Monday, March 5, 2012

Looking for Suelo

It's been two years since we discovered the website of Daniel suelo, this mysterious man who lives without using money for 11 years. It is one of the reasons we decided to undertake this journey to the "other side", we wanted to discover his lair and understand his history. During these 11 years, he lived in a cave, near Moab, in the state of Utah, beautiful land of red rocks and canyons.

We abandon Los Angeles without much regret after enjoying once again the capital of waste. A beautiful winter morning in California, a full belly, we're getting to the East.We expect extreme difficulty to escape from this megalopolis ... and yet, to our surprise, nothing is easier. The rides comes almost without asking and we find ourselves quickly in the desert of Mojave. Little traffic but we are lucky. Two young soldiers from the Air Force stop. It is Saturday, day off, they roam without precise directions and decide to give us a boost. On an incredible straight road, we are entering in a deep existential discussion, Jared and Josh are touching, twenties, they feel like enslaved, caught in an impasse from which they see no escape. Our meeting inspired them and they are happy to extend this time taking us to Las Vegas, 200 miles away form there!

We arrived at sunset, Saturday evening, the best day to sadly observe the success of these huge casinos that rival extravagance to attract thousands of tourists from around the country. On sidewalks, Mexican distribute cards to sell sex to passersby. We depart from the center to join "Las Vegas Occupy" located in a parking lot a few blocks away from the strip. The atmosphere is warm and there is an exciting contrast. An anarchist camp just across the huge luxury hotels.

Unfortunately, if the occupants are friendly, the community spirit is absent, an atypical cast of characters without common goal came together to rent a parking space. We're a little disappointed while having to admit that the place is hard ... This is the capital of consumerism. And we found great people two, artists and Food Not Bombs people who give delicious vegan food away! They told us that it is difficult to escape Las Vegas once you get in...but that anyway, this place needs more than any other place good activist people!

Two days in the craziness of Las Vegas are enough for us and we continue .... two hours of waiting and a ride takes us for a few miles in the center of North Las Vegas, the place to be avoided, the poor part of Las Vegas. Two prisons are located and the road is lined with signs that prohibit motorists to take the car stoppers. We try in vain to hitchhike, and end up spending the night in our tent. The next day, the police kindly ask us to give us and keep moving... we try the gas stations but the managers chase us. Many vagabonds are hanging around and they are not much appreciated.

Mick, a "professional" vagabond comes our way, he is 50 years old, a wife and child, but he prefers being on the road. "That's living," he says, and advises us to take our troubles patiently ... "ain't no hurry. " He's right. We take refuge in a fast food restaurant to relax and try to find a way out of town. We decide to walk ... and when we take our bags, a tattooed blonde approaches, Olivia, a former wanderer who lived on the road from the age of 14. Now she is 40 and a child ... and she misses the adventure, she gives us a ride out of town! Unexpected! Fate strikes again. She works in recycling and we learn that the biggest landfill in the United States is located in Las Vegas. She would like to live anywhere else but on the other hand she feels that this city needs change and she can contribute. She drops us off in the desert at a crossroad. Very few cars go through there but we are too happy to be out of town to think about it. Thirty minutes later, a car stops, another angel is going to Colorado and passes near Moab ... a dream, we exult in passing from despair to intense joy, that's the magic of hitchhiking!
7 hours later and 20 degrees less, he drops us off in a rest station. It is around 20 degrees, we put all our clothes and we sleep in the tent tight. Some shivers later, dawn appears ... the "Canyons lands" open before us, a sea of red stone and snowy mountain tops. We hitchhike a bit and get to the public library where we meet Suelo.

Suelo is in his fifties, a childish smile and a frank look, a bit eccentric with his plumed hat and his bike disguised as a pelican. He lives in a small cave in a canyon about an hour from the city of Moab. He invites us to stay in his "guest cave" where we will stay one week. We live with little, enjoying the cool climate, singing around the fire and hiking under the full moon. The scenery is indescribable, what we are feeling too. Suelo was a great source of inspiration and continues to inspire us, not only for his lifestyle but more for his attitude towards life, his serenity, his understanding of the world and the people. He seems at peace with himself, singing at dawn with his guitar, feeding on wild berries, garbage cans, he cultivates his garden with an emphasis on personal happiness instead of frustrated activism. Words fail to "tell" Suelo. You can look at his website: Living without money and a book has just been published: The man who quit money.

After our stay in the cellar, we enjoy the hospitality of Bruni, a German refugee in the land of canyons where we can get ready for the snowy roads of Colorado. A short stop in Boulder and we descend into the State of New Mexico to visit Earthships, a company that builds self-sufficient homes with recycled materials. We meet Andrew who is crossing the country in his car .... and agrees to take us to Dallas, Texas and in exchange we dumspter dive and recycle food for him! Marissa splits to continue her journey to New York and Yazmin and I continue our journey south. We spend several days in a meditation center as volunteers and then we cross the state of Texas with some difficulty ... hitchhiking is not that easy, the police did not leave us in peace but we finally get to cross the border to Reynosa . 

Along the way, we discover the strength of the oil industry. Since the war in Iraq, the United States had accelerated the exploitation of their reserves in Texas. Thus, along the road, we can see the drilling companies that are redoubling their efforts to extract oil and natural gas. We meet several workers who spend 18 hours on the extraction sites, exposed to chemicals, many lose their lives by working, they have only four hours of rest between sessions. Jonatan, a Mexican says this is the best paycheck in the region. It's hard and risky, but he earns more than a doctor making over 170,000 dollars a year ... he does not know what to do with all that money, he has two houses and three cars but live constantly in the hotels ... it does not like to live alone and do not have time to meet someone. Earlier, we had met Brian, a young man who had cancer at the age of 21 years and through painful chemotherapy recovered. Today, he sees life with a different perspective and her painful experience opened his mind and heart. These meetings illustrate the contrast of Texas, a state rich in development, exploitation of workers and the rise of an alternative culture in Austin where the Occupy movement is present and active.

The return to Mexico is amazing as always ... the people are lovely and helpful, hitchhiking works wonderfully and in four days we are in Mexico City after visiting the beautiful "Huasteca Potosina". This concludes our tour to the other side, 15,000 kilometers, hundreds of enriching encounters and the same truth that resonate in our ears. Change is on and people are good. Just be confident, have faith in each other to live the most amazing experiences. We must take the first step, open up, abandon fear and smile in the future. The U.S. is the capital of capitalism, consumerism, but at the same time, we met a great "subculture", a generation of outraged who commit to change at a personal level and organize collective changes.

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