Thursday, September 1, 2011

fEATURE Interview: Tales of a Dime Traveller w/ Ramon Stoppelenburg Part 2


Here is PART TWO of Tales of a Dime Traveller with Ramon Stoppelenburg, the creator of Let Me Stay For A Day.

SMITHSONIAN AFRICAN ART MUSEUM 04/2011 photographed by Sandra LONDON


    Tales of a Dime Traveller, PART TWO 



4) Which trip frustrated you the most----either in transit to your destination, getting along with locals, or getting around in that particular location?

When I did Letmestayforaday, there was no Facebook or Twitter and Google was just one of the many search engines available. 

I totally depended on the online and print media to publish about the existence of my project. And that's a fun topic for every editor: 

"Dutch guy thinks he can travel the world for free", always followed by "What the heck? He's actually pulling it off?!". 

This meant I had to know the game with the media. 

Media promoted my website, which enabled me to get more invitations from people who would invite me over for a night.

But it also got to a turning point. 

I remember this lady on Tasmania in Australia, who on my arrival immediately told me that she had already alerted the press about my arrival: 

A photographer would come soon, followed by a journalist and I'd have to speak with some deejays on the local radio station. 

Bang, in my face. Without having any control of the situation, I was sometimes just slurred around. Where the actual idea is that I'd do the media game on my terms in my time, but give attention to the people I'd stay with. 
In Canada, I appeared on national television with the Canadian version of Oprah Winfrey back then, the Vickie Gaberaux show. She squeezed in my cheek and told the entire nation that if you see this fellow hitchhiking along the side of the road, you should totally take him with you. "He's so cute!". 

And, suddenly, lines of cares stopped for me along the snowy roads of Canada, begging to come with them 

("Take me, take me! I'll bring you wherever you want to go"). 

The magic slowly started to disappear when I'd arrive at people's house and the hosts takes me to his neighbor and knocks on his door. When the neighbor opened the door, my host said "Look, I've got him!". 

Suddenly I had become a trophy?! 

The element of sharing life of ordinary people on my website, was totally changed as I had become a famous Michelen doll you could order online. 

This was one of the reasons to call it quits at the end of my Canadian tour. It would only get worser, to whichever country I'd go (think about the madness the USA would give me, with their media). 


The longer I would travel, the more special I would get, which wasn't really the reason I had started the whole adventure off. And I had made my point: 


People are still hospitable in this world; there are still great friendly people out there and the internet can make that work.

I personally think that Letmestayforaday had made people realize that the internet wasn't only to monetize your online business and create virtual malls, but way more to connect with people and have them connect with each other. 



And the term social media started off that same time. Think about Facebook, but also Couchsurfing.org.
 

HARD ROCK HOTEL LAS VEGAS-photographed by Sandra LONDON




5) Did you discover a new band or genre of music that you ended up becoming a huge fan of? Which ones? 
 Did you see any live performances (music, plays, dance)? Which were most memorable?
 
I do remember getting free tickets for an album launch party of the Canadian band Sam Roberts (www.samrobertsband.com) in Toronto. 

That blew me away totally and I expected them to become world famous. I never heard from them again as they never left Canada...
 
PALOS VERDES, California -photographed by Sandra LONDON


6) Did you pick up conversational proficiency in any new languages? What is your favorite expression in a foreign language?

As my mother tongue is Dutch, having to communicate in English (in speech as in writing for my website), I preferred to keep it that way. 

I also preferred to travel through countries where people could understand my website (and thus English) and speak English with me. 

I had a hard time in France as the French just don't read English websites at all. I only stayed with non-French people that lived in France, with one exception: I stayed with a French student who had invited me over. 

When I contacted her about staying with her and actually arrived at her doorstep, she was surprised and I had to explain her what my website was all about again. She just thought that my "submit-your-invitation" was just a joke.

And the countries where I could use the internet at people's homes relied in the start of this century mainly in western developed countries, so that meant no Pakistan, Urugay or Bermuda for me. 

Even though I received almost 4000 invitations from 72 countries. 

**************** End of Part Two**************


Stay tuned over the next few days for Part Three of Tales of a Dime Traveller

Feeling CONNECTED,

Sandra LONDON

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