Saturday, June 27, 2009

Have you ever played The Sims?

The Sims, a PC video game, puts you in control of a number of fake computer people (sims), guiding them as they commence and repeat mundanely realistic daily routines. Their physical and emotional needs are represented by constantly depleting meters, only replentishing when any specific need is addressed - their hunger meter resets when they eat, their social need meter when they socialize, etcetera... If any need becomes neglected, the meter will fall below a certain comfort threshold and the sim will enter a state of distress. It's an apt representation of how human need fulfillment operates, and I bring it up only to explain that I have discovered wholly new comfort thresholds.Time and money are your primary assets when traveling (well, anytime really), and in effort to make better use of both, it becomes necessary to dismiss a number of previously granted comforts. Living out of your bag, everything you own only makes you ache and sweat faster, so you have to be a minimalist. More for the sake of others around me than for myself, I am trying to keep up with my hygeine, but the summer heat and kinetic nature of traveling aren't good for keeping your shirts dry and sweet smelling.
I make calculated splurges at restaurants, but if I am not enriching myself culturally, I'm better off eating grocery store food on the go. Can of beans and a pocket knife. With my beard I'm looking more and more like a homeless man. I'm trying to maintain a plastic bag with some fruit, bread, and sometimes cheese to thwart off impulse buys.
Paying a euro to use a public restroom from time to time adds up quick. It seems a silly thing to plan, but scheduling bowel movements for the morning through use of stool softeners saves money, time, and stress. Laundry is expensive too, but can be managed incrementally. While technically it's not allowed in most hostels, it's easy wash a set of clothes and hang them inconspicuously off a ladder rung or hook on a wall.
I was skeptical of hostels at first, but have really grown to appreciate them. Their pitfalls can be navigated and there's still many a good thing about them. Sleeping among noise and light is tricky - I like a pair of earbuds and a bandana wrapped around my eyes to the back of my head, keeping the light out and the earbuds in. There's an easy kinship between hostelers. Everyone is there to travel, learn, and have a good time. Here, people seem friendlier and earnestly interested in one another. If travlers get along well, as they often seem to, it's common to swap full names for networking on Facebook, which everyone in the world seems to have an account on. 'If you're ever find yourself in Buenos Ares/San Sebastian/Los Angeles, come say hi. I'll show you around,' seems to be a common farewell. It's amazing and in the future I hope to take advantage of some of the contacts I have made(More and more I'm liking the idea of spending a year or so learning Spanish and backpacking in South America for my next trip (Who's with me?)).
I'm under budget so far (which is great), but I still have Paris ahead of me, so we'll see how that goes. The cost of a hostel in Paris is equivelent to my entire daily budget in some cities.
Berlin is amazing. Prague is amazing. Everytime I leave a city I am sad to go, but my conquest must continue. I want to see everything. I feel like a little spider, determined to spin a web around an impossibly large animal. Like a cat. I used to think people where dopey for taking pictures of things that could be pulled up on a Google image search, but now I see that you don't shoot a sight to capture it specifically, but rather your relationship to it at that time. I'm taking lots of pictures and notes and when I get home I'm going to make the most comprehensive annotated photo album the world has ever seen. I probably should slow my pace just a little, though. Each night I hit the sack, I feel like I had taken a rumble in an industrial size washing machine with a laundry basket full of rocks and hammers. My feet don't like it, but I am getting used to the I'll rest when I'm dead mentality.
I went quite a bit out of the way to see this, but it was worth it and then some. A chandelier of human bone:

1 comment:

Emily said...

My favorite picture on Jess' blog, and now, my favorite picture on yours :)