June 13, 2007

The End Of The Road

Round the world! There is much in that sound to inspire proud feelings; but where to does all that circumnavigation conduct? Only through numberless perils to the very point whence we started. Where those that we left behind secure, were all the time before us."

-Herman Melville

ALGOMA MILLS, CANADA - An overnight bus ride from New York and a quick drive (6 hours) North of Toronto and I'm home. I rolled in yesterday afternoon just in time for a home cooked dinner with my parents.

I suppose I'll come to some conclusions over the next weeks and months as I reflect on my travels. Until then, this will be my last post. The trip is finished. A resounding success.

Now is the time for reconnecting with friends and family - to unpack the boxes and build a life for myself. I'll admit, it seems a little daunting, though I'm confident it's nothing I can't handle.

January 04, 2007

CTV News Television Interview

ALGOMA MILLS - Earlier today Gord Nicholls from CTV News in Sudbury, Ontario made a visit to my parents house to do a general interest story about this trip. He did an interview and had a cameraman shoot a couple things around the house. The story is set to air tonight between 6:00 and 6:15pm through the Northern Ontario region. I'm also told that depending on how many planes crash and how many countries overthrow their governments today there is a chance that other regions could air the story as well. So if you live in the North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury area keep one eye on tonights evening news. It's my minute and a half of fame.

As I prepare to head back to Southeast Asia to pick up the trail where I left off (Bangkok), I've deliberately kept a low profile here. I'll be posting from the road again on Monday the 8th.

December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays

ALGOMA MILLS, CANADA - Just wanted to jump online and throw up a quick post to wish everybody a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwaanza or whatever it is that you happen to be celebrating.

I've been back in Canada for an entire week now. Macau turned out brilliant for me. I had almost no preconceptions about it before I got there and as a result every corner I turned as I explored the city was full of discovery.

Hong Kong was fantastic as well. Everything I'd imagined it to be. Full of glass and steel and action. I opted for wholesome accommodation in what is probably the nicest YMCA on the planet before jetting over to Tokyo then on to Toronto.

This holiday season I'll be making some minor adjustments to the site but don't plan to post regularly as it will only contribute to the disruption in continuity that this visit - by plane - represents.

Check back in the New Year to find me returning to Bangkok in order to continue my long march across Asia for Europe and beyond.

December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

I'm hoping today will be a day of successes as I scramble to finish outfitting ourselves with all the necessary bicycle touring gear for our trip to Panama. It's one of the last days of shopping I'll have before flying back to Central America. I made a half hearted attempt in Montreal, but my lack of local knowledge made it difficult to locate bike stores that are actually open year round.

I've decided to save the mileage and forsake what promised to be a great party in New York for a classic Sudbury Saturday night. While this may seem crazy for most people, it won't for anybody who's actually brought in the New Year at the Townehouse Tavern. Sudbury can be just as good a time as any city [I've visited] in the world. Tonight will be no different. Besides, I'm weary of driving.

December 24, 2005

New Plan: Guatemala to Panama by bicycle

Central AmericaEven from the beginning, this trip has been marketed and presented as a sailing trip around the world. Though anybody who's read the small print or been following along thus far knows that in nearly 3 months of travel, we have yet to set sail. So far we've travelled most of the five thousand miles to Antigua, Guatemala via bus, with a few ferries, trains, mini-buses and pick-up trucks in the mix.

Now it's time for something completely different. Something that will allow us to interact more closely and intimately with my favorite part of Central America; it's people. Something that lets us stretch our legs and breathe some fresh air. Something that'll give us more freedom about where to go. Something that might actually make our money last longer, while enriching our experience.

When I return to Guatemala, we intend to travel the rest of Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) by bicycle. In addition to visiting friends and family, I'm running around trying to sort out the logistics of outfitting the 3 of us for this cycling leg of our trip.

If you'd asked me three months ago if I'd be cycling through the jungles of Central America, I'd have said no. That was then, this is now. And nobody, nobody knows what'll happen once we get to Panama; not me, not anybody. Pretty much all that remains intact are the core goals of this trip; To circumnavigate the globe without making any forward progress using air travel. The sailing will come soon enough, for now we continue our drive South... via bicycle.

December 22, 2005

Luggage Revisited

Clothes to Bring Around the World

Personal possessions either break or disappear on a pretty steady basis if your name happens to be Ryan Henderson or Brian O'Neill. (Willie's track record thus far has been impeccable). I know, stuff breaks and gets lost no matter who you are, but our attrition rate is sky-high, something we can't keep up with now that neither of us is actuallyGadgets and Stuff - To Bring Around the World earning money. Ahh but such is life; nothing stays the same. Never. I understand and accept it for the most part, and truth be told, no single item I'm travelling with is irreplaceable. Prohibitively expensive; Yes, but not irreplaceable.

As the money in my bank account continues to race toward that point on the horizon where everything converges on nothing, I can't help but dwell, at least a little, on the stuff I've left behind, broken or otherwise lost:

  • Camera -
    My poor camera. I may actually be cursed when it comes to cameras: In the year 2000 I had the opportunity to lead a 40-day canoe expedition down the Seal River in the far North of Manitoba and into Hudson's Bay. We saw caribou, whales, northern lights, fantastic sunsets, ferocious forest fires and wild rapids; I of course was carrying a beautiful SLR with dead batteries in one of the few places in the world where one can actually go 40 days without a store to buy replacements (The Canadian SubArctic).
    This most recent camera incident happened the day before I was to head into some very photogenic places in Mexico and Central America. It broke in a 'freak' accident involving a violent game of ultimate Frisbee on Pacific Beach in San Diego and some pesky sand particles that mysteriously snuck into my pockets. That was October 25th, I sent it off to be repaired. Canon is still 'rushing' to get it fixed. I'm fairly certain it'll be ready the day after I head back to Guatemala.
  • USB Stick -
    Not a huge deal, everything was backed up on the laptop, but I'd sprung for the 1GB card and it was less than a month old. The 256MB one I bought in Mexico as a replacement was a necessary evil if I was to continue using the laptop. I wish I had my 600 pesos back.
  • Sunglasses -
    Ha! It's impossible to keep from losing sunglasses for even regular people, I don't know why I even tried. I've been without them for 2 months now and am hoping that the aged, leathery-face look comes into fashion soon.
  • Jeans, Sweaters, Socks
    - As I look at the picture of my clothes, I find it hard to believe that I've been gone less than 3 months. My wardrobe has probably changed by at least 70%. I dumped or lost most of it before we left La Paz on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. I actually have nothing warmer than a t-shirt and a GoreTex jacke which is proving to be a problem here in Canada. It's okay though, Guatemalan thrift stores are among the cheapest (and best) in the world. For the price of a Subway fare in Toronto, I can outfit myself in some pretty stylish duds.
  • Foul Weather Gear
    - As soon as we realized we weren't getting on a boat in NYC I shipped that ball-and-chain straight home.
  • Towel
    - Officially it was the first thing I lost, I left it at a friends place in Brooklyn. It's probably for the best, I've never travelled with a towel that didn't reek like mould 95% of the time.
  • Laptop Computer
    - My prized possession, the $244 laptop seems to prefer the humidity of the jungle to the Great White North. I'm hoping that it's not working right now because it's hibernating; like a bear.... It would be sad if this was it as Jon just set me up with the first 4 seasons of the Trailer Park Boys and 2 seasons worth of Arrested Development. I'll give it a rest and hope the problem fixes itself. For now I'm typing from a different machine.

While my electronic world is collapsing, I'm reminded of some wise, and taunting, words by everybody's favorite existentialist Henry Thoreau:

It is desirable that a man be clad so simply that he can lay his hands on himself in the dark, and that he live in all respects so compactly and preparedly, that, if an enemy take the town, he can, like the old philosopher, walk out the gate empty-handed without anxiety.

-Henry David Thoreau

Brian hasn't fared any better, he is currently travelling without pants and inisits that a monkey ran off with them sometime during all the confusion on the night we slept in the jungle near Pelenque. This is frustrating for him mostly because all the flip-flops/sandals that come within a metre of his feet explode. He has only leather dress shoes and giant hiking boots to go with his shorts. He's on a constant quest to buy sandals or flip flops that fit him; Size 13 shoes among a Mayan population that must average 5'5" tall are hard to come by.

I'm reminded of our time in Livingstone on the Caribbean coast. He was optimistic at finding footwear to fit him there because the population of Livingston is Garifuna rather than Mayan (a.k.a taller and presumably with bigger feet). He bought the only size 13 shoes in town; A pair of "4X4" branded shower-shoes. They lasted nearly a whole week before blowing out on the mean streets of Antigua week.

October 06, 2005


Day 1

Is it the U.S Rangers that always strive to never leave a man behind? or is it the Navy Seals? Whoever it is, it's not me. I barely blinked an eye when Brian told me today that there was 'no chance' of him hooking up with us before Saturday or Sunday. Our ride leaves early this evening (in 2 or 3 hours) without him. It's okay, he's a resourceful guy, he should be able to get on a Greyhound and catch up with us in NYC sometime later this weekend. Filling his seat in the car will be a good friend of mine, Matt Perpick, who is desperately punching out university research papers as quickly as possible in order to free up time for the trip (to NYC not around the world).

This first day of the trip isn't quite what I'd imagined. We're without Brian O'Neill and, disappointingly, tonight's destination is set to be Oshawa, Ontario (No offense intended to those who live there). It's a small bedroom community a mere 60km (38 Miles) East of the city. All the shots I got today for Yellow Fever and Typhoid will do me no good in 'The Shwa' as they call it. I'm craving more exotic locations.

This overnight stop serves more than one purpose. First, it gets us out of the thick of the city, where we'll be poised to burst out onto the open highway early tomorrow morning. And secondly, we'll be seeing Cuff the Duke perform at a place called Catch-22. I know nothing about them.

This is it, the first step on a much bigger journey.

'We have longer ways to go...'