‘No, we’re not smuggling people’ – Bitcoin advocate tours Europe in BTC-styled van

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‘No, we’re not smuggling people’ – Bitcoin advocate tours Europe in BTC-styled van


From thumbs-ups from friendly strangers to midnight police searches, a Bitcoin-themed van continues a whirlwind tour around Europe.

Ariel Aguilar has been behind the wheel of Bitcoin (BTC) promotion efforts, driving across Europe in a BTC-themed van called La Bitcoineta. Speaking to Cointelegraph journalist Joe Hall at Plan B Summer School, the Argentinian Bitcoin proponent recalled highs and lows of the journey across nearly a dozen European nations.

“Bitcoin is work. Bitcoin is time. Bitcoin is hope.” La Bitcoineta parked at the Plan B Summer School in Lugano in 2023.

A portion of La Bitcoineta’s journey took the van from Serbia to Lugano, which involved a border transition between Bosnia and Croatia. Aguilar had waited until midnight to cross the border, which prompted suspicion from border and customs officials.

After an initial check at the border, the van was stopped ten minutes later by an unmarked vehicle manned by five officials in civilian clothes. The Bitcoin enthusiast said:

“They said ‘we are the police, we have to search your vehicle.’ I thought it’s most likely that they thought we were smuggling people.”

Again Aguilar was cleared to continue his trip to Lugano, humorously noting that he had avoided ‘bribing’ an official who had discovered Aguilar’s copy of The Bitcoin Standard, a book written by BTC proponent and economist Saifedean Ammous:

“I didn’t know if he wanted it, but just in case it was seen as a bribe, I did not give it as a gift.”

Other sections of the journey have produced more positive experiences. Aguilar highlighted seeing thumbs up signs from strangers in Switzerland at the sight of La Bitcoineta cruising past. Meanwhile people in crypto-friendly jurisdictions like Spain and Portugal were seemingly oblivious to the van’s presence.

La Bitcoineta has travelled from from Spain to Gibraltar, Portugal, Andorra, Switzerland, Munich, Prague, Oslo, Romania, Serbia and Lugano.

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The journey is set to continue in the direction of Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia. A trip to the United Kingdom is planned in September, before heading to Madrid, Amsterdam and Luana before completing the journey in Lugano.

Aguilar said next year’s tour might feature longer trips to different countries, gauging the different level of Bitcoin adoption.

“Let’s say we do Germany, we do France. The idea is to interview a French Bitcoiner to see that he’s not a shit coiner, right? If he’s a really Bitcoiner.”

This would involve allowing Bitcoin advocates in different countries to be involved in La Bitcoineta talks and presentations on the subject.

The van has seen its fair share of fan fare as well. La Bitcoineta birthed a famous meme with Bitcoin proponent Michael Saylor, after Aguilar gave the MicroStrategy CEO a tour of the van at a conference:

“He loved it, especially for the big ‘Bitcoin is hope’ phrase on the side of the van. He took a picture and uploaded it to his Instagram.”

As for the photo, Aguilar says his cameraman was the source of Saylor’s meme-worthy expression:

“He was filming instead of taking photos so he was taking too long and that’s when Saylor he got the angry look that the meme has.”

La Bitcoineta is also covered in signatures from influential Bitcoin figures like Adam Back, Ammous, Prince Philip of Serbia, Jack Mallers, Elizabeth Stark and other “OG Bitcoiners” that have left messages for posterity on the van.

The interview is part of an upcoming Cointelegraph documentary about what it’s like to attend a Bitcoin School. Subscribe here (https://www.youtube.com/@cointelegraph) to watch.

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