I have recently returned home after a few weeks of vagabondage, and only a few days are left before I have to start working to earn my paycheck again. I am assuming it is very important to squeeze in some sort of retrospective before the semester begins and I am caught up in whatever it is that will catch me up.
First of all, one summer dream never came true: I was hoping to bike all around the country, stopping at farms here and there, being a sort of affluent philosophical vagrant/migrant worker. See the country, sleep in a tent, learn about Earth stewardhip, clear my mind, etc. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, I was asked to work for a week in the middle of my vacation (training elementary school teachers), so I wasn't able to turn the whole summer into one massive bike trip.
And yet, Karmically enough, I did get to experience something like this vicariously! A few days before my final farmstay finished, a fellow named Pablo found me on couchsurfing. He needed somewhere to stay in Daegu, so I had my neighbor Andy let him into my vacant apartment. It was really nice to be both so lacking in possessions worth stealing (no TV, no DVD player, no stereo, no monitor, no fancy furniture) and so unattached to the few things I do have (laptop, netbook, projector) that I wasn't at all worried about letting this dude into my house (the only thing I worried about was my external hard drive, which has 10 or more years worth of pictures on it, but who would steal that, anyway?). Of course, I wouldn't let just anyone in. Pablo Garcia Gomez is a special individual:
He has been on his bike for 9 years. Korea is his 69th country, and he's nearing 85,000 kilometers. He carries 55 kilos of stuff around with him - clothes, toiletries, computer, video camera, repair kit - and bikes somewhere between 50 and 100 kilometers most days, resting every third or fourth, when it rains, or when he needs to. He supports himself by buying souvenirs cheap and selling them for a profit when he gets to big cities (I bought 3 little dolls from Argentina). He gets some sort of support from sponsors or something, and also sells interviews to local bicycle magazines whenever he can. And of course he camps and couchsurfs a lot to keep costs down.
So, I was quite happy to finish my vacation by becoming one of perhaps thousands of enabling hosts. We had a nice chat, he told me about some of his adventures, I got some advice about bike travel, I bought him lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, and then we took a ride together for about 45 minutes as I showed him the way out of the city. Quite a friendly, inspiring, crazy fellow. Check out his website. And if you live in China or Mongolia, or on the Pacific coast between Seattle and Chile, host him when he comes through your neighborhood.