These days, I get asked a lot where I will go next. Looking back on the past three years, this is understandable.
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?
Feel the air flowing around you every day of this life. The only thing that matters is the energy in your veins and the earth that keeps rotating beneath you. The sun tells you how much time you have before you rest. The moon shows you the way to your bed for the night.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.