The money was clearly gone (although I have spent many, many hours searching every corner of the van), and complaining about it wasn’t going to solve anything, so we headed out to meet our friend in Paris, the lovely Dora, who is probably the most enthusiastic and permanently happy person i’ve ever met. She helped us set up and run an excellent Free Hugs event (with very little time to prepare), and to share connection between between people who haven’t met with many, many people in Paris.
Most of the event we were located in the most stunning location, directly underneath the Eiffel Tower, in the sun on the most gorgeous day you can possibly imagine! ..and the event was also a huge success in taking my mind off of the troubles as much as was possible; so much so that my cheeks were aching by the end from smiling so much 🙂
I want to give a big thank you to Dora, for both he event ,and for her ability to make me smile, even when times are tough.
The next day the group walked up the Eiffel Tower to look over Paris. The top was shut which was disappointing, but to lift spirits I decided it was the perfect time to throw an impromptu “Take A Smile” event, and we had a fantastic time walking round France’s most famous landmark encouraging, or maybe reminding people to smile.
Communication was a slight issue as even in London people often think we are trying to sell them something; I guess we are all a little conditioned to avoid taking things offered to us on the streets by leafleteers and those very well paid ‘charity collection’ workers. Take a Smile does require a little more patience, but we get such beautiful reactions from the folk who realise we are simply giving our time to try and make others smile.. it’s absolutely one of my favourite events our event in Paris was a HUGE success!
The often cheerful but slightly unbalanced, nameless girl has left the trip by mutual consent; being angry about the money seemed pointless as it wouldn’t bring it back (although an apology would have been nice), but she kept arguing with the other traveller Pako, who has proved to be an excellent travelling partner (even though despite his denials I am convinced he hasn’t changed his clothes since the 1st day) and is a really lovely, genuine and cheerful guy, who spends his time busking while I’m off working on Focallocal.
The nameless girl also managed to somehow magically find her way into arguments with many other people we’ve met, so we agreed our project wasn’t a good fit for her.
That’s the tale of the high and low beginnings of our Road Trip. This trip is the best way I can think of to use the skills I have to bring people into our project and create a movement of proactive, positive people everywhere, who use our simple events to pull their community, and the world towards a more connected, friendlier place. I’ve made myself live a lonely and depressing life for a long time, working as hard as I was capable to prepare this trip and I refuse to accept it is over already so after some deliberation i’ve decided that I will find a way to continue.
This is far from the 1st time i’ve had something go wrong when travelling, and there is always a way to keep on moving forwards and I need to search out ways to reduce my travelling costs to almost zero. Our stops in each city can be longer to avoid using fuel and I’m going to try and convert the van to run on used vegetable oil, which i’ll ask local fast food shops if I can take away for them. I eat very cheap and healthy anyway, so the van is full of bulk bought beans, couscous, oats, rice, etc food is not a massive issue but maybe I can resurrect “Andy Cooks For You” – a CouchSurfing event which I created when stranded in Vienna for a 6 weeks with no money where I would offer to come over and cook for a group if they’d let me eat and hang out with them, and take away a bag of left over’s for the next day.
When I leave each city i’ll set up a parties/BBQ and a Kindness Auction for all the lovely people we’ve met, so they can have a great time and supporting the project at the same time. If money is still needed I may begin busking one day/week and I can keep a seat in the van free to offer rides on BlaBla Car to split fuel costs.. or earn a little cash if the van is running on free veg oil. If all else fails I can just sell the Van, take a tent and all the stuff I can carry and hitch-hike around the World, or buy a cheap motor bike.
The added adversity is something I need to see as a challenge, and hopefully its far from the end of this adventure! its just going to add a little spice to a story which I hope you all enjoy following. Our project will continue so please JOIN US!!
You can help the Focallocal Movement shift the way people view and interact with each other, by setting up our simple events in your city, joining our Marketing, Production, Editing and PR teams; or join me on the Road!
If you have any advice or help you can offer the Road Trip, or the Focallocal Movement please let me know.