We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Met a fellow at a holiday party, and we were talking about travel. He said his travel days were long done and that he had seen enough of the world. He no longer even wants to drive to Vermont unless it's a hunting trip. His wife is headed to Petra with some friends in January, but he refuses to go with them.
I loved his story. (Details altered enough for privacy and happily OKed by the guy)
Story below the fold -
After high school he spent 3 years in the US Navy on a supply ship. Came home to Connecticut, packed a backpack and a sleeping bag, and picked up a tramp steamer in Newark to Oslo with his Navy savings. Then spentfour years walking, hitchhiking, backpacking down to Gibraltar, across North Africa to Cairo, up to Israel, across the deserts to Pakistan, India, all the way to Singapore and Malaysia. Then back the northern route through Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy, back up through Switzerland and Germany to Bergen. He fit in a trip to Tibet. He loved the beaches and beautiful girls in Lebanon.
Lots of youth hostels and sleeping on beaches. When he ran out of money, he'd work for a month or two in a shipyard or wherever else the other backpackers told him there was work. For example, he worked in a potash plant in Elat for two months, then back on the road. Laid flooring in Stockholm, shipyards in Bergen, Cairo, etc. Worked as a deckhand to Australia and back to Singapore.
He told me he had intended to make this kind of travel his life. He rarely felt lonely because the world was full of adventurous travellers living on a pittance. This adventure ended when he got word that his Mom was ill, so he took a tramp steamer back to the US as a deckhand. Then he said, while back home, he accidentally met his wife, became semi-domesticated, went to college, got a fancy MBA, had kids, made a ton of money in New York and bought a beautiful horse farm in charming and sophisticated northwestern Connecticut.
I asked him what his worst memory was of these travels. He said it was getting stuck on the Pakistan border - had no visa - and had to wait in a shed for four days with daytime temps in the 70s and nighttime below zero (F). Or maybe his GI illness in Calcutta, with weeks of agony.
I asked him how he got laid on these travels. "Oh, never a problem." There were always horny young backpackers who wanted company hitching, say, from Paris to Seville, from Morocco to Cairo, from Calcutta to God knows where. Getting laid was never an issue and the German girls were always hot and eager, but the best, he claimed, was a backpacking young schoolteacher from Canada.
I asked him what he learned that was most valuable. He said he learned that all he needed in life was one pair of pants, a pair of good shoes, a t-shirt, a sleeping bag, and a dollar for food. A fleece jacket for the cold. Anything more was extraneous. Learned he could always survive, always work, so risk was not a problem in life.
His only problem issue on these travels was shoes. Shoes wore out fast with all of the walking and working, and he could not find good ones in most places. Did find a good pair in Sydney. Can't remember how many shoes he went through in four years on the road or sea. Socks also a problem often.
So many interesting people to meet in this world. Gotta love it. Just ask any "ordinary" person about their life and it might blow your mind. There are no ordinary people, and everybody has cool stories.
My ten years overseas after high school didn't involve quite as much walking as that fellow's, however a lot of ground was covered. Worked a lot, studied a lot, learned another language, got an Associate degree in Hotel Technology in another country, in another language. Met a lot of people, still in touch with some, wouldn't have missed it, as an old friend would say, for all the tea in Mexico. It was easy, so easy. Our kid will have other adventures, it's a different world. That said, I'm glad I had the ones I did. Agree with the writer's friend on, well, everything. It was easier to...make new friends than to find good shoes.
Love to travel. Hate traveling. Pan Am and Continental Micronesia and the old US Airways (had superflyer status back then) were a pleasure to fly. Even Delta and United when they emerged from bankruptcy and gave a damn. If I can’t take a train or the SUV I’m not interested.