Author Archives: Râu Cao

About Râu Cao

Traveling full-time since 2010. Hacking on the beach every January.

Wiki page for Episode 10

In order for everyone to be able to collect more details for this January, we have created a new Episode 10 page on our wiki and added some more details there, including more precise location details.

You should be able to register an account and add content to those pages. If there’s any issue, please ping us on chat or social media. (You can also propose sessions via those other channels.)

Hacker Beach #10: Waves & Volcanos

Good news, everyone! After hell had frozen over last winter, and we did not have an official Hacker Beach location for the first time since the beginnings in 2013, we’re officially back on track with Episode 10!

This coming January, we invite you to join us in the beautiful country of El Salvador, in a region called La Libertad!

Located on the Pacific coast, and nestled in between Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, El Salvador is not just diverse in its nature and people itself, but also makes a perfect launch pad for exploring more of Central America before and/or after Hacker Beach.

Let’s leave the marketing spiel to the tourism office of El Salvador. But from volcanos, crater lakes and waterfalls in the hills, to relaxed beaches and amazing surf breaks on the coast, there’s something to find for everyone.

Sunset in El Zonte

Let’s get some logistics and FAQ out of the way, before announcing a few more details about particular places and events during this Hacker Beach in future posts…

Dates

As always, the entire month of January is officially Hacker Beach month. This means, if you hang out in the area anytime within the month of January, there should be other hackers and associated lifeforms around. Naturally, there will be more people in the middle of the month than at the very beginning or end.

Entry requirements

Most passports get a 90-day visa on arrival at no cost. U.S. citizens will have to pay a small “tourist fee” at the airport (cash, credit/debit card, or bitcoin). There are no special COVID-19 requirements for entry anymore. Yes, you read that right! No PCR tests, no vaccination cards or QR codes, not even speaking of quarantine for arriving travelers… nada.

The dreaded topic

There is no public health emergency currently going on in El Salvador, or expected to happen in January. It is one of few developing countries that was able to provide enough vaccines to its people when the novel ones first became available. Anyone, including foreign visitors, can get vaccinated or even boostered at the public vaccination centers, if they wish to do so. On the other hand, nobody is required to be vaccinated for participating in social life and going about their business.

Getting in

By air, the usual option from most other countries is the El Salvador International Airport. As usual, Wikipedia has the list of airlines and destinations from/to SAL.

If you start your journey in a neighboring country, there are also buses or even boats you can take. No need to tell you more in this case, because you’re obviously an explorer and you will find your way.

Caveat: If you are not vaccinated (there’s that dreaded topic again), and you are not a U.S. citizen, please be aware that you cannot connect via the U.S. by plane, because that would require you to have an ESTA registration and clear immigration at your connecting airport. Which, unfortunately, requires proof of vaccination for almost all foreigners at the moment (with a few exceptions). A good alternative route for most points of departure is MEX, with Mexico also being open to all travelers, and no special entry requirements in place.

Accommodations

In good old Hacker Beach tradition, there is nothing organized or packaged for you to click and consume. You will have to find your own accommodations, but sharing with others makes things cheaper and is encouraged, of course. There are large houses with many bedrooms available for rent along the coast, and there are also many hotels and guest houses with rooms available in the villages along the coast.

If you want the best bang for your buck, don’t book single rooms online! The best deals are not available on a website. And if you want to share a larger place with some people, join one of our chatrooms and talk to your fellow hackers.

Currency

You may have heard of this, of course: El Salvador currently uses the U.S. Dollar as their national currency. However, they also recently introduced BTC as legal tender. This means you can either stay entirely on USD for your trip, or you can use bitcoin and the Lightning Network to pay for goods and services here and there, but not everywhere.

You can also withdraw USD cash from Chivo ATMs by providing a phone number and sending BTC to it. However, that only works with on-chain transactions at the moment, and you will have to wait for 1 network confirmation until you can redeem the cash. (But who knows, maybe also instant Lightning withdrawals in January?)

Is Hacker Beach now Bitcoin Beach?

No.

Instead, the actual Bitcoin Beach that started the whole thing in El Salvador is located in El Zonte in La Libertad, which is actually also a perfect place for beginner surfers to learn catching some waves. We could plan a few meetups in El Zonte, simply because it’s a nice place, and our events may have the positive side effect of introducing some locals to more hacker culture and computer/Internet topics than just bitcoin.

Security

El Salvador is not the most secure country in the world, but it’s also a far cry from the headlines you may have read online somewhere. Common sense will keep you safe. If you can avoid it, don’t walk around alone at night in badly lit, non-touristy areas you don’t know. Have a backup strategy for your devices and data (they could also just break). When in doubt, ask someone first.

Chat rooms

As always, we’re hanging out in the #hackerbeach IRC channel on Libera.Chat (moved there from Freenode a while ago). But we also have an invite-only XMPP room that you may join. Please DM someone you know or one of our social media accounts for access.

More info

Questions?

Great! Ask us in one of the chatrooms, on the fediverse, or on Twitter. See you there, or on the beach!

Hacker Beach #9: Wherever you go

As our regulars already know, and everyone else has likely guessed at this point, there will not be an official Hacker Beach location this coming January.

After 8 consecutive years of gathering random hackers in amazing, overlooked tropical locations, hell has finally frozen over. We spare you yet another Internet comment on the whys, hows, shouldas, and wouldas. All things considered, there is simply no way to invite people from around the globe to the same location at the same time this coming month.

Some of us are still escaping their colder winters for a bit, and some will also meet each other. However, if you don’t want to stay at home yourself, you will obviously have to plan according to your individual geographic and health situations.

As always, we’re still hanging out in #hackerbeach on Freenode. And people who have physically joined a gathering before also still have access to our invite-only XMPP room, hackerbeach@kosmos.chat. (If you think you should have access to the latter, but don’t, please ask about it on IRC.)

There will also be at least a couple of remote beer conferencing sessions on some video chat tool in January. Stay tuned in the chatrooms for that.

With that, until the next try, we wish you a good winter, good health, good company, and lots of fun and success with your computers and other interests! Let’s hope we can officially go back to traditional hackerbeaching in January 2022.

Hacker Beach #8 – “The only risk is wanting to stay”

This may just be the latest announcement post we have ever done, but you know the spiel: Hacker Beach #8 is happening as always, this coming January, for however long you want to join! Same procedure as every year, James.

After not having returned to the Americas on our normal next-continent-over schedule, we’re finally back in the EST timezone and on a coast of the Caribbean Sea.

Everyone, please feel cordially invited to meet your fellow hackers (and associated life-forms) in Palomino, Colombia, this coming month!

Colombia is an amazing country, and so incredibly diverse that attempting to summarize it in one sentence is almost impossible. Hence, we’ll just use the Colombian tourism office’s official explanation: “Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay”. How inviting is that?

We’re still collecting detailed information on the wiki page for episode 8, but here are some choice bits upfront:

  • The closest airport (and city) is Santa Marta (SMR). Only a few local airlines go there, so you may be better off booking a connection to SMR separately from your ticket to a major city in Colombia (e.g. Bogotá, Cali, or Medellín).
  • It’ll be easily possible to enjoy your time on less than 30 USD/day (one of our unwritten rules). In fact, you could even get a hammock for like 3 USD/night.
  • After a bunch of scuba diving in recent years, this time we can surf again.
  • There’s not just a beach, but a massive natural reserve with tall mountains directly next to where we are: the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
  • Why not look at some photos to get you in the right mood for Palomino?

As always, the public conversation is happening in #hackerbeach on Freenode IRC. And you can also ask questions on the fediverse or Twitter, in case you’re interested.

See you in Colombia!

Hacker Beach #7 location confirmed

As you probably know, our informal process for deciding on our next destination is “whoever books the first flight, after finding rough consensus on IRC”. And so, someone just booked a flight!

Without further ado: next January, we’ll be hanging out in the North-East of the Philippine Palawan province. We haven’t decided on the exact island yet, but most likely it will be Coron or El Nido. For now, the most important thing is that you can book a flight to Manila for whatever period of time you want to join us during the month of January. From there, you can take a local flight, ferry or even fisherman’s boat to our little hacker paradise on Earth.

El Nido, photo by gameoflight on Flickr (licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A detailed announcement will follow at some point in the not-too-distant future. Until then, follow us on the fediverse (or Twitter if you absolutely have to), and/or join our IRC channel #hackerbeach on Freenode.

Hacker Beach #7 (Jan 2019) Update

  • As usual, you can count on Hacker Beach returning to some fantastic island or coast in 2019. If you weren’t sure if you should add it to your calendar, here’s your official confirmation.
  • As usual, it will happen during the month of January, all of January, for however long you want to join.
  • As usual, the location search is ongoing throughout the year. And the location will most likely be decided upon sometime between September and November. If you have one to propose, tell others on IRC and/or add it to the wiki.

After this year’s road trip from Sénégal to the Gambia (which was fantastic by the way), we’re planning to go back to gathering at one location for the entire month. Also, we’ll try to announce that location earlier this time, in the hopes of making it just a little bit easier for you to join us again.

If you want to stay tuned, subscribe to this blog and ideally join us in #hackerbeach on Freenode IRC.

You can also follow us on the fediverse (Mastodon). If you don’t have a fediverse account yet, check out joinmastodon.org. We also have space for more users on kosmos.social, which is run by Hacker Beach regulars.

Hacker Beach #6 is a go!

A longer-form announcement is following soon-ish, but here are the most important facts for now:

As usual, Hacker Beach is happening next January. All of January, for however long you want to join. The general area will be along the coast of Sénégal, south of Dakar (Petite Côte). The first hackers have booked their flights, arriving in Dakar from January 3rd onward.

The idea is to find our nice paradise location on the way South, and maybe also visit Banjul in the Gambia towards the end of January. Please join us in #hackerbeach on Freenode if you’re interested, and add your name to the wiki page when you’ve booked a flight.

You can also follow us on the Fediverse (Mastodon), or on Twitter.

Let’s meet at SHA2017

Just a quick invitation, while you’re probably waiting for someone to announce location plans for next January: some Hacker Beach regulars will be pitching a tent at the Dutch hacker camp SHA2017 in early August. SHA2017 is this year’s edition of the Dutch counterpart to the German Chaos Communication Camp, traditionally breaking each other’s 4-year pauses into less depressing 2-year waits.

If you’re attending, and you’re interested in tropical hacker gatherings without the “digital nomad” crowd, but with plenty of open-source software hackers and associated lifeforms, we’ll gladly tell you all about the past 5 years and places. And we’ll likely also be researching and discussing next January’s location during the camp.

If you haven’t planned on attending yet, there’s still time! The camp sold out last week, but the organizers added an additional 500 tickets, of which, at the time of writing, ~420 are still available.

As always, the easiest way to get in touch is the #hackerbeach channel on Freenode. You can also subscribe to our blog‘s RSS feed, and follow us on the fediverse, or on Twitter.

See you at the camp!

Hacker Beach #5: First Impressions

With most people staying until the end onf the month, there’s still time to book a flight and join us on what locals call “FBI” – Flores Beautiful Island. Here’s what it looks like:

Amazing sunsets

Sun setting over #hackerbeach on Flores

A photo posted by Râu Cao (@raucao) on

Hacker Bay

Most of us ended up getting a room at Waecicu Beach Inn, a bit north of Labuan Bajo. It’s located in its own bay, with its own beach and a small island you can swim to. Let us know if you want us to reserve another room! We were able to talk them down on the price a bit, so it’s just under 30 USD/night.

#hackerbeach

A photo posted by Râu Cao (@raucao) on

The Tropical Shire

The peninsula north of Labuan Bajo, which Waecicu is situated on, is absolutely gorgeous. It consists of grass-covered volcanic hills, sprinkled with a few palm trees. As soon as you come out here, the panoramic views in all directions are just stunning, all the way up to the North end of the island (a 2-hour hike).


More posts coming up soon, containing some details about the Internet situation. Also check out hashtag #hackerbeach on the Web, if you’re interested.