Travels

Twalk with me, travel trusting people

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Wijnand Boon pointing to a postcard from Jerusalem


As it has on its website, and it will repeat you in person if you get to know it, in Holland the image you have of the Internet is really negative: illegal downloads, anonymous threats, addiction to online games, child pornography ... Last year Queen Beatrix addressed the nation in her Christmas address and began to talk about the erosion of social responsibility and the sense of community. He also argued that “virtual meetings” on the Internet increase the distance between people instead of approaching them and we no longer help each other as before. The reaction on Twitter and social networks was not long in coming, but criticism was mostly reduced to the Internet and barely transcended the traditional media: a missed opportunity to inform, discuss and reduce the gap between actively digital citizens and those who are absent from that world. Wijnand began to think about how to change that situation and for several months the idea that he is now carrying out was developed.

Your plan is to use Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter or CouchSurfing) to try to contact people along your route. There is always someone who knows someone who knows someone ... and Social Networks help to connect those points from Holland to Spain, from Italy to Israel. Offer to share your story, and the stories of the road, in exchange for only a dinner and a bed or a sofa And if they are part of an incredible network of people who selflessly join two continents and more than a dozen countries with their act of solidarity.

I met Wijnand a couple of weeks ago at a CouchSurfing meeting in Gijón, (where he was staying, rotating the days, with several CouchSurfers). Among beers and traveler stories, he told me that his route passed through Aviles so he would contact me to see if he could accommodate him for one night, as they did before me a hundred hosts. When I received your message on Twitter, I agreed and we agreed to meet in the center of Aviles, from where we walked through its old town, its supported streets and the walkway that gives access to the modern Niemeyer Center while telling him things about my hometown. Once in my house, after we had a scramble of gluttony and prawns (one of that short list of half a dozen dishes that I dare to say that I do well) and while we had a glass of wine, Wijnand was explaining Taste about your mission. Your goal is teach the world what social networks and their users are capable of. As in the non-digital society, you will find that some people give you a hand and another does not. The difference is that on the Internet we have a tool to reach many more people much more easily, whether we need help or if we are offering it.

We talked until after midnight and we talked little about the divine and much about the human. Of traveling experiences, of cultural clashes, of the Internet, obviously and of confidence, both of those who have someone who houses a stranger and someone who has taken to the road not knowing where he will sleep the next day. After an hour, nothing prudential for those who have to get up early and walk between 20 and 25 kilometers the next day, went to sleep in the guest room. In my room, in front of the computer, I was reviewing its website and asking myself a simple question: with all my travel experience and all the people I have met, how many people would be able to do something similar to what Wijnand is doing ?

Visit their website and follow Wijnand on Twitter and Facebook or give them accommodation through CouchSurfing.

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