This is inspired by my friend CWB, who’s started his own blog which you can find here CWB Getting Around Too, and I realized I haven’t properly documented where I’ve been, what motivates me and inspires me.
I’ll start at the beginning, that seems the best place to start, and I’m not fully sure how many countries I’ve been to, so for fun I’ll list them and see what the grand total is. I know what you’re thinking. List! Joy! I love reading lists! To which I say… skip the next paragraph and see the total then, smarty-pants.
Countries so far: Canada (duh), United States of America, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales (which may all be included in the United Kingdom – but that’s a kingdom not a country in my books), Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Luxembourg, Greece, Morocco, Western Sahara (which is an oddity, not a country but not part of Morocco fully either), Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia (which is officially listed as THE Gambia – which makes it even more impressive), Guinea, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, South Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
A total of 33. That’s not including countries I was briefly in or passing through; Japan and China – I’ve been in airports, Thailand – I was in for 12 hours to catch a flight back to Canada, Austria – I was in for 20 minutes when the bus I was on took a detour and Gibraltar – officially part of Great Britain but a distinct entity both English and Spanish.
It should be more honestly. I nearly got trapped in that ‘settled down’ thing that captures so many people. For some it’s the right thing to do, but it wasn’t for me. I was working at a job I positively despised, a soul sapping government job that paid well but destroyed my motivation and creativity. After nearly a year there they approached me to proudly inform me that soon I’d be inducted into the union and all the benefits (and drawbacks) that go along with union membership.
I handed in my two-week notice the following Monday.
It would have offered me security and the opportunity to move up the governmental labyrinth but I hated myself and hated the job. More importantly whenever I asked anyone, “How long have you worked for the government” no one ever said “Three years, fourteen years.” It was always, “I can retire in nine years, in seventeen years.” That’s when I realized it wasn’t the job for me. I want a job I would do for free but that I can make a living at.
Teaching overseas hits a few sweet spots for me. I get paid a decent wage for what is expected for me (ok, I’m overpaid in the best possible way since I’m a tiny school right near the border with North Korea) plus the school pays for my apartment so my pay is pretty much all profit. Which means I am able to travel around Asia much cheaper than if I were based in Vancouver. The people I call friends here have something in common with me, in that everyone is here in part of an adventure. I find it easy to talk to people here.
I’m happiest going somewhere new, seeing something I haven’t seen before, trying a new food, meeting new people. I love the feeling of hoisting my backpack up over my shoulder as I set out for the airport or the bus station or port to catch a plane, bus, train, ferry… somewhere. It often doesn’t matter where I’m going, I seem to find a way to create memories where ever I go. It is that feeling of excitement and tingle of impending of adventure which makes me love crowded departure lounges so much.
I respect people who can settle down, who have the house and the spouse, the children and the sensible career. Part of me wishes I could do that.
But I can’t.
Since I accepted and embraced that facet of my being, my life has been steadily getting better and better. I love to tell stories too, which is why I enjoy writing. I’ll tell some soon, I promise.
That’s why I want to go more places, meet more people. I credit my grandfathers a great deal for helping me become the man I am today. One grandfather loved to tell stories, generally tall tales while he sipped on a gin and tonic. His jokes were frequently tacky or even lame but I always smiled, I always listened because he was in his element. I think few things brought him more joy than circling a room, telling stories to willing ears, chuckling along with the grins and groans he invoked from his wordsmithery. My other grandfather, well, he and I were not alike at all. He and my brother were twins separated by generations. But the one gift he gave me was the love of… going. Just go. He would go to an airport and find the earliest, cheapest flight to somewhere he’d not been and… go. I admire that about him. And it’s why I’m not good at booking things weeks or months in advance. Let me go, show up and find out what there is to do and where it is and how to get there.
I know I’ll be ‘somewhere’ over my Winter break, I just haven’t decided where. There was one early contender but its since fallen out the running.
Malaysia? Indonesia? Hong Kong? Singapore? I don’t know yet. It doesn’t matter. The point is, I’ll go and I’ll love it.
New sights, sounds, smells, tastes.