Out of Africa (Inta India).

India is confusing.

Overwhelming. No big surprise. It's huge. Where do I go? Delhi? Mumbai? Kolkata? What do I want to see? Beaches? Slums? Tigers? Ashrams? If ashrams, what kind? And how long do I want to stay there? And just how worried am I that I will end up eliciting rolled local eyes as yet another pilgrim on the sacred quest to walk in the footsteps of the most holy Guru Elizabeth Gilbert? 

And when I say overwhelming I mean it's so overwhelming that my overwhelm (It's a noun. I looked it up.) began before I even set foot in the country. When I was still in Kenya. Was. Am. I am still in Kenya. Nairobi. And India is overwhelming me already. How?


















This is how. Yes, it's a menu. At an Indian restaurant in Nairobi. Where I have just sat down, hungry. And I'm faced with this. 

To you, this may seem like a splendid dilemma. So much promised pleasure. So many perfect choices.

To me, it's I can't fucking deal. I can't do menus. Never could. Overwhelming, to overuse a word. I hear it may be an ADHD thing, dunno. My coping strategy is to choose from two options:

1. Order the first dish I lay eyes on that seems promising. Or...

2.  Get the chicken sandwich.

How does this work? Simple. I take away my obligation to consider my options. 

And I'm about to go to India, with a subcontinent of choices. How will I manage? Well, most likely the way I've managed since I started these walkabouts. I remove my agency. I ask my Facebook community where THEY would go. Then I do what seems fun. It may seem like the ultimate freedom, but by limiting myself to choices presented by my peeps I'm actually abdicating responsibility, submitting to a collective will. And by doing so, I run no risk of being wrong.

Generally, I'm terrified of being wrong. To be wrong is to fail. And I'm terrified of failure. 

Best way not to fail?

Don't try.

Don't try to finish that song. Just finish the easy ones. Don't try to master that instrument. You play well enough. Don't try to break down any doors. Just wait for the world to come knocking. Which it has, which it does, which it will, but it won't be selling what I want to buy.

In not trying, I've not failed. But I've not succeeded. Not to me. And irony of ironies, cliché of clichés, that feels like the failure I've been trying to avoid. Doubtless, it doesn't look that way from the outside. Trust me.

And in sensing, this, knowing it must shift, I step back, let the axe fall, and I travel.

And I find myself navigating the trip much the same as I've been navigating my life.

I have been traveling for 17 weeks of a 29 week trip. Just about sixty percent of my trip is complete, give or take.

I have been living for 49 years of, for the average American male, 77 years. Just about 60 percent of my life is complete. Give or take.

I've seen and done amazing things in my 17 weeks and my 49 years. Immensely grateful for all of it. Having one hell of a time.

I've also seen where my abdication of responsibility has limited me. I'd like to make more informed choices. 

To make informed choices, you must be informed. To know, you must allow yourself to be in a place of not knowing. And you must stop and listen. I always hated that part. 

India awaits.

Africa was a selfie. Let India be a mirror.











Ya Gotta Half Sole.

both feet (1 of 1).jpg


I’m pretty sure I have Dengue Fever. Felt a little off today. Took a nap. Not usual for me. No, that doesn’t sound like classic Dengue but I had two liters of blood sucked out of me last night by a phalanx of behemoth mosquitos with an unquenchable thirst for sexay. Between that, eating street fries from a market in Zimbabwe (amidst a Cholera outbreak), a questionable decision or two in South Africa and going for a brief stroll in a sewage trench, if I didn’t catch something SOMEWHERE I’ll need to reevaluate my faculties of risk assessment.

Speaking of reevaluation, let’s subtract the “re” and evaluate your disposition.

The above picture was taken after one of the aforementioned bungee jumps from the footwork bridge of the known. Taciana and Nicola and I (pic below taken at Victoria Falls)

Tatiana and Nicola and I selfie vic falls






were walking between the raindrops up the sidewalk towards dinner in Livingstone, Zambia, just a haggled cab ride from the spectacular (literally) Victoria Falls, when a mighty bolt split the sky, hit the light pole in front of us and blacked out the entire block (including the restaurant to which we were headed).

Having mistook a driveway for the entrance to the restaurant, I stepped into a shallow puddle on my way back to the street. The shallow puddle turned out to be not a shallow puddle but a two-foot-deep trough filled with brown water and an impressive stench. As one would imagine, I forthwith leapt out of the trench, landing on the sidewalk with soaked blue jeans and a dearth of flip flops, one of which had instantly fastened to the mud at the bottom, the other of which seemed to remain behind with thoughts of a heroic rescue. As the threat of electrocution was rather immediate, I abandoned said flip flops to their fate and we bolted into the blacked-out restaurant, at which time it became known to my friends that I had lost my footwear. 

Much to my amazement, the ever-adventurous Nicola, upon hearing this, ventured back out into the night and returned, flip flop in hand. What he had not realized (but was soon apprised of) was that I’d lost BOTH flip flops and back out he went, this time without his phone flashlight, and sought the errant article, but this time to no avail. It likely sits now, hopelessly wedged in the filth, having become a notable feature of that churning muck which stole it from the world. I hear its mate crying softly in the corner as I write this.

All of this is told by the simple picture above, minus some detail suitable to increase word count.

And now a question for you regarding your disposition as measured by your reaction to the photo at the top, taken soon after the event, reproduced here:

both feet (1 of 1).jpg









When you first saw the photo, was your initial reaction to FOCUS on this: 

right foot with flip flop (1 of 1).jpg













Or this?

left foot


 the foot WITH or WITHOUT the flip flop?

Did you FOCUS on my lovely, soft skin or the my discolored toenail? 

Which is to say, did you FOCUS on the good or the bad? The space between Big and Fourth toe FULL or EMPTY? Or are you, like most free-thinkers, NOT BINARY? Did you see the picture as a whole? These are important questions and I shall not allow you to slink off without answering them, at least for yourself.  

For my part, I shall seek to see each foot as complete, with or without its faux sole.  Whereas my nature may be to complain at the first sign of adversity, As travel the world in search of, well, me, I shall endeavor to assign to this event a net positive assessment, if only because it makes for a story. Bad events make good stories if you survive them.  For the sake of you, my dear reader, I hope to survive myriad bad events over the coming months, that I may turn my calamities into your procrastination enabler. 

And I urge you to do the same. Find the flip flop, AND the lack thereof, equally encouraging. 

Thus ends this installment of An Asshole's Guide to Turning Forty-Nine (or Focus)

Until next time...

Thank you for reading. And...



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Nothin's Worryin Me...

smiling dude in the rain

“…but that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning RED!”


Look at this guy. Walking down Fox street in Joburg just doing his thing and BOOM. Outta nowhere, the rain comes. Comes down HARD. But hey, shit happens. Africa’s like that. People don’t stress as much about a lot of stuff. It’s refreshing. And enlightening. And fucking aggravating when I want them to be as stressed about what I’m stressed about so they’ll do something about what I’m stressed about so they won’t be stressed anymore, but they’re not stressed to begin with, so they have little to lose by ignoring me. 

Aaaaanyway, as I said, it’s enlightening. In this installment of “Focus”, or “An Asshole’s Guide to Turning Forty-Nine”, depending on your preference (there’ll be a vote at some point) I’d like to remind you all, as I will likely remind you in the future repeatedly, that it’s all about focus. Pretty much everything. Eleanore Roosevelt said, between bouts of Civil Rights advocacy, traipsing about with AP reporter Lorena Hickok and occasionally reminding people that fifth cousins are hardly related, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds wherever we go.”. 

Wait. Shit. That was Martha Washington.


Martha Washington said that between minding the slaves, spending her dead first husband’s money, and not bearing George’s children. 

Aaaaaanyway, some people (me, for example) would be freaking out about their clothes, their shoes, THEIR PHONES getting soaked. They may be concerned about being cold. They may be thinking about what idiots they look like. Not this dude.

johannesburg-9281February 25, 2018RAIN JOBURG CART DUDE back.jpg

He’s enjoying the rain. Feeling the energy. Feeling alive.  Knowing he’s getting wet, knowing he's being watched, not really caring. Because what are to going to do about it? Not a damn thing, It’s happening. And in the end, you can dry your clothes. And the sun’ll come out Tomorrow. So what’s really the big deal?

Speaking of what’s really the big deal, a few days ago I left my money belt with five hundred U.S. dollars and a credit card tucked under a blanket when I checked out of my hotel room and it was never recovered, and the only clue as to its whereabouts is the attempt someone made today at 1:58 PM to withdraw cash from an ATM with the credit card. I kinda feel sorry for the hapless thief who walked up to a machine equipped with cameras and attempted to withdraw cash using a credit card. A credit card. Not even a debit card. He/she tried to withdraw cash WITHOUT A PIN. Clearly this person is not going to be earning their daily bread in a profession which requires brain cells, so I’m writing the theft off as a donation to “The Onnosel of South Africa”. The IRS will likely not know that “onnosel” is Afrikaans for “stupid”. 

So yeah, learn from this guy. Focus on the positive. Can’t stop the rain by complaining? Hey, go with it. Money’s replaceable. Credit card too. 

OK, I cannot tell a lie (just did), even one of omission. Here’s actually the first picture I took of the dude:

johannesburg-9272February 25, 2018RAIN JOBURG CART DUDE GRUMPY.jpg

Taken before I yelled out to him and he saw my camera and became this guy.

johannesburg-9274February 25, 2018RAIN JOBURG CART DUDE smile closeup 2.jpg

It didn't fit the narrative.

So I focused on the happy picture. And he was focused on his own misery until he saw there was attention focused on him, at which point he got his don’t-give-a-shit groove on, much like I did for the writing of this piece, wherein I imagined you all reading it and got MY groove on. Prior to the writing I was ready to off myself out of sheer disgust. If you’re gonna die in a hotel, Joburg’s a pretty solid place to do it. But I just got my new passport with about fifty pages to fill with visas. Hate to waste all those pages.

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Hello. It's 10pm in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I sit at a cafe called PataPata. In two hours it will officially be my birthday.

If you asked me a month ago where I wanted to spend my forty-ninth birthday, I would not have said Johannesburg. But shit happens and here I am.  The shit, by the way, is not bad, just shit. Don't cry for me, Soweto.

[edit: I'm happy I'm in Joburg for my birthday. It gets a bad rap (crime's bad) but if you know where to go/avoid, it's pretty safe. And it's got infinitely more soul than Capetown. Capetown's pretty. Jozi is deep.]


Welcome to my travel blog, which apparently, actually isn't a travel blog. Apparently it's more a travel WRITE than a travel BLOG. which, I think means that I don't have to provide any actionable information, such as which hotels to stay at, bridges to bungie jump off (get used to bad English), or neighborhoods in Johannesburg to avoid if you want to post a second blog entry...

The first rule in travel blogging, according to a post I read about travel blogging by a travel blogger, is to come up with a good name.

A good travel blog name:

  1. Doesn't become dated.

  2. Can be remembered after its first hearing, without needing explanation. Which means it should be relatively short, have no numbers (as numbers can be spelled out or written as digits), and have no odd punctuation (hyphens, dashes etc).

  3. Should be printable everywhere.

Hence, I have decided to call my travel blog "An Asshole's Guide to Turning Forty-Nine". So far, so good. 

A good travel blog will also have a lot of pictures. The picture above is of Kanyonyi, the Silverback of the Mubare group of Mountain Gorillas, who dwell in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in the West of Uganda, just near the Rwandan border. I took the photo the second day of my African walkabout, in early December. I had arrived with a brand new camera, by far the most camera I've ever owned. Sony DSC-RX10, Mk4.

I shot for an hour as these amazing creatures descended from the trees and joined us on the forest floor. I then got back to camp and found that maybe 95% of the photos were out of focus. This one switch on the camera had been turned the wrong way, and I’d not been examining the photos I was taking closely enough through the viewfinder to know. It was a quick and brutal lesson. Gotta be present. Make sure you're in focus.

Now, you and I see different things in this picture.

You see a cute gorilla eating a stick in the jungle.

I see an ailing patriarch in great pain eating one of his last meals. Kanyonyi was very ill, wounded by a great fall and a challenge by a younger male. Kanyoni died the day after this photo was taken.

I also see an over-the-hill guy contemplating his fate, waiting to die after his virility has vanished. Hm. Wonder why.  Same picture, different focus.

Focus. There's that word again...

As per the “Asshole” part of the title, well, I am. And I’m not. Just ask me. Either way, I’m lowering your expectations, which means you’re more likely to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed. A lot of that depends, too, on just how much I share with you. That’s a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand, I’d like to provide an honest account of this trip, but on the other hand, I may wish to teach children at some point.  We’ll work it out.  Just don’t be surprised if I get a bit cryptic when I get to Thailand.