There’s a New Stan in Town
Back in August I visited my very first micro nation: The Republic of Molossia. Not only did I have a blast–my favorite part was meeting the President–but I left inspired. Dammit, I want a country of my own now! So The Republic of Slowjamastan was born.
“Dude, I saw the look in your eyes when you arrived in Molossia and I knew this was going to happen. I thought, ‘this guy’s gonna make his own country now.’ I was right.” -My friend Polo, who accompanied me on the trip there.
Like any micro nation, it started as a dream. I remember registering the slowjamastan.org website and searching for land that first day…I couldn’t sleep that night. My mind was racing and I could’t shut it down. I was really going to do this! The possibilities were endless. And that’s what great about starting a micro nation. They can be whatever you want them to be.
Most micro nations live online, with no actual “property” involved at all. In fact, there are hundreds of micro nations that exist on Instagram alone, without even a website of their own. That’s cool, but I wanted actual land. I wanted to join the likes of Molossia, Sealand and North Dumpling Island. I wanted my own country…physically.
I began searching for acreage. While I saw some great deals on big chunks of dirt, most of these spaces were too far away: Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, etc. Sure, I could score 45 acres three hours from Little Rock, but what good is a country if it’s super out-of-the-way to get to? So I honed my search down to Southern Arizona and Southern California – two places I could get to easily. I grew up in Tucson, Arizona and return often to see friends and family; and I live here in Southern California…so those two regions made sense. As my search area narrowed, I continued learning about land real estate – something I knew absolutely nothing about until now, the definition of a crash course. The main lesson here: You can get cheap land in the middle of nowhere. And by middle of nowhere, I mean not only far away from any town, but quite aways from any roads, too. These bargain plots of land weren’t connected to any highways or streets…not even dirt roads! Literally, just square acres of soil in absolute isolation. Any pieces of land actually connected to a real road and of any decent size (more than five acres) were way out of my budget. I almost surrendered my nation before it was even born. And then, I found it…
An 11.07 acre stretch of land right smack dab on the middle of Highway 78 in Southern California. Not only was this beautiful patch of desert connected to asphalt, but actual state highway! While it was a little over my budget, I couldn’t find any highway land anywhere that was even close to this price. To make it even cooler, the parcel was located in a really cool part of California: Imperial County, just a few minutes from the infamous Salton Sea. I had to have it. Five weeks later I was putting pen to paper. I had land!
The Birth of a Nation
I spent the next few weeks building my online presence, establishing a consulate and getting together the essentials (a flag, a national anthem, business cards, etc.) Did I mention I appointed myself Grand Leader and Sultan of Slowjamastan?
It was crazy to think that I owned an entire country that I haven’t even seen in person. Of course, it wasn’t a nation just yet, but still. I’d finally make a visit to Slowjamastan on November 11th, 2021, to officially break ground and supervise the installation of our two signs identifying this new nation.
I was excited and nervous at the same time. Would I love the land? Or would I hate it? There’s only so much you can tell about a piece of property from Google Maps. Now I’d actually be there. I spent the night an hour away in nearby Palm Desert. After coffee and breakfast tacos at Villa Bakery, I set off on the journey to Slowjamastan.
A little over an hour later, the trees and cacti had disappeared. The landscape became a little softer and simpler, with the raw sand of the desert floor becoming more prominent, dotted with spaced-out shrubs. The big blue sky and the mountains in the distance gave off pastel hues under the morning sun. I saw wooden survey markers with neon flags to my right. We’d arrived in Slowjamastan. I fell instantly in love with my land. This was beautiful.
This Land is Your Land This Land is My Land
I spent the first half-hour walking the land. I wanted to see what my recently ordered survey showed – a company had just been here to mark my property corners and lines. I walked through sand and over rocks. The ground was super soft in some places, and in other locations, hard as concrete. I saw old rusty cans that had been used for target practice, a few beer bottles and other pieces of trash. Note to self, I’d need to arrange a Slowjamastan clean-up day in the future. But the litter wasn’t too bad at all. I loved seeing evidence of animals: paw tracks, snake lines and obvious “homes” in the ground identified by holes, burrows and tunnels.
Open Concept Workspace
I believe in a big, open office…with lots of room, fresh air, and a shared space where all can collaborate. Our first installation was the Sultan’s desk. What could go wrong?
Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs
Soon our signs and sign-installers arrived. This was super exciting for me. It made it officially-official! I tried to manage my excitement. I was really nerding-out for sure. Giddy.
So Long, Slowjamastan!
I had to work that day, so I needed to hit the road by noon. I hated saying goodbye. There was so much more to do in Slowjamastan.
Once I was home, I began monitoring the slowjamastan.org website activity. I was really surprised to see so much traffic on the 78…maybe because it was a holiday (Veterans Day)? There was a steady stream of RVs and trailers and a good amount of commercial trucks, too. Turns out there is lots of outdoor activities nearby (sand dunes, hiking, camping, etc.) and the 78 is a shortcut for trucks. The sign did what I was hoping for, and that was lure curious passers by to the website. It was working. One woman even posted on nearby town’s Facebook group:
“Is there a movie being filmed on 78? I passed by today and saw signs for some kind of ‘Stan.’ Anyone know what’s happening?”
An onslaught of comments followed. A couple of hours later my website was bursting at the seams. Reddit had found Slowjamastan. Chaos ensued as my web stats went of the charts. Soon applications for citizenship came flooding in, my PayPal app was giving me notifications of merch sales and my phone was even ringing from people calling from all over the world. I created a monster! (You should really check out the comments on Reddit HERE – some of this stuff is hilarious!)
What’s next? I will continue building. Who knows what’s to come? A Bocce Ball court? A border fence and watchtowers? A heli-port?
Stay tuned to slowjamastan.org to see all that’s forthcoming in The Republic of Slowjamastan!
This entry was posted in North America