‘A strong desire to travel.’
Shortly after leaving the military in 1994 I placed an ad on a discussion board via this new thing called the internet. The school I was attending gave us high speed access. Dialup AOL was the alternative. The million dollar page & ’hotornot.com’ were all the rage. Although the photos on that website came from school annuals nobody thought of putting their high school annuals online socializing the entire world. There were no digital cameras, cell phones or facebook. My travels were documented via 35mm camera, a notebook and in my head.
My post was rather simple. I had a few months off and I wanted to hitchhike across the United States. I was 25 at the time. A few days later I received a reply from someone who said there was a guy in Europe posting the very same thing and that I may want to contact him.
Johan and I hitched through fifteen European countries during the summer of 1995. This being prior to the European Union we had to stop at each border to attain entry/exit stamps and change money into the new country’s currency. Starting in Holland we traveled through every country around Switzerland and made it back to the Netherlands in time for Johan to start Uni. I on the other hand, continued moving.
Departing Johan’s home town of Delft we headed towards Groningen in the east of Holland near the German border.
The university in Groningen is where Tim, a recent graduate studying medicine, resided. I met Tim on a bus in South East Asia on another of my great adventures years later in 2014. Tim and I along with a whole cast of characters made our way around SE Asia. In Cambodia I met Paddy.
Heading east Johan and I made our way to Bremen, Hamburg and Berlin.
Growing up in Germany, Berlin is Paddy’s stomping grounds. He was taking time to travel before starting Uni. I bumped into him on a beach in Sinoukeville, Cambodia. Later we would meet in San Francisco only to find ourselves making our way through Central America.
The road from Berlin to Dresden then on to the Czech border was full of truckers and prostitutes. They have a name for this road but it slips my mind. We circled around to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava and then on to Krakow. The mountains around Switzerland were cold. We were not prepared therefore we froze at night. Many times I’d wake to Johan running around exercising attempting to get warm.
You’d think I’d learn about not being prepared in the mountains. Years later I met Maloney on a bus from Yangon to Bagan, Myanmar. Previously known as Rangoon, Burma. We then took another bus to Inle Lake where I, along with everyone else in the hostel, experienced the worst case of Montezumas revenge. We made plans to meet in Kuala Lumpar in a couple months and fly to Nepal where we would hike from Lukla to Mount Everest base camp.
Still freezing in the morning Johan and I hitched our way from Poland to Hungary through Croatia then west to Italy around Monoco and into Spain where I finally could understand the language. We then made our way through France, Belgium and back to Amsterdam were we could kick back at a coffee bar and smoke a joint.
Smoking joints is something I found myself doing quite often when I met Pablo at the Banana Azul hostel in Antigua, Guatemala. This dude with long dreads was sitting at the community table. I sat next to him, rolled a joint and asked him if he smoked weed. A year later and I’m sitting in his old flat in Mexico while he’s chilling in Northern California with the family on another of his journeys North.
Returning from my great European hitchhiking adventure I found myself traveling around the United States with Chris, a pilot flying a Dehaviland DHC 6 twin otter across the country from skydiving boogie to boogie. Boogies are skydiving events held across the world where skydivers from miles around flock to the specialty aircraft. Chris flew, I fueled the aircraft, checked tickets and loaded the plane. Tired of running around homeless and living in aircraft I made my way to the Virgin Islands where I met Al.
A Canadian finish carpenter scraping by on a slave ship called Latina, Al jumped ship and we bought a twenty four foot gaffed rigged sailboat constructed entirely of teak. With her sails out she looked like the back of a Canadian dime. Appropriately we named her Humor. Along with her thirteen dutchmen and broken bow sprit we learned to sail in the harbor of Charlotte Amalie. Six month we lived on this tiny boat before we saved enough money to leave the island, Al making his way to Vancouver British Colombia and I to San Francisco. It would be sixteen years before I would hit the road again on another great adventure.