"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."

"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."- Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wanderlust Wednesday [1]

I am very excited to present the very first installment of Wanderlust Wednesdays! Cue trumpet overture.

Kendall is one of the best friends anyone could ask for and we have traveled extensively together. We were roommates for just the first semester our freshman year in university and we have stayed buds ever since. I remember walking into the dorm at around 3AM (architecture students tend to keep strange schedules) nearly tripping on Kendall as he was sitting cross-legged on the floor fashioning a flag out of beer bottle caps. Like I said, one of the best friends anyone could ask for.

Name - Kendall Eskew

Site - In middle school I made a website with stick figures having sex but that’s long gone.

Occupation - I write software for investment banks and I promise I had nothing to do with the recession. It’s written in APL and uses lots of weird symbols like in this random bit of (useless) code: ⍳⌊1↓⌈/¨V

Birthplace - Born and raised in New Jersey and if you have a problem with Jersey then we’ve got a problem. My mother’s side of the family is all from Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina, so I love biscuits with gravy at Waffle House. My father is from Las Salinas, Nicaragua. I’ve visited a couple times and they recently got a paved road!

Current Location - Beautiful, sunny Jersey City, NJ.

Trips Made - Across the US, Montreal, Nicaragua, England/Scotland, Italy, Turkey, New Zealand, Australia.

Trips on the List - I’m going back to Turkey soon, and I’d like to visit India, or Peru, or Ukraine. There are so many choices.

Featured trip - On my recent trip to New Zealand and Australia there was plenty to be excited about, like dirtbiking along cliffs, hiking to waterfalls, and buying Jack Daniels & Coke in a can (you can get anything in a can there), but I also had a bit of a freakout. After an unsuccessful day of fishing in New Brighton Beach in Christchurch, I hadn’t caught anything, though a friendly Maori guy gave me some crabs he’d caught, as well as a rum & coke (in a can).

The next day I tried my luck in Akaroa, a small town in a volcanic harbor originally settled by the French. I got pretty damn excited when I caught a dogfish, so I put my backpack over the bait to keep it safe from seagulls and ran into a shop to grab a plastic bag for the fish. When I got back out of the shop I immediately freaked out, ran to the bench my bag was on, ran back to the shop and frantically said “Oh god oh god did I leave my bag in here? Did you see anybody walk past the shop while I was in here?”

The answer was “No, maybe the wind blew it somewhere?” And that happened to be the correct answer. In that short time, a strong gust of wind had rolled my backpack right off the dock and into the harbor – my bag with 2 big bottles of water and soda, some cans of vodka & cran, a book, my housekeys, and uhhh my passport. Bad enough as it is, but I also had a plane to Australia the next day.

After stumbling around in disbelief and fishing a bit more (I was in shock), I stopped by the police station and filed a report. Akaroa has only one police officer, by the way, and he is not in on Fridays so I had to leave a message with a volunteer.

I spent the next 24 hours scheduling appointments with the consulate, re-routing my flights, getting drunk, and watching strippers. With company, of course. I’m not that depressing.

This story has gone on long enough so I’ll finish it up now. On the bus ride back from returning the rented fishing pole the next day, I got the most wonderful call from Akaroa’s lone policeman. My bag had washed up on shore! It managed a 1.5 mile swim across the harbor and washed up, full of sand and water, with my beat-up but intact passport. Phew! To celebrate I did some more drinking and stripper-watching.

It is hard to believe my misfortune that after hours of fishing, the one minute I leave my bag unattended is the minute it rolls away, but I am in similar disbelief that my passport swam to shore after only one day, or that it came to shore at all. Thanks to this I got to Australia only one day late, but minus lots of money that I’d already spent on rebooking flights.

Teach, learn, share - I’ve found that if you’re going to an urban area, it’s easier to just go to ATMs than deal with exchanges, especially if you have a worldwide bank like HSBC. The rates you get at the ATM are good compared to the exchanges, and it’s a lot safer than walking around with a bunch of money stuck in your shoe.

Also make sure you tie stuff down if you’re in windy New Zealand.

The worst bathroom - It was autumn in Ankara, Turkey. We were young and naive, and didn't know there were nicer places for cheaper. The whole place stank of mothballs, since there were mothballs EVERYWHERE. In the closet, in the trash cans, in the urinal, in the freaking sink. The sweet smell of mothballs was like perfume to the proprietors.

It was also my first encounter with a squat toilet, instead of a pedestal toilet. Squats aren't always nasty, I found out, but my first encounter was not a good one. It was dirty, smelly, and couldn't get enough water pressure to flush properly, so shit and toilet paper would just be floating up at the top.


Do you have any tattoos? - No but I once considered a tattoo of Erick’s face.

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