Greetings from the land of sweet California sunshine! It feels like a long time since I was here, because it has been a long time since I was here. I was away exactly ten months. Last year I was away exactly ten months. Every single year of my adult life I have been at least six months away.
I am unloading my backpack for the last time, sitting here among the motley assortment of flotsam accumulated on the road: Bulgarian sudoku booklet, Malaysian t-shirt, Turkish toothpaste, Jordanian water bottle, Filipino sweatshirt, German backpack—I am a post-modern Mr. Multicultural all by virtue of doing nothing more than buying plane tickets.
So what did I learn from being away so long? I learned nothing. NOTHING! I do this all the time. This is all I do. This is all I know how to do. It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day” where the same events keep repeating themselves and like the TV show Seinfeld: no learning and no hugging!
Wait, this is a good time for an emo Polish pop song from Myslovitz:
Near the beginning of this trip in the Philippines I was talking with a woman and she asked how many countries I had been to. I said, “About 100,” and she said, “That’s too many!” That’s a funny response, and maybe the correct one.
Another time while hitchhiking in Europe a Croatian driver interrogated me about my life and concluded, “I can’t believe someone who has lived such a harsh life looks so incredibly young.” HA! I assume he was driving to his eye doctor appointment and running late.
Quick vignette I never blogged about because I write too much about day-to-day events that bore everyone to tears:
Two months ago I was hiking in the mountains of southern Bulgaria with a group of people and we came across a walnut tree on the edge of town. We made a stop and without a word being spoken, a guy climbed deep up into the tree and began throwing walnuts to the girls. The girls dutifully sorted and opened the walnuts, instructing me how to remove the bitter soft covering, and feeding me the best ones.
That’s living off the fat of the land, and that is the difference between Americans and most of the rest of the world. Maybe I should only speak for myself, because I would look at a walnut tree and wonder if someone owned this tree, it the nuts were ripe, if they would be tasty raw, if it was safe to eat the nut, if this breed was edible, if I might get sick, etc. As an American I was impressed with myself that I could recognize a walnut tree.
OK, so I learned one thing.
My flight from Miami to Los Angeles was free, or, I should say, the fact that I sat on a plane with a burning engine between Guam and Manila at 3am to start this trip earned me a $150 certificate from United that I redeemed. The practical information here is to request to fly on defective planes so you can get airline credit. The more burning, the better.
My next blog post will be a mailbag where I answer very random questions people ask me; if you have any questions for me, feel free to send them to me here or via email or Facebook or carrier pigeon—whatever feels right.
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