Fear is the mind killer #58
San Francisco is the transition point. I thought an appropriate place to launch, given the large Asian population there.
But, prior to boarding a 777 China East plane to Shanghai, I felt a crippling fear. I barely speak the language, just the first 10 CDs of the Pimsleur Mandarin set.
I can say simple things like “I don’t understand”, “Thank you”, and “Where is it located?” It reminded me of the first time I was in Buenos Aires with even less Spanish. But hey, looking back, my Argentina trip was one of my fondest memories.
The fear persists.
The online forums are no help. They essentially say: just because Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city, don’t rely on your internationally understood English to get you by. You’re in CHINA now, boy!
And in China they speak Chinese! (Well, Mandarin, but Cantonese in Hong Kong, Shanghainese is also spoken in addition to Mandarin, in Shanghai. Taiwanese is spoken alongside Mandarin in Taiwan).
But English? Good luck Yankee!
I relate my fear to the fear I have when I climb a section of rock that all-of-a-sudden goes above my pay grade. In rock climbing, we understand that, like in the book Dune: fear is the mind killer. It’s usefulness is just the split second alert you get to wake you up to a dangerous situation.
Beyond that split second: fear is useless. Worse: detrimental. You over grip, hands become sweaty, tunnel-vision rules. About the only thing useful if the shot of adrenaline to push you past it to safer terrain.
I see the correlation and calm myself down. Turn it off. Smile even. I’m just sitting waiting to board. The stewards speak in English right after their explanations in Mandarin.
It’s going to be okay.
A man helps me find a place to put my baggage, and I thank him in Mandarin: “Xie xie ni!”
I sit back, ready for the 13+ hours of flight.
Shanghai is…impressive. The skyline full of skyscrapers along the river rival Chicago at first glance. Second glance too.
The Chinese…have their quirks. From the Chinese grandmothers shoulder checking you out of their way, to the morning hawking and spitting — it’s a sight.
My one day in Shanghai I walk everywhere. From the Jade Buddha temple to the People’s Square. From the Shanghai Natural History Museum, to the Bund. I walk from the morning through to the afternoon. Back near my hostel I look at the pictures of food plates at the various Chinese restaurants, trying to figure out the prices and what they would taste like.
You can tell a restaurant that caters to tourists. The large color pictures. The prices clearly marked. They say a picture can tell a story of a thousand words, but Money is the Universal language. I point, I pay. I should write a book: Point, Pay, Love!
The plate was wriggling. We ordered the live octopus because, well, we had to. Where else could we order this dish? The octopus is chopped up, but because of its anatomy the parts still wriggled — so is it alive or dead? The squirming tentacle parts were surrounded by a ring of raw marinated hamburger. For what? I don’t know — additional grossness? I can hear the chef now, “Hmm, how can we make this dish even more gross? I got it!”
In general, I like Korean food — the different accompanying side dishes, like the various form of kimchee and assortment of other colorful side dishes is a plus to me.
But, I couldn’t for the life of me get them to serve me, as a single traveler, Korean BBQ. Always needed at least 2 people — kept getting turned away. It didn’t matter that I had money, they said it was too much food for one person. And selling a half portion didn’t make economical sense, I’m guessing. Better to have a lost sale than to lose a 2-top. I had to wait till freakin’ Tokyo before I could partake in Korean BBQ!
Whenever I’m asked about Seoul I almost always give favorable reviews — pleasant city, amazing metro, nice palaces, kind people. But there is a recurring motif I’ve seen in both the public art and architecture — that of being separated in two, referring to North and South Korea, and visual art trying to capture a hopeful reconciliation. It’s a national grieving being played out for the public.
I met Yoon while traveling in Peru. I was recovering from a concussion at the time, but wanted to go on the Huaraz trek. I asked him if he could carry the tent for us, and he did. Coincidentally, my friend Iris from Taiwan was also there and so we all went to try the octopus.
I’m glad I tried it, because I feel if it doesn’t cross any boundaries moral or otherwise, that you should try anything at least once. Once was enough.
Seoul is an interesting mix of ultra modern peppered with ancient palaces, yet marked by visuals for a hoped for national reunion. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
It’s better to be lucky.
7 minutes. That’s how long it took the maglev train to get from Longyang Road station 25 miles away. And now I am in the airport. I reach for my waistpack where my passport is secured and find…nothing.
I left it when I went through security, 25 miles away.
The one thing about meditation is that it trains you to see things as they truly are, not how you imagine things to be, or even what you fear it could be. Once my heart stopped thumping I took an accounting: I’m here 2 hours ahead, so plenty of time. They probably can find it, it’s not like I’m the only person this has happened to. Unlikely someone would steal it at security, probably just ignore it as not there’s.
The gate people help me out, and after about 20 minutes she walks up with my bag. She checks my passport and laughs at my picture. I say, “Oh yeah, the beard”, stroking it. She hands me my bag and away I go.
I have been lucky at certain things in life. And in the face of possible tragedy, things seemed to have worked themselves out. 2 motorcycle wrecks, climbing concussion, lawsuit, and I’m still kicking as much ass as possible.
Between being lucky and anything else, I’ll take luck.
When I tell people stories about the two Taiwanese girls I met in Peru, and how they organized the treks we did to Machu Picchu and Huaraz they’d say, wow, those girls were tough! I’d always think, yeah, tougher than me!
And it was true! And I don’t really know where they got it. They both grew up in Chunghua, a Taiwan town that’s not exactly an adventurer’s town, more like an industrial suburb. But they did sports, and had a sort of athlete’s don’t-give-up mindset.
When we did the 3 treks to Machu Picchu, and the trek through Huaraz, where we were completely self-supported — carrying our own tent, food and sleeping bags, I didn’t realize how unusual this was until I saw folks traveling with small packs — everything else carried by porters, or donkeys. Their tents were setup, with food already made for eating inside mess tents. I could’ve been envious, and I guess a part of me was, but I also had a grim self-satisfied smile knowing I had done all the hard work myself. And then I’d look over at the two Taiwanese girls who were smaller than me carrying the same amount of weight, and realized that they were even tougher.
So, when my friend Yun-Fen suggested we ride bicycles around Taiwan I knew, that if nothing else, I was up for some suffering, with a ton of adventure thrown in!
Of course I said yes.
But what I found out later was that we were biking in one of the hottest times of the year. Also that we were headed into the rainy season. And that we’d have to bike all day, each day, for the following 2 weeks.
The bike that I got was a loaner that fit as well as it could, but wasn’t professionally fitted to me, like I would have done if this was in Colorado. That my two friends would be riding converted mountain bikes that were relatively heavier than my loaner road bike, retrofitted with smooth but larger road tires. We only had one pump between the 3 of us, though I did have a spare tire. I should have heard loud warning bells, but my desire for adventure often trumps any actual rational thinking that could avert possible tragedy.
Apparently, we were supposed to leave at 5:30am. Because of wonky wifi, I didn’t get the text message till 7:30. Yun-Fen had been sleeping at the nearby 7-Eleven, occasionally trying to text me.
“I told you 5:30!” she said. I don’t remember that at all.
“Why you bring so much stuff?” she asked. I look at my bag with 3 changes of clothes, toiletries, laptop.
“Because we are traveling for 2 weeks?” I said. I thought I packed light.
“Just one change of clothes!” Yun-Fen replied, “We can wash our clothes in the sink!”
I dump everything, just one extra set of clothes, and a toothbrush. A pack towel. Cell phone battery pack. I weigh the cost/benefit of bar soap, decide that the hostels will have it…
I did argue for less miles per day than what they were considering. At one point I loudly argued that the proposed miles per day were simply too much. The two just looked at me as if I had 2 heads. Iris just turned and left, saying something like, ‘Whatever you guys decide…’ The other one, Yun-Fen said, ‘I don’t care if we do less, it just means we either lengthen the whole trip, or take the train to some of the destinations.’ I felt like a wimp, so I sucked it up and just did whatever mileage they said we had to do for that day. If it was a 75 miler day — then so be it. Just put my head down and pounded out the miles.
After awhile, the distance was no longer an issue. What else was I going to do that day anyway? “75 miles today! Need to get up at 4:30 to beat the heat!” Yeah okay. Head down, pound down the miles…
But the experience of biking around Taiwan was considerable. Even when it rained, which was at least half the time. I rank it with any of the treks we did in Peru, up with climbing a volcano in Ecuador, any of the high effort - high reward things I’ve done in my life.
Taiwan is a beautiful country, especially when you get to the eastern side, with it’s dramatic seaside cliffs, waterfalls and beach towns. All of this seen on the back of a bike — one of the best ways I know how to travel. It’s fast enough to get you serious distances, but slow enough to take in the scenery in a way that seen from a car cannot be.
We enjoy an experience in equal degrees to the amount of suffering we put in. To a degree I think that is true.
Walking around at night in narrow darkened alleys, I have zero worries of being mugged. I have felt this way in all of the places in Asia I have visited, whether that be Shanghai, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and now: Bali. I am more on guard in South America, not to mention the good ole US of A.
Might be related to my protective coloration. While my Australian friends get the sales pitch, I often cruise on by without a second glance. It’s not until they see the camera strapped around my neck, possible the type of clothes where they might give a go with a “Hello”. But when I respond “Pagi pagi!” (hello) they quickly say something back in Balinese, which I just smile at as I pass on by.
More than a handful of times I’ve had Balinese say, “You look like you are from Bali!”
I know. I’m part Filipino, part Guamanian (from Guam), with a little Japanese, Chinese and Spanish thrown in as well.
Why I Haven’t Written Much
Blogs are soooo 1990’s. I let social media tell my story, through pictures, sometimes accompanied with a tiny bit of text. Social Media is the latest zeitgeist, and I have my tinfoil hat on attentive to the next thing to uproot the Facebooks and Instagrams. Right now I think Insta is uprooting FBs, but lucky for Mark Z, he owns them both. I think the new thang may be chat related, like Kik. What’s old is new again. The new teens don’t use computers like we use computers — that I know. Like: only old white people like Trump pay attention to Twitter and Facebook.
The young have already moved on.
From Bali to Guam I have a 19 hour layover in Manila. I have backpacks both front and back, which are inconvenient obstacle to venturing out into town, but I go in search of a storage place. Google tells me there is one in the next-door terminal. I ask around, and the taxi person tells me that doesn’t exist in the terminal I’m in.
One thing travel taught me is to be persistent.
I’ve had locals in Ecuador tell me ’No, you can’t climb that volcano.’ That the trail was not clear, that by law I required a guide, that it was too dangerous.
”Oh yeah? Have you tried it?”
Well, then don’t tell me what’s possible.
And yes, I found out that Philippine Airlines had, for a small fee, a storage service in my terminal. I pay and get an airport taxi to Intramuros, an historical part of Manila.
You can tell its a tourist area by how helpful the police are. I act confused, looking around, up and down, and the policeman says, “Looking for coffee? This is a good cafe!” He walks me to the cafe, and even opens the door for me with a smile.
I notice he isn’t wearing a gun. Tourist police.
On the ride in, the taxi driver tells me even the taxi drivers are given tourist training, as they are often the first point of contact with tourists. They know that when there is a long pause in the conversation to elicit information with a question. To offer, unsolicited, significant snippets of historical or interesting information about locales they pass by. He finds out my father is from the Philippines, and says “Welcome home!”
I feel welcome, thanks!
But since I was born in the island of Guam I always felt that was my true birth home.
I stroll the formerly walled city of Intramuros, and find a restaurant selling Pancit, a traditional fried noodle dish that my dad and mom used to make when I was growing up. I had one of those travel moments: remembering the past through the present elements in a foreign country. A frisson of nostalgia, cognitive of the dissonance of eating a foreign food that was made common to me in a country separate from the country of my dad’s origin where the food itself was from. If that makes sense.
Where do I start? Again, I find myself in Chiang May, but this CM is different than the CM I experienced over 20 years ago, when I was in my early 30’s. There’s now a brand new trendy area near Old Town called the Nimmen district. Old Town is much the same, maybe with more hostels and restaurants catering to western tastes. I also notice that the elephant riding no longer exists, as tourist have been educated about the cruel treatment of elephants to train a huge animal how to carry a tourist without killing them, or inconveniencing them in any way. Now, you can just bathe and feed them. It’s all for the best.
I take a class in QiGong in a specialty called “Elastic Force”. I imagine skeptical friends watching, and how they would be justified by calling it bullshido. Justified, but not correct. The ability to make another person fly with barely a gesture — exists. I was able to exhibit a tad during my stay — just not sure if I can maintain or grow it. May take more commitment than I am willing to give.
I become buddies with this Englishman in his 70’s, who happens to have a couple black belts under his…belt. I sense he is willing, but hesitant about doing certain activities. We pass a Thai massage place I went to once before. “We should check that out sometime,” he says. “No time like the present!” I respond brightly. He pauses, then we go in. I think the people think we are a couple, asking if we want adjoining massage rooms. No, not necessary. They do this anyway, only a sheet wall between us. I see how we might look — older white English gentleman, and sorta Thai looking younger man walk into a massage studio together…you get the joke.
I am afraid that the Thai method of putting you into a half-nelson, then suddenly jacknife twisting to the side may make the English bloke skittish, but next thing I know he tells me he went back for a followup massage — he liked it that much.
Like my nephew’s wife Katie told me before I left on my travels: say “yes.” To everything.
Grant yourself permission.
Ubud, land of monkeys and sacred temples. You could make a journey simply out of visiting temples in Southeast Asia, but after my 17th temple in the Old Town of Thailand I had had my fill. The Bali temples are just as cool looking, and often had “minor” temples blended in, or converted to housing — in a way that everyday spirituality seemed to exist in Bali. Every morning I’d see folks blowing incense and chanting something quietly, reverently, at bundles of woven mats the size of a palm, with rice, and flower petals and other offerings. Every. Single. Morning.
Faith, unlike the the sun rising, doesn’t happen by itself. It’s nurtured, it grows, like this country has inside of me. And, although the place has been overrun by the Eat, Pray, Love crowd, the essence of its everyday spirituality persists.
When I passed this Chamorro guy on the beach, he did a double-take as I passed by, then said, with a huge smile, “Hey Brother!” I thought, “Oh yeah, I’m a BRO!” Chamorro as well, born on the island, and despite being half-Filippino, this guy recognized my Chamorro-ness and acknowledged that.
In my travels, I have interacted with the “Locals,” the Thai in Thailand, the Balinese in Bali, and always felt the Otherness in myself, the Western American confronting the Other, the Aboriginal, the Local.
But here, more so than in Manila, I felt a sense of belonging. That family had become Family with a capital “F”. And that also included the extended family of Chamorros on the Island. Everyone was so friendly, in a way that would feel unusual in the US.
The questions about family name and who you are related to is not invasive, it’s out of honest curiosity in making the mental links of your lineage, and who you might know in common. This exists as a starting point, not in a hierarchical sense, just in a connections sense. “Oh yes, I knew your cousin on your father’s side,” the conversation might start. The point of connection established, the conversation can now continue.
And if you are a Chamorro talking with another Chamorro, there is another connection. In an island where the indigenous majority has dwindled to 36% of the population, in a small island you recognized each others Chamorro-ness.
Hafa adai! Todo Malek!
The Tumon tourist area has grown up, with chain restaurants, and luxury malls catering to the rich tourists. Signs in Japanese and Korean, even a store specializing in Japanese groceries.
But the South of Guam is still laid back, not as developed as the northern part, still retaining the original island feel.
I remember Guam as small, but driving from North to south, it no longer feels so small. “How long have we been driving?” I ask my Aunt Syl. like 30 minutes — and still we aren’t there.
I go on an ATV trip to the heart: the mountaintops of Guam with a view of both sides of the island, East and West. The trade winds blow my hair around, and I look and see the whitecaps from the recent storm showing the seas as too rough for the upcoming fishing derby. In fact, it gets postponed till the following weekend.
I see vast expanses of undeveloped jungle below me. One of the owners of the business tells me his Uncle owns two of the mountains (how does someone own a mountain, let alone two, in tiny Guam?) I contemplate ownership, wealth and equitability. The age of kings is over, and land is scarce. How do we allow equitability in a world of dwindling resources? Will only the rich, the ones lucky enough to be born in a rich family line have enough to eat?
In my travels, Trump inevitably comes up. And I get a flash of insight: Trump treated the EU members as if they were his employees. Saying that they weren’t paying their fair share, like telling employees that the silver wasn’t shiny enough. You know, keep them on their toes the next time “management” aka the US of A reappears.
What a dumbass.
What the Future Holds
The gift of travel is insight: into people, into situations, in being the “Other,” of the automatic comparison between your home, and the place that others call home. I look at the technological and monetary divide, and how a meal could cost $2.50 in one country and $20 at home. It’s enlightening in a visceral sense. You feel it in your body, in your senses.
On the one hand, I see technology leaving some people behind — the poor unable to afford laptops, let alone MacBook Pros. On the other, everyone has a cellphone — using it for the things we used to use other devices for. For writing, for games, for consuming videos and books and banking and credit cards — for everything.
The young don’t use technology the way the “old” folks do. Heard of Kik? Yeah, me neither. The kids use it. Because it’s not Twitter. It’s not Messenger. It actually secures messages from prying eyes — you know, like parents? You can continuously change your username, creating a fluid online presence depending on your needs, “burning” old usernames.
It’s fluid anonymity.
Of course it’s used for sexting and drugs, but so is anything that can be used for that. When the government wants to ban something, first they say it’s used for drugs and pornography — even if it’s used for other more “legitimate” uses.
Here’s a test: find something (like cash) that is used for drugs, or pornography, or illegal gambling — then ask yourself if you use it for those things? If not, don’t be concerned about all that other fear mongering stuff.
It doesn’t matter.
But, some things cannot be banned. Like Inalienable rights. Like Crypto, especially when Decentralized and Anonymous. What happened when China banned crypto?
All the other countries where cryptocoins, like Bitcoin, were legal continued to be bought and sold.
And what do you think China’s going to do when another sovereign nation corners the market on crypto? They will buy and buy and buy.
In our socially connected worlds of FB and Twitter, where everything is laid bare, the second wave will be one of absolute privacy, of cults and cliques where Freedom reigns, and the dark sides of all-is-permitted and nothing-is-banned reside.
I travel, my passport my identity aligning myself with a country I love, but increasingly one which I escape — mostly from economics, but also from racism and sexism, away from the angry hordes who compete to see who can scream the loudest from the highest walls that social media has erected.
Mostly, when people ask where I’m from, I say, “Guam. I’m from Guam.” And they rarely know where that is. And even though it’s a US territory, because it’s not a state it avoids the negativity that the words “USA” brings. And it’s not that I am ashamed of my country — I am not. I just want them to see a person from the US as they should be seen — as a smiling friendly person enjoying life — with no agenda other than traveling, and in traveling to come to an understanding of a different place, of peoples of a different place, and how I fit in.
“Sorry it was so depressing,” the guy who gave the presentation on the state of the coral reefs said. And, it was depressing. If he said, ‘Does anyone need a hug?’ I would have raised my hand.
All I could think was: we’re fucked. And, the only hope really, at this point, is a sort of Deus Ex Machina ending, like aliens landing to magically eliminate all the CO2 and plastic trash, and grant everyone their own planet of their own to trash.
We’re on a dying planet — but really, the planet will survive us just fine — with or without us.
I’ve read that they’ve invented a new mineral that binds to CO2 and eliminates it from the atmosphere. That, it works at room temperature. My question is: can it rid us of stupidity and ignorance as well?
I walk the beaches and see cartons of beer with empty beer cans lining the shore. I see rusted out cars in the jungle with long jungle grasses peeking from their hoods. We have trashed paradise, and Jesus wept.
A branch of our family, the Leon Guerrero’s, are a family of master fishermen. And they tell me the longliners and gill nets of the big commercial fleets with their huge nets regularly sweep the ocean of all it’s bounty. They say, ‘It’s not like the old days.’ and I believe them. In the past, it must have felt like the oceans overflowed with abundance, an abundance that is now threatened.
And what will the people eat once the Trumps are through eating their Big Mac with fries? The leftovers of an obese society? When will the rich realize that you cannot eat money?
I go and visit one of Raynard’s friends, a haule who knows more about Chamorro culture than many Chamorros, I’d wager. Brian tells me of the migration of the people of Indonesia and Philippines to Guam, about the Japanese invasion, and the liberation of Guam. He talks about the munitions that he removes as part of his work in the special forces, and how Guam has some of the most advanced MMA fighters in the world. Because BJ Penn starteda training program back there 12 some years ago. In the end, as we are backing out of his driveway he stops us and goes back inside. He emerges and hands me a shard of Chamorro pottery over 5,000 years old. I have no words.
My fear is not that the we leave some people behind the digital divide. My fear is that we lose all our knowledge, with skyscrapers falling over, and nuclear subs running aground. Like the cargo cults of Vanuatu, we will make space ships out of cardboard, and light the runways of our pockmarked asphalt roads with candles, praying to a reality we can no longer support.
And, in some far flung future an alien will hand another alien a shard of nuclear submarine that a once grand civilization sailed under the waters to eventually crumble, leaving only a shard to pass from one alien haul to another.
Pachinko palaces galore! Well, a few in the Harajuku area, along with girls in maid costumes handing out flyers to come czechout their Maid cafe. You too can be served by a cute Japanese teen girl in Maid mufti, short skirt and all.
Frankly, I expected more out of the place Bourdain called the most interesting place per square meter in the world — something like that. I guess I expected that, not just a tourist area with disaffected teens sometimes wearing something interesting. Chunghua I found to be a gazillion times more interesting with its street fare, scooter army and dangerous street crossings. What was this? Tourists and shopping, with the actual teens you want to see out of the picture — away to the next scene — sans tourists.
The most interesting places to me were the less western areas. A large city is much like any other large city. You get better food, and streets, but civilization can suck the life out of everything, homogenizing it into an MTV world of billboards and tall buildings.
But Tokyo…once you get off the main thoroughfares and into the side streets is where the best of Tokyo lies. I walked into such a side alley in Shibuya looking for a bite to eat. I gather my courage and step into a grilled eel shop. First thing I notice upon sitting down are the ashtrays. The person seated to my right lights one up, and while he blew the smoke discreetly away from me it was just mindblowingly awful. How did we as a nation of freedom lovers ever get rid of smoking in restaurants? Gives me hope for an unarmed world.
Now, I own guns, but spend any time in a place like, well just about anywhere in Asia, and realizing I had very little to fear of my neighbors, that it feels like disarming our nation is worth it. But America is a dangerous place, and I really don’t trust my neighbor. Do I really want only Trumpers to be armed? Fuckers be cray yo!
But, let’s get back to the restaurant. I order the eel, ignoring the “Market Price” label in the menu. The portion is laid atop a bed of rice. It’s marinated, grilled and delicious. Only later do I find that eel is an endangered species. Like eating flambe’ed Bald Eagle. If I knew I would have passed on it.
Overlooking the lights of Ginza, it just looks rich. Even the lighting looks rich — no garish billboards, just business building signage like for Mikimoto, or Fancl. There is a men’s clothing line that owns and lit up all 11 floors of its store in the Ginza, but this seems to be the exception rather than the rule, and just the extravagance of doing so in this area stands as a kind of flare shot across the whole of Ginza. We attend a free installation of changing light and music against the backdrop of trees on a rooftop in the Ginza.
Tokyo, I opted for a mix of the touristy to the local, coming home from viewing the Tokyo National Museum to a meal uncooked at home by cousin Vince — slicing tuna into sashimi cubes and shoveling out sticky rice is another kind of heaven. I felt healthier and stronger just from what and how I ate.
The border guard asked me, “Where did you come from?” My jet lagged brain had me responding, “Everywhere I went? or the last place?”
“Where did you go?”
“Everywhere,” I responded breathlessly, “I went everywhere.”
Which wasn’t true, and while you should never lie to the TSA, I felt that the spirit of my statement was true. I visited 6 places:
- Shanghai, China — 2 day layover
- Seoul, South Korea — 2 weeks
- Taiwan — 1 month
- Thailand — 1 month
- Bali — 2 weeks
- Guam — 2 weeks
- Tokyo — 1 week
…and now I’m back on the west coast. Seattle is such a great town — spread out like Chicago, casual — like Denver with water. I was told that I need to visit the San Juan Islands — which I may do. But I find myself decompressing — getting into the local scene, coffee and beer and seafood and lazy mornings in cool sleeping weather. Hell, I may buy some flannel!
If I could find a place like this — yet in a cheap Asian country — I would go live there immediately. Maybe home IS where the heart is. The towns I visited in Ecuador and Columbia, Cuenca and Medellin — had that “Eternal Spring” thing going on…and that’s an option. Or…I move to Seattle. Just need a boatload of moolah. Well, I’ve always felt that the hard part is never the money, it’s making the decision — then rearranging reality to make it all possible.
This, or: keep traveling. I still have much of the world to see. Europe, Eastern Europe especially, and Spain and Greece and Italy are calling. And, at some point I will start my 50 state tour — but not yet I think. Not yet.
There’s still so much of the rest of the world to see ;-)