All posts by Peter Illetschko

We Dig Diversity!!!

Diversity!!! Diversity!!! Diversity!!!

While it wasn’t quite Steve Ballmer[1] my former Microsoft CEO, yelling at me in jockish, motivating fashion, it might as well have been.

Wait, what? Make this stop!

Thankfully, it was just a faint remnant of a nightmare, like phantom pain in an amputated limb. (I kid, I loved working at Mircosoft. My love is tough, what can I say.)

From the outside, large organizations like Microsoft or Amazon seem monolithic. But in fact, they like diversity because it fosters creativity and innovation. Both seem to be essential in today’s business world.

But diversity doesn’t just uplift faceless multinationals. It is no accident that the most successful and influential cities around the world are often melting pots. Diversity drives these powerhouses.

Silicon Valley is the latest expression of a phenomenon dating back to Babylonian times. Back then, for the first time, more than a couple of people thought it was a good idea to kick(-start) it together.

But this is not about Hamurabi’s rock, Wolfgang Amadeus, or the super computer in your pocket.

No, much more importantly it is about getting your own booty diversified. That’s right, we all need some rebalancing of the investment portfolio, some expanding in all directions at times

Mostly, because it’s there. And because everybody likes Pho.

First of all, if at least 50% of us humans didn’t actually like staying home and building things, what would the rest of us DRD4 travel gene empowered people go look at?

The least we can do is appreciate and respect. So next time someone gets all highfalutin, Tindering ’bout traveling this place and that, remember – there would be no quaint locals to feel superior about if there, well, weren’t any quaint locals hanging about.

Of course the other side of the coin shines equally bright:

Without a bunch of gypsies traipsing about the place, nobody would come by to see your Peter’s Dome. No matter how many years you made the poor chap paint upside down under your round roof.

And so you ask, “Pirata, what is the moral of the story?’

If there can be such a thing in the face of utter entropic diversity then, no matter if you stay or if you go, it must be:

Diverisity Stoner Saints Meme Sin

So there.

  1. [1] #godmode is when Microsoft Word autocorrects your name if someone spells Balmer with one L.

Journey to Africa

These days, I get asked a lot where I will go next. Looking back on the past three years, this is understandable.

Nomadic Lab Crack Rat
I mean, it’s worse than a lab rat on a steady diet of methamphetamins.

I pray that the supreme being of your choice will #neverstop to inshalla me this way.

What an awesome question. And it all started in Africa, heart of humanity, cradle of life.

I know weird, considering that I am a 70s kid from Austria. But if my parents didn’t drag me to hippie concerts in Vienna to hear songs about riding bicycle to said Africa, past Bedouins, girls with undies on their heads (his 70s un-pc words), and bloodsuckers feasting on you in river bed camp sites, I may have never left.

All of which explains this blissed out video in Baja California. Here I fly downhill past a gorgeously undulating, yet completely anonymous landscape that would be in a national park anywhere else.

And I sing. My favorite travel song – Journey to Africa, by Arik Brauer. An ode to nomadism, the age old urge to keep moving that 10k years of pulling weeds haven’t erased, yet.

When is the last time you belted out a song like nobody was listening?

Siddhartha’s Best Student

Last night, I met an interesting cat. It happened like this:

Bom Malandro: Yo, where you at G? 
Pirata: Na casa. Tranquilo. 
Bom Malandro: Come to my Taco spot. 
Pirata: Ait

When I walk in, Bom Malandro is with four strangers . One of the guys buys drinks and sits back down next to me. There is an intense urgency about him. Just about as intense as his humility – when he speaks he makes himself phyiscally shrink so as to be more polite. This is in contrast with the biceps popping under his T.

He drawls Hey, sorry. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?

Of course I don’t mind. My name is Mark. I’ve been in Seattle for three weeks. And I don’t know where I am going. My kinda guy, except he sounds so… innocent. I’m from North Carolina. Used t o be in the airforce. Back a couple of years now. just divorced my highschool sweetheart. Live throws you curves. I have this Contract Law Masters Degree through the airforce academy, but it’s just a job. Paying the bills. Maybe this young man can learn to swerve.

Siddartha Seeks Students
Siddartha Seeks Student

Then I find out that he survived the Middle East while working a liaison role. I was dumbfounded imagining this twentytwo year old gringo kid entering a Sheik’s sweltering tent somewhere in the dunes of Mesopotamia with nothing but a translator, a GI badge, and a few of your two trillion tax dollars to try to win some heart and minds with.

Nevermind, he already knows how to swerve. He only needs permission now.

~ His own ~

I don’t understand Peter. The guys I served with, they were my family. We got so close. But I don’t have their certainty of purpose. That is the first step to your truth. Why do you say that? Because certainty follows a continuum of knowledge. Strangely, the less you know, the more certain you are, and the more you know, the less certain you are.

Somehow I need to figure out what to do with my life, Peter. What’s your plan, Mark?  I don’t have one. OH, perfect.

Wait what? Nobody told me that before. Yeah, I know, son. The importance lies not in thinking that your path is somehow special, but in knowing it is your path, and nobody else’s.

What should I do?

Buy a one-way ticket to Thailand. When everybody walks straight, turn left.

Siddhartha Tree Buddha Gautama BUrma Mandalay
Maybe you’ll even find your own Buddha Tree

 

Mestre Acordeon

To write an homage to Mestre Acordeon in less than four hundred words is like saying the Mona Lisa is a painting of a woman. You might be leaving a few details out.

I’ll try anyway; because I must give credit:

Today I am here, and you are reading this blog, because Mestre Acordeon is a crazy, old man – with the heart of a young lion.

If you spent a year riding bicycle from San Francisco to Brazil with Mestre, you could also try to get away with describing him that way. We swatted at mosquitoes together, shared countless road side meals (sorry about those bananas, Mestre), and patched more flats then an Olympic cyclist lost on a bed of nails.

The seventy year old martial arts legend led our ragtag bunch of ten Capoeira Cyclists across twelve thousand miles, through deserts and jungles, up and down tens of thousands of feet of mountains, and past the very real and experienced dangers of Central and South America.

Mestre Acordeon bike touring b2b costa rica
Mestre Acordeon leads in Costa Rica                                                                        photo Banano

He never backed down.

Wearing his yellow Brazilian riding shirt we watched his ram-rod straight back disappear on the empty horizon ahead of us day after day. Often I thought that his will alone kept us alll moving forward.

Here is a good maxim: When you ride bike with a seventy year old you can never be tired.

On that road to Brazil I found a perfect metaphor to describe the importance of Mestre Acordeon’s life to all of us. He pushes on when the rest of us lays down.

He leads, we follow.

And follow, we do gladly, because most of us go through life without ever meeting the Bill Clinton’s of the world. Those stand-outs who seem to be connected to some kind of galactic charisma well-spring that mere mortals lack the password to. When we do manage to attach to one of them they take us to places we never dreamed of going.

Because of my own ballsy foolishness (have in spades, will travel) to show up uninvited at the beginning of Mestre Acordeon’s B2B journey to Brazil in September 2013, I can tell you with all honesty that that Dos Equis beer commercial guy is a floppy Richard compared to the real thing. So stop drinking that watered down sacrilege they call beer and start training Capoeira with the actual most interesting man alive at UCA in Berkeley.

Though my mother has her doubts, I do sometimes recognize what is good for me, and so I attached myself happily to his wellspring of wisdom. Sadly for me, and you, it seems the whole world queues up for a small sip of mana, and so, we had better get in line, too.

If you long to learn, then search out this modern day warrior philosopher, this seeker and synthesizer of knowledge in the best of humanity’s traditions.

But don’t ask what he will do for you. Instead, ask what you can do for him. And then sit back and watch the fireworks. You might even go to the moon.

I leave you with Mestre Acordeon making up words in Manaus. Just, you know, because he can. And because we needed to laugh a little on that sad day.

O Senhor, estou com saudades de vc sempre.

 

Seattle vs. Finland

Seattle Spaceneedle
Seattle Spaceneedle

Summer time in Seattle. Endless days, gorgeous lakes, mountains, and Puget Sound make you think you are living a great summer outdoors dream. You can’t beat it…

Oh wait… there is Finland. Perma-frosted, mosquito infested Finland. Inventor of Joulupukki, Sauna, Addidas, and Nokia. You’ll have to google what Nokia is, I am afraid. Actually, nevermind, here is Steve Balmer’s email.

Finland and Seattle have more in common than you think, and I am not just talking about the people of Ballard, a Small Scandinavia in Seattle, where hipsters go to die.

Morituri te Salutant
Morituri te Salutant

Glaciers have literally run over and carved out both locales. The lands are covered with forests and perennially dark like winter is always coming. While folks are polite enough they mostly don’t speak to each other and jointly own first place in highest suicidal tendencies globally. Vitamin D supplements are the rage and S.A.D. was invented either at UW or in Rovaniemi.

This leads to Swedes calling Finns mannerless peasants and a small famous thing called the Seattle Freeze. The first occurs when you drink a Finn’s Vodka, the second when you look at a person in Seattle.

Here is a video proving the Finn’s rather ornery nature.


 FYI: “Goddamn Red” is funny because the Finns defeated the Sowjets in WWll.
The Finns say nobody else has done that. Ever.

There is one big difference though. Seattleites have made it a badge of honor to pursue an outdoor life suited more for California’s balmy shores than frigid Puget Sound – all year long. Finns prefer to get blind drunk – also all year long.

In spring, during the sun’s first attempts to thaw out the wolves’ howls, Fins flock to the Government Monopoly Alko (liquor) stores. At the same time, Seattleites stoically swap their skies for snowshoes and a month later for hiking boots. While Seattle packs granola and rain coats, for Helsinki it’s Vodka and Salmiaki (Licorice). Yes, they also have Salmiaki Vodka. While Seattle’s mayor frolics with his husband in a mountain lake after a strenuous hike, the prime minister kicks it in his ministerial sauna, with a beer but sans towel. While Seattleites apply their northern European work ethic to conquering the wet wild, the original good-work-is-god’s-work people prefer to race their Skodas across empty tundras – after getting blind drunk.

So should you plan to visit either northerly tundra to enjoy some long days and pleasant summer nights, bring a rain coat. Or a bucket.

ps: I love Finland. On the day of my highschool graduation I chased a girl up there and stayed for a year. Alas, the interwebs’ attention span only allows for ADHD sized bites, which does not a nuanced picture paint. It’s enough to poke fun though 🙂 What is there to love? How about the best schools in the world and a female majority in Parliament.

Via Ergo Sum

 

Travel Growth Change Adventure Explore
Go on, click me.

With the above motto in mind I dedicate this, my new digital nomad home, to welcoming stupidity into my life.

My own, mostly.

You ask, “what’s stupid got to do with some highfalutin Latin, or travel?” Well, aside from my intercultural faux pas being rather tangential to the general public, everything, as it turns out. Stupid and travel are more brotherly than you thought.

Remember being a kid?  You didn’t know much back then. Which is unfortunately the whole point of being a kid. First you can’t walk, then you can’t talk. Then you try to eat and food keeps falling out of your mouth. You basically suck at life. Your entire existence consists of soaking up everything around you like a sponge at an Ibiza foam party. If you would know how to, you’d feel like an idiot most of the time.

You know what? Don’t let that feeling go. Own stupid. Stay childish. Make mistakes. Keep running into things and falling down. Bounce back up . Stay learning and growing. Travel further.

But here is the rub: It’s not more important to get back up again. It’s more important to fall down.

Wait, what?  All our lives we are told, “It isn’t how many times you fall down, it’s how often you get up!” Sorry, wrong, next candidate.  We are working on shifting the old you can do anything you want paradigm by a couple of light years.

Though getting up is somewhat of a prerequisite for falling down again. Why is there more to this then we thought? Simply, because falling down keeps you young. It doesn’t just teach you tenacity. The feeling of incompetence combined with discovery and learning is what helps your brain and body stay on their little tippy toes. Roots you in the moment. Hello Eckhart Tolle.

So if you see me making a fool out of myself at a new sport, a musical instrument, or simply falling flat on my face while jumping on a tree to impress a girl, laugh at my stupid body still trying to grow up. Because I certainly am.

#nunkapara

And since travel is the most enjoyable, experience and food rich way to feel stupid I might as well keep on rolling. Surely, nobody would hold it against me were I to chose a tropical island rainbow paradise over Kamchatka. All that sun, the sea, the interesting locals, the long days and pleasant nights…

But then again, remember that time, when I clogged a Mexican toilet for the first time? Or when I nearly died from eating that medium spicy Pad Thai? Or when I asked for dick (pau) instead of bread (pão) in a Brazilian bakery?

And with that in mind, I break a lance for the one-way ticket. I take a stance for the year of gap. I say, grow see the world one foolish culture wall breaking mistake at a time.

That is, if you want to live forever.

 – Via Ergo Sum –

Hello World – Hallo Welt – Ola Mundo

Baja California - Bahia de Concepcion

Welcome to the new virtual home for my real world travel adventures. Thanks for the drive by 🙂

I will entertain and boggle your mind. I will share perils and pleasures of travel, sometimes, combined with ludicrous opportunities to growthfully edify yours truly.

Speaking of learning: I still don’t know why  Cambodia’s Centipede population sent one of their bestest little vile critters to bite me in the ass while I was minding my own business in the Valley of the Thousand Lingam (that’s right, 1000 penises). But I do know exactly why that Grizzly showed up while I was marking my territory in Yellowstone National Park.

Hopefully, the process of telling these insanities to the world will mitigate my own assumptions and I will finally be able to do a backflip in a Capoeira game.

Via Ergo Sum!