Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Feature Interview: Tales of A Dime Traveller with Ramon Stoppelenburg (P.1)

OK, Mister Ramon, that I introduced you to a few days ago is sooo ahead of the game.

Ramon, the man-genius behind  Let Me Stay For A Day responded to my "Live and Grind Personalized Questionnaire" with the speed of the road runner that he is already quite world-reknowned to be. 

His responses are vivid, heart-felt, and in, like, DETAIL. 

I friggin' luv that! 

And, so, yeah, I must give him full reign to share his interview responses in their entirety. 

That has always been my ethos with interviews 'round here and, hopefully, always will be. 

However, I'm going to break it into a three-part series. 

For digestive purposes only. ;)

Thank you, Sir Stoppelenburg. I must bow down in reverence. 

Ahem. Without further ado....Here is Part One of "Tales of a Dime Traveller"

This photo was taken by me in the Sandia area the other weekend. Just inserted to set the scene!-Sandra London

           Tales of A Dime Traveller: Part ONE

1) What is the best meal/new dish/new drink(beverage) you had during your travels? Do you ever try to re-create them "back home"?

Oh, my Buddha, you are talking about a period of two years which started over ten years ago. 

After traveling for more than 22 months through eighteen countries, I had met over 10,000 people, slept on over 500 sofas and mattresses, ate about 1500 meals and had over 600 showers and you are asking for the best meal or drink I had. 


I do have a good memory of eating the best sushi I have ever had, in a side street sushi restaurant in the South African city of Durban, where I was even advised not to go because the city center was advised to be a no-go area for western people. 

Especially those carrying a backpack and a digital camera. I had no problems walking through town, even though I was the only white person. 

Everybody was friendly, everybody was happy and I was even invited to play along in sidewalk pool table competitions. Twice. 

My host took me to that sushi place and it was absolutely remarkably good. Maybe I was more impressed because of the combination where in the world I was.

 2) Which city/country surprised you the most and was nothing like you thought it would be like based upon your initial expectations?

Starting off with South Africa. I had absolutely no expectation of that country at all. 

I was 25 and was offered a return ticket from Europe to Johannesburg by a travel company, in exchange for their banner on my website for the ten weeks I'd be traveling through the country. 

Oh, and give a press conference to a dozen of media representatives on my arrival.
I didn't know anything about South Africa, except from the view anyone gets by following the news. I thought there would be wild animals along the runway of the airport, little did I know that Johannesburg also has highways, overpasses and the usual traffic jam. Just like any other country. 

The big wild animals were safely guarded in National Parks. 

Then there was Canada, the last country, where I spent 5 months of traveling. After a few weeks I ended up in the top north of the country, in the province of Nunavut. 

An airline gave me a free ticket to get there, as there was no other way to ever get to the permafrost town of Kugluktuk, where I also had to stay a week before the next plane could get me out. 

I stayed with a Canadian teacher who had invited me over and she opened my eyes to the culture of the Inuit society that was living there. 

The Canadian government prohibited them to move around as nomads (as they had done for centuries) and their commercial hunting (fur is used for isolation of clothing and to keep warmth in houses, not for New York fashion models). They were given money to stay put and shut up, basically. 

So what do you do if you can't live the life your parents and grandparents have lived? Right, you watch Days of your Lives on television, play Nintendo and... drink alcohol.  

So much alcohol that you could see the results of that in their children at school. 

As the teacher said: "There ain't much we can teach as some kids have just pulp in their heads. They don't grow up in a normal life, with an example in their family." 

Why would they study? 

Why would they care about the rest of the world at all? 

And that's how the Canadian government is slowly wiping out the Inuit population. 

When they are all gone, you get all the oil there is and nobody would care about it...

3) Were you in a relationship during your journey? If so, how did you keep things romantic while being so far away.
If not, did you meet anyone (or more than one person) whom you attribute your opportunity to travel for further allowing you to connect and bond romantically?
Was it harder or easier to meet new love interests; were bonds made more deeply or more superficially with new people you met along the way?

After seven months of traveling, I ended up in Barcelona, where my best friend from Holland came to visit me for a Christmas break. We all stayed in an apartment and there I fell in love with a lady named Irene. 

When I re-started my travels again (I did have my necessary breaks) in February, we tried to keep up with each other, but with me being on the other side of the world (Australia) and she chasing a new career, it was just impossible to continue something like that. We broke up as great friends, though. 

Of course I did meet people on the way, while traveling. I think this happens to any traveler who's out and about for a long period. And it just goes the same as back home. 

You meet somebody, similar interests can attract and you hook up. 

Only my problem is that I would always have to leave the next day, so my romantic nights on Letmestayforaday were to scarce to actually give interesting details about them. 

But believe me, it was already very relieving to meet people with which I didn't have to talk about my project or about traveling and who were just themselves, and then I could just be Ramon too. 

Having great conversations or simply watching a dvd (not having to go out and process everything I'd see, which I had to do every day) gave me much relaxation too.


Stay tuned over the next few days for part 2 of Tales of a Dime Traveller

One of a myriad of kitty photos in my photo library collection, sent to me by an uber-mensch, to go un-named.;)-Sandra London of To Live and Grind in L.A.

In A Pensive State,

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Hello, sexy beings!!! I love to hear from my Live and Grind Readers. Please do leave your thoughts, commentary, questions or suggestions when the mood strikes. ;)

xxxo, Sandra LONDON of Live&Grind (Los Angeles/Europe)