November 30th – The date of some postings (like this one) will differ from the actual date they were written. Often one must write offline and upload as access to the Internet permits.
I am everywhere touched by the kindness of strangers. I left my home of one week with Ale Gutierrez, an Argentinian living in Copenhagen. I will hopefully see her again next year, in Copenhagen, when I hope to attend the COP-15, final session of the UN FCCC Conference on Climate Change.
A short, 1 hour flight to Berlin, and I am whisked away by the famously efficient and timely Bahn train system to my new ‘couch surf’ hosts. (See http://www.couchsurfing.com/) Couch surfing was part of what made this adventure possible for me. As I am completely on personal funds on this trip, I must not only keep my carbon footprint minimal (and buy carbon offsets for my travel), but I must keep my monetary footprint to a minimum as well. The Couch Surfing ‘movement’ is a God-send. It is a hearkening back to the days when young people were in motion in the US, ‘crashing’ with others of like mind, often calling themselves ‘hippies’. But today there is no such stygma associated with it. It is just another community of cohesion between open-hearted, like-minded individuals sharing their homes and lives.
I stayed in Berlin with Andreas, his wife Ulriche and their daugher Marlena last night. It was a cold night, -3 degrees C I am told. I slept with 5 layers of clothing on, under a down sleeping bag, with a comforter on top of it. Still in the night I got up to put on a hat and scarf. My body is not prepared for this temperature.
I find it curious that the United Nations would select Poznan, Poland, arguably one of the coldest spots they could have selected at the coldest time of year, for a conference to deal with the specter of global warming. Andreas suggested that it must have been the availability of rooms in Poznan, a medium sized city, but with no great tourist appeal at this time of year.
And indeed, this may be an unusually warm winter for northern Europe. My hosts in Berlin said that at this point each winter in Berlin there is apt to be a foot or more of snow on the group. Today there is nothing.