Digital Nomad

Part 1

I just came across this term a few days ago. Shows how much behind one can fall. Well, what is digital nowadays, was analogue in the past. So in that term for most of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s I was an analog nomad, exploring parts of the world with my Leica cameras and later with some Nikon gear.

Analogue…it was certainly a very different, but sometimes more exiting world. Why? First of all the travel itself, the planning. No smart phone, no GPS, no online maps, now trip advisor, no online hotel bookings. It could take month’s to get all information together. I remember writing to the tourist centers in various places around the world for material. Waiting weeks or even month’s before the the sometimes thick envelopes with exotic postage stamps would appear in the letterboxes. Sometimes glossy and very professionally made up brochures inside, sometimes, just some type written pages with information.

After spending evenings, one had a daytime job, working through the material, sketching out a possible route.

Endless trips to the friendly, or sometimes not so, travel agent. Working through routing and conditions, trying to get the best airfares and most convenient combinations. Exotic carriers, which don’t exist anymore. Online-booking was something for Space Odysee 2001, centuries (felt) ahead. Finally ticketing and ending up with a thick, printed booklet, which, folded out could be 1 meter or longer. The red copy coating at the back leaving one with red fingers afterwards. Things like pre-seat allocation and lounges were far in the future.

But having a ticket was not all. Hotel reservations. Telexes overseas. At least at the key locations.

Currency. Planning ahead was key. No credit card. No ATM. Cash even in the most dangerous countries plus traveller cheques. Do you remember these? Shows your age.

Finally the day of departure. Luggage limit: 20 kg, not more. Off to the airport. Trying to be there early to get a good seat.

Behind the counter a tall board with all the available seats on display. Are there any window seats? But still 30 people ahead of you. If not A or K, maybe at least an aisle seat. Finally in front of the counter clerk. They were more like almighty gods at those times. Sometimes at least. Luggage on to the scale. 22 kg, plus a 15 kg camera bag. A serious look down at you passenger worm. You smile up, shyly. Well the god could smile as well and yes, luggage accepted, but only 20 kg written on to the ticket. For the insurance, you know. Breathe easy. Now the seat. She or he turn around and….you are lucky, they ask where you like to seat…. you point at the seat you had already looked out. With a gracious smile, the sticker was peeled from the board and placed on your boarding pass, if all went well. Sometimes not, you took what was given to you and if you were unlucky, in the smoking sector.

Smoking, right. That was still possible. What a joy finding yourself, a passionate non-smoker after 21 years of age, before it was smoking to appear more grown up, surrounded by smokers. In the row behind you, in front of you and on seat B, next to you, for the next 6 to 8 hours. At least the planes had to land more often.

So, all went well and up to the gate. But what about security? TSA? No way, something like this we did not know. A real blessing. Only passport control and the gate. Maybe a quick look into the duty free shop, which really had only cigarettes, alcohol and a few trinkets, not a shopping mall with a gate attached, like nowadays.

Then onto the hard seats and waiting for the call…..

(more to follow)

Images: Boy with chicken in Cuenca, Ecuador, Old women in Cusco, Peru, Farmboy with dog, Australia, Street Scene, Shanghai

All pictures copyright: Norbert Schmiedeberg, NCAS_48.

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