Here I gorged on berries and found a very beautiful camping spot 😀
Too many cows in this one! 😁
Here I walked from Lac de Mar on the HRP, camped by Lac Tort de Rius, then joined back up with the GR11 and walked down to Refugi de Conangles, then camped by Estany de Anglios. (All in Spain).
Here I walked from Estanh Long de Colomers, followed the GR11 trail to Lac Deth, where I swam, camped, and made a satay chicken taco 😄 On day 31 I walked to Lake Restanca and then onto the HRP to Lac de Mar.
Very impressive lakes in this part of the Spanish Pyrenees! I loved them!
I had a very nice rest day at Lake Maurici- where you’re absolutely not supposed to camp! Ooops 😄. Then I walked through Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park (Catalonia's only national park, with almost 200 lakes) and camped near Lake Obago.
Here I walked from Tavascan (Spain) to Lake Maurici, passing by a few small villages and finding camping wherever possible. I also learned a lesson here: never put your bag on the ground in these small villages- as there are plenty of dogs there!
Here I walked from the Baiau Refuge, turned off of the GR11 to trek the HRP (Haute Route Pyrenees) and slept in Refugi de Baborte (also called Refugi del Cinquantenari). Then I took another variation and followed a trail called “La Porta del Cel” to get back to the GR11 at a little village called Tavascan.
A day well spent! 😄
Music: Light Scenery by Olezha Chopalish
Here I walked from Andorra to Spain and stayed in Refugi Baiau “Josep Maria Montfort”- an awesome free shelter by a gorgeous mountain lake 😀
The plus side is that it seems to be super easy to find a job here on Costa Brava (as long as you have “documents” that is), so once I get these papers, I think making a bit of money to support our projects should not be that difficult.
Another thing I am happy about is that we (@Tio and I) don’t need much. We don’t need fancy food, clothes, gadgets, subscriptions to any services, or anything, really, but some basic supermarket-bought food and a roof over our heads- and we are happy this way.
I’ve had the same bikini, for example, for the past 6 or so years. You know what I did with it today? I went snorkeling (with a mask and snorkel that we found) in a beautiful bay- for free- and I observed two large cuttlefish! If you don’t know what a cuttlefish is, watch this video- https://ytb.trom.tf/watch?v=GDwOi7HpHtQ They are one of the coolest sea creatures ever :)
I value making eye contact with a cuttlefish and watching it change the color, pattern, and texture of its skin. I find that amazing. I couldn’t care less about what I wear or what kind of phone I use to talk about this creature.
The less stuff we want, the less money we need, the less we have to work for money, and the more time we have to live, learn, experience interesting things, and to simply be a human. That’s the way to live a happy and humble life, in my opinion.
Our Society is Retarded and Fucked Up.
We (humans) waste like crazy and are causing a billion global problems for ourselves and other species on this planet. Climate change, pollution, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and a ton more.
Why? Because of the way we (8 billion humans) organize ourselves.
How’s that? Well, to get almost anything we need or want- including our basic needs- we have to participate in a rat race. We have to sell something, someone, or ourselves. We have to convince others that they should buy more shit. Shit that they don’t need. Shit that doesn’t make them happy (though we’ll try to convince them that it would, though it won’t). Shit that will contribute to more waste, more pollution, further climate change, and more destruction.
That’s the only way to get our basic needs met in this society- through trading (trading resources, trading our own time and energy, etc.). Meanwhile we trash close to 50% of the food we produce, we throw away more clothes than everybody could wear, we have more empty houses than homeless people, etc.
Let me repeat: we, humans, waste like crazy, yet we force each other to sell more and more shit- just to get our basic needs met.
And we call ourselves “civilized.” Ha ha ha.
Now here’s my personal stupid situation:
I haven’t had a “job” in years. Instead, I’ve been busy working on a book, helping with some projects, going out in nature, things like that. I have NOT been consuming/buying anything except food/very few basic things.
In the past, I had savings. Now, I am completely out of money. Long story short, I need to make some money so I can contribute to things like food and rent (just the basic needs!).
So now I am ready to work! I am ready and willing to go back to the job game, however awful it may be.
And imagine this- I even have a few job offers. I am a certified divemaster, and a scuba diving shop offered me a full-time contract which would pay 1,400 euros a month for the next three months! -They want me to work there, they said I can start now, they can even make me a contract. Woo hoo!
And another place- a bar/restaurant- said they have work for me! They desperately need staff- and they’d love to hire someone like me who has years of bartending experience! They want to hire me now!
Oh but no… No no no. I am not “allowed” to work here in Europe. That’s what the authorities say. It doesn’t matter that this dive shop and this bar desperately need staff and they really really want to hire me, no that doesn’t matter- because I don’t have the right papers. You see, I was not born in Europe, therefore I cannot work here.
But wait! There’s a solution, right? Didn’t I “marry” Tio two years ago precisely for this reason? So we could live legally in one place together. Shouldn’t those “marriage documents” give me the right to live and work in Europe? I mean, if my “husband” is European, doesn’t that give me some rights here?!
Um, no, not if he’s poor, it turns out. If my “husband” doesn’t make at least 1,000 euros a month, then I have no rights. I cannot get residency just like that and I cannot legally get a job. Imagine that! If my “husband” doesn’t make enough money then I also cannot work! Who’s brilliant idea was this?!?!
And to put the icing on the cake- I also cannot leave Europe and go make money somewhere else- because now I am like an illegal immigrant with an “irregular” status, so the lawyer that we cannot afford to pay told us that we ought to sort out this paperwork or else the cops could stop me at the border and deport me or who knows…
So to sum it up:
- We live in a retarded society that wastes like crazy
- We force each other to trade even for our basic needs
- I am willing to play the trade game
- I am not allowed to play the trade game in my current location (EU)
- I should be allowed to play the trade game here because I am “married” to an EU citizen
- I am not allowed to play the trade game here because my “husband” doesn’t play it well enough himself
- I am not allowed to leave the place that I am not allowed to play the trade game in and where my “husband” doesn’t play it well enough- or else I could get in trouble.
And, btw, when we were going through that awful bullshit “marriage” procedure we didn’t know about any of this. We understood that after getting “married,” we just had to come back to Spain and register at the international police and then I could get the right to live with my “husband” and work here. But no, it turns out, not unless he’s rich.
What’s that about “equality” and “human rights” EU????? What? what??
Go suck a possum.
As someone who traveled around the world for many years, I do not consider myself to be “Russian” or “American” or Asian or European or whatever. I like to think of myself as a human being. Just that. Just like you.
I love different people and different cultures all over the world, but I hate politics, politicians, and patriotism. Politicians lie, cheat, and hurt people- all over the world. Politics and patriotism divide people.
Some people have been asking me, “as a ‘Russian’ and ‘American’”, what I think about the war in Ukraine.
I don’t have much to say other than it’s an atrocity.
I think war, in general, is an atrocity.
War is the absolute most wasteful use of human lives and resources- ever. It shows that we, humans, are incapable of solving problems on a global scale. It shows that we resort to the most primitive measures: fighting. Exactly what we teach our children not to do.
So far, here are a few things that piss me off about this war:
• Thousands of humans have been killed.
• Millions of humans have been displaced; their cities, homes, and lives have been ruined.
• Bombs continue to be thrown in residential areas, even at hospitals, schools, theaters, airports, and places where civilians are seeking shelter.
• As always, normal people that gain absolutely nothing from this power struggle are the ones who suffer the most. Those who gain anything (-if there is anything to gain from this) will hardly suffer at all.
• Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine- this should be as much a human rights violation as throwing bombs at civilians. No one should ever be forced to risk their own lives to fight for this or that nation. If they choose to fight, fine. If not, let them leave.
• Speaking of that, in Russia, 18-year-old boys are forced to serve in the army- forced against their own will. And now they are forced to kill and die for some douchebag politicians.
• People in Russia are getting arrested for protesting against the war.
• People in Russia are getting arrested just for saying “war” or for holding a blank sign that says nothing.
• Russia does not even call this a war, but a “special military intervention” and its media shows no pictures of the reality of this war, almost nothing about the millions of refugees that have fled Ukraine, and almost nothing about the death and destruction they’ve caused. Russian media and schools have been banned from referring to the war as an “invasion”, “attack”, or “war” and those who spread “fake news” about the war can get up to 15 years in prison.
• People in Russia are fleeing because they are scared of their own government.
• People in Ukraine are terrified because they are getting bombed.
• Poor people around the world will suffer because of this war. Many developing countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for wheat imports (among other imports). Rising prices of food, fuel, and fertilizer can devastate countries that are already struggling.
This is the reality of war. It is barbaric and inhumane. It is the most inefficient and stupid way to solve problems.
No sane ordinary humans want war. Not Ukrainians, nor the Russians. The only people that ever benefit from wars are the few rich and powerful motherfuckers at the top. And that’s what ordinary people die for.
To me, that is a sure sign of a flawed system.
War, I’d say, is a consequence of the structure of our society. Billions of humans are divided into many different tribes and are taught that they are different from one another; some tribes are friends, some are enemies. They are also taught that they should aim to get more and more- more stuff, more money, more power. This trade-based society gives a handful of powerful people the means to do that. They gain more and more wealth and power, then they exploit this power, using ordinary people as pawns to get what they want.
This trade-based society also pushes people to create and sell more weapons, rather than to look for a peaceful solution to problem solving. As a species, we should be ashamed that we have enough nuclear weapons to bring our own selves to extinction. What an idiocracy…
If we ever want a peaceful, intelligent society, we have to see ourselves as one human species. We have to organize ourselves in a way that puts humans (all humans) and the environment first. Not profit, not selling weapons, not taking territories, not trading this for that, not gaining power.
I know that we’ll probably never get there, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.
Photos from https://www.aljazeera.com/
It’s a nice video with a positive message in the end. The only thing it’s missing, I’d say, is a mention of some alternative couchsurfing platforms like https://www.trustroots.org/ and https://www.bewelcome.org/ – those that haven’t morphed into an evil profit-driven company 😁
I explained the whole Couchsurfing story in more detail here- https://www.bigworldsmallsasha.com/2020/05/26/the-death-of-couchsurfing/
That’s why I’m in this mini-doc 😀
There’s an extraordinary fact about Earthlings- and all Earth things- that I suspect many people are not aware of.
It’s a story- an incredible story that we, humans, have discovered fairly recently. A story about you, and me, every Russian and Ukrainian, every Mexican, and every Lithuanian.
It’s a story that should connect us all, making us feel both large and extra small.
Once upon a time, there was a bang− a big bang. From this, a universe was born. At first, the universe was unimaginably hot, dense, and small. It was much smaller, in fact, than the tip of your smallest fingernail. But it expanded rapidly, and then it cooled. And as it cooled, it created something incredible: the first atom− hydrogen. Made of just one proton and one electron.
With time, giant clouds of early atoms coalesced through gravity and formed something extraordinary: stars.
Inside these stars, there was an incredible amount of heat and density, so much that it caused the hydrogen atoms to fuse together and create a different element: helium, which has two protons. Then, as the star became even hotter and even denser, it caused helium atoms to fuse together and create yet another element: carbon (with six protons), and then oxygen (with eight protons). Eventually, the star began to run out of fuel and collapse in on itself. As it collapsed, it created an even hotter, denser environment which caused carbon atoms to fuse together and form bigger, heavier elements; then bigger, heavier elements fused together to form even heavier elements; until eventually, the star created iron− and then it exploded. As it exploded, it created even more heavy elements − and then, it seeded the universe with all the ingredients it needed for new suns, planets, moons, oceans, mountains, and life.
That is where we truly come from − the elements of our bodies were crafted in the center of dying stars. In this sense, Earth and everything on it truly is star dust. And we, humans, are recycled Earth stuff.
About 4.5 billion years ago, elements −which came from the cores of stars− coalesced and formed our planet. As they merged, they mingled, assembled and reacted with each other, dancing a dance that we call chemistry.
Then, perhaps half a billion years later, another extraordinary event happened− chemistry transformed into biology. Bundles of atoms that were once lifeless now began to store information and replicate themselves. We don’t know exactly how life arose, but we do know that it began with tiny simple organisms. These organisms were able to undergo changes in little bits of their stored information, and pass on those changes to future generations. As billions of years passed, the organisms evolved, they became more and more complex, and more diverse. And eventually, one of those species of organisms evolved into thinking beings. Beings that could gaze up at the stars, the moon and the sun, and wonder, ponder and investigate their presence. That being is you.
You are the universe pondering about its own existence.
Isn’t it mind-boggling that every human has the capacity to understand this story, yet most pay no attention to it? Instead, they listen to the stories of business people, “countries,” and psychotic politicians. Instead of working together to discover the cosmos, and solve global problems (like climate change, poverty, and so many others)− humans divide themselves, marking the Earth with imaginary lines, fighting for territories and wasting their minds. They build weapons of mass destruction− powerful enough to bring their own selves to extinction. And they fight, they wage war, and they kill their own kind.
What a shame.
What a waste.
What a failure.
What are we doing, humans, really?
Do You Know Where You Come From?
There’s an extraordinary fact about Earthlings- and all Earth things- that I suspect many people are not aware of. It’s a story- an incredible story that we, humans, have discovered fairly recently.Big World | Small Sasha
I added some Pyrenees photos to my photo page: https://www.bigworldsmallsasha.com/photos/
It seemed a bit out of date since I had nothing there since 2019. Now 2021 is there :)
Love those Pyrenees mountain lakes :)
I’ll try not to lose my mind this time. I promise.
(I think almost every writer goes through this, so don’t worry. I’ll finish it eventually, I promise 😀 Until then, I’ll be mostly hiding out 😁)
Here is one of my favorite camping spots on the GR11- little Ibon d’Anayet, with Pic du Midi d’Ossau (in France) poking out in the background.
Over the past 2-3 months I've been coming back to the secret octopus bay and I've figured out that there are three octopuses that like human feet :D And there is one octopus that is particularly friendly. She even took me by the hand, held me in strong current, and dragged me around the bay!
I updated my octopus blog with a bunch of new videos so you can see all of this here- https://www.bigworldsmallsasha.com/2021/04/28/meeting-an-octopus/
Or on PeerTube: https://videos.trom.tf/accounts/sasha/videos
I’ll spend the rest of the summer walking across the Pyrenees Mountains and thinking about it 😁
I plan to leave in 1 week.
It has pictures and descriptions of every hut, and also includes comments from people that have recently visited these huts. Unfortunately the website is only in French but the information is pretty straight forward so it's easy to understand with a simple translator.
Some of the free huts are in pretty poor condition, some are newly renovated and look very cool, like this one:
It's amazing to see so many free open shelters- a place that people can just walk into and sleep in with no trades involved. Imagine if people didn't have to slave every day in their bullshit jobs- how much time they could have to improve these types of mountain huts, or even to just visit them and report on their condition.
I think that if people weren't forced to have "jobs" they would contribute to many great and important projects (and they would contribute less towards creating waste, mindless consumption and climate change). This documentary shows a few great projects that people are already contributing to today:
I recommend watching it ;)
And of course, we also talked about trade and how trade is at the core of the human society that we’ve developed- and how that’s creating a lot of problems.
Then finally- we recorded 3 days in a row and now we are finally finished with all of the filming for TROM 2! (My interview was the last one). Now Tio has a lot of work on his hands, I hope it’s not too overwhelming. But since Tio managed to make the first TROM Documentary all by himself, I am confident that he’ll be able to make something amazing out of TROM 2 😀
See our updates/progress at https://www.tromsite.com/live/
Here's our latest TROM-Cast: https://www.tromsite.com/videos/
This one was about movies, our personal opinions about movies, and the impact that movies have on society.
You can also watch it on Peertube - https://videos.trom.tf/videos/watch/b67faea3-8bf7-47b7-ba66-c7ffebfb405a
We recommend our VideoNeat collections of movies https://www.videoneat.com/category/movies/ and our book "The For-Profit Entertainment" https://www.tromsite.com/books/#flipbook-df_9908/1/videos.trom.tf
Even a little bit each month helps a lot and is very encouraging 😀
An update on my book- I’m just about finished with a second draft of the entire book and I also have a (almost) final draft of the first 15 chapters done. The entire book is now about 150,000 words divided into 26 chapters. I don’t think I can make it any shorter than that, so it is what it is… about the same length as Gandhi's autobiography 😁
I struggled with this book a lot this year but I finally feel like I’m almost there!
Unfortunately, Tio and I will probably have to move out of our apartment in less than two months, so now I’ll focus on TROM 2 Documentary (bc we’re filming it in this apartment), then I’ll do my best to try to finish a third draft of the entire book before we lose this place. Then, once we move out of the apartment, I’d like to go into the Pyrenees Mountains for a few weeks or months and hike from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean (and maybe back, we’ll see) 😁
I want to do this hike alone so that I can have a really long and hard think about everything that I’ve written in my book and everything that I’ve gone through over the years. For me, hiking and being out in nature has always been the best way to reflect and think through anything that may be important. It’s also a good way to step out of the norm, experience something different, and clear your mind. Actually, I think alone-time is extremely underappreciated in our society 😀
I have most of the gear that I need so this trip won’t cost much money. I’ll camp or stay in free mountain huts every night so the only thing I’ll need to pay for is food (maybe about €3 per day). The trail itself starts pretty close to where I am now, so it’s not hard to get to.
I’d like to start hiking around June and come back around September (if covid restrictions don’t get in the way). Then, once I come back to the Mediterranean, I’ll be able to have one last look over my book with a fresh mind and make any last changes before I finally publish it. So hopefully the book will be out this fall (let’s see 😁).
More detail about the trip later ;)
I actually didn't realize how much time I spent hitchhiking around the world until I wrote this book :D There are a lot of hitching stories in there. Mostly good ones, but some were a tiny bit frightening too.
I also brought back a section that I had deleted earlier (from Chapter 8) so now the book is a bit over 150,000 words but maybe it's better that way, we'll see.
Now I'll have to make just a few small changes to Chapter 25 (the 2nd-to-last chapter) and then I'll see if I can manage to finish editing the conclusion or if I'll have to mull over it for a while longer.
This was definitely one of the most incredible places I've ever seen, and the interesting part about this place is that there are a bunch of hippies living in that valley and making pizza :D
I hope to come back there one day and stay for a little while.
I also edited chapter 24 and 25 (Europe and Nicaragua) but I might go over it one more time.
And now I'm on the conclusion! ...And I'm struggling with it.
I'll try to take it little by little, hopefully finish by next week, and then we'll record my part for TROM2 documentary ;)
Now I just finished a part about Sri Lanka, which I struggled with a bit. I managed to cut out a bunch of pages so now the book is about 150,000 words. I don't think there's much more I can cut out but maybe that's okay.
Here's a photo of the Dambulla cave temple in Sri Lanka 😀
This one was about Cambodia, Thailand, Russia, Bulgaria and Morocco. Random, yes, but it made sense at the time :D
Here's a photo from this chapter-
This is from the Ta Prohm temple in the jungles of Cambodia (part of the Temples of Angkor) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ta_Prohm
I decided to include an entire chapter about climate change in the book. At first, I thought that perhaps it deviated too much from the story, but I think I’ll leave it there because it’s an important topic and it impacted my perspective of the world quite a lot. Besides, the book will be called “Big World small Sasha” so it’s not only about the small Sasha- it’s also about the Big World :D
Here’s a part of what I wrote for that climate change chapter- https://www.bigworldsmallsasha.com/2020/02/15/why-were-changing-the-climate-but-not-ourselves/
I didn’t change much since I worked on this section a lot back when I was writing it.
I summarized it in this dialogue as I was talking to some random people who had asked me where I was from and what I “do.”
[Chapter 15] “I spent the last year backpacking around the world,” I replied. “First, I traveled through the middle of Australia, then I backpacked through Indonesia for a couple of months. In Eastern Indonesia, I stayed with a tribe that sacrificed animals! Then I lived on a sailboat for about two months in New Zealand, then I took a flight to the US and lived in New Mexico for a couple of months. After that, I hitchhiked to California, lived on a blow up mattress in the Long Valley Caldera for a month or so and snowboarded in Mammoth, then I spent a couple of weeks in Mexico. Now I’m on my way back to New Zealand to snowboard some more!” I giggled. “But I’m from Russia, originally. And I don’t have a job, so I guess I don’t “do” anything.”
There are some eventful hitchhiking stories in these chapters 😀
Here's one of my favorite photos from Indonesia. This is Gunung Rinjani, a volcano I once fell in love with 😀
This was one of the cumulative events that led up to me quitting university to travel through the middle of Australia, backpack through Indonesia, sail in New Zealand, hitchhike across the US, and then go to Mexico and New Zealand again before coming back to Sydney Uni in 2012. I learned a lot during that trip, so it was a very valuable time of my life (definitely more valuable than all that time I spent at Sydney University :D ).