Monday, November 22, 2010

Not My First Rodeo

In preparing for new trips one cannot help but take a peek back at the journeys of yore.  I have been blessed with some amazing opportunities to live and visit are the world.  My folks are the instigators, dare I use the word enablers, of much of my travels.

I grew up in Evergreen Colorado which is a beautiful forested mountain town in the foothills which was like living in a vacation as it was.  I spent the summer until I was 12 in norther Montana, primarily near Glacier Park or Flathead Lake.  Much of that time was spend camping and hiking.  There could be no greater childhood.

When I was 13 my parents took me on the "family vacation" through Europe.  In order to keep the words short in this post I will just say;  It was absolutely a super experience planting the seed of travel intrigue.  We hit most of Europe just short of Scandinavia and Greece.  (looking forward to getting there).  Counting the micro city state that are considered countries, which I proudly did, I think we hit 25 countries.  My memory may be exaggerating. 

I was sent to live on live for the summer on a small island just outside of Cannes, France.  That didn't suck.  The island had a mid-evil walled castle, once containing the man in the iron mask back in them historical days, that was now converted into a Euro-teen summer camp for French, German, Italian, and Dutch kids ages 15-18.  They were all sent to learn one of the following,  Sailing, Scuba diving, windsurfing, and of all things, modern dance which enlisted most of the exotic young girls that dominated the island.    Oh, the other class the camp taught was French.  That is what my parents signed me up for.  There were other things I learned that they did not sign up for.  Like a kid finds a candy store...

I kind of gambled at the prodding of my parents to see if I had the "je ne sais quoi" it takes to be a high school exchange student.  It's takes some combination of GPA, extra curricular endeavors (the positive kind),  writing a good "why I'd be a good exchange student" paper, personal charm and whatnot to be sent abroad and sponsored.  After 3 rounds of interviews without being dismissed (kind of like some reality competition) I was shocked to be selected to spend my senior year in Brazil.  They must put more weight on the charm part because I was not what you call a stellar student.  Again, I'll save space on this post by saying I could not be more grateful for my experience in Brazil.  Another experience that I have no doubt helped form me into who I am today.

After slipping through high school I planned went to visit my parents who now lived in Ankara, Turkey.  My plan was to stay a month and check out Turkey.  While there I was flipping through the Stars and Stripes newspaper (a paper for put out for the US military living abroad) when I came across and advertisement for the University of Maryland Munich Branch in southern Germany.  Rather than just visiting Turkey for a bit I ended up staying in Europe for 2 years, much to the chagrin of my girlfriend I left in Colorado.  Outside of the amazing experiences and meeting some of the greatest friend going to that school I also was able to hop about more of Europe including the freshly open eastern block.  1989-1991 was a crazy time to visit Berlin, Prague (still then Czechoslovakia), and Budapest.  We ran down to the Italian Riviera, Switzerland, and frequented Amsterdam on long weekends.  I even got 2 credits for going down to Egypt for 2 weeks of touring their epic history.  My collage years in Germany were the kind you get to look back on and just say, "what a lucky frinkin' guy I am!"

My collage graduation gift from my parents, which was eventually  from CU in 1994,  was a 5 week backpacking trip with my father through Costa Rica.  I love that country.  Still think I'd like to live there.  Oddly enough I went back with Asiana in 2008 to show the place off and were quickly relieved of our cash, passports, credit cards, bank cards, camera , travel books,  ipod...all the things you'd like to have with you for a comfortable vacation.  Lesson learned - always be careful of your shit it can be stolen behind a mask of complete kindness not just in the bad part of town.

And for over the past decade I've run down to Mexico, ahh Mexico, to Scuba and marinate in the sun at least once a year, sometime more often.   I use to own a little piece of Caribbean looks-like-a -corona-commercial beach... alas nothing lasts forever.

Of all the traveling I've done I feel like this one to Asia may involve the most movement and the most challenging communication.  Most other places I've been I could get the gist and at least fumble my way in communication.  I cannot even pronounce many of our destination spots much less have any clue about anything concerning general vocabulary and much much less about how to form a sentence.

I have been reluctant to leave many moment before take off from the comforts of Colorado.  I have never regretted any journeys.  Each has liberated some part of me.  What will this one bring?

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