A Letter to My Nephew

At this very moment you are coming into this world screaming to the high heavens and putting your mother through unbearable pain.  You may be asking yourself where the hell I was, well let me tell ya.

While your mother was bringing you into this world I was in El Bolson Argentina, a hippie invested town with tons of outdoor adventures.  On this very day I was leaving this town to make my way to Mendoza, a place with excellent wine where your uncle can booze it up with his English travel mate.  Like your mother I had a very long journey ahead of me except hers would be a million times more painful.

Before I boarded my first bus back to Bariloche your mother had already informed me that you were coming the night prior.  She was having consisted contractions but since her water hadn’t broken yet the hospital informed her to stay put. Later that night she was finally admitted to the hospital.

I woke up to no news of you being born.  My first bus was delayed by an hour.  My second bus departed on time but ran into mechanical problems causing the bus to travel at speeds of 20 mph.  This is a 17 hour bus ride by the way. Like my buses you would also be delayed.

During my painstaking bus ride I was slowly receiving news of your progress into this world through the shit wifi provided by the bus.  Still you hadn’t arrived and it was already Friday.

By midnight I finally received the news that you were on your way. By this point I would have been 7 hours from my destination but instead I had no clue how long I had. Like the bus you were taking your sweet time getting to your destination as well.

In the early morning of Dec 2nd 2017 a message got through with news of your arrival and still I remained on this bus.

I have heaps of advice and life facts to pass on so here’s a couple.

I wish I could tell you that you are coming into a world of peace and harmony.  Unfortunately, you are not, but it is still a world worth coming into and a life worth living.  No matter how shit it might become sometimes never lose hope.  Pain is only temporary and you will have our support through everything.

I can tell you that the only constant in life is change.  Embrace it, even the ones you’re not keen of.  They will take you in interesting directions.

Travel as far and as long as possible. Your mom may not like this because she’ll miss you but she will always be there, I will always be there, family will always be there, home will always be there.

Learn the languages of your elders, trust me on this one, it will benefit you greatly.

Seek peace but always be ready for war.  I’ll explain this further when your older.

Most importantly don’t give your mom shit. She’s the best human I know and loves you unconditionally.  Your dad as well. Be patient with them, parenting is a tough gig.

Happy birthday poop stain! Welcome to this wonderful thing we call life.

PS: I’m not a huge fan of your name so I will call you poop stain, lil bugger, nugget, megatron and whatever comes to mind.

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The American Traveler (traveling as an American Minority)

Throughout my travels something stood out to me, I am once again the minority.  In three different ways I found myself the minority amongst my diverse group of travelers.

#1.  I’m American (MURICA!)

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Photo cred: Reddit

American backpackers are not as common as the English, Australians, Kiwis, Germans and many others, but why?  Well, It’s simply not built into our culture.  During my initial 3-month European tour I encountered 2 American travelers in Berlin, 2 in Madrid and 3 in Istanbul.  Surely I thought I would have encountered more Americans in every place I visited, after all we have such a large population and overall good economy.  Strangely enough I encountered more Australians than anyone else.  Australia has a smaller population than my entire state, and their currency is weaker, yet you will find one in every inch of the world.  I asked my Australian mate   why this is, and he explained to me that Aussies are so far away from everyone else that they might as well make their trip worthwhile, but there’s more to it than the distance. Their culture encourages travel, and by the age of 25 most Aussies are globe trotters.

Unlike our kangaroo loving mates, Americans are built different.  We are driven by our capitalist nature and our need to achieve the American dream. This success is measured by our achievement in education, career, property ownership, family and retirement.  Derailment from this course is considered unwise and unsuccessful. Because of this we tend to push off traveling till we are older or better yet, till we reach the ripe old age of retirement.  Only then when we are old, fragile, with a small bladder, talking about how much harder life was back in the day, only then is it acceptable to travel. I’ve seen these herds of Americans flock the streets of Europe in their overpriced tour groups.  Because of this mentality I commonly found myself to be the only American in the group.

South East Asia was different, and I began to encounter more Americans, but still are numbers were small compared to others.

#2.  I’m Peruvian (Where in Mexico is that?)

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Photo cred: Xpatnation

The most asked question amongst travelers besides our names, is our place of origin. Typically, I’ll blurt out one of these answers: the states, U.S., California, San Francisco.  A common response I’ve gotten is, “No you’re not.  Where you really from?”

“Ummmmm, the fuck you mean? (confused look on my face).  I’m pretty sure I’m American.” (checks passport for verification) “See, the giant bald eagle on my passport confirms it.”

What people are getting at is what ethnicity I am.  Their doubt comes from the mere fact that I don’t look like the Americans they’ve seen on the tube.  At first glance many think I’m Italian, Israeli, some kind of middle eastern, Greek, Indian, Spanish, a brown Ryan Gosling, and the most dreaded one, Mexican (pukes a little in mouth).

Growing up I was the only Peruvian in my group of minority friends.  The outlier.  As my circle of friends grew outside the minority spectrum (white people) most would assume I was Mexican and when I told them I was from Peru they have no clue where it was.

I leave my liberal home state for Georgia, a place where people believe all of central and South America is Mexico. “Peru? What part of Mexico is that?”

Upon my return to the West Coast things had changed.  My countrymen were suddenly geographically inclined and when I told them I was Peruvian the response I would get is, “Oh man I love Peru! Machu Pichu, Incas, llamas, lomo saltado, fucking love it all bro.”

“Um wait a sec.  You been there?”

“Yea dude.  Hiked the Inca trail, did some ayahuasca and rode some barrels bruh.”

(Confused/surprised look on my face) What the fuck is going on? Somewhere during my time spreading freedom in foreign lands, my birth place had become extremely popular. Not only were people familiar with Peru and its culture, many had actually visited the country.  Peruvian cuisine had exploded in San Francisco and my family and I now had several Peruvian restaurants to choose from instead of one.

I’ve met one Peruvian traveler in all my time globe-trotting.  Like Americans culture restricts travel, but Peru’s economical place in the world is the major deterrent of travel for young Peruvians.

Many of my fellow backpackers had seen more of my birth country than I have.

#3.  I’m a Veteran (G.I. fucking Joe, Pew Pew)

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Photo cred: Pinterest

A fellow veteran once asked me, “What’s it like traveling as a veteran?  Do you they like us? Do they understand us?”

The United States has been at war since 2001, ever since the attacks on 9/11.  After many years of combat several veterans have returned home trying to find their place in the civilian world.  Just about every American has a veteran friend since so many answered the call of duty.  This of course does not mean that they understand us.  There is a great division between civilian and veteran, but over the years many organizations are bridging the gap between both sides.  This is not exactly the case for our allies.

Our allied veterans are not as common in their communities as in the states.  Hardly anyone knows a service member in their country.  This leads to two things, a stigma and a curiosity towards veterans.

Since most foreigners have never had an interaction with a veteran, I am a sudden curiosity.  The questions start flowing in.  What was war like? What’s it like shooting guns? What’s Iraq/Afghanistan like?  What did you do?  Did you kill anyone? I tend to avoid revealing that I am a veteran when I travel to avoid these questions, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.  I don’t mind people’s curiosity, I’m sure I would be just as curious if I was in their shoes. I’m typically very vague with my answers because let’s face it’s hard for them to comprehend my experience.  There are very few travelers I have met where I have felt comfortable enough to share my experience with.  These are usually fellow veterans from other nations.  Sometimes I have fun with it and tell people it’s exactly like Call of Duty.

Then there’s the stigma with being a veteran.  A girl once told me after finding out I was a veteran, “Oh no sweetie, you’re damaged, you’re fucked in the head.”  The only detail she had about me was that I was a veteran and automatically she assumes I have PTSD, some mentally ill soul walking this earth seeking pity.  Yea, no, and go fuck yourself. Usually I play it cool and shake it off, but other times my twisted mind plays along and I recite the last scene of Rambo with my own twist of course.

Back there I had all these fucking guys. Who were my friends. Cause back here there’s nothing. Remember Danforth? He wore this black headband and I took one of those magic markers and I said to Feron, “Hey mail us to Las Vegas” cause we were always talking about Vegas, and this fucking car. This uh red ’58 Chevy convertible, he was talking about this car, he said we were gonna cruise till the tires fall off … We were patrolling the streets of Kabul and this kid carrying a shoe-shine box comes up. And he says “Shine, please, shine!” I said no. He kept askin’, yeah, and Joey said “Yeah.” And I went to talk to the village elder, and the box was wired, and he opened up the box, fucking blew his body all over the place. And he’s laying there, he’s fucking screaming. There’s pieces of him all over me, just…like this, and I’m tryin’ to pull him off, you know, my friend that’s all over me! I’ve got blood and everything and I’m tryin’ to hold him together! I’m puttin’… the guy’s fuckin’ insides keep coming out! And nobody would help! Nobody would help! He’s saying, sayin’ “I wanna go home! I wanna go home!” He keeps calling my name! “I wanna go home, Carlos! I wanna drive my Chevy!” I said “With what? I can’t find your fuckin’ legs! I can’t find your legs!” – John Rambo

Yea pretty fucked up, but if you assume all veterans are fucked in the head than yea you deserve to be fucked with.  Fortunately, this is not common and people are usually respectful and just curious about my experience.

So to my veteran friend I would say this, no they do not understand us but it does not mean they don’t like us.  They simply can’t comprehend our experience since they haven’t lived through it, therefore we can’t fault them for this.  Travel the world and express yourself freely, people will like you for you.  All I ask is to respect them with the same respect you seek.  They also come from a different world and experiences we don’t understand.  In the end we are all the same, human beings trying to understand each other.

I guess that last little part applies to everyone hahaha.  Safe travels fuckers, till next time.

A Glimpse Into the World of Prostitution

Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession resulting in famous whores throughout history and biblical text.  Hollywood has even romanticized the profession in the flick Pretty Woman, but how many sex workers do you know that have ended up with millionaires.  Go ahead, I’ll wait, I just ordered another pint so we have time.  The sex world is an interesting one and it was through my basic curiosity that I was able to capture a glimpse of this world.  Here are my accounts of that journey.

Amsterdam’s Red Light District

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Photo Cred: Conde Nast Traveler

At the helm of the prostitution world is the red light district in Amsterdam simply out of popularity.  Not only is this a place where horny guys go to score, this is a place visited by every traveler out of a basic human feeling, curiosity.  It is a giant tourist attraction, and yes you will see grandpa and grandma waltzing through the red lit streets.  Of course it isn’t till the late hours of the night that the serious customers reveal themselves.  My fist venture here was during my first European excursion.  Like every tourist I went and checked out the girls flaunting their goods behind a glass window.  I couldn’t tell you price or what is negotiated as I did not inquire with one of the girls.  Instead I walked and stared in amazement for this world does not exist in mine.  I will say the girls are hotter than your average street walker in the states.

Pascha in Cologne Germany

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Photo Cred: Carpe Diem

During my time in Cologne I was informed of a famous brothel named Pascha.  After conducting my research through the worldwide web I discovered that Pascha is a hotel where prostitutes rent a room to conduct their services.  Revenue from clients is solely theirs and the hotel does not take a cut.  They make their revenue through entrance fees and alcohol sales. If you ask me this sounds better than working for an abusing pimp.  Yes, yes I don’t know what actually transpires behind the scenes, but if the information is accurate then it is a good deal in an industry that has a seedy reputation.

Pascha is the biggest brothel in Germany. There was no way I was going to miss it so I convinced my fellow hostel mate to join me in this adventure.

It was quite a walk from our hostel to the brothel but upon arrival we were greeted by a single bouncer at the entrance.  We paid our fee to enter the premises which wasn’t hefty, 15 euros I think.  This was two years ago so I apologize for my memory being a bit hazy.  The place didn’t seem quite populated, but it was early in the night.  At this hour most people are just arriving at the bars and the bros are testing their luck.  I’m assuming after failure and last call the place gets packed.

We made our way through the dim lit hallways, floor after floor.  If a girl is open for business she will have her door open and will usually be hanging by the doorway.  Some are quick to offer pricing and services while others gaze at you and wait for you to make the first move.  Starting price is 50 euros.  This can be many different things such as basic sex, blow job or hand job, all depends on what you negotiate with the girl.  Any additional services cost more.  Of course every girl has different prices but the standard I kept hearing was 50 euros.  We got to the final floor of regular services.  Any further up and we had to pay another fee.  What’s on these special floors you ask?  Why trannies of course.  I guess trannies provide a special service to that special gentleman with specific taste.  That was our cue to get the fuck out of there.

Hamburg’s Reeperbahn

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Photo Cred: Muncher Merkur

During my travels I had mentioned to a fellow traveler that I was headed to Hamburg.  She informs me of a place that is forbidden for women to enter.  Of course I asked why and she tells me it is Hamburg’s red light district.  Unlike Amsterdam, this place is closed off to women and according to her there were guards at the entrances preventing women from entering.  She was so intrigued by this that she encouraged me to go and give her a full report on what I had witnessed.  I was enticed.

My stay in Hamburg was short but I did manage to explore the forbidden zone to women.  It did not live up to the hype. It is exactly like the red light district in Amsterdam except it is only a small alley with girls behind the glass.  I didn’t see any guards at the entrances, but it is walled off to keep out of view from the public.  The district it is in is called Reeperbahn, and here you can find plenty of strip/whore houses and street walkers. Reepeerbahn is located next to the St. Pauli quarter which is popular with tourists/backpackers for drinking and partying.

Thailand’s Nana Plaza

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Nana Plaza

My visa in Vietnam had come to an end so I had to leave the best country in South East Asia.  I flew back to Bangkok so I can work my way North.  I booked a hostel far away from Khao San road because I was not in the mood to party. In my search for my hostel I came upon a street with a large unlit sign, it read Nana Plaza.  A friend had mentioned this place to me but during my initial stay in Bangkok I had no desire to visit it.  This time my hostel was a block away so fuck it why not.  I had time to kill anyway.

I returned later that night and oh man this place was something else.  This street was lit up like the Vegas strip. Everyone on this street were either prostitutes or clientel.  There are the few curios minds like mine who are venturing these streets but unlike Amsterdam this did not appear to be a huge tourist attraction.  This place is strictly business, you came here for sex, because “she will love you very long time”.

Unlike the other places I visited, the clientele here was much older.  To be more specific, older white guys.  These fuckers are everywhere, with whores half their age. I went through 3 phases of emotions:

  • Disgust: Bro these girls can be your daughters and for some of you, your granddaughters! The fuck is wrong with you? You old perverted fucks!
  • Humor: Hahahahaha you are about to get fucked by an old wrinkling dick.  Can he even get it up?  Oh man this is so gross it’s funny.
  • Sadness: Fuck, you girls are probably part of the sex trade and are not here out of your own will.  These old fucks are probably here for a reason we don’t see on the surface. Perhaps it is loneliness. For the first time I saw men paying these girls for their time.  They were out on dates and having casual conversations.  Sure the sex probably came later, but unlike their young male counterparts in Amsterdam, for these old blokes it was more than just sex, it was the pleasure of human company from the opposite sex.  At their age there isn’t much to look forward to but death.

I shook off my emotions and continued to explore.

Walking through the plaza the girls are more aggressive than others I had encountered.  They were constantly waving me over, blowing me kisses, showing me nipple, grabbing me and doing ungodly things with their mouth.  I played it cool of course, nodding no thanks to each and every one.

I wandered into one of the brothels where I was greeted by a hostess who sat me down.  In order to stay I had to purchase a beer, so I ordered the cheapest beer they had, good old Chang.  This place had a similar layout to a strip club with a stage in the center.  On stage were several girls with numbers pinned on their bra.  They moved around the stage like one of those pre-made sushi restaurants where the food revolves around a massive table.  Hmmm let’s see? Oh this one looks good. I’ll fuck this one.

The gentleman next to me had selected a number and the hostess brought the girl down to his table.  After a few minutes she brings the girl a drink. The gentleman perceives to pay. I can only assume a drink for the girl is mandatory for her time to talk to you.  Cheeky cunts eh.

After minutes of conversation or negotiation, they strike a deal and the gentleman disappears with the girl in hand behind some curtains.  Finished my drink, waved at the hostess who gave me a disappointed look for not ordering a girl, and took off.

By now you are probably wondering if I paid for sex.  I mean I must have after visiting these places right?  Wrong! I did not have sexual relationships with any of these women.  Man I’m starting to sound like good old Bill but unlike the 42nd president I’m telling the truth.  Hookers simply aren’t my thing, for many more reasons than the fact that I’m cheap.  If hookers are your thing, that’s cool, I’m not judging, I just ask to please do it in a legitimate place otherwise you are contributing to a much larger darker world of the sex trade.

Well that’s about it.  Like I said this was only a glimpse into this world.  I wish I could give you guys more insight but I dare not go any further in my research.  However, if you dare dive further into this world there are plenty of books and documentaries out there.  I’ll let you do your own research.

Till next time fellow travelers.

*photo cred for main photo: Rebel Circus,

Hostel Etiquette

Hostels are one of the cheapest forms of accommodations when you are traveling.  My favorite thing about them is the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over the world. Hotels, Airbnb or couch surfing don’t present this atmosphere as well as hostels do.

In a hostel everyone is in the same boat, traveling on a budget.  It’s a great place to establish some serious friendships and meet some interesting people.

When staying in a hostel there are universal rules that everyone should know just out of common courtesy, but of course there are those who are habitual rule breakers, or they were simply raised by wolves.

#1 Respect for Space

Hostels can usually be pretty crowded when staying in a dormitory. Space becomes even more limited when there is a lack of storage in the rooms, therefore forcing everyone to keep their belongings on the floor.  There is a simple solution for this, maintain everything in your bag and place it under the bed to allow room for walking.  Don’t be the person that has clothes thrown everywhere forcing people to tip toe around the room to avoid stepping on your clothes.  Ladies, I’m looking at you, for you are the biggest offenders of this crime.

#2 Noise

This is the mother of all fuck ups.  Some people seem to care less about the noise they make in a room they share with 10 other individuals.  If someone is sleeping you should be respectful and minimize all noise levels, even during daylight hours.  This is why hostels have common areas to chill at.  Now if you are staying at a party hostel you can almost throw this rule out the window, almost.  I don’t know about you guys but I’m even more of a ninja when I’m drunk, but if you are staying at a party hostel you paid to have a great time, not to sleep, so you can’t really complain about noise.

#3 Packing

If you are leaving in the ass crack of dawn don’t be a douche and pack your bags minutes before leaving, you are disturbing your fellow hostel mates. Be a nice cunt and pack your bags the night prior.

#4 Sex in Hostel

Ok ok so we have all been guilty of this, including myself (sorry bro sleeping right above me).  I mean when shit gets hot and heavy all fucks go out the window, but I’m here to tell you that fucks should be given. Karma taught me a valuable lesson, hearing others have sex is quite traumatizing, so do us all a favor and take it to the bathroom, common area, rooftop, park, alley, ocean, stairway, anywhere but the hostel room.

#5 Hygiene

I get it, you are a wanna be hippie and want to live that lifestyle to the fullest even though you have wealthy parents.  I guess you want to know what it feels like to live with close to nothing, be a minimalist, experiment with drugs, have an expensive organic diet, and not shave.  This is all cool with me bros and ladies, do you, but for the love of Zeus take a fucking shower.  You are staying in a hostel dormitory that usually has little ventilation so that means everyone can smell your nasty ass.  Even the true hippies from the 60s that originated in Haight street in San Francisco knew the importance of healthy hygiene and showered often.  You choose a healthy lifestyle by going vegan, well guess what, good hygiene is a major part of that.  We all know you can afford a bar of soap cause you’re buying craft beers from the shop.  Oh and guess what?! There is organic soap free of chemicals! We truly are living in the future ladies and gents.

#6 Theft

I have been fortunate not to have anything stolen from me throughout my stays in hostels, but my friends haven’t been so lucky.  Look, we are all in the same boat, just don’t fucking do it, don’t be an asshole.  There is no bigger asshole than thy who steals from his fellow travel mate.  I’m pretty sure this is the 11th commandment.

#7 Cleanliness

Hostels are typically not the cleanest, especially the cheaper ones since they mostly rely on volunteer staff, but hey here’s a genius idea to having a clean environment, PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF AND CLEAN YOUR FUCKING MESS.  The staff would appreciate it and so would your hostel mates.  Once again don’t be an asshole.

I’m drawing a blank right now but I’m sure there’s more.  Remember don’t be an ASSHOLE and follow these simple rules or Zeus, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, or John Cena, will smite thy.

Safe travels cunts.

The Greatest Hug

Let me tell you a story.  Like any great love story this involves a boy and a girl, but what makes this story great is the risk taken for a chance encounter.

In a Galaxy far far away, on a planet called earth a young boy was enduring harsh training in the scorching lands of Georgia to become an instrument of death.  Meanwhile at the same time a young lady was enduring harsh training in the land of Texas to become an instrument to save lives.

Two individuals with two different missions who shared a love for each other, but were separated because they had decided to answer their country’s call.

For four months the only form of communication was through hand written letters.  By this point the sorrow of missing the other person was so great that the boy decided to take a huge risk.

During Airborne school (where they teach you to jump out of planes) he saw an opportunity to see the girl he loved.  It was a small window, with a huge risk, and minimal room for error

For the first time during his training he was allowed to have a weekend off, Saturday and Sunday.  He would be released Saturday morning and would have to be back Sunday evening right before dinner.  He was ordered to stay within the city limits and by no means could he leave the state.  If caught severe punishment would ensued and his career to join an elite group of men would be over.

The young lady would have the weekend off as well, but she would have to be back later that evening.  If everything worked out as planned they would have maybe 8 hours together.

And so the day came.  The boy had everything booked and packed the day prior just like they had taught him, to always be ready to move at a second’s notice.  Upon release he did not run but walked with a quick pace as to not raise suspicion.  He grabbed his small backpack and rushed to the airport which was an hour and a half away.  The whole time he kept his head low and avoided anyone in uniform.

Traffic was good and he made it to the airport on time.  Plane was on time and departed on schedule.  He landed in Atlanta and rushed towards the arrival gate.  Till this point Aphrodite was on their side till out comes his phone to contact his love but nothing, no missed phone call, no text, no voicemail.  His calls and text messages go unanswered.  She should have been released by now.

On his way to the hotel he finally receives a message.  The instructors were delaying the release and had threatened to cancel their weekend pass.

Fuck.

He can sense her frustration through her messages, and he too was frustrated, but he stayed hopeful and told her everything would work out.

Two hours after the original release time, they were finally let go.  She raised to downtown San Antonio.

He waited for her at the hotel entrance anxiously waiting for her to show up, and then finally it happened.  Imagine this scene happening in slow motion because this is how he remembers it.

She gets out the cab first looking in the direction he was not facing.  She turns her head towards his direction with her brown hair flying through the air seemingly missing her face.  She sees him and a frown turns into a smile.  She runs towards him with watery eyes and he catches her in his arms and an unforgettable hug is forever etched into his memory followed by a kiss that will last a lifetime.

At that very moment their world was complete and everything around them had vanished.

At that moment he thought, this is it, I’m never parting from her again.  Unfortunately, it did not work out that way.  He parted from her 3 more times on deployments, and finally several years later life decided that this love story had to end.

Ultimately they spent maybe 6 hours together with a cost of around $800 USD in cab rides, plane and hotel fare.  Was it worth it?

ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY

So why do I tell you this story?  Well first of it’s a great fucking story.  Secondly to encourage folks to take risks, it’s so fucking worth it even if it doesn’t work out in the end.  It will take you in many different directions you never thought were possible.  Shit, you might find yourself globetrotting hahaha!  Like the Amalfi story, my friends told me to take the risk because it would make for an interesting story and they were right. Hmmm, maybe I should write that story too (insert pondering emoji here).

EXCLAIMER: In no way was this story told to rekindle anything with the ex.  Don’t get shit twisted people

 

Homesick (It Finally Happened)

I have been traveling for over 4 months now and I’ve finally reached that point, I’m homesick.  Every long term traveler knows this feeling and it sucks.  Everything begins to remind you of home and you begin to count the things that you miss the most.

My bed and woobie

Bacon (properly cooked)

Driving

Family

Friends

The Western world

The Bay Area

American hospitality

Craft Beer

Routine

Gym

Being healthy

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Sista’s dog laying on my woobie. She understands how cozy it is

This is a feeling that I’ve been trying to shake, but like everything else I eventually embrace it.  Traveling the world up to this point can only be described in one word, emotional.  I continue to visit amazing places and meeting interesting people, each triggering a different thought and feeling.

Although this a common feeling for most, there are those who wish to never go home. Home for them is a terrible place to live, a place they wanted to escape.  Fortunately for me this is not the case.  I come from a great place and I continue to say that no place in the world matches it.

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Driving on the Golden Gate bridge

A place where I can roam through giant skyscrapers and escape to giant redwoods a few minutes north.  A place where you can hit the trendy bars of the populated city or cross a bridge to a more divey scene yet undiscovered. Music of all kinds can be found here and so can every type of cuisine.  “What are you feeling like tonight? Phillipino? Vietnamese? Indian? Nah, lets go for Peruvian. Good choice.”

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Craft beer. On the house because the bartender was a fellow veteran.

 

A place of forward thinking and a health conscious mindset. Eat clean, train, but still enjoy all the fatty goods of life.

A place hated for its mindset and diversity, yet they continue to move here making it the most expensive state to live in the union.  Hey I don’t blame you for moving, I also would want to escape scorching high humidity heat during the summer and harsh winters.  Two summers is pretty nice as well, especially for motorcycle riders.  Luckily for us some of you will never come because our gay loving, weed smoking, hipster, techy, diverse culture scares you.  Thank god for that.

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Riding season is long

Friends here come from all walks of life and an accent is very common.  There is no single color here, no single nationality, and although we all embrace our roots, in the end we are all American.

Can you see why I miss this place?  It embodies the values I was raised on.

Shortly I’ll be reunited with my family and friends which will ease my homesick feelings.  Before I left my friend told me that home will always be there, it’s not going anywhere.  He’s right, but the opportunity of long term travel will not.  He’s right and I encourage all others to take the leap. So far my mission to inspire others seems to be working as those I’ve met have quit their jobs for an adventure around the world and others have made this their goal, changing their perspective on life.

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Warriors. Can’t believe I’m missing this season

Home will always be there, but places and people are constantly changing.  The ruins of the Acropolis are crumbling, the northern lights are disappearing, and the great barrier reef is dying.  Snatch the opportunities that present themselves while you have them, things will buff out in the end.  I continue to live by this rule as I change my itinerary for people and places.  This is why I must finish what I started, to snatch up all of the opportunities that life will present me with and risk it all.

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The faithful

When I return home I’ll be covered with internal scars from memories, thinking to myself on a grassy hill overlooking my city with IPA in hand, “What a fucking ride. (chuckle) Ok, what’s next?” (flips internal coin letting it land where it may).

Land Down Under Pt. 2 (Exploring the East Coast, Byron, Nimbin, Gold Coast, Noosa)

After 5 days chilling in Sydney I began to move up the east coast.  My fellow mate and another American decided to cruise up in a four-wheel drive, for it would be the cheapest method of travel. Our first stop was Port Stephens.  We took a dip, ate lunch and continued to drive North.  I was excited for this portion of the trip because it was my turn to drive.  Driving on the left side of the road is a mind fuck, but after an hour I was comfortable.  My copilot did have to remind me to go left around the roundabout.  I probably would have crashed if it wasn’t for him, for my mind constantly drifts when I drive and I get lost in the music.  Most times I don’t even remember getting home.

Port Stephens
Two Americans and an Australian at Port Stephens

Our next stop was Port Macquarie, or McFlurry, as we pronounced it.  This small town is located at the mouth of the Hastings River in New South Wales.  The views from lighthouse were amazing.  One can easily get lost in thought staring at the view.

Port Macquarie
View from the light house

We continued to move north to the tunes of Johnny Cash and CCR.  Daylight was evading us so it was time to find a camp ground and rest for the night.  I can’t remember the name of the campground we stayed on, but there was a beach nearby.  Prior to bed we took a dip and enjoyed the sight of an overcast sunset.  The mixture of colors in the sky encouraged reflection ones more.  Standing in the ocean at sunset looking at a storm in the horizon approach us is like something out of a movie where the protagonist awaits valiantly for the troubles ahead.  Unlike the movies this protagonist had no troubles awaiting him, instead he stared into a storm of the past and all he could do was smile.

Our next stop was Coff Harbour home of the Big Banana.  Pretty cool spot to check out, it’s a tiny little attraction perfect for kids.  Our time was limited so we race on to Byron Bay.

Byron is an absolute fucking dream.  Not only is the beach fucking awesome, but its hippie vibe is very welcoming.  Yes, it is a huge tourist attraction but this place is still great.  This is my favorite place in Oz, I could live here for a couple of months.  Memorable moment of Byron was swimming in the ocean while it rained.  Water coming from below and above reminded me of Forrest Gump, “it even came up from under you”.  About an hour away is the small town of Nimbin, a hippie haven where we saw Tijuana Cartel take the stage.  If you are looking to partake in smoking the peace pipe, this is the perfect place to do it.  Unfortunately, my photos of Byron our stuck in my not-charging GoPro but he’s a picture of Ben approving the message.

Ben-Taco Message

Byron Bay was the last stop for me and my companions.  I would continue the rest of my trip solo.  My next stop was the Gold Coast.  I was not impressed by the Gold Coast.  The beach was long and endless, but it lacked the aesthetics of Byron.  For a place deemed surfer’s paradise, I did not see anyone surfing, although there were plenty of waves.  Its downtown area is geared for drinking so the night life is pretty good.  The beauty about backpacking is that every day is the weekend.  A good time can be found any day of the week. I stayed at Surfer’s Paradise hostel which is good, but nothing to brag about.  I did meet a cool couple here whom I ended up drinking with.  Just another cool story of two travelers who met and vibe very well with each other so they decided to travel together.

I decided to follow the advice of my mates and skip Brisbane, and head to Noosa.  Noosa is gorgeous. The main beach is crowded, but if you take a short coastal walk not only will you enjoy beautiful scenery, but you will end up on an empty beach.  I was pouring sweat from my run, so I jumped right into the ocean to cool off.  Another place I could definitely live, but more of a summer getaway.  Unlike Byron, Noosa contains a yuppie atmosphere with homes ranging in the multi millions.

Noosa-Private Beach
My private beach in Noosa

I stayed in Nomads, which is a party hostel.  Living conditions were good and pretty standard for a party hostel.  I was bunked with a group of Irish folks who were way older than me.   I could understand the ones who were living in Australia but the one that was visiting was a different story.  I forget how strong the Irish accent can be, holy shit I could not understand this cat.  I like this group of people, they were very welcoming and told me stories of when they were young backpackers.  They admired what I was doing and encouraged me to keep going.  I left the next day with a neck pillow as a gift, and words of wisdom, “May the road rise to meet you and may the wind be always at your back”.