17 July 2007

Let Met Stay for a Day

Oh, what a blog lull that was. I was busy graduating, couchsurfing in Ghent and Venice, working a million bazillion hours, etc. etc.

This week I saw a book in the trainstation bookstore called, Let Me Stay For A Day by Ramon Stoppelenburg. I saw there was a website and looked it up when I got home: www.letmestayforaday.com. If I may show you the intro verbatim, it follows:
Ramon Stoppelenburg (30)
When I was 24 I left my house in The Netherlands, on May 1, 2001, with a backpack filled with clothing, a digital camera, a laptop, and a mobile phone.

From May 2001 to July 2003 I travelled the world WITHOUT ANY MONEY, visiting people who invited me over through this website. I crossed distance with my thumb or with help of sponsors and supporters. In return for all support I wrote about this all in my daily reports on this website.

In July 2003 I arrived back home after a 22-weeks trip through Canada. It was then when I decided to quit.

I once quit my journalism study to travel the world. Thanks to global media support and helpful sponsors I could travel to other countries and stay with people who invited me over.

Most of the times it was all part of a media circus and I knew I couldn't travel without it.

I shared popcorn with Geri Halliwell and shook hands with Steve 'The Crocodile Hunter' Irwin. Britney Spears was published next to me in an American newspaper and even in The Netherlands many magazines wrote about me and my adventures.

American television networks followed this website about the 'notorious Dutch freeloader who travelled the world since May 2001'. Every month millions of people from all over the world read my reports. When I arrived in Oslo, Sydney or Vancouver, I would already have a full mailbox of media requests.

In the last two years I have travelled through 18 countries, personally met some 10,000 people on the road, slept in 500 different beds, ate some 1,500 meals and had some 600 showers. I have always wanted to travel because of the cultures, the flavors, the scents, the people. I visited people in Africa, Australia and North America, where I got all the way to the icey north of Canada.

People had the strangest reasons to invite me over at their place. Out of simple hospitality, or because they have travelled around themselves, or because they loved to meet a Dutch person.

Of course it flattered me a lot when a tv-crew would follow me around for a day (or more). And it was always interesting to tell people where my hometown Zwolle can be found. "East of Amsterdam," I'd say. "Oh yes, Amsterdam!"

Of every single day on the road I took loads of photos and at night I sat down behind my host's computers (later behind my own laptop) to write a throrough daily report. The next day it was up and go again. And it was the same thing everywhere again.

I continued for almost two years: moving from one place to another, meeting strangers and updating this website for the online audience that would express themselve on guestbooks and forums. This resulted in 7,000 photos and over 550 reports and two years of weekly columns for a Dutch newspaper.

You might understand now that I sometimes felt trapped in a cage that I had created mysefl. When I wanted to get out, I knew I simply couldn't. It was like having a full time job and the website was the family I had to support. If I didn't do my thing well enough, my kids would complain.

The only way to get out was to go home and say: I quit. Just like that.

I know some people can be very happy with one job in a lifetime, but I didn't see me travel the way I did for a very long time. I am even surprised that it took me so long!

When I just finished this project in August 2003 I was very bitter about it all. I did not want to think about it and for once not care about a website.

Fortunately things went better with me. Nowadays I look back much more happier about the amazing feat I have accomplished.

I decided to do something else: to spend a period to write the book Letmestayforaday.com about my travels. Something that's not virtual but real and where stories don' t have to keep a website alive, only memory. You will enjoy it, I know.

You can check out more about the book on my personal homepage www.ramonstoppelenburg.com.
Another one for the list.


Anonymous Ramon said...

Thanks for the blogup. The book will be available in English in 2008.

Stay posted for a possible sequel! (Sssst!)

Monday, 30 July, 2007  

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