Day 0: Backpacking again
Monday 7 November 2022

Everything is ready for another great adventure.

The backpacks are stuffed, the check-in is already done, the cab is waiting for us with the engine running, outside the front door. We are about to cross the ocean once again.

Last year we chronicled the adoption of Bitcoin in El Salvador, the country of the legal tender, just a few months after the law went into effect. Forty-five days spent in the smallest nation in Central America, without cash or credit cards: living exclusively in Bitcoin. Our goal was to get out of the comfort zone of tourists and bitcoin influencers, typically Bitcoin Beach and the capital city of San Salvador. Leaving behind the more touristy routes, delving into the more remote areas to see if it was really possible to shop and pay in bitcoin in the popular markets of small suburban villages, meeting with residents of the poorest areas to find out what they really thought of Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention.

It was an incredible journey.

We wrote a diary in Italian and English that was read by tens of thousands of people, we made documentary videos to show the world this incredible revolution.

The time has come to do it again.

We are returning to El Salvador, to tell you what has changed more than a year after the law was passed. We have great expectations and also a little fear. If there is one thing our past experience has taught us, it is that all that glitters is not (digital) gold. Net of the pro-Bitcoin propaganda there are many problems and difficulties we have encountered. There is little technology education. Very few Salvadorans really understand Bitcoin and truly appreciate its inherent features. For most of the population it is an exotic oddity. Used to cash and accustomed to the dollar, it is something they don’t really feel the need for, proposed by a national government that has a huge consensus in the country, but so far doesn’t seem to have been able to overcome the population’s distrust on this issue. Money is not to be trifled with anywhere in the world.

We will spend a whole month in El Salvador, trying to live there again by spending only Bitcoin. Will it be easier or harder than last year?

But this time we will not be limited to that. Our trip will take us to explore Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras, all countries where several local communities are organizing spontaneously, to attempt alternative economy experiments under the auspices of Satoshi Nakamoto. We are excited to discover new horizons and meet new people. We will be backpacking for 11 weeks and we feel privileged. We know we are.

Our plane takes off on time from Milan Linate airport. We have 24 hours of travel ahead of us, three stopovers in total, Frankfurt, Toronto and, finally, San Salvador. 

When we arrive at our destination it is 8 p.m. and already pitch dark. Passport control is very quick and in no time we are leaving the airport. An intense, humid heat invades us. Arrivals are crowded with people. The atmosphere is festive, typically Central American. The looks on people’s faces, their clothing… it’s simple, genuine, sunny people. We had missed them.

Our cab is already waiting for us. We booked it from Italy. Forty-five minutes by car separate us from San Salvador and our hotel. We travel with the windows open, looking around. The air is fresh. The pungent smell of wet earth, damp wood, and distant fires unlocks recent memories for us.

We reach our destination, pay (in Bitcoin of course) and jump straight to bed. A long sleep awaits us.

Welcome back to the legal tender.