The Cape Town and Phnom Penh Hacker Paradise trips have wrapped up nicely and that means that the end of the year is just around the corner! 2017, where’d you go?
I’m still trying to get my head around it. This year has been so enormous for all of us here at Hacker Paradise, not just for the other facilitators and myself but also the community as a whole. If I were to sum it up, it’s been a year full of firsts and a year full of growth, and being able to say that we’re helping develop the world of remote working really gives you that achievement-unlocked kind of feeling.
Hacker Paradise has been doing its thing now for over three years! (I know. We wrote an article about being the world’s first work and travel community and everything!) So you’d think we’d have done it all by now, right?
Uh-uh, not even close. So much left to do. This year we visited two brand new continents: Africa and South America.
The verdict? Better than expected and will be doing them again. In fact, I’m writing this from the beaches of Colombia as we are gearing up to start some of our 2018 trips.
Being a three-month long trip, Hacker Paradise Cape Town was one of our longest program to date. From local dinner theatres to crypt jazz cafés to silent discos at sunrise, there was no shortage of activities. We had two amazing new facilitators, Dani and Renata, start working with us there, and Renata said that as soon as she arrived in Cape Town she felt at home. Cape Town has everything: nature, art, culture, nightlife, and the people were so nice. In many ways, it reminded her of Brazil.
Earlier in 2017, Dale and I took Hacker Paradise to Lima, Peru on our first trip to South America. More, ceviche, please! A moment that stands out more than anything for Dale this year was during this trip when a group of about six or seven Hacker Paradise attendees participated in a show-and-tell, each giving presentations about projects they were working on.
This group of people were some of the quieter people on this trip, but as the night went on, we saw them become more comfortable explaining the amazing work they’ve been doing. It opened up the whole night for amazing conversations about politics and life on a higher level. You know, the big questions like, “Why are we here?” Just one of the unplanned, off-the-cuff moments that Hacker Paradise is all about.
A few of us Hacker Paradise members decided to go on a five-day Salkantay trail hike the culminated at Machu Picchu. If you haven’t gone yet–go! It was nothing short of magical.
I was definitely not ready for it. There were days where it was freezing and I thought I was going to die (editors note: okay, I’m being a bit dramatic but living in the tropics for a year has really messed with my cold tolerance). But reaching the end of that trek was something else. That feeling of having succeeded through something so challenging on multiple levels made it all worth it.
Lima was also where we faced what was probably our greatest challenge of the year. Due to excessive rain and mudslides in the area, the running water for Lima was cut for five days. We were lucky enough to not be in the real dangers of mudslides and floods, we, along with most the 10 million people in Lima, were left not knowing when the water would come back on.
That uncertainty really weighs on you, especially when it’s your first week in a new country. You should have seen us the moments when the water came back on for a brief 15 minute window. Frantic announcements sent on Slack, running around knocking on doors, helping people fill up any container that could hold water. As hard as it was at the time, it’s a memory I will look back at with nostalgia. When shit is blowing up around you, it helps to have a community to rely on. Those memories stick with you.
As I said, this year has been a year of firsts, and thanks to our ever-expanding team (that’s facilitators and participants alike), we were able to double up and run two Hacker Paradise trips at once! Yes, Dale and I parted ways after a year and a half of living and working together in the same location and he and Dani remained in Cape Town while Renata and myself went on to run the Asia trips. I still have Hacker Paradise alumni message me regularly to ask how I’m holding up ‘through the divorce.’ I’M FI….I mean, I’m fiiiiiiiiiiiine.
This year we’ve seen some of our biggest growth in the sphere of diversity: greater diversity in the range of industries our digital nomads work in, a greater variety of nationalities attending and equal gender ratio of participants. We love this because it means the old stereotype of only ‘white tech bros from San Fran’ being able to work remotely is being thrown way out the window. It’s become so much more accessible to so many more people. More and more jobs are moving remote every day. You could be next.
Our skill shares have really benefited from this increase in diversity because each person who attends brings with them a completely different skill set. We’ve had really great, more career-focused skill shares like ‘They Keys to a Great Writing Process’, ‘An Introduction to Data Science, and ‘Basics of Design,’ but the one that really left an impression with me is one that Dale does called ‘Anyone Can Draw.’ I’ve always wanted to be more creative and artistic but always told myself I was terrible. The key lesson I walked away with from the workshop was that everyone needs to embrace their own drawing style, no matter what.
So now I’ve got a notebook filled with a month’s worth of daily drawings, and the progression from day 1 to day 30 is visible to not only me but others too. I can’t believe I stood in my own way for so long. Cheers to 2017 for removing that barrier for me.
These and other more physical skill shares like ballet and taekwondo have been really popular this year because trying to join in these activities at home can be super intimidating, but we’re all friends here, which makes it more fun and more accessible. Ballet and rose night was one to remember and one I hope no video exists of.
Another exciting trend we’ve seen is the number of people who come to us ‘in transition’. There are more and more people who are realizing they’ve been pushed into a career that they don’t enjoy. They come on one of our trips with goals and ideas that they’re passionate about and use Hacker Paradise as a stepping stone to achieving something that’s important to them. I’ve had participants call me and tell me about how their time at Hacker Paradise inspired them–and promptly went home, quit their job, and started doing what they have always wanted to do. This is the power of being around a group like this.
We’ve continued to grow our alumni network in 2017 so the value of Hacker Paradise doesn’t end when you go home. Our get-together in Berlin in July was the first of hopefully many alumni meet ups—alums, keep an eye on San Francisco, Porto, and Wales in 2018. And we’ve already started recording and posting skill shares so that our community can take part in skill shares even when they’re away from our growing family. I even had someone Skype in to my ‘Learn to Read Korean’ workshop.
Spoiler alert: going into 2018, we have no plans of slowing down. You can expect to see more of everything. More skill shares, more meetups and most exciting of all: more destinations! 2017 saw us running two trips side by side, and in 2018 we will start running three.
I know that Renata can’t wait to travel around Latin America and see the Carnaval de Barranquilla in Colombia, but the trip I’m personally looking forward to most is Sofia in Bulgaria. It’s such an unsung gem, and I’m itching to show a Hacker Paradise group around.
Hopefully we’ll see you on the road in 2018!