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  • Michael Phillips

Changing My Mind


Today marks my third week in El Salvador, I came here with trepidation. I hadn't traveled abroad for any significant amount of time in a while. I had become accustomed to not traveling alone, and this country has a terrible reputation for being a dangerous place. I came here intrigued of the new Bitcoin law being passed down here, searching for community, other people who believe Bitcoin will change the world by eventually taking power of printing money away from central banks around the world.


Since then I have made many friends. And unlike friends back home they love to discuss Bitcoin, macroeconomics and theorize of what a post-COVID world will look like for the entire world. Hours have been spent on these talks as more and more Bitcoin Beach curious people from everywhere in the world keep showing up. I found the community I was looking for.


Yet, even I have a threshold for these talks. These guys understand the technology, the complicated schemes around all the cryptocurrencies, and I can barely keep up. At some point I can feel the smoke escaping from my ears as the gears of my brain grind to a halt. I then go back to my hammock and read a book or write in a journal and escape these high level discussions.


During this time I also set out to become more physically disciplined. I committed myself to one meal a day, quitting alcohol, cannabis and coffee, and taking up yoga a couple times a week. I've begun shedding my COVID 19. A few days ago I gave up on wearing footwear at all.

Along the way I've gotten very comfortable here. I've started to unwind. I have my little band of friends that change as some leave for new destinations and new ones arrive. Our days are relaxed. I've gotten more into being physically active. I'm halfway through my surf lessons and I find a new class on the beach to workout, do pilates or yoga on a daily basis. I'm back to 2 meals a day but I'm more conscious of what I consume. I drink the occasional light beer or cup of coffee in the morning. I haven't felt this good in a while.


Where I've diverted from my original plan is social media. I had promised myself a regimented schedule of documenting my time here in photos and video. For my friends and family I think it's no surprise that I have given up on this strategy. I have always had an aversion to having any involvement on any platform. It's occurred to me that if I don't want to, I shouldn't. I don't care about 'building my brand' or showing off the life I'm leading out here. I'm happy just be here and enjoy the moments.


And there have been beautiful moments. I've walked home barefoot through the pouring rain after a group workout on the beach, covered in sand. I've photographed a lightning storm of the ocean. I've stood up on a surfboard. I have a casual conversation with someone that turns into a full day of driving the 'Pacific Coast Highway.' And I've been inspired to find alternative ways to live my life.


Truth be told I wasn't working all that hard on my photography. I was just too 'busy.' And then me and the boys (and I mean boys because I'm about 17 years older than everybody around here) got talking about something called NFTs. For those of you not 'in the know,' an

NFT is a Non-Fungible Token. This is a new kind of digital file, an attempt to take any kind of .jpg, .mov, .mp3, even a Tweet, and turn it into a one-of-a-kind digital asset. Sure, anyone can copy a picture from the internet, view it, share it. But you wouldn't be the rightful owner of that file. For anyone out there with kids, you understand how bad your child wants you to spend $15 for that 'skin' to wear in the game Fortnite, this could be a type of NFT. The world of NFTs is both absurd and intriguing.


We get into this discussion of NFTs and one of the boys suggest I photographing El Zonte, otherwise known as Bitcoin Beach for a project leading up to the 7th of September when the Bitcoin law goes into effect. The narrative of this place being the epicenter of it all may give value to the photos I create. While this idea sounds absurd to me, it just might be effective.

So I've gotten back to work. I wake up at sunrise to get shooting, work on photos in Lightroom by day and setup for a sunset shot while filling my days with all the other activities the beach has to offer.

Will this project be a success?? I have no idea. With the help of my new friends I have some faith. In the meantime it feels great to create some art again. It feels great to be a part of a special place at a special time. It feels great to not know what the future brings next, but I know it will be something exciting.


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