do a few years and a few million (or more) dollars of scientific research to prove that it is going on. The damage to our environment due to acid rain is a case in point. The Reagan administration has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that acid rain is harming our environment. Years ago even when I was in high school, I was taught that the man-made acid in the rain was a recognized destroyer of marble art works and of limestone buildings and structures such as bridges.

Way 2) It is just a theory. For years, scientists have been concerned about the so called “greenhouse effect” that quite likely will destroy the climate as we know it. The problem here, is that we all are the problem and we can not bear to blame ourselves. We cannot blame the problem on a set of robber barons, they merely supply us with the things we want, which either burn fossil fuels or were manufactured by the use of fossil fuels. Scientists are getting more positive with every passing month that we are moving into the opening years of the “greenhouse effect”. I have recently read that, yes indeed, the ocean is starting to rise, the glaciers are receding and the world wide data on temperature indicates that 1987 was a record setter for being a warm earth. Indications are that the decade of the 1980’s may well be the hottest decade on record.

The problem is that the green house effect is the result of the dumping of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The varying concentration of carbon dioxide is a much easier thing to measure than the change in temperature of the earth. Of course, there are those who will argue that the case is not yet certain. Perhaps the oceans will suddenly develop a greater capability of absorbing the excess carbon dioxide than it seems to have.

How great a risk do we want to take that our great Midwest will turn into a desert and prime farm land will be pushed north into Canada and the USSR?

Should we be starting NOW to develop sustainable, renewable energy supplies?

Way 3) We think it is happening. A corollary to the green house effect is the loss of the ozone layer. The ozone layer is necessary to absorb the ultra violet light radiated by the sun, before it strikes the surface of the earth. There has been a lot of talk about the danger to humans from skin cancer due to the extra UV in the sun if the ozone layer is badly depleted. There has been little talk of the greater threat to non human forms of life, both plant and animal. How will we screen the UV from the fields of plants that are the primary source of our food? The problem is that we want the things that the CFC’s are used in, such as air conditioners, or to help to make such items as foam food trays at the butcher shop. Since the chlorine in the CFC’s act as catalyst to break down the ozone, the amount of chlorine already in the stratosphere will stay there for many years destroying the ozone. Only time will tell how close to the brink, or how far over the brink we already are.

I hope that the U.S.A. will see the giant problems facing us in the present and near future and once again call upon sufficient organizational skills, finances and engineering genius to stave off the really grim elements of the future and again demonstrate that we are and can be #1.

CONCLUSION:

WE MUST START THE EDUCATIONAL STEPS IN THE SCHOOLS, IN THE UNIVERSITIES AND IN THE MEDIA TO RE-EDUCATE THE AVERAGE AMERICAN THAT WE CAN AND MUST BECOME TECHNOLOGICALLY COMPETITIVE IN MANUFACTURING.

WE MUST ELIMINATE TO A VERY GREAT EXTENT THE USE OF FOSSIL FUELS.

WE MUST START NOW MANUFACTURING AND PUTTING IN PLACE SOLAR, WIND, LOW HEAD HYDRO, PASSIVE HEATING AND COOLING, HIGHER EFFICIENCY IN ALL OF OUR MACHINERY, APPLIANCES, CARS, HOMES, OFFICES, ETC.

Question:

How can a nation burdened with a backbreaking debt, both public and private, hope to turn the situation around? Being by nature a pessimist, unless I see some reason for hope, I doubt that we can avoid a continual decline into disaster. I am not at all convinced that a nation which prides itself on never responding until a full blown crisis has developed, can make the adjustments to move back into the position of leadership which we have enjoyed. I doubt that we will be able to so change our habits and our lives [in order to] avoid the natural disasters which the U.S.A., with it’s unlimited appetite for an easy good life, always taking the quick way to self gratification has/will help to bring on. I see no indication in the attitude of our voters that we will ever vote in a government that can call a spade a spade and get the unified support of the people.

In closing, I would appreciate rebuttals, additions, comments, praises or condemnations from all who have had the patience to read this through.





-.-.-.–.-.- End to Louie Davis’s letter June, 26 1988 -.-.-.-.-.-.-
Green Machine
Those Who Don’t Learn from History are Destined to Repeat It

350.org attempt to educate people presently, about the need to reduce the number of particles per million of CO2 to 350 million.

Here’s an article that I was just alerted to, regarding tapping into offshore wind turbines to power the East coast. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/15/13864179-power-east-coast-via-wind-doable-with-144000-offshore-turbines-study-says “There’s zero fuel costs once they’re in the water,” he said. “Coal and gas are depletable resources, so their cost will inevitably go up over time. The cost of wind energy will remain stable, and the wind resource is infinite.”

United States of Amnesia

¡ Another history lesson in a hitchabout !

I once again enjoyed a fun and informative hitchabout, crossing most of Germany; from Berlin in the northeast to south of Tübingen, a few hours from the Swiss border, ’bout 695 km. I had last summer gone from this same destination on to Zürich, which was a very brief trek in comparison.

This time I left on Friday the 25th of February and returned on Monday the 28th. I had prepared a bit the evening before my departure, yet only really was sure that I’d be making the trip as of 8am that morning. Spontaneity, when you can get away with it, is a wondrous thing! The last time I had waited at this same departure spot, at the entrance to the autobahn in Berlin in pouring rain for hours with no luck; when my cardboard signs literally disintegrated in my hands from moisture. This time it was once again a bit tough to get a ride (not much chance for people to make a decision when they have only 30 seconds to assess the situation) however, I believe that part of hitching is being assured, knowing, that the right person will come along eventually, and that with patience, these are the rides to wait for!!

Funny thing, is that about when I was really questioning if I was going to get a ride at all, suddenly a van pulled over, prominently stopping next to me on the road that normally is streaming with traffic, many of the people already speeding up in anticipation of getting on the highway. The van was full of people, I thought, okay, so at least they feel ‘safe’ having me as a passenger, when I’m quite outnumbered. It turns out, that Manfred was driving a group of 5 individuals, all of whom were connected via http://www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de (an organized ride service, which in the last years has become completely online-connecting drivers and passengers in Germany) to be dropped off at various places en route to Stuttgart, near to his destination. He said to me immediately, if he had not seen my sign (Nürnberg on one side, Stuttgart on the other), he would not have stopped. Ah, so I was prepared and fortunate!

Most of the passengers were 20 somethings, sleeping during most of the 5 hour or so trip. I was really fortunate, since this ride would take me across Germany, 9/10th of my trip, to within an hour and a bit of my destination. One guy sitting next to me, preparing for potentially taking a civilian job working in either Central America or India, had printed out a bunch of wikipedia text about India the night before. I wound up reading this, in German, the bulk of the trip, and realized pages into the text, that I was beginning to learn the meanings of words, just by virtue of seeing them several times in context.

It was after most of the people had departed in Würzberg, that I sat in the middle seats, close enough to chat with the driver as well as another girl passenger, who just joined via the ride link, on her way to Stuttgart. We conversed cheerfully. He dropped me off at a gas station, along a smaller highway en route to my destination.

I was still in the southern edge of Stuttgart, it was dark already, and most of the people were not traveling far. I was surprised when after approaching about 15 driver’s of cars at this small gas station, when a woman passenger actually didn’t abruptly shake her head “no”, but gestured that the driver was inside. Then the driver whom I approached, answered without hesitation, sure, he could give me a ride. I was rather astounded, after all of the other people were smiling, but shaking their heads no, as most of them were just returning home after work. It turns out that these two were Russians, both born in Kazakhstan. Alexander was 10 when he arrived with his family to Germany, and identifies with being a German native. Julia, had been here 9 years, and wasn’t sure what the future would bring, but seemed to be content to presently settle in Germany. They were not a couple, which is another reason that they did offer me the ride.

Alexander drove very fast in his Audi, with a brightly lit paneled dashboard. He works in finance, real estate, and appears to work a lot, in various different parts of mostly southern Germany. He wound up actually using his GPS unit to plug in the exact address I was going to, and dropped me off in front of the door of my destination. That was after I had feared being stranded in Stuttgart, 45 minutes or so from where I was traveling to. Julia had said something to Alexander in Russian, and I asked, what did she say? Neither of them spoke English. He translated into German, she said, “you’re going to get a halo, because you’re such an angel”. So, he must be frequently going out of his way to do nice things for people. I hugged them both as I was leaving. I was so happy and relieved to be there, and delighted to meet them!

On my return trip, Monday morning, it was a guy in a “smart car” who works for a theater in Stuttgart, who picked me up for my first ride. He builds sets. He dropped me off at a corner in Tübingen, realizing that there was no appropriate place to drop me off in Stuttgart, without dragging me into the center of town, which would be completely the wrong place to be stuck. So, I stood at this traffic light, along a place where people could see me and pull onto a side street, waiting in the sunshine…and minutes later, a car pulled over in front of me. Out hopped, unbelievably, the same guy who had given me the ride 3 days before, Alexander, from Kazakhstan. I thought that this was absolutely amazing, that the synchronicity of this was pretty astounding. He was pretty surprised as well. He lives near Ingolstadt, a city between Munich and Nürnberg, famous because they manufacture Audi’s. Normally Alexander returns on Sunday evenings, but this time was only leaving Monday morning, and was already running behind schedule. Wow, my angel had returned, and he drove like the devil ‘-)

He was on his way to several appointments. Turns out he’s 28 years old. Seems to be very busy with his career, working a lot. He was going to be driving across the south to a town along the A9, a north-south highway going to Berlin. So I had a couple hours to ride with him, from Baden-Würrtermberg (an area with many Swäbish specialties, of which Stuttgart is a part) to Bavaria (and we all know that much of what Bavaria is about is beer). Had a number of phone calls he made connecting his iPhone to his GPS, conveying and retrieving information. We talked when he wasn’t on the phone. He left me with a German saying that says something to the effect of “Don’t hold tight onto that which you can’t hold on to”. “Halt nicht fest was man nicht fest halten kann.” Excuse my imperfect German representation! He said he had gotten married and had a baby at 20 years old, and had to grow up very fast. He’s already taking care of both parents to an extent. He also firmly believes, with an obvious extreme amount of confidence in himself, that “a person can achieve whatever it is that they want, they merely must want it”. I got his card this time around, and will email him to tell him thanks.

He left me off at this place that was not very far away from Ingolstadt. I waited at this turn off point that was not exactly the entrance to the autobahn, but from where I could see the traffic on the highway streaming along a few km. away. Many people passing by me were local cars, with local license plates. In Germany, the cars are not identified and distinguished from the States they are from, but the towns. With a single letter indicating the first letter of the larger cities, and the more letters coupled with the first, demonstrating the size of the towns, in a hierarchy of diminishing size. Finally, a man who has worked at this military airport nearby, picked me up. He clarified why I’d seen a number of vehicles with Y on their license plates, with people inside wearing army camouflage clothing. He explained that there’s a military airport nearby. He was pleasant, and brought me to a much better place, this time within yards of the entrance to the autobahn. His name was Fritz. I saw a new feature in the landscape in this area. As opposed to the tiered rows of grapes planted on steep, hilly vineyards in what I’m perhaps erroneously calling “Swabiland”, here were these netted string like apparatus, that Fritz explained are for drying hops, for the more beer oriented Bavarian region.

Okay, well, there was another person in the mix for a short ride, which I can’t remember where it was, he was Rami, originally from Syria. He was as well a pleasant person, with whom I conversed, though briefly.

I was standing at a gas station somewhere I believe outside of Ingolstadt, wondering who I was going to get a ride with, often glancing at people’s license plates to get an indication of what direction they were going. I had been inside the service station to look at a map and thought that I had heard English, but hadn’t turned around to give it much notice. Then, out walked a guy in his 30’s with a wool hat on, returning to his car packed with stuff, and a license plate I hadn’t recognized. I rather unceremoniously held up my sign, expecting him to be going elsewhere, and was almost startled when he said, “bis du alein?” “are you alone”. Suddenly responsive, I nodded hopefully, yes. I wasn’t sure if I was holding the Nürnberg or Berlin side of my sign up. Amazingly, he was a Polish guy, driving all the way back to Poland, via Berlin. Wow! I really couldn’t quite believe this, because this was a significant trek, like over 500 km, taking me all of the way back.

This easy going, pleasant guy named Szyman, from Warsaw, Poland explained that he’s done a lot of hitch hiking, so naturally he didn’t hesitate to return the favor. We conversed the entire time (this time in English 😉 with mostly him talking, in response to my continuous questions, probes and comments. I was keenly interested in the subject matter and taking notes 🙂 The 5 hour journey, covering about 513 km, seemed to just fly by. I was completely attuned and inspired much of the time with the content of our conversation.

Before entering the car, I immediately saw ski boots tucked in between several plastic containers loaded with things. He was clearing out the front passenger seat and floor, where I saw Dolomite ski brochures. I quickly learned that he was returning from a ski camp he organizes for kids from Poland, with the car packed with teaching equipment. This had taken place in Italy. The kids were returning on a bus to Poland, and he had taken some extra days to ski at some new potential locations. I told him that I’d been a ski instructor for kids at Taos, in New Mexico among other places, and that there, one guy (shout out to Laef) had opened up a pizza place called “Dolomite Pizza”, which had put the Italian Dolomite mountains on the map for me! He said that most of the places that he scouts, are located in Italy, along branches of the Alps, because it’s considerably more mild for holding a ski camp for kids there, as opposed to the typical harsher weather conditions in Austria and Switzerland.

He researches the locations, scouts them out, skis the terrain, books the resorts, organizes the kids groups – some Kindergarten age and others teenagers – and teaches skiing. He said that he had done this part-time for years, going on week stints to teach kids skiing in the past several years, then started this past summer full time for this group. At this point, he’s realizing that he’s getting a bit burned out from it, because he puts an enormous amount of time into it and has a lot of responsibility, with not such a great financial reward. I told him that this past winter I had been considering getting a job in a Swiss resort I randomly picked, Verbier. That I’d applied to 40 or 50 jobs, and that they mostly asked if I had a EU passport; which weeded out the positive responses. I mentioned that it was September when I’d applied, to which he said that really, the time to apply for the coming winter season is in June. I mentioned that I was quite excited and enthused about the prospect of working for this kids “ski – sports and language camp” with one of their bases in Verbier. This camp brings together my love of skiing, sports, languages and communication with people, into one bundle. Anyway, I realize now that if I really want to try to make this happen in the future, that I will have to apply in mid-summer.

Szyman’s spoke pretty much flawless English, and it was great hearing stories about this job. He had worked at Whistler Peak for a year, several hours from Vancouver in Canada, which I knew about from the ski pipeline back in Taos, as being an excellent mountain with a lot of vertical. He said that if he would ever consider living abroad as an expatriate, he would consider Vancouver. But pointed out that because of the language difference, stemming from the nuances of understanding and shared experience about an area that people who have grown up in the same culture take for granted, that he wasn’t so sure that he’d want to live in another culture, where one is estranged from the nuances in humor, and so forth.

He said that now he’s thinking about what other work he may like to do, and because he always tinkered with things with his hands as a kid, he’s thinking that he might like to shape his own skis. After a several year period, he’s created his first pair of home made skis. Mentioned that in the US., in Colorado for example, there are a number of little shops who build their own custom skis. His intention wouldn’t be to mass market them, but would be content to make maybe 50 pairs a year or something. That sounds like a lot! I said that “hey, you are fortunate to have the luxury to “choose” changing careers and so forth.” and he agreed. yeah, many people in the world don’t have such fortune!

He mentioned that he’ll be traveling to Vietnam for the first time in the spring, and already booked a quite cheap ticket from Warsaw to Hong Kong with a Russian airline. And also mentioned the few places he would like to ski in his lifetime, among them, on the island of Hokkaido Japan, at a resort called Niseko.

Though Szyman seemed to be quite knowledgeable about a lot of things, having studied International Relations, he particularly knew a lot about the different tribes and territories that were later embraced by the Russian Empire. I believe that this was mostly the area he had concentrated on in his studies. He’d visited the Balkans and had lived for a year in Kazakhstan. He’s quite familiar with the various Turkic states in Central Asia such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Armenia…and the Caucuses; of which Cechnya, Georgia and Azerbaijan are a part. He mentioned that the Caucuses have predominantly three religious groups; the Muslims, Greek Orthodox (perhaps) and Christian. The Caucuses had been a region of war during the Ottoman Empire, which had reigned for 6 centuries, from 1299 to 1922, and spread over three continents.

He talked of the Silk Road which passed through the Caucuses area, explaining that it wasn’t just one road, but in fact a number of trades routes that passed through the area coming from Southeast Asia, China and India, often through an area of the Caucuses.

With more wars in the area later, during the Austrian Hungarian Empire.

At one point Szyman spoke of Tito’s Yugoslavia, and the Serbian Croatian war, mentioning how things changed when NATO becoming involved in the conflict.

We discussed and denounced government oppression, those who deprive their citizens of freedom of information. Poland, which since the end of World War II, also created a citizenry of people who had for years been dominated by fear and disinformation; sharing the Eastern Bloc mentality of not having the ‘spirit’ to create something new. They have for so long not had the privilege to choose or right to think for themselves…that eventually the entrepreneurial spirit and motivation to create, is sucked out of the populace. After years living in a centralized government system, in which most of one’s basic needs are taken care of and wherein a person doesn’t really having to compete or struggle to create something new, inspiration somewhat vanishes. We also conversed about the various nobility in different regions and city states of Europe, and how often very harsh and violent the relationships were, even within the families themselves. He mentioned a good Russian movie from the 1940’s that described how bloody the history of “Ivan the Terrible”. The movie “Ivan” seemed to quite accurately depict this.

“His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into a multiethnic state spanning almost one billion acres, approximately 4,046,856 km2 (1,562,500 sq mi). Ivan oversaw numerous changes in the transition from a medieval nation state to an empire and emerging regional power, and became the first Tsar of a new and more powerful nation.”

Hey, this was a long ride as a passenger, covering subjects I’m interested in, yet obviously a neophyte in terms of my own knowledge! Somewhere within our conversation we talked about the differences between the French and German languages. French having more words that express things in refined detail; maybe because it was the nobility and privileged class that already had more education and exposure to the finer, more detailed things in life…..as French was once the diplomatic language.

Among the many topics we discussed, we meandered into the those of film and books…He suggested the book written by Norman Davies “Europe: A History” as very worthwhile, to gain information on the subjects we’d been discussing. Somehow this music group, Porcupine Tree, that created an album called “Fear of a Blank Planet”.

We also got into the subject of the psyberpunk genre of writers. He mentioned the writer William Gibson

Here’s a short blurb by Timothy Leary, describing the cyber punks of different ages.

When I asked what his girlfriend does, he said that she had previously worked for the foundation that her mother created, which provides a healthy space for wholesome activities, during the period of time after school and before the parents get home from work. At this location, less fortunate, impoverished kids who maybe have emotional or family problems and not such great role models, can learn new things and new perspectives. His girlfriend has since learned ART, and focused on being a teacher in this. ART, which he mentioned is an acronym for “Aggression Replacement Training“, actually has nothing to do with art nor music therapy, nor theoretical psychology which digs into a person’s past. It’s instead a “hands on”, pragmatic and practical approach to helping people cope, with alternatives other than violence, which perhaps they’re more accustomed to. With new tools and insights, these youths and adults can learn to change their aggressive behavior. Giving people a different way to cope, rather than their tendencies and habits of responding with violence and aggression. According to wikipedia, a program with three components: introducing people to social skills, anger control training and moral reasoning.

My last ride, literally within walking distance of Berlin (around 20 miles) from the highway on the periphery of the city, was from the gas station where Szymon left me off as he headed East to Poland. The first person I asked before I even got my bag out of the car, upon seeing a B on the license plate, was an African man. I asked if I could catch a ride back to Berlin from there, the last leg of my journey. I hadn’t seen that he had a wife and baby in the car when I’d asked him. He was going inside to pay, and I assumed that this would be a No-Go. However, when he returned to the car, he actually leaned in and mentioned something to his girlfriend/wife, and she promptly responded by getting out of the passenger seat to let me in the back seat, next to their sleeping toddler of 3 years or something. They spoke German and English. She was German, born in Berlin. He was from Monrovia, in Liberia. Founded in 1882, Monrovia, the capital, was named after the US. President, James Monroe he told me. I read later, because he was a supporter of the colonization of Liberia.

He informed me that it was a German immigrant, John Roebling, who was the engineer who built the Brooklyn Bridge among several other suspension bridges, and that his wife was a self taught engineer, who helped finish the construction of one of the bridges, when her husband died before it was completed.

My rambling from one, to another subject (as this is often how conversations evolve) and event, is now at the end!

And coming up in the next blog, looking into ‘a causal’ and ‘non locality’ principles and some other mysterious things that occur in the breadth of consciousness…a quantum leap into being!