Tuesday, July 18, 2006

On the Other Side

Six months come and gone...I emerge a with a worldlier mind and stronger heart - blah blah cliche blah stereotype blah. My time on the farm finished up nicely, though I almost cried when I flew back over Edinburgh. It was a city transformed by the coming of summer. 30,000 thousand less people between the ages of 18 and 22 in a city of 400,000 will do that. The tourists had somewhat taken our place, but the locals at my favorite pubs were still keeping the stools warm. So after a month of living in a bamboo hut, my parents, my brother and I toured Scotland in luxuray.

Castles, whisky, family and rain: all behind a peaceful rugged landscape. Mountains that loomed over the lochs and glens knew our names- our pasts and futures. A mystic place, I miss it

But Virginia's heat has called me in. Another Fredericksburg summer with the summer Fredericksburg hipsters, complete with the normal components and modules: Bicycles, cookouts, kegs, new books, police oppression, pissed off townies, lovely townies, tacos and barbeque, trips to DC, dance parties, poetry readings, folk music, chaos, glances, ghosts.

So thanks to everyone who's been reading the tomasutra travel log. I've been pleasantly surprised how many people followed it. It was definitely a blast, and I look forward to seeing everyone I haven't seen yet; let's grab a beer, it's too damn hot out.

As to the future of this site, I'm probably going to retire it. I've been tossing aroud the idea of an organized political crit, with a sort of romantic return to idealism with an evolutionary anarchist twist. ..yeah.

So thanks mom and dad for all the money and an incredible adventure. You're better than ever.
Everyone else, grab a bike and meet me at Carl's.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I'm working too, I promise

Boys just have to dare each other to jump higher

Steph and Murray sober at Bora Bora

After work Rob and I drove our scooters to the highest point on the island.

The only vista I know of with a view of the Med and the straights between Ibiza and the mainland.

Chilling in the hammock, sunset

Steph playing the didgeridoo

Napping: not burning anymore

Another Sunday night at Benirass

Ibiza Hippies do seem to love their fire performers

An afternoon hike still in work clothes, Es Vedre in the background.

Full Moon tonight, and the freaks are probably out in full force. But I've been harvesting potatos and onions all day, and am absolutely knackered. Perhaps a dip in the sea and a night of sipping san miguel dressed in Ibicenco linen is what this boy needs.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Modern Gaia: Maximum Yield, Minimum Impact

I arrived on the island of Ibiza May 26th and have since been working at Casita Verde, a volunteer-run organic farm/ecology center. Never have I seen a more environmentally sensitive system of living and articulating the drive and soul of the place has been somewhat of a challenge.

Every solar photon is captured and converted into electricity; the same with each gust from the sea. Rain water is collected and distributed through an incredibly efficient system of recycling and irrigation. Ninety-nine percent of the waste that Casita Verde produces is applied to some form of beneficial and sustainable advantage. The food scraps are composted, the plastic paper and metal recycled, even the human waste itself is returned to fertile soil. And amongst this harmonious existence with nature, high speed wireless internet is broadcast over the valley. Pure and restorative meals that the most expensive restaurants in the world fail to rival in authenticity, with all ingredients all deriving from the island, feed and rejuvenate the workers and staff. Fifteen minutes down the road, the biggest night club in the world (capacity around 10,000) parties until dawn every night of the week. Is this an exception to Man’s inherent urge for modern progress and simultaneous decay? Perhaps. Or maybe this place, the product of one man’s fifteen years of genius and toil as well as the work of hundreds of volunteers from around the world, is a model of inspiration. How can the most advanced creature the Earth has ever nurtured satisfy both our varying and diverse modern conditioning as well as the necessity of preserving the only habitat we’ll get a shot at? At least part of the answer, I have found, lies on a little farm on an island called Ibiza.

This is Chris Dews, the creator and driving force behind Casita Verde. Somewhat of a mad scientist and jack of all trades, Chris has been developing the systems at Casita Verde since 1991. He is standing in front of the eco toilet, one of the many systems I hope to cover in the next week or so.
I chose to travel the "greenest" way possible, which was a lovely nine hour boat ride from Barcelona. Above is a statue of Christopher Colombus. It is often noted that the statue is inaccurate for he is not poitning west to the new world, but instead south-east, towards Ibiza.

Sunrise from the boat.

My accomodation and en suite chill out for my three weeks at Casita Verde. Made completely from recycled or natural materials, mainly bamboo and palm leaves.

Just looks like a tree right? It's actually my neighbor, la casa del arbol, also completely made from recycled materials.

Every Sunday Casita Verde opens its doors to about seventy locals and tourists for lunch. The money generated keeps the farm running from week to week. This David, a French culinary master helping out last week.

Ibiza is known for its glitzy clubs, but the sub-culture is quite health yas well. Last week we went to Benirass beach for a drum circle sunset.

The history here is quite dynamic as well. Carthage, the Romans, the Moors, Catalans, take your pick, Ibiza played a crucial role for all.

Five hours of labor a day in exchange for room and three meals a day in the middle of paradise is the basic equation. A lot of people have been asking me what the story of this place is, and I'm still kind of working it out myself.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pirate Blog

It's good to be on the road again, all my belongings on my back, this time with a lighter load and a laptop with superb wireless pick up. I'm sitting in a stark 10 x 20 room with nothing but a bed, a sidetable and high speed internet. I snagged a stray network in Bilbao as well, positioning my computer on the window sill of Kara's flat. Bilbao was the ideal first stop after departing Scotland: Familiar faces, a rockin but managable city, and a lot of Scottish encounters. Not only did we dance til dawn with a couple of Glaswegians, I met a guy outside a club who grew up with a mate of mine in Ed (Ryan, Anthony says hi and to visit in Bilbao).

Kat and Kara at the sexy party

Roberta Pedro Ellie and Mariano demonstrating the best king´s cup rule ever: Raptor hands

Gug Sunset

Barcelona's a great city, but I've got Ibiza on my mind. Tomorrow night I sail for an island that fed the treasuries of ancient Carthage, popularized house music, bred numerous radical cults, many of which revolved around mdma, to volunteer on an organic farm community. I'm going to try and cover the scene at Casita Verde with as much depth and detail as possible; by the way, by tomorrow I'll be home in a month.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Little Bit of Culture
Beltane Fire Festival

None of the pics came out well, but this is a flaming battering ram slamming into a burning wall.

So this is the May Queen. Her passing symbolizes the end of Spring and the beginning of summer. The blue guy is one of three guiding her through time.

These are the Red Men, who try to bring out debauchery and mischief in all. They were naked, covered in red paint, and of course, surrounded by fire. The climax of this pagan reenactment was an incredible sight: A 25 ft human pyramid, stacked vertically three high. Just as the last Red was climbing to the top, the sky opened and poured down a cold stinging rain upon the 8,000 spectators. The Red slipped down just as she was about to make the ultimate step to the top. The crowd roared as she attempted it again, thrusting her arms out in triumph at the top; the edinburgh skyline twinkling on the horizon, the monuments of Calton Hill presiding.

Thanks to Barri Razzaki for these pics

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I gave the man at the car rental desk two cards. One said Virginia Driver's License, the other said Visa. When I asked for directions to the Plivtice Lakes National Park, he instructed me to "take the road to park then take other road to park...and then I am at Park." He was right.

Day 1: Plitvice Lakes National Park

Day 2-4 Split

Isle of Brach

Day 5-7 Dubrovnik

Driving the seemingly appropriate speed of 170 kmh (I was constantly being passed by BMW's and Volkswagens), we made it back to Zagreb in seven hours. An early train took Allie to Rome and me to Munich, with a short stop back in Vienna.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Last night I attended the Beltane Fire Festival on top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh, and it definitely makes the "top ten experiences of my life" list. Pictures couldn't come close to capturing the scene, but I'll post what I've got later this week. I also caught Edan on Saturday, definitely one of my favorite hip hop acts lately.

Picked up the new Streets album last week, very enjoyable as usual. If it's not out in the states yet, I can send some love along. Anyone pick up the new Soul Position? Nowhere to be found in Edinburgh. Also been listening to...
Madlib - The Beat Konducta vol. 1-2
Brian Eno and David Byrne - My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Woody Guthrie - Long Ways to Travel
Hank Williams - The Ultimate Collection
Deda - The Original Baby Pa

Hmmm, I think that's it as far as news, except exams getting closer. So here are some travel pics/thoughts.

Eastern Europe

I definitely regret not hitting up Lubijana and Bucharest during my time in the East, but time is finite and destinations are not. I just know I'm so incredibly lucky to be able to see the places I did, definitely a different world over there. The dollars went further and the history was sorted and vigorous, but I was definitely impressed with how laid back everyone was.


The Jewish Cemetary. Because of limited space, generations of Prague's Jewish community were buried on top of each other, bringing in top soil and crowding the stones together.

We got playoff tickets for about eight dollars. The Prague Spartans advanced to the semis. Attending a professional sports match is always an excellent way to experience the real culture.

Beer and a brat = $1.50

Let's go Spartans

Capacity crowd + cheap beer = lots of security

Chris Ben Josh and Matt have started a Christian rock band, Pentecost Prague

View from the Vysehrad, a medieval fortress overlooking the city

Three days of bad touristy food led us to the new Tesco down the street. For eight dollars, I got four huge bags of groceries, including two bottles of wine, gourmet cheese and bread, baked goods, fruits and vegetables.

Full and Happy
Another hill another castle

I liked Prague, but I wished I could have seen it ten years ago. We did our best to get off the tourist track, and going to the hockey game and a few of the spots Kelli suggested helped. But overall we found it difficult to find the real Prague in four days.

So on to Budapest

some goofy dudes

Marissa Matt and Chris

Matt is very serious, all the time.

On top of St. Nicholas' Cathedral. The city faded away in a haze on the horizon, an absolutlely massive city. I think I read about 1/4 of all Hungarians live in Budapest.

Ellie said it best in Cologne: Our job is to take pcitures of cathedrals

Several weeks of downpours combined with melting snows brought on devestating flooiding throughout Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia and Bulgaria all took pretty big hits as well as Budapest, where the Danube overflowed the riverside streets.

Is the bus running?

Hungarian Parliament

Nothing more demeaning to a nation's currency than taking a picture in mockery. We thought about pooling all our cash and taking pictures waving the fanned out money around, then thought better of it.
10,000 forints = about $40

View from the Citadel in Budapest

Just a gigantic city.

After only two days in Budapest, we headed back west to Vienna, a city I fell in love with. As I wrote earlier, my patience grew short with the palaces, but check this out...

The car that Arch Duke Ferdinand was shot in! His bloody uniform was nearby, but the guard walked by so I couldn't snap a pic.

Austrain Parliament. That's me looking up longingly. Ahhh, Democracy.

Josh and a Palace (good band name)

That's right

Beer and a brat

Couldn't be happier

So the fellowship was broken. Josh and Marissa headed over to Corsica, Matt to Barcelona, and Chris to Venice. I realized that they all had their train reservations, hostel bookings, and the majority of their itineraries solidified. I on the other hand, was getting ready to take a train to the war-scarred Balkans, with no other plans than a car rental reservation and a travelling companion I hardly knew. I'd like to say I was my normal cool calm and collected self the night before Allie and I went to Croatia. So I'll say that, and lie.