The State of the Road address—6 months gone

     I left home six months ago today. And, somewhat ironically, I am announcing that I bought a ticket yesterday to fly to San Francisco tomorrow, so change your lives accordingly.
     (For you cheap-ticket geeks: I am using my United frequent flier miles: 30,000 one-way miles and $209 in fees—don’t get me started right now about fees—won out over $364 to Toronto or $430 to Chicago, mainly because I couldn’t figure a cheap way to get to California from there on short notice. It is summer.)
     What has been the common thread of this trip? Chickpeas. In Syria they mash and deep fry chickpeas to make falafel. In Ethiopia they stew goat meat with them to make a puree called bozena shiro. In India they are a common part of a vegetarian meal, not to mention the sublime channa masala. In Turkey they simply roast them with salt and spices to make a snack called leblebi. And now I am going to California, far and away the chickpea capital of America. I am a rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth, ultra-nationalist when it comes to my garbanzos.
     As an aside, I want to say that one thing that keeps me sane on the road in between copious chickpea consumption is Bill Simmons’ podcasts. I sometimes need a loooong time to download them from slow, shaky internet connections (Yes, Ethiopia, I’m talking to you) but on loooong bus rides, they are a godsend. He and Henry Rollins are the only two people whose blogs I follow. Are there others I should know about? Don’t be shy: tell me what’s out there that’s good.

     Lahmacun and bulgar and my feet with funny tan lines. My friend Cordula is an amazing cook.

Wait, this isn’t sounding presidential. Let me start again:
     Six months traveling is a milestone, a time of reflection, a time to take stock of where you are in life, what you have done, where you are going, the Big Picture. Six months away is a very long time, and on the road it feels much longer. This is why travel can be so rewarding: it compresses your life and makes it more exciting. Not everyone wants compression and excitement (which has both positive and negative connotations), but if you figure you have a finite amount of time on earth, why not make the most of it?
     I’ve done twenty-five trips in the last twenty-five years like this and aside from a few lazy spells here and there, I’m a go-go-go traveler, more active than most young punks I see lazing away three hours in a cafe—not that there’s anything wrong with that. I am just stating that I like to hit the ground running, walk the streets, prowl the side streets, see what there is to see. I am always tired.

     By any measure this trip was a great success, but how do I measure success? That not once in my perpetually tired state did I mistake my toothpaste for bacterial ointment. And that I was crushingly sick only once, in Ethiopia.
     It’s a small miracle I am not ill more often. I don’t sleep well anywhere so my tiredness accumulates until my body shuts down and I become sick. My lifestyle doesn’t help. Imagine not knowing where you are going to sleep from night to night. Most of this trip I don’t know where I am going to be the next day. Every trip is like that. Imagine living like that for years on end. That’s what I do. Some people thrive that way, but only temporarily. Nobody sees themselves doing it their entire lives.
          (Sounds like a dramatic announcement is coming. I can just feel it!)
     It’s been many years since I met someone who travels as much as I do. I hear about them, and they all sound messed up in the head.
          (It’s coming!)
     This, the 25th anniversary of graduating from college and hitting the road—damn, I’m being called to dinner. It would be rude of me to be late. I really need to get some rest to endure this flight tomorrow, too. Ciao for now!
          (I knew it! I hate blogs!)

     This photo of this painting of Amelie in Amman, Jordan has nothing to do with anything.

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The State of the Road address—6 months gone — 5 Comments

  1. I hope you blog from home. We all need our Dromomaniac fix. Travel safe.

  2. Hey Kent!
    I too hope you blog from home.
    You never know i may well see you standing on Khoa San rd one day!
    Happy future travels.

  3. Wow – you do have a home!

    I am so jealous of your lifestyle…what a great life you lead! One day I hope to follow.

    Have fun while in the states!

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