I am currently on the road, hitchhiking around the world shooting a documentary, or twelve. I am hoping to inspire those around me through unorthodox, and sometimes extreme methods of living. I have decided that in order to accurately measure and also to enable the best possible footage I will not spend a single dollar on food, shelter, transportation or anything personal for the next full year, and only sustain on what has been generously and spontaneously provided for me.
After witnessing enough negative behaviour in complete strangers to complete strangers to last a lifetime, I have decided to set out to accomplish many things. Prove the world is not such a nasty place full of untrustworthy people, open the minds of society that anything is possible, and that a new friend or opportunity is just a conversation away. When common courtesy seems to have evaded us in 2010, I am setting out in search of the good in the human race. Where have all the good people gone?
I will use my social skills, resourceful thinking and life experiences to accomplish a highly controversial move; travel the globe on less than $500 and breakdown every sterotype and false perception. Its going to be tough sometimes, but I know that what is waiting for me will rock the socks off of everyone reading this. Just wait 'til you see the videos.....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Why I had to return, even if only for a bit....

So how much do you all hate me?
I promise posts, and disappear for days on end. Well, there's a number of reasons this time, but still just excuses.
I arrived in NYC the 18th, and spent the day wandering around. There will be a post for it...
I then bussed to Toronto that evening, and despite another nervy border crossing, safely made it back to the land of the true north, strong and free.
I made it back to the little apartment on College st that I had missed so much, and after 48 hectic hours of Greyhounds, security checks, new cities, old cities, the all time heavy B1 and B2, almost no sleep(literally, maybe 3 hrs) I took a quick shower and finally crawled into a warm, familiar bed. It hadn't even been two of a planned twelve months, but boy was I happy!
It was then a bounce back from Toronto, to visit the boys back in Ottawa for a few... Again, posts for that..
I am back in Toronto, ( I know you lot were scratching your heads) and I'm enjoying my last few days here before I head north to Sudbury, then a hitch from nickel city to BC/Alaska!
Ive been offered an un-refusable contract, treeplanting up north. It pays well, and due to the lifestyle I live, cannot decline for a number of reasons.
I'm not the 9to5 type, happy with a mundane lifestyle of mediocracy and stale routine. So no, I don't have a job 'back home' where I can return to anytime. I have a decent resume, but it doesn't matter, as I'm not looking to go whore myself out for jobs, find some lame entry level position, spend a fortune on renting some dodgy apartment and get invested into unhappiness. No sir.
Instead, I want to pursue what I like, while I can. I'm still a young(and albeit naive at times) pup, and since I'm not in school, no commitments, I can do what I want, which is travel the planet, meeting cool faces in amazing spaces!
Now that being said, I also need to be a bit more realistic. What I do, DOES cost money, even with my 'skills' and frugal views.
The original plan; to hitch the globe on less than a few hundred dollars, is feasible, but it isn't.
I don't have a proper sponsor, or financial aid. I don't have a backup bank account. I don't have parents to call and ask to be bailed out of the Thai prison I found myself in for wearing socks with sandals(or some other ridiculous law). I don't have financial stability. And to do what I'm doing, you need it.
"Nate, who cares man, I know you can do it" or "dude if anyone can pull that off, its you" Ive been told this several times over the last few weeks, while I was contemplating my future.
Well many things happened and my eyes are constantly being opened to new and more. Meeting Jeremy, the French hitcher with much more experience than I...was one.
He has a bank account. With alot of money in it. If he gets into trouble(robbed, lost, mugged, kidnapped, hurt, sick or just plain tired of it all) he can ensure the steps necessary to recovery, or a quick return home.
I could not.
When I posted before entering NY state my funds, that was it. The $350 I entered with(and left with !) was all I had. No savings acct with emergency airfare, or a lifeline I could call up and bail me out. Oh and I haven't had a credit card since I maxed it out on eBay in high school.
I stopped the trip before the next step would have taken me too far. To hitch Africa, and the rest of the world (the same plan once I'm done up north) requires a safety plan. I was legitimately embarking with a pinch of hope, a splash of experience and a dash of luck. And no money. It would only take one incident(could have easily happened in America) and I would have been screwed. Royally.
"But Nathan, you're the type of person who could pull it off, noone else could" Thanks guys, but just imagine; the car pulls up. Its a hot Colombian day. I really want the ride. The guy looks cool enough, so I jump in. The conversation is fine, despite the language barrier. Then he pulls it out. A knife the size of my forearm. He demands all that I have, and kicks me out, threatening to chop me up like hes done so many times before.
I am now happy to be alive on the side of the dusty road. But I am now without my money, ID, passport, phone cards, clothes, equipment and everything else I had with me.
Oh, and I'm in the heart of the rural Colombian countryside......I get another ride into town. No way to call home, and ask for money to be wired. No Visa, no nothing. I am as useless as a Russian guidebook in Nigeria. No wait. I'm like a sitting duck on the last day of the shoot. No wait, I'm a recently robbed kid with no Spanish and no hope in hell of fixing his situation. That's it.
So maybe now you guys can understand my point of view. I am very ambitious, hopeful, and down right lucky. (Today I found two $5 on the sidewalk in Toronto) But its time for me to be realistic. The money that I get from a rare submitted article does not cover costs. I'm going to put the project on hold for a few weeks, and obtain me some financial stability, so that I can bank it knowing that when shit hits the metaphoric fan, Ill be alright.
Don't worry, I'm still HITCHHIKING to Alaska, and Ill be blogging it all, just a bit closer to home.
Then I can resume the trip, and keep you guys living vicariously.
Doing this will ensure I can continue for at least a full year, knowing should anything go suddenly awry, I will be OK, as I can replace my gear, check into a hostel, fly home, bribe border guards, or pay the local Mongolian goat herder to sew up that massive gash in my back.

As much as I wanted to just say 'to heck with it' and continue on, I needed to be realistic. The way I travel and do things, having an 'incident' was more or less imminent. I have seen enough NatGeo documentaries and Robert Young Pelton articles to know I do not want to be "that guy" stranded in some tiny town without anything more than a skyward prayer to help my safety. Ive heard some horror stories, and most of them were involving some white man with a nice bag and no idea of where he was. Well I'm a white man with a nice bag and somewhat of an idea as to what I'm doing, but remember, I hitchhike, and sleep on strangers' living room floors. This sets me up for a new standard of vulnerability. Also, my Spanish and Mandarin are abysmal, and flashing a smile doesn't work as currency at the Cambodian border.

So I'm going to continue what I was doing, just with a brief pause to make it all possible!
I can promise the writing and photos from this trip will be equally as addicting!