Last year at this time, after making the difficult decision to leave the job that paid me to travel around the world, I had about a month free before embarking on a travel adventure for as long as I wanted anywhere in the world.
How I achieved this “freedom” to do as I wish is grounds for another story, firmly rooted in my life story of doing such repeatedly over the years, and I tell bits and pieces of it often when asked. That is what Hans World Travels is intended to be about, and my Instagram page has come the closest to achieving this goal, but I have a ‘mental’ problem and it’s called … Ideation.
It’s a classification type found in personality tests. A measure of strengths and weaknesses, suitable for employment matching and placements. Now that I know it is my biggest strength, something I didn’t know existed prior to my mom sending me a sliding scale test of preferences to determine it. However, I also recognize it as my biggest weakness too, and in particular when it limits my ability to elucidate my ideas succinctly and clearly.
It’s frustrating, but never so much more then when I want to break out from the “unknown and just being a nobody” in my field, and enter into discussions to actually achieve what I know is possible when I find the contacts and professionals I need to channel it and also share a similar vision.
In the past week, there have been a least four times these opportunities have presented themselves, and I’ve felt completely inept at capitalizing on them. Even worse, in the past month, ideas I had recognized last year, and had yet to connect the dots linking them together until the end of my trip to Europe, are actually happening in bits and pieces as I remain a “nobody.” These are not stupid trivial things like Kim Kardashian’s ass size, but rather global phenomena that are involving billions of dollars and have global environmental implications.
But it all starts here, a year ago … just another period of my life existing in ‘limbo’ waiting for X to happen so I can get to Y. And Y seems to be vanishing before my eyes, because of yes, you guessed it, the weakness inherent in ideation and my inability to summarize it concisely and clearly.
I wanted to go to Africa and travel around the southern half of the continent. However, by making a few personal decisions intended to allow for infinite possibilities in my travels and what I might encounter, I had closed down all possibilities from the get go. This is strength number two at work – adaptability. Those major things in life that bother most people, they roll off my back like water droplets on a duck.
First and foremost, I did not want to do it alone. I enjoy sharing new discoveries with others too much, and I am addicted to that smile I see on their face when the gravity of the adventure hits them through being a part of the travel style I have branded loosely as “Hans World Travels.” And yes, either by how I have “engineered it” or how my life has just played out, I just don’t get along with guys all that well. Some might call me a player in my associations with women, others might say “he’s just not a guy’s guy.”
But I just like to think of myself as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” minus the suit and the beard, and definitely not the semi-creepy real world incarnation that is Richard Branson. Plus I’m not financially rich, but money doesn’t guarantee a life rich in experience, although Sir Richard gets my nod of approval to “a life well lived” there too.
Secondly, in order to do Africa right, I did not want to pack everything down to 22 pounds like was the case in 2012 when I traveled to South Africa on the spur of the moment. I did bare planning on that trip too [see below] and what I did plan “because Africa is a big scary place” and I needed a few “safe” options once I touched down in Cape Town, I ended up regretting afterwards.
I didn’t need to bring everything with me, especially not the kitchen sink. “Bitch please!”, I’m just as comfortable sleeping on a floor in Charleston, a park in Copenhagen, or a rental car in the Little Karoo, as I am in a plush bed.
But the truth is, I wanted to take things like a DSLR camera, fins and scuba mask, camping gear and maybe climbing gear to enjoy the travel as I saw fit. I had zero interest in looking like a human turtle (full backpack on the back, large day pack on the front) us “refined” travelers see at every airport and hostel the world around, and I didn’t want to worry about my things being stolen either.
I needed my truck, and it just so happened I had two trucks at this time last year. My original Tacoma, revived from the ashes so many times I called it “The Phoenix”, was screaming to go on a one way adventure somewhere. Africa was the obvious choice, but “planning time” again was of issue, and it would be impossible to ship it in a container so quickly.
How about driving to the tip of South America then? It has been a dream of mine long before Africa ever entered my purview. I get to take everything I want, plus I can just sell it at the end of the adventure no problem.
The first, Mexico – drug cartels and human trafficking. Sure there is plenty of hype drummed up in the media in the U.S., but reality is… the potential for the actual shit to go down is high and only staying on the Federali protected highways is not my style of road tripping. I have experienced driving Baja California, without concern years ago, I wouldn’t be able to settle for less today due to the current elevated safety concerns, which are realer than I would ever admit.
Driving to South America – Strike One!
Then there is Panama, more specifically, The Darien Gap. If you don’t know, The Pan-American Highway has never been completed linking the two continents. There are no roads through this no-man’s land of tropical jungle. Never has, and likely never will.
“But,” an astute reader would counter, “you were going to ship The Phoenix to Africa. Why not across The Darien Gap?”
Excellent observation, and yes I looked into that. Truth of the matter is, whether by container and cargo ship or a vehicle ferry that was as unknown as the jungle itself, it was going to cost more to cross a couple hundred kilometers than it would be to ship a vehicle halfway around the world. This racket and level of extortion to “Jump the Gap” just rubbed me the wrong way.
Driving to South America – Strike Two!
Driving to South America – Strike Three! (see my first point above)
So long and short, no girlfriend, logistical issues and can’t travel as I want, “Where else can I go that is easy to plan and no safety issues?”
Dun, dun, DUNN! A stupidly cheap flight to Europe was available last minute. Even better, as my previous job did turn me into a preferred airline snob, Delta Airlines could get me into Brussels for $980 and I had a $200 voucher as a perk to flying with them so much the past couple years.
Sub $800 flight into Europe during the summer, only three weeks out? I was faking a bunt, and the baseball hit itself out of the park on accident.
Ummm, I don’t know shit about Europe! Oh well, no planning, no worries, let’s do this! And off I was…. in three weeks.
Enter that other side of me, the logical and intelligent half that tells me there is a bigger purpose in my life’s work than just inspiring people to travel or encouraging them to be brave enough to walk away from “a good thing” that really isn’t that good at all. I turned to the LinkedIn forums that were focused on energy as well as giving myself a purpose other than just traveling while in Europe, trying to understand why Europe was having success in renewable energy implementation while the U.S. was notably fighting it.
Two birds, one stone. Logical efficiency maximized of an “ideator.” I was going to discover a place new to me, and I was going to learn as much as I could while I was there about Europe’s energy environment first hand.
Even though it was a long shot, I was making arrangements to get offshore Denmark to see the wind turbines and visit Vestas headquarters itself. Adaptability and ideation at play again, I overbooked myself racing through Denmark to catch a flight to Turkiye, but not before sleeping two nights in a park in Copenhagen. And before catching my flight to Europe from the US, I was up all night finishing my piece entitled “Natural Gas Realities – Now.”
There is little wonder, why upon arriving in Bulgaria 5 weeks later, a country I barely knew existed prior to setting foot in Plovdiv, I was completely exhausted and hit a wall.
And here we have it again… The message I am trying to relay, buried and left unfinished, in the body of the story I ended up telling.
‘Tangential Story Telling’ – that which I have always done in answer to questions presented to me about my life and travels, fucks me once again.
And when it’s in a professional setting, it comes out as me feeling the necessity to “prove myself,” to those that chose a more directed path of higher learning and have letters after their names, regardless that what my interests, experience and knowledge base holds, currently has no pre-arranged pathway or coursework to achieving in the global energy landscape.
And what will tomorrow bring… will I be any closer to moving to Namibia, assembling the pieces I know exist today in the energy and technology sectors to bring about a better world and environment, and make money as a bonus too? Who will win out, Dr. Jekyl or Mr. Hyde?