Friday, May 17, 2002

Letter to Karen


I am in a slightly different predicament [than yours], in that there are so many adults around but they all speak German to each other. Only when there are just two of us do they make an effort to speak English, and my German is perhaps at the one-year-old level. So in effect, I need more one-year-olds!

Juliette lives in a great housing project here in Freiburg -- the old French army barracks, after the French went home in the '60s, were turned into low-cost housing. This particular set of barracks was developed into a community situation, with most apartments having around 8 people in them, including some families. One area between two buildings is for people living in vehicles -- they've been built up to be immobile, and they're very funky, but it looks great. For some reason the thought of a mobile home is repulsive to me, but the thought of a delivery van with an add-on seems kind of romantic. My upbringing I suppose. Anyway there's a ceramics workshop, a darkroom, someone who makes wine, a coffee shop (open a few evenings per week), a store (bulk staples cheap), and a lot of people who really seem to enjoy living. Everyone borrows everything from everybody. It's a far cry from sustainable or self-sufficient living, but it seems to be a successful integration of creative, non-materialistic people into a modern town.

Today we leave for a one-week trip to Budapest, where Juliette's father lives. Budapest itself should be nice, but mostly I'm looking forward to the introduction to traveling in Europe. We'll be doing some hitching and camping on the way. We're ditching the tent in favor of a bivy bag (a bivouac; you put your sleeping bag inside to keep the rain out) to save size and weight.


Travel Trivia

My flight from Boston to Frankfurt cost $175 (each way) through Airtech. Airtech works on a space-available basis (standby), so there's no guarantee that you'll fly when or exactly where you want to, although they claim a high success rate. There was only one empty seat on my flight, so I consider myself lucky to have gotten the first try. Airtech only flies from the Northeast USA to Europe; from the west coast try Air-Hitch, which claims to provide confirmed seats 24 hours before departure (though the prices approach those you could get on a standard confirmed flight). A major advantage to these space-available flights is that your return flight is not limited in time -- normally a flight for over 30 days costs significantly more.

The community in Freiburg is called SUSI. Here's their brief ecological concept. Here's a more extensive "self-manifestation," translated poorly from German by a computer (original in German).