Annapolis

Isbjorn Offshore: It's tough out here!

Isbjorn Offshore: It's tough out here!

Don't let anybody tell you ocean sailing is easy. Of all the endurance sports I've dabbled in over the years - marathon running, triathlon, cross-country skiing, cycling - offshore sailing is easily the most grueling. In those other sports, no matter how knackered you are in the moment, you know you'll be in your bed that night.

Realities of Yacht Delivery, Part 1

Realities of Yacht Delivery, Part 1

I wanted to write this a while ago, when the situation I'm about to describe actually was happening, but I thought it might somehow jinx it. So I saved it for now. Spoiler alert: the end of this story happened yesterday, and the boat is safe and sound in Portland, ME, but it got there without me on it.  Here it is.

Jonas the Goose

There's been a particularly friendly white goose hanging around Sarles for a while now, and the other night I decided to make friends with him.
He hangs out by the boat ramp up near the railway in the evenings, returning after untold adventures in Spa Creek. He makes an awful racket with his incessant honking, but I think he just wants attention.
I had some old hot dog buns in the fridge, so sat down with him the other night and had a little foody snack party with him. He literally came right into my lap and ate from my hand, nibbling on my fingers as he tried to eat the buns. It doesn't hurt when he nibbles. He's got no teeth, only a beak.
Last night I took him a little bowl of water and it's incredibly comical to watch him drink. He leans down, sips some water up, then put his head back to let it slide down his long neck, making little sipping noises all the while. This morning he came honking by the boat, paddling along with his orange webbed feet and I fed him some Swedish crispbread for breakfast, which he seemed to enjoy immensely. He lets me pet him now, even without food, and his big puffy white chest is incredibly soft. He has bright blue eyes with an orange ring around them, and is quite striking when you look at him up close.
We named him Jonas, and he's a friendly goose.

Fun with Celestial!

Just a reminder to anyone interested in joining us for the Celestial Nav course in Annapolis. We're up to 4 confirmed entrants, so there are only two spots remaining. Check out the details, once more:
Celestial Navigation Workshop: $300.00
September 19 & 20, 8 am - 5 pm each day
Sarles Boatyard & Marina, in Eastport (Annapolis)
The course includes all materials needed to practice taking sights, reducing them, and plotting them on a chart. We have a few sextants and all plotting materials, but feel free to bring your own (in fact I encourage you to, if you have your own). 
We'll spend Saturday morning talking about the 'Big Picture' of celestial, what's going on out there in the heavens and how we can use it to navigate. Then we go sailing on Arcturus, take a bunch of practice sights of the sun, and spend the afternoon learning how to reduce and plot them. Sunday will be a bit more of the same, with a greater emphasis  of navigating by the stars (much easier than reducing a sun sight), using steering stars, and why I think celestial is just so darn cool.
Contact Andy at 484-269-3358 or andy@fathersonsailing.com to sign up. See you there.

Life Aboard at Annapolis' Oldest Boatyard

Again, another article I'll submit for publication, this time to Spinsheet, the magazine about the Chesapeake. As always, wish me luck.
Unfortunately, due to copyright issues I don't want to mess with, I had to remove this post. Look for the real article in Spinsheet magazine, it should be published sometime between April and July 2008. 

Inspiration

It's taken me all day and lots of reading of various publications to finally post an entry on here. A large portion of that time has been spent reading Dane's blog, which only hardened my belief that him and I are a lot alike, despite being somewhat out of touch for the past few years. I especially enjoyed his entry on deep squatting and pooping.

I also went back and re-read a bunch of my old posts from my old website. If you want to check them our, go to http://web.mac.com.misterpink125. My favorite is called "Living the Dream" and is about my most recent sailing adventure in New Zealand. It's supposedly going to be published in Latitudes and Attitudes sometime next year, so keep an eye out for it. 

So this afternoon's reading has inspired me to write this evening. It's interesting where we get inspiration from, to do anything really. I get inspired by greatness, and by determination, and in some cases stubbornness. Today I was mostly inspired by things I've written myself, and reminded that I can, indeed, do anything I want to with my life, and thought I'm feeling unsatisfied at the moment, I already have done some amazing things. 

I'm loving Sweden. But I'm already looking fo


Sharing Culture on the Other Side of the World

Check out http://www.stellarmag.com. Some cool travel and adventure articles on there. Kind of like an online, more authentic Outside Magazine. 

I have nothing interesting to write about Sweden today, so I'm not going to. Instead, I'm going to write about Fiji, which is kind of the reason that I ended up Sweden.

Traveling solo is life-changing. Undoubtedly many travelers embark on a journey with adventure on the brain, dreaming of hiking in the jungle, exploring exotic landscapes and pretending to be Indiana Jones. But these experiences, though entertaining, are not of the life-changing kind. Instead, it's the lives you touch, and the lives that touch you that leave the most enduring memories, that make every trip unique, and that, ultimately, change you.

It was my second or third day in Fiji, and i was alone. I was alone in my travels, and I was literally alone, the only tourist in Pacific Harbor, a small town on the southern coast of Viti Levu. This was because Fiji's government had just been overthrown the week before I arrived by the military. This happens often in Fiji, approximately once every 5 years or so, and I was told not to worry, it's still okay to go there. So I went...but most people didn't. So I was alone. 

I had just completed writing in my journal about how lonely it actually is to travel solo, to miss your friends, miss home, miss the normalcy of life. Even my music which normally puts me in an uplifted state was making me depressed, making me long for the familiar. So I left my hostel room, empty with 8 beds when only one was filled, and headed to the beach to go for a long walk (while pretending to be Indiana Jones). 

I was feeling much better, and on the way home happened to pass 6 or 7 Fijians sitting by the side of the road under a palm tree drinking beer. I greeted them with a friendly "Bula!" I expected a simple return hello, but instead was enthusiastically invited over to join. I enthusiastically agreed. 

After making room for me in their circle, I sat, cross-legged in the grass, and was offered a small glass of Fiji Bitter, about the size of a double-shot. Fiji Bitter is the only beer made in Fiji, and it tastes, well, like beer. I proceeded to sip from my glass, while the Fijians proceeded to look at me strangely. Joji, who was sitting next to me, said "down the hatch." I understood. I obliged.

I then realized that there was only one glass, and that drinking beer in Fiji is a very social experience. So I passed the glass to Joji, "down the hatch" it went, and the glass was passed along. Drinking beer in Fiji is also a very time-consuming experience. There were 8 of us in total, and a case of 24, 40 ounce beers sat in the middle of our circle. When we finished them, we got another case. By now it was dark out and it had started to rain, so we relocated a few meters away beneath a mango tree, which offered substantially more shelter than our coconut palm. 

As the sun set, time stood still. Every apprehension I had that morning about my travels disappeared. I wasn't Indiana Jones, I wasn't exploring some exotic jungle with a machete, I wasn't jumping out of an airplane. I was suddenly part of another culture, no longer an outsider, but a welcome member of a friendly circle. 


Nate & Ryan Would Love it Here - They Wear Pointy Shoes

Europeans have the skinniest fucking legs. And ostensibly pointy feet. Every male I've encountered in town wears the skinniest jeans and the pointiest shoes I've ever seen. I feared this phenomenon while shopping for a casual but suave suit at H&M in Pittsburgh. The jacket I tried on was sweet, but the pants were ridiculous. (H&M is a Swedish clothing company, by the way). Apparently "relaxed fit" in Europe means that you can actually fit your foot through the ankle hole (barely). I feared that if I tried on the "slim fit" pants, I would never have gotten them off. 
I exclusively wear American Eagle jeans. They are of the "low-rise, boot-cut" variety, and I'd say they are slim-fitting by American standards. I have the baggiest jeans in all of Uppsala (not to mention the lightest colored jeans - people here are infatuated with dark blue denim). This phenomenon of tight-fitting pants seems to be universal. Even punk-ish, skater-style kids have insanely tight pants. It's like that old "Wild & Crazy Guys" skit from SNL with Steve Martin - apparently everyone here has 'gigantic bulges' and wants you to know about it. 
The pointy-shoes thing is less noticeable, but equally annoying. Now I understand that I am one of the least fashionable people I know. Like I said, I exclusively wear American Eagle jeans, I have three pairs of them, and they are all identical. I own exactly 4 collared, button-down shirts, and only one of them is suitable to wear with a tie (of which I currently have zero in Sweden). Most of my wardrobe consists of t-shirts that I bought from someplace I visited, and hoodies. I don't own a nice pair of shoes, and apparently have been oblivious to the fact that now all "nice" pairs of shoes must be pointy. Nate and Ryan dress nicer than me, and they have pointy shoes. Nearly everyone over here has pointy shoes. They look fine on people I see walking down the street (though with their tiny ankle-openings in their jeans, most people's feet appear comedically large). But when I tried some on, I can't help but think I look absolutely ridiculous. I would be uncomfortable going anywhere in shoes that look like this. This is a problem, because I need a pair of nice shoes by tomorrow evening for the party Mia and I are going to at her school. 
That's all I have to say about fashion in Sweden.
Long days with nothing particularly important to do stimulate my thoughts. I went running again today, back to my forest. Music is forbidden in the forest when I run there, and I created very interesting dialogues with myself while I meander through the evergreens. (I've always wished that there could be a little dude inside of my head to record all of my thoughts, but only when I pushed a theoretical "record button." It'd be a lot easier than trying to remember ideas you get, and a lot less work than keeping a journal...everything you wanted to say would already have been recorded for you. But, since nobody has invented that yet, this is going to have to suffice.)  I was amazed at how quiet and empty the forest was today. This is the reason that music is forbidden - the silence is mesmerizing. I took the time to stop at numerous crossroads and just look and listen. There wasn't a breath of air in the trees, nor a moving creature or anything to break the silence, and it was incredible.
Today I was Bilbo Baggins.
This thought occurred to me about 3/4 of the way through my long run today. I came upon a farm. The farm had horses, and seemed to possibly be a place where you could rent a horse for the day and ride him through the forest. The horses were not kept in a "normal" paddock, but rather were free to roam around the forest on their side of the fence, which is exactly what they did. All of the horses had no halters on, and all but one had blankets on (it was -5 C when I left the house). The horse nearest me did not have a blanket on, and was pure white. After 45 minutes of running silently through a deserted forest, then suddenly coming upon a snow-white horse puts fun thoughts in your head. After seeing this horse, I decided that today I was Bilbo Baggins, and that this horse belonged to some elves, and was therefore an Elven horse. He was enchanting.
I was running through the foothills of the Misty Mountains, while I played "Misty Mountain Hop" in my head. I ran across smooth grey boulders, being sure to stay on the low side due to the threat of water that may have trickled down the side of the boulder from above, frozen, and become hazardous. I ran across makeshift bridges, two-by-fours laid across half-frozen swamps on the forest floor. Gnarled tree roots conspired to twist my ankles, but my swift steps and keen eyes kept me out of trouble. My senses were heightened. My mind was always two steps ahead of my feet, and every footfall was calculated. I hit every mark, and not one ounce of energy was lost to a misstep. I actually found myself moving quicker when the path became more treacherous, and I floated over rocks and downed trees with grace. 
Today, it was not about running. Today is was about experiencing. Running through that forest today was mind-altering. The further I went, the further I wanted to keep going. I could have run forever, if only the sun would shine past 3pm. The best part about this was that I was conscious of this. When every footstep requires ultimate concentration, when you notice the beauty of your surroundings through your peripheral vision, when you realize just how silent the environment is, the world becomes real. You no longer need music to distract you. You can't get this feeling by reading a book on the couch. 
The moments of bliss I felt today were purely elemental, were simple. I yearned for nothing, and was satisfied. It was fleeting, and lasted maybe 30 minutes out of the 2 hours that I ran. I enjoy fleeting moments of satisfaction, where time stops and you become super-conscious of yourself and everything around you, where you can do anything you want, be anything you want to be, and be 100% convinced that you are invincible.
This, I understand, is an exceedingly long, disjointed essay. But I have one more topic to discuss, and it's a question. I also understand that there may be (+/-) two (2) people who actually read my blog. But if you are reading, humor me, and answer my question. I have an idea, but I want some help first, so just write a comment with an answer to this question. 
Q: "Is experiencing and/or appreciating different cultures important? Why is it important / unimportant?"
A: I'll have a theory soon.

You Can See The Sun From Sweden!

Like I said, I’d have a lot to write about. Partly because I have some interesting things to say, but mostly because I have a virtually unlimited amount of free time with nothing better to do. 

This has got to be my favorite thing to do when i travel. I’m sitting in a cafe in town, drinking a coffee and writing, and I love it. Something about the atmosphere just makes me want to write, and I really enjoy the time I get to spend in foreign places just doing stuff like this. Strangely, ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ is playing in this particular cafe. 

My Swedish is improving by the day. I actually ordered a latte, extra hot even, in Swedish just about 5 minutes ago. ‘Jag vill ha en latte, jatte varm, tack.’ I was proud of myself. Mia pretty much forces me to practice, simply by speaking in Swedish to me around the apartment, whether I like it or not. It’s pretty intimidating though going into shops and meeting people in the street, and it really humbles me not to be able to speak the language real well. I feel rude for speaking English in public situations, even though most people speak it here anyway, and are happy to. My strategy has been to speak what little Swedish I feel comfortable with (like ordering coffee), and then asking if someone speaks English before simply running my mouth. And I ask in Swedish, saying ‘Prata du Engelska?’ So at least ‘m starting to use it a bit. 

The reason I titled this blog the way I did is because today is the first day I’ve seen the sun since arriving. Daytime here is basically perpetually dawn, because at high noon, about 20 minutes ago, the sun was barely above the two-story building that our apartment is in. It makes for some very long shadows. But it is nice nonetheless to see the sun at all, and I tried to take some photos in town in the light. It’s pretty boring taking pictures by yourself, because inevitably all you end up photographing is scenery and buildings, though nice, are often dull to look at. I attempted to take some artsy photos, but it’s impossible to do the town justice in a photograph. That said, check out the awesome photos of buildings and scenery in Uppsala here! I had the thought this morning that it’d be cool to have a clone when you’re traveling alone, solely to take photos for you, so you can actually appear in some of them. Someone should invent a photographic robot. Actually I’m surprised nobody hasn’t yet.

I’m making a valiant effort to be productive even though I’m jobless, and I’m forcing myself to get out of the apartment in the daytime. Even if that productivity is limited to creating and updating this new website, than so be it, that’s worth something. And I have actually found a few ads for English teachers online and in the paper, and I’m anxiously awaiting for some replies to the few emails I sent regarding them. 

A Few Days in Uppsala

So far I’ve spent most of my time in Uppsala just getting organized. This has meant about 5 trips into town to apply for my Swedish ID card, social security number, student ID, buying Eruopean plug adapters, computer speakers, fleece gloves and my bike. It’s been annoying spending money and running around a lot, but it’s been fun too. I already feel like I know my way around town pretty well, and every time I venture into town it becomes smaller and smaller to me because it’s becoming more familiar.

Today I took another long run, this time through the forest behind our apartment. This is so far my favorite thing about Uppsala. - we have a huge forest with hundreds of trails right behind our apartment, yet it’s still only a 7 minute bike ride into the center of town. Aside from the water, Annapolis was lacking the natural element that is here, and I love it. 

I ran through the woods, following one trail just to see where it went. After about 30 minutes I came out on the opposite side of the forest, sort of on the far side of town. The other cool thing about Uppsala is that you can see the Cathedral spires from everywhere, so it’s easy to find you’re bearings. I continued through a small neighborhood, then around the castle that sits on the highest point in town, a pretty steep grassy hill (yes, there is a castle here too!). When i got to the river, I spotted some sailboat masts a bit downstream and ran down to investigate. It turns out there is a large wooden ketch here, about the size of ‘Woodwind’ that appears to be a touristy kind of boat. The canal from Uppsala eventually reaches the Baltic Sea, but there is certainly no sailing to be had anywhere near here. There were also a few cruisey looking boats that looked like people were living on them. It’s actually a pretty nice spot to hole up for the winter, and they all had winter covers on. Next to them were also a few houseboats...literally floating houses, not intended to move anywhere.

Later in the afternoon I met Mia downtown so we could go inquire about getting me a student ID. I’m not going to school here, but since I still have my PSU ID I can get an Uppsala ID, which lets me into the unions where beer is cheap and lots of events are held. 

The history in the town is pretty cool. We stopped by the Cathedral and had a look around inside. It’s absolutely amazing, by far the biggest church I’ve ever seen and just incredibly detailed inside. Uppsala Cathedral is the largest in Scandinavia and was built in the 1200’s. It’s hard to believe that America was only founded in 1776, and there is a church in Sweden that’s been here since 1200! Kind of puts things into perspective, especially considering the current politics of America...When we entered the church, a school choir group was practicing for a concert, and the sound that emanated from the church was otherworldly. The ceiling must have been 100 feet high, and the inside was essentially one gigantic room, with a few alcoves on either side where important Swedes are buried in above-ground tombs. The walkway around the pew area has several large stones with engravings on them, marking the spot where other, conceivably less-important Swedes are buried. At the far end is the largest alcove, where a former King is actually buried. In fact, the Uppsala Cathedral was used to crown the Kings and Queens of Sweden until the 1700’s. It’s quite a place.

The castle was also very intriguing to me, considering you don’t see too many castles in America. It was built in the 1500’s and is where the governor of Uppsala currently resides. It sits on the only real hill in Uppsala, which actually has rather steep sides, and overlooks the city in every direction. If it weren’t for the Cathedral that stands so high, this would be the highest building in Uppsala. Each year they actually have a prom inside the castle for students...must be pretty neat to have a prom in a freaking castle!

So far it’s been everything I’ve expected and then some living in Sweden. I think it goes without saying that it’s amazing to finally be back in Mia’s life. But beyond that, it feels good to be living the philosophy that I talk and write about so much. Eventually I’ll settle into a routine here, but for the time being everyday is an adventure, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m privileged to be able to see so many amazing things and places, and I’m really trying to savor every moment. Interestingly, the early darkness is less depressing (so far) than I thought it’d be. It actually makes you want to get outside and enjoy the daylight while you have it. Also, the town is lit up so beautifully at night it actually looks nicer than during the daytime. Most of the trees have white Christmas lights on them, and all of the main streets have white lights strung across them every block or so. The streetlights are a nice soft yellow, and all of the buildings are lightly colored in yellow, white, tan or orange, so the atmosphere in town is really nice, and very historic. 

Fjardhundra & Dunderbo

On Saturday at Mia’s parents house, I wanted to go running, so I did. There are endless country roads around her village, all of which are mostly flat, like I mentioned, and I was really in the  mood to do some exploring. I really hadn’t seen much of the scenery yet because of the rainy car ride and the early darkness. But Saturday it was dry, overcast and not too cold, so I set out.

 

I ran down the gravel road out of Mia’s village, past the neighbors (still with smoke coming out of the chimneys) around someone’s farm, and onto a paved road. When I don’t know the area, I usually just run a simple out-and-back track with maybe one or two easy turns instead of trying to make a loop and getting lost. The first road I turned onto was flat and long, with farmland on either side. But it wasn’t like farmland you’d picture at home, and it’s hard to explain. There are lots of boulders in the fields, like huge boulders. And there will be a field, and then some forest, some bigger boulders in the forest, and then another field. So it’s not endless stretches of flat farmland, but rather more diverse, with more forest and more stuff to see.

 

The road then started to incline ever so slightly and entered a forest. The forest felt really “alive,” and different from home. There was green everywhere. Moss grew on absolutely everything, and again there were huge boulders in the middle of the woods that stood like 5 meters high or more. I was really enjoying just watching the scenery go by, and I love running in new places for this very reason.

 

I’m going to fast forward a bit to yesterday and what it’s like in Uppsala. We actually arrived in Uppsala on Sunday, after going to watch Mia’s brother Erich play in a handball game in a small town about halfway between here and her parents’ house. The teams for kids are by town, kind of like our Little League, and even the high schools don’t have sports teams, just the towns, which I thought was interesting. Erich is the goalie and it was fun to watch him play.

 

Our apartment in Uppsala is nice, with hardwood floors, a small balcony, a massive walk-in closet and a nice kitchen with a pass-through counter to the living room / dining table. It’s about a 30 minute walk into the center of town. You can see the cathedral from almost everywhere, and it is ridiculously huge. The three spires rise to 118 meters (almost 400 feet!), and the whole thing is just huge, and very impressive. It basically marks the center of town, and if you can find the cathedral, it’s pretty easy to get around town.

 

There is a river that runs through the center of town, and most of the businesses are on the opposite side of the river from where we live. The main square is pedestrian only, and all of the buildings are very old, which gives the town a really neat historic feel. The streets are narrow and cobbled too. More to come...

Sweden

I've been in Sweden now for three full days (wow, it actually feels like much more...). As I write I'm sitting on the floor of our apartment in Uppsala, the town where Mia goes to school (at Uppsala Universitet). I'm drinking a glass of white wine, Mia is making dinner and I'm enjoying getting adjusted to life here. 
(If you ever fly to Sweden, take Malaysia Airlines, it was the best international flight I've had so far...we left right on time, landed exactly on time, got fed two meals in a 7.5 hour flight, got served champagne, and had personal video screens in each seat).
Customs was pretty smooth too...I departed the plane, was first in line at the immigration line (since I was one of the few non-Swedish citizens), they took one look at my passport, stamped it, and I was d-u-n. My bags came through in 10 minutes, and not 20 minutes after departing the planes I met Mia in the airport and we were off to the car. It was a happy renunion, certainly a long time coming...but worth the wait.
It was raining when we got to the parking lot, which was quite a hike, especially carrying 50 kg of bags. The wipers on Mia's car were absolute crap, so I didn't see much on the car ride to her parents house, except for the scenery going by out the side window. We passed mostly farmland, and to be honest, it could have been Berks County farmland had I not known I was in Sweden...but everything looked older, cleaner and greener than good old BCo...and there were more rocks...and less hills. (This was actually my biggest surprise...I don't know why, but I had envisioned Sweden to be hillier...not mountainous, but rolling, kind of like at home...it's not. In fact, it's pretty much flat as a pancake, especially near Enkoping, where her parents house is). 
Mia's family lives in a traditional Swedish house...painted yellow with white trim and lots of angles in the roof...it's situated in the village of Dunderbo ("Thunder Village" - sounds Native American doesn't it?). The village has about 15 houses in it, and it's pretty much exactly what you'd picture a village in rural Sweden to look like...a gravel road leads into a wooded area, and each house is constructed in the same traditional style (though most are red with white trim - this is actually part of the building code is this area of Sweden). The houses even had smoke coming from the chimneys, almost too picture perfect. Mia's yard has a big garden out front (they even have sheep graze it in the summertime), raspberry bushes out back, and a large side deck to the house. The garage / barn sits next to the house and is also the traditional Sweden red-and-white.
Mia's dad has a farm about 2 km down the road from their house...

My Website Died

My website died tonight...so this is what I'll be writing in from now on...the other site is still available, but it's not able to be updated, so all of my new stuff will now appear on here...
I'm listening to Brian Wilson's "Smile" album right now...for those of you who don't know, he started this album a long long time ago, went crazy, and didn't finish it until a few years ago...it's awesome, you should all listen to it.
I hung out with Tiffany tonight. She's one of those friends who you'll always have as a close friend, no matter where or what you end up doing. I only have a few friends like that...Blake, Adam and Jeremy will always be my best friends no matter how much time elapses between meetings; Nate, Ryan and Tiffany are probably next. Then there are the people I've traveled with, who, even though I don't talk to them much, we have so much in common just based on experience. The wankers Clint and Glenn are in this category along with Toby from Australia. These are the people I can call up no matter where in the world I am, and get advice, and sometimes even get a travel companion out of. 
And then there's the people you're not quite sure about. Today was my last day at 'Woodwind', unexpectedly. I was supposed to work tomorrow, but with the impending weather forecast, Ken called me off. For the past two years I've felt like I've been a part of their family, someone close, in the loop...but now I'm not sure. I mean i want to come back...but they get people like me all the time. What makes me any different? They have to move on, no matter what I think in my head. Am I special to them, or just another employee who put in his time? It will be interesting if I come back here next summer and don't work for them what my relationship will be like with Ken and the family there.
That said, I'm excited about the future...not having a concrete plan to come back to has completely opened the door for me...as of right now, I can do whatever I want to do...I have no obligations to anyone with regards to a job, and Mia and I can stay in Europe, come to America, go to New Zealand, whatever, it's all on the table. 
I am truly a different person when I'm in a new atmosphere. I'm convinced that when you're forced to be out on your own you change, because you have to...even here I'm stuck in my shell, my shy personality that isn't comfortable unless I'm with a familiar crowd. Yet when i travel, especially alone, I'm a totally different person. All of a sudden it's fun to meet people, fun to act stupid, to be more vocal, to actually experience new things. Is this because here the norm is boring, because abroad everything is new, exciting and different? Is it because abroad you can be yourself, truly yourself, where nobody has a pre-conceived notion of what you're like? Because nothing is familiar? Is there an answer?
All I know is that there has never been a more defining moment in my life than right now...or maybe there has, and this is where I ended up...but nontheless, the next six months of my life might change everything, and I hope it does. I'm not satisfied unless I'm in the middle of something exciting, and I think that's exactly where I'm headed. 
There is no way to describe this. It's the indescribable feeling that life is at my fingertips...not the stupid way you think of...but life itself...life, exciting, unpredictable, enlightening, amazing life is right in front of me. 
Life is visceral, when you really experience it. Unfortunately most of us are stuck in a routine, whether or not we realize it. It may be a nice routine, we may like it, but when we step back and look at our situation from the outside, it's still a routine...
What I mean when i say that life is visceral happens before this routine sets in...think about when you were so happy about a situation, so excited to be involved with something new, new friends, new people, new places, that everyday seemed like a treat, something new to look forward to even though you didn't know exactly what it was you were looking forward to. Then it all disappears...sort of. Your life becomes repetitive...things that are fun you continue to repeat, because, obviously, they are fun...but these things aren't as exciting as before, the newness has worn off...
I first understood this visceral quality of life when i first started traveling in 2004, in Costa Rica. I had two of the most depressing weeks of my life sitting on that god-forsaken beach guarding the turtle hatchery's in 100 degree heat...yet I experienced every day of that two weeks like it was the last day of my life...when experiences are deduced to their most elemental is when we really experience life. How many times have you stopped to think, 'holy moly, that seemed like such a long time ago...' But when you're in the moment, that's all that matters, and you become a different person.
I don't really know where I'm going with this, but I'm enjoying my thoughts right now. I become someone else when I'm out of my normal surroundings. It all of a sudden becomes easy to be me, truly me, with no self-consciousness, no holding back, just me, because there are no preconceptions. I don't know if anyone will understand this, but I'm officially done typing. Goodnight.