Fishermen in front of sunset, Sri Lanka

Getting inspired in Sri Lanka

In your 20ies after studying you’d usually ask yourself ‘Who do I want to be?’ or ‘What do I want to do? My current question is ‘How do I want to live?’. Do I want to live together with people? Alone? At the beach? In a city?

Arugam Bay

And all these questions started with a surf trip to Arugam Bay for 1.5 months, just 3 weeks after the devasting Easter bombings that killed hundreds of people.

Arugam Bay is a village, that rose to fame for its surf breaks after the Tsunami 2004. Since then, the facilities for tourists have been developed, but it has been spared by high rise concrete hotels, that you can find in the south. Most Restaurant, Bars and Shops are along one main road, that is always busy with cars, Tuk-Tuk’s or cows.

Streetscene with Tuk Tuk's in Pottuvil

Many tourists had cancelled their travel plans, so most of the people I met were ‘Visatravellers’ (my made up term, people who have seasonal work or are digital nomads and stay in a country of their choice, until the visa expires). I had just finished my bachelors degree and my peers were all starting their careers with 60 hours a week and suddenly I was next to a person that works for 3 days a year as a troop entertainer. Or another one 4 months a year as a ski instructor. Or a surf photographer that is in the process of recording a music in a barrel. And I was like, what? That works?

Watching the sunset in Arugam Bay

What really set this journey apart from others, was that there were so 1/4 of the normal tourist amount. When I met someone I knew that I’d see them again on the street, in the line-up or somewhere. When I walked down the street, I knew the people hanging out at their Tuk Tuk’s or Restaturants and when I wanted to meet somebody I just walked there.

City Person?

Wild Elefants in Sri Lanka

I always thought that I was a city person, because it was all I knew. I grew up in Berlin, the least german city in Germany, where you can learn anything and you can look however, without people judging you. You want to wear Pyjamas on the subway? Or a cloak? Or non gender-conforming clothes? Go ahead, nobody cares. Which is awesome for the freedom to keep reinventing yourself, but it also comes with the of anonymity from 3.5 mio people. It is normal not to know your neighbors after 5 years of living door to door.

Prior to living in Sri Lanka, I had never experienced village life other than visiting my grandparents conservative, ageing villages for a week at a time. And there it felt like one political, religious opinion and one way of life is allowed per village, with no room to discuss.

Inspiration

And of course my Arugam Bay experience was a bubble, we travelers mixed only with a few locals, that didn’t agree with the sexist views of the rest of the village. Which I could go on about, but not in a smiling matter. We were on holiday, sleeping in hostels and eating a meal for 75ct, without having to worry about the things that make it tough. I saw how we lived, surfed and supported each other and I realised that I want that in life. A group of people to face the complexity of the world with.

However from living in flatshares for years, I know there are so many topics that make living together with other people difficult (taking out the trash, splitting chores fairly, finances). Earlier that year I went to a conference from an organisation called attac, where I got to know some interesting consesus methods and discussed alternatives to capitalism. And I thought throwing these in one pot is a recipe that I’d like to try. But I’m not the first one to think that, so as you may know, I’ve been visiting in communities a lot for the last 6 months. I’ll continue to keep you posted on my pracitcal and theoretical insights. And it’s been a wild journey.

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1 year Revision

I’ve been writing this blog every other week for one year, so it’s time to revisit my goal with this platform.

One year ago, I had just gotten into the topic of communal living on a greater scheme than a flat share. My primary motivation for starting my own project, was that there are almost no recources on communal living out there, that describe the personal experiences from people and real life evaluations on how to make it work. Just a page, that tells you whether or not it’s cool to be there.

At the time I was living in my first self converted car, travelling between France and Spain, I went surfing every day, was inspired by people on the way, that were choosing to live life outside a 9 to 5 job. So I wrote about them as well.

When winter arrived in Europe I flew to Latinamerica with an open end ticket. Next to spanish, I learned amazing, but also cruel things from the people and their history in Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. I got by, by creating websites for small business or working for food and accomodation along the way and wasn’t planning on stopping the trip any time soon.

Then Corona started in March, and along with most peoples lives, mine changed as well. Feeling grateful for the ability to do so, I flew back to Germany, to safety, health care and my home. Upon arriving I needed to figure out what to do all over again.

I knew that I want to be by the seaside to surf, the one thing Germany can’t offer. And that I want to continue to put myself to new environments, while keeping Infectionrates in mind and not sit in crowded buses all the time. I knew that I needed to continue to work on my computer and pick up my studies of IT again, so I looked for a car with standing height to build a home on the road.

In July I started my van conversion process with no prior knowledge of the topic and a severe underestimate of the time it was going to take me. Now it is mid September and the build is slowly coming to an end. I’m finally able to make a list of the things, that need to get done, with out writing a entire bullet point book.

But as my time and mind and also my dreams ( I once dreamt that I had a specific hinge, that I have never owned) were consumed by the van conversion, I strained further from my original goal of making communities more accesible by writing about it and sparking conversations around them and introducing interesting life concepts and inspiring people.

This week I had planned to post a video on building and a sliding bed (which is really cool), but as I was cutting the video, I realized, that this is not what I want to be on this blog, but it’s on my youtube channel where I’ll continue to update you on my van covnersion.

And even though we all have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé, I’m realizing that I don’t have the time to post bi-weekly at the moment. However, as soon as I’m back on the road, I’m planning pick up the digital pen again.

Have a nice weekend and stay hydrated,

Kalina

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