Experiences of 2015, #3: Tarifa’s Digital Nomad Scene

#3.Tarifa’s Digital Nomad Scene

This story about Digital Nomad life in Tarifa is part of a series on the epic experiences I’ve had of 2015. Part 1 is about Albania and Part 2 about hitchhiking an airplane over Malta.

I wasn’t even planning to make a stop here until I knew this place is also the Southernmost Point of Europe on Land, but I’m more than happy that I did visit the beach town of Tarifa in Spain. My Samsung tablet had just broken a day prior, so I was “blind” hitchhiking from La Linea, close to Gibraltar, to this place. Through the Tarifa Digital Nomads Facebook group I found a couchsurfing host in just minutes.

As I don’t research places much before I go there, Tarifa happily surprised me. The Feria, a week-long festival with a parade of five-hundred horses on the first day, would take place. There’s even a direct ferry to Tanger in Morocco that only takes 35 minutes to bring you there. A ferry I didn’t take because the temptation to hitchhike all the way to South Africa would be too big. Even though I was only planning to stay there one night, I ended up spending two weeks. I roamed around Tarifa’s kitesurfing beaches, its clubs and bars, and its Digital Nomad (DN) co-working spaces.

So… what are Digital Nomads, you may wonder? DNs are people who can work location independently because their job only requires a laptop and an internet connection and not an office in the traditional sense of work. Life is often cheaper abroad and you can still earn a North-West European wage (i.e. pretty high). Tarifa was therefore filled with web developers, web designers, online marketing managers, and bloggers (like me!). Their main worries were usually something like “should I get a bocadillo now or later?” and whether there’s enough wind to go kitesurfing in two hours. The best thing? Spain isn’t even the cheapest place to be a Digital Nomad, yet forces from above (i.e. someone with enough brownie points in the community) decided that Tarifa was going to be the Next Big Hub.

All sounds like a lot of privilege doesn’t it? I’m not going to deny that, but it must be mentioned that not al DNs are already making enough money (like me!) to sustain themselves completely, so not everyone does it year-round: just when the Levante and Poniente pick up again. It’s more like a really long holiday where people pick the location by the following factors in order of importance:
1) WiFi
2) Other Digital Nomad’s around + Co-working spaces
3) Beaches. We really dig beaches.
4) Living costs are low(ish)
5) Stuff to do (like kitesurfing)

Nope, I didn’t really see how I fit in the equation here. Besides being a hitchhiker looking for a place to sleep for a night. Until Tarifa, I was just an HTML-challenged blogger who didn’t know her ‘SEO’ and worked on Tumblr and not WordPress. The tablet dying on me was just the last digital blow, telling me I was doing a horrendous job at whatever I thought I was doing on the Internet. Since then I’ve been improving this website and even became somewhat organized in terms of writing and posting, gasp! That’s what happens when all the friends you make in town talk first about productivity and then about the weather or how things are. Digital Nomadism is a fascinating lifestyle.

This is not a story about how I hitchhiked from A to B with X many machetes and automatic rifles in the car. Or how wolves stole my food when freecamping in a place. (Before you’re anticipating a story, the latter never happened.) It’s about how I took my blog (my baby!) from the realm of hobbyists to something people might actually want to look at and changing my work ethic – so I’m a little less unemployed than before.

Two weeks of relative peace and chilling out with interesting people instead of running around is definitely something I needed at that time. I’m happy to have moved forward from Tarifa, but more so that I didn’t leave after a day and missed out on the new friends I made there and the life I lived with less worries. On a personal note, I think Tarifa is a great place to fall in love.

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