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

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Factory Outlet by George Monbiot posted in the Guardian | Expeditionary Learning

Mass conformism through propaganda. George Monbiot’s words continue to pierce me with his insights.

http://www.monbiot.com/2017/02/16/factory-outlet/

Posted in the Guardian 16th of February, 2017

He talks of the educational conformism that drains teacher’s and students of creativity, and speaks of several systems that move away from the old model, that was designed to produce workers in the 19th century industrialist cultures we lived in.

One educational model that stood out to me, the Reggio Emilia approach, is only because I happened to visit there when I hitchhiked from Berlin to southern Germany, destination Rome.

It was just today that I took a picture of this Expeditionary Learning description on the wall of an 8th grade bi-lingual school science class here in Santa fe.

Expeditionary Learning, hands-on learning, all senses on

Expeditionary – hands and all senses on – Learning

Reminding me of a blog I wrote, after discovering the concept on a hitchhiking journey in which two teachers coming from a conference picked me up and informed me about it.

Why kids need to move, touch, experience to learn, Expeditionary Learning

Why kids need to move, touch and experience to learn Expeditionary Learning

Carol the blogger, Italians, Reggio Emilia, Italian Hitchabout

Carol the blogger among Italians in Reggio Emilia on Italian Hitchabout


Carol Keiter, aka nomadbeatz, welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

Carol the blogger's contact card while residing here in the southwest for the time being.

Carol the blogger’s contact card while residing here in the southwest for the time being.

Carol Keiter the blogger back in Tucson, Arizona summer '16

Carol Keiter the blogger back in Tucson, Arizona summer ’16

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Spring Solstice ’11 Hitchabout | There are No accidents |

It’s taken a while to write about this, but as the title suggests, I had to absorb a few other pieces of information and experiences, which have effectively contributed to the telling of this tale.

An interesting aspect of the beginning of my hitch, is that from within moments of approaching my “starting point”, the clouds burst into a sudden downpour of rain. Ha, nice timing, I thought. I was amused with this, and also relieved to know that there was ahead a bridge under which I could stand, and still be next to the flow of traffic. Though it took a substantial (to the point of ridiculous) amount of time to get the first ride, as in a previous hitch, it was with people who had organized a ride online via mitfahrgelegendheit.

The driver and rider were going to Stuttgart, which was written on one of my signs. Seeing this, they spontaneously decided to include me in on the ride. This would take me 9/10th of my way! Getting to my destination involved only two rides. The second driver went out of his way to bring me precisely to the doorstep, of my destination.

I like to make a friendly play on the letters of the signs, by forming a kind of smiley face with the umlaut.

The return trip was more consequential, I found. Of course, everything one experiences, has to do with the way one chooses to interpret it. Though it involved 4 times as many rides and took me hundreds of kilmeters out of my way, it introduced a lot more information which I deemed relevant and actually, life changing.

Now wait, first the context. I was leaving a guy [drum roll or yawn] with ambivalent emotions – sadness, hopes and fears – whom I have adored, who isn’t exactly reciprocal in his admiration of me.

The first ride which occurred promptly within two minutes; a tall, handsome, fashionably dressed guy in sleek leather pants; warm, smiling, driving a British car which I noticed had a very cool interior design. Often I don’t notice dress or the exterior of machines, unless something is outstandingly beautiful or ugly. ha! Talkin’ about the material world. Michael, born in the vicinity, was on his way to work as a speech therapist. He was pleasant, and we had a nice conversation in that short duration of time until he was heading into Stuttgart, beyond a reasonable place to drop me off.

The next ride, who fortunately stopped at a rather inconvenient place, was Caner. I have to point out, that I get a lot of double and triple takes from the pedestrians who are not accustomed to seeing someone hitch hiking. I enjoy looking at the people commuting on bike, strolling of all ages, backgrounds. Though Caner was heading as well into Stuttgart, I spontaneously opted to get in the car, figuring I’d deal with where he would let me off, when the time comes to make that decision. He was also handsome, around the same age as the last driver, early 30’s. He’s was as distinctively ethnic, as he was well dressed and polished looking. Of Turkish decent, Caner is an insurance broker, whose German based company deals with high-risk. We also had a pleasant conversation the whole time. I’m interested in a lot of things, and have learned bits and pieces about a lot of topics; having lived in a lot of places and worked in jobs ranging from; being a sous chef and waitress in restaurants in Washington D.C. to slinging out lattés in espresso bars, to working in the administrative end of finance and industrial utility companies during the years I worked peripherally in the corporate world in San Francisco (temporarily an Executive Assistant in Charles Schwab) to teaching skiing. At the Ski Valley in Taos, New Mexico, my workday started in the glaring snow within pristine mountains at an elevation of about 9,500 feet = 2895 meters. By the way, it was while working at Taos Ski Valley that I saw a sign hanging on the wall, which has indefinitely been a theme in my life which I’ve wanted to aspire to ” Make your work your play, and your play your work”.

Though I have been warned previously about ‘getting stuck in the middle of Stuttgart’ or any city for that matter, as opposed to remaining on the highway en route to one’s destination, I followed Caner’s judgment. Upon leaving him, I walked over to the other side of the street, within the city perimeter, but close to the edge, at a point where the entrance to the highway was not that far removed. He’d seen other people hitching there, it has a place for people to pull over. I had a nice view from this hill, looking into the town beyond.

By virtue of a previous hitchhiking trip, I had studied and memorized (via a German atlas) all of the German States/Länder and some of the cities residing in them.

It was sunny, relatively mild, and I was, so I’m told, in the most conservative city and state in Germany. I didn’t let that dissuade my spirit. In not too long of a time, a woman with a smiling face pulled over. Gaby, Gabriele, was warm, friendly and had a sparkle in her voice; a delightful spirit. She explained she was on her way to a point on the highway where she could let me off, yet actually in the direction of Munich, southeast. I wanted to go north. I didn’t care, I took the ride to get out of the town. This proved to be a pivotal ride, in that she spoke about a lot of things that were quite relevant to what I had been feeling and ‘going through’. As two females together, we drifted into the topic of ‘relationships’ and the emotional aspects of life; as opposed to business and commerce!

I eventually informed her why I was there, and as I started to go into a few more details about my relationship, she responded to certain things I mentioned with a lot of comments. She elaborated about her own experiences in a previous relationship. Basically, without prying, but just responding honestly, the conversation started drawing out a lot of my emotions. In my fatigued state and within just hours of leaving my friend, tears started to well in my eyes. I felt that it was uncanny that this woman and her messages, which resonated as quite enlightening, had suddenly appeared. I pointed out to her that I appreciated what she was expressing and felt that it was strangely synchronistic in timing, that she picked me and had so much to contribute with her insights. To this she responded, “there are no accidents”. I believe she was coming from a Christian perspective, which mirrored my own spiritual one; believing that intention attracts that which will reflect it. Her points, after revealing ‘herstory’ as opposed to ‘history’, was that a person must first love him/her self, before being able to love someone else. And that it is each of our responsibility to follow the route which allows us to be happy. She pointed out that I appear to have “a high tolerance for suffering”, which is an exercise in futility, in a world designed for us to aspire to be happy and fulfilled, as a measure of well-being.

There’s nothing cool or admirable about resisting this, because a person can not inspire, help or serve other members of the human community, if he/she isn’t aiming to be at his/her best and feeling their best, physically and emotionally. Incidentally, this specific point was talked about in this video I just checked out, a PBS feature of Wayne Dyer talking about “The Power of Intention

Speaking of intention, the next ride was with a young man, Dieter who lives in Munich. At this point, I was without question, heading south and east, going several hundred kilometers out of my way. Rather than getting closer to Berlin, I was on my way to Munich, in Bavaria. Dieter talked continuously. Said that he had decided at the age of 25 that he better start concentrating on how he was going to make his living in this world. He then moved to Munich/München, the financial and publishing hub of Germany, with the intent of finding work. Starting with a job at a “call center” after moving to this wealthy business center, he subsequently changed jobs and applied the skills he learned to work within the call center department of the large US technology firm, Insight, which works adjacently in the same technology solutions as Microsoft. He recognized while working there, the corporate, culture clashes between the American company and the German ways of doing things, and bounced out to start his own company. As the geschäftsführer / managing director of his company, it proved to be so successful in establishing contracts for businesses, installing Microsoft systems, that the giant Microsoft itself, was forced to contend with this little player. They negotiated a contract with his company, in order to participate rather than compete, in their European business strategies and operations. He is young, proud and now has 17 employees, doing what he loves as the primary sales person.

With respect to business sales, he talked of the need to not only establish a rapport with the administrative department directors, but specifically with the technical liaison person, who with their technical knowledge and expertise, is the primary ‘obstacle’ – the person to convince that implementing this system is worth their while. Dieter spoke enthusiastically the entire time, and wound up driving me through the heart of Munich to take me to a place on the autobahn north of the city on the A9, where all traffic will lead to points north. The great thing, is that now I had a personal tour guide who was able to elaborate on the various architectural icons, which are at the core of this city’s history. Having missed the skyline of palaces and religious institutions, instead my attention was drawn to business and commerce architectural feats we were driving by. “The Olympic Stadium“, a vast tent like structure which was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics. The tower of the “BMW Headquarters” and “BMW Museum”. The new sports facility, “The Allianz Arena“, which lights up in the evening with a color corresponding to which ‘home’ team is playing there that night. As an aside, funny how sports arenas are branded with the financial God (Dog spelled backwards) who forked out the money, i.e. the stadium in San Francisco, CA is “AT&T Park”.

Munich is home to several professional football teams, including FC Bayern sports club. This stadium was among those central to the World Cup in 2006. The stadium looks like a big padded bubble, branded throughout with Allianz who funded it. “Allianz’s” global headquarters is based in Munich. It’s ‘the’ insurance company of insurance companies; which insures, insurance companies. 😉 Not bad, in terms of prestige among the heavy-weights in the multinational court. With a global presence and certainly many subsidiary off-shoots, they are the second largest international insurance and financial services organization in the world. I just read that Allianz AG was founded in Berlin in 1890 and shifted its headquarters to Munich in 1949. Uhh, and there’s some bad press in wiki alluding to Third Reich affiliations.

Well, as it is March, I missed the Oktoberfest and Hofbräuhaus, signatures of this town…and hadn’t known that Siemens is based there. Nor had I realized that the “Max Planck Society” is headquartered in Munich, with dozes of institutes in the city (from astrophysics to biochemistry to quantum optics), and branches all over Germany as well as in Rome and the US. Incidentally, Max Planck is considered the founder of quantum theory.

This brings me circling back to Wayne Dyer, who in his presentation regarding his book “The Power of Intention”, mentions two people who influenced him; Max Planck and Carlos Castañeda. Carlos Castañeda influenced me as well, when in fact, I once decided not to continue with a university course in Economics, because I found it to be so wrong, and against my beliefs of what is important. Keynes spearheaded a revolution in economic thinking.  In this blog, https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/spring-soltice-11-hitchabout-there-are-no-accidents/ I pointed out the writings of the economist John Maynard Keynes which resounded with me, in this article written in Monde Diplio (the English online version of Monde Diplomatique. Dyer quoted Planck accepting his Nobel Prize; “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clearheaded science, the study of matter, I can tell you that as a result of my research into atoms; there is no matter, as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force, the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter. ” I mention this, because it substantiates the fact, that there are no coincidences, ‘shit happens’, for a reason 😮

Dieter left me off with a smile and his business card. The next ride which arrived swiftly, was another attractive, professional man, Uli, short for Ulrich, who lives East of Munich, not far from Salzburg, Austria. He’s involved in Management and Leadership training. I was intent on probing and discussing with him aspects of his work. We chatted during the duration. Uli has a wife and several kids and loves the land and nature where he lives.

I was cordially left off by him at another large rest stop/gas/restaurant station along the A9, where I waited for only a short time, before another young guy dressed in business attire asserted that he could give me a ride, while talking on his cell phone. His name was Philippe; young, professional, cute and smart guy (what’s up with that 😉 whose mother is French and father a German university professor. We spoke a bit in both languages, though he’s quite capable in English, and has lived in both Munich, Germany and France. He’s a headhunter for high level personnel with legal aptitude and expertise; hiring them for large international corporate clients. He had studied international relations and law, with a minor in Asian studies. Sensing that Asia will be the next global business power, he had done his thesis on this topic. He illustrated this idea mentioning that in the 19th Century, the world was ‘Euro Centric’, in the 20th, ‘America’ was the focal point and in the 21st C, by virtue of population numbers alone as well as growing industry, by mid century ‘Asia Pacific’ will be dominant.

Philippe has lived and worked in Singapore, where he was planning to move the following week, to begin a new job within the same company he had worked in previously. I queried whether he might feel isolated or insulated living in an Asian country as a European, to which he pointed out that there are large numbers of expatriates there. He said he has a number of Singaporian friends as well. According to wiki; the population of Singapore has the sixth-highest percentage of foreigners globally, just over forty percent. I hadn’t known that, nor that English is one of their official languages, next to Malay and Mandarin. I did however have an inkling that it’s a modern and technologically sophisticated country, as a lot of countries in Southeast Asia appear to be. He pointed out that if he was in need of an operation, he wouldn’t hesitate to trust the medical system there, as much or more than in the Western World.

His unique perspective from what he’s studied and having lived in the country previously, introduced to me a new way of looking at things. He mentioned that from the Western point of view, Singapore might appear to have a harsh penal system, but then, people do learn their lesson and are effectively thwarted from going against the law. I know that vast numbers of young black men are jailed in the United States, which is a huge financial racket in itself, in which ‘correction’ and rehabilitation often are not a part of the process. One can’t really judge a system in a sweeping glance.

Philippe spoke of Democracy, as having very different interpretations in different places, and the fact that you can’t try to just force or stamp a country with a democratic system, and think that it’s going to stick. Another way of looking at this, is to realize that a people’s core beliefs, influence how they will interpret things. For example, whether they value the individual as having the highest authority, or the group/state. Indicating that the Chinese philosopher “Confucious” had a system of ethics and rules of behavior which centered on the group and relationships, as opposed to the individual, Philippe went on to show some more examples of how even a system that appears ‘socialist’ on the outside, can in effect manifest a democratic process in their decisions, even when in fact the majority of the people are voting to maintain something, that is ‘better for the group’. In light of this fact in the Asian world, democracy plays out differently. He mentioned that when the government of Singapore had wished to modernize in their attitudes, and introduced a more liberal law, that in fact most of the population resisted. Philippe pointed out, that this in fact demonstrated more of a true democratic process, in light of the fact that the majority ruled against something that the Government wished to proactively impose, which would have given individuals more supremacy. It’s quite a contrast to the huge influence that money and power have to sway the ‘democratic process’ in the United States system of “Corpocrisy” (my coined term).

Having studied Cultural Anthropology and had a growing interest in business, global politics and environmental affairs, I found this ride incredibly informative and valuable. I did have one more ride for two highway station stops, with an elderly man who spoke next to nothing, to whom I mirrored and returned the favor of silence 😉 The last ride was with several young Berliner guys returning after working at a book conference in Leipzig. After I’d been dropped off by them at an S-Bahn station, I was still carrying my “Berlin” sign, when some guy (who was with a few people inline skating around cones they set up in the concrete underground highway underpass) jokingly pointed out to me, “hey, you’re (already) In Berlin”!

Destination 2 rides, return, ’bout 8, but with a ridiculous amount of new information to pack into the experience!

“When you change the way that you look at things, the things you look at change.”

¡ 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!