A Lifetime Dreaming (A Short Travel Autobiography)

Hartford City Travel Blog

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The old barn
For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamt about traveling and living overseas.  It was not too difficult coming from a small dead-end town of 5,000 in northeast central Indiana.  My family was far from having the financial means to do anything except for an occasional camping trip to a local area.  I used to believe that if I could swing high enough from my father’s homemade swing firmly affixed to a towering but dying elm tree I could see Disneyland.

For me the fascination with other cultures began for me with Godzilla movies.  Japan was the place that I instantly wanted to go after seeing a radioactive dinosaur with bad breath go crazy on Tokyo.  I still dream about making it to Japan.  Godzilla led me to watch any movie made in Japan and read anything about Japan that I could find in the local library.

It also led me to join the military.  I told everyone I was joining for the college fund, but my real hope was seeing the world.  Depending upon one’s perspective, I fortunately or unfortunately was stateside for my entire time in.  I say this as it deferred my dream, which was unfortunate, but it also made me appreciate my eventual travels overseas much more.  During my time in, I was stationed in Missouri, California, Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.  I also spent some time on assignments in New York, Florida, Washington DC, Arkansas, and Gitmo, Cuba.  This was long before Gitmo was used for what it is currently being used for.

While there were good and bad things about the military, I am thankful for the fact it gave me the love of the road-trip.  It did not matter if I was with friends or alone, the open road with music playing from the car stereo with the windows down as the wind whistled through the a car racing through a deserted piece of asphalt and tar found a special place within me.  

I am also thankful the military put nomad in my blood.  After getting out, I lived in Florida, Indiana, Washington and Nevada.  Friends have often asked why I continually moved and my response was why stay when I have seen everything here that there is to see.

I worked as Special Education teacher in several inner-city schools in Las Vegas.  While in Las Vegas I completed my MEd in Teaching English as a Second Language.  After completing that degree, I started teaching English in the evenings at the local community college to people from all over the world in addition to my usual day job.  I loved my evening job.  Aside from meeting people from all over the world and vastly improving my second language of Spanish, this job afforded me the financial means to travel overseas.  

Having met people from China and Thailand on-line, those were the first two places I decided to visit.  I could not sleep the night before my flight.  I could not sleep during the flight from LA to Beijing.  Little did I know this would be one of the least crowded international flights I would ever take.  The sheer excitement and my own imagination kept me awake for the entire flight along with the sheer beauty of the snow covered mountains of western Canada and Alaska.  I landed in Beijing and found my connecting flight to Chengdu.  I could write a massive amount about this first trip, but I think that it will come in a later blog.

I loved China and Thailand very much.  Many of my friends in Vegas were surprised that I came back.  I started exploring options for my next trip.  The following year I spent five weeks in Hong Kong; Guangzhou, China; Guilin, China; Bangkok, Thailand; Khon Kaen, Thailand; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Upon my return to the States, I decided that I was tired of making excuses for the reasons why I was not living overseas, so I started searching for jobs.  One of the jobs I applied for was a Georgetown University English Language Fellowship.  I had a phone interview, but I did not hear back from them.  I started applying for jobs in China.  Several universities were interested in me.  I had one university, which was suppose to call me one night for a phone interview but by midnight they had not called.  I placed my phone next to the bed as I was expecting them to call at an odd hour with the time difference.  

At 5am, I received a call.  I awoke from my deep slumber.  The caller id read “unknown caller.”  Expecting this to be the university in China, I hurried to answer it.  Instead it was the US Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan.  The first thing that went through my mind was where in China was Azerbaijan and if I had applied for a job there.  I was sound asleep after all.  I was told that I was at the top of their list and they would let me know if I got the position the following day.
 
The Embassy wanted me to go to Naxchivan (also spelt Nakhchivan), which is an Autonomous Republic separated from the rest of the country by Armenia.  I would be the only known native English speaker there and the first American to live there, although the later part of that statement is debatable.  

After getting off the phone, I went on-line and read everything that I could about Azerbaijan before heading into work.  I hate to admit that I did not know a lot.  I just knew it was part of the former Soviet Union.  After discussing the matter with friends of mine, I decided that I would take the position if it were offered to me.  After all, if so few people had been there, how would I know if I really liked the place unless I went there myself?

The next day, I was offered the position.  This set off a chain of events.  I did not know how much stuff I had accumulated in my life.  I sold many of my possessions and donated even more.  I sold my car and eventually my condo.  More importantly, I found homes for my two cats whom I had since their birth.  On September 4, 2006, I left the USA and went onward to Azerbaijan.

Advoc8 says:
Fascinating.

Your blog was recommended to me and I can see why. An American with adventure travel in his blood is a very rare thing... statistically, most of America does not have a passport!

http://www.gyford.com/phil/writing/2003/01/31/how_many_america.php


Your writing is a pleasure to read. Thanks for the writing and I look forward to the tale. :o)
Posted on: Oct 20, 2008
drea72 says:
wow you rock...i am about to travel alone and i love hearing how others have done it...
Posted on: Jun 10, 2008
Adrian_Liston says:
Gutsy move, well done :)
Posted on: May 25, 2008
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The old barn
The old barn
Hartford City
photo by: mickeyd302