After talking to them, they all say the same thing, write! OK, so just write. What am I writing about? Right now. What is happening right now? Ok. Well I updated my Couchsurfing profile.
Here is my updated Couchsurfing profile:
Puerto Rican born and raised in the Northeast USA (Holyoke, MA to be exact -- no, not Boston lol). I love meeting new people, hearing about their background, and how they got to where they are today. Everyone’s life is a story and it’s interesting to see how our stories cross paths.
TRAVEL / COUCHSURFING HISTORY:
I went to college in Rhode Island, where I was able to visit the Galapagos, Quito, Panama, and Dominican Republic through student programs. After graduating I lived a couple months in Boston, then Orlando and Tampa for a little bit, back to Western Mass for a year in Springfield and a year in Holyoke, and eventually found my heart and voice in NYC where I was for 2.5 years. I tried out LA because the sun attracted me, but it did not make me happy. A couple depressive episodes later and with nothing but my clothes, yarn, crochet hooks, and relying on my final work paycheck - to journey across the USA and make it back home to western mass seemed like the right thing to do. For some it may seem like I had nothing, but for me, it was exactly what I needed at that moment.
I remember one of my former employees back in 2013 telling me, "get bored, like do absolutely nothing. Don't take on a job or anything and you will figure out what it is that you want to do. Don't worry about 'money' as what you need will come." Well finally 5 years later I took this advice, I guess to the extreme -- I didn't just get bored, I got broke, I got homeless. And like my former employee told me, I figured out what it was that I want to do.
As I made my way across the USA, taking the Greyhound city to city for a week at a time, relying on the kindness of strangers (mostly Couchsurfers) for a place to lay my head and pleasure me in conversation as they open up about their life's and me about mine, the following is what I wanted to do: crochet, volunteer, fundraise, and see the USA, and yes, eventually the world. Everyone I met along my journey received a small crochet heart, I yarnbombed different cities, sold items along the way, if a room was secure -- I volunteered at one or two local organizations, I fundraised for Casa Marianella in Austin by selling the crochet hearts I was giving out, and I did all of this with little to no money (although once I realized I wanted to volunteer, I reached out to some connections and they funded the buses between the cities, the rest was up to me). It was tough, there were moments that I was going to take my mom's offer to buy me a plane ticket back home but I stuck it out. I needed to do this.
I traveled from February 1, 2018 to June 10, 2018 and went to the following cities: San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Dallas, Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville, Louisville, Columbus, Pittsburgh / New Kensington.
I volunteered at the following organizations during that time for a total of 50 hours: Andre House (Phoenix), Ben's Bells (Tucson), North Texas Food Bank (Dallas), The Stewpot (Dallas), Casa Marianella (Austin), SouthWest Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center (Atlanta), The Shepherd's Inn (Atlanta), Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee (Nashville), Neighborhood Services Inc. (Columbus), Knead Community Cafe (New Kensington).
I got back home with the biggest culture shock of my life, but with a mission: I need to do this again, but not like this. I am beyond thankful for those who I met along my journey and offered a place to stay, the meals provided, the warm showers, y'all kept me alive. Along my journey I realized the power of a simple thank you, so just want to say THANK YOU! When I got back home to family, I found a couple part time jobs and been saving up for another journey, and here we are.
I decided this time around to devote all of 2019 to see as much of the US as I can, but in 3 / 4 week tours. One lesson I learned from hosts and fellow couchsurfers is that it's ok to feed a little into the system, as long as you know how you're using it to your benefit. So Holyoke is my homebase, but I want to travel and volunteer and leave my crochet pieces all across the USA!
I will be posting my itinerary as I book my enter and exit strategies from each city. Feel free to reach out if you're able to host or would like to meet up when I'm in your city. I'm planning on spending 1 - 2 days sightseeing, 1 - 2 days volunteering, and then the rest of the time I like to station myself at a place with a view while I crochet whatever project I'm working on.
You can check out my website at www.allofjose.com or follow my IG for more info - @allofjose. I am able to host in Holyoke, MA, but I do live with family (no worries, they're super cool), just would like more than a week's notice.
"What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen." - Henry David Thoreau
I'm also fundraising. Make sure to check out my page on 1/10/19 to see how and for who.