My First Post From The US

Derek Personal Stuff, USA 31 Comments

As usual, it has taken me a few days to adjust to being back in the US. After all, during the eight months I spent in Mexico, I just didn’t have to deal with such things as mega-stores the size of some small countries, endless conversations about money and careers, and television ads for flavor-changing chewing gum. Seriously, flavor-changing gum? Who needs this?

But on the other hand, while in Mexico, I was never able to entertain the idea of going to Disney World for the first time in twenty years, I couldn’t order a new batch of contact lenses because of the virtually non-existent mail service down there and I wasn’t able to spend a Sunday visiting a local art festival along the water with my mom (see above photo).

So while I’m forced to re-acquaint myself with what I now find to be some strange aspects of life in the US, I’m also able to accomplish quite a lot of what I simply couldn’t do before. And in typical Earl style, I’ve been trying to accomplish as much as possible during my first week as I simply never know for how long I’ll be sticking around.

Actually, this morning was the first morning that I decided to slow down and sleep in and I thoroughly enjoyed getting out of bed at 10:00am. I needed it. In fact, as a result of that long sleep, my allergies, which I only suffer from when I return to the US each time (here’s an article I once wrote about this phenomenon), have finally begun to subside.

Would I say that it feels good to be back in the US? Well, I won’t lie to you, after 11 years of constant travel, I feel more comfortable roaming around the back alleys of Yangon at night than I do walking around the shopping malls of Florida at eleven in the morning. With that said, I don’t mind being here, and I certainly am looking forward to spending time with family and friends. I just don’t think I could manage to stay here permanently at this point. And I would also be lying if I said that I wasn’t spending a significant amount of time each day thinking about the adventures that will take place once I am able to leave the US again.

Whether that’s due to my still strong desire to explore as much of the world as possible or the fact that I find it troubling that in the US it’s easier to find a fast-food restaurant than fresh fruit juice, I just don’t know.

And how long I will be staying in Florida and in the US in general this time around depends on some appointments, the first one of which is scheduled for 2:30pm tomorrow.

I for one am eager to see how it turns out…


Before I finish this short post, I just want to mention a few other bloggers that I’ve connected with recently and I want to share the particular posts that helped turn their sites into some of my favorites: – If you’re planning on traveling anywhere with a laptop, Anil’s “Traveler’s Guide to Locking Down Your Laptop” series of posts is essential reading. Anil knows his stuff and I’ve followed much of his advice to ensure that my laptop, data and personal information is as well-protected, and even well-hidden, as possible. Before I read his posts, I had no idea that much of what he discusses even existed! Here’s the links to all three parts of the series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (it’s worth checking out all 3 parts!)

Todd’s Wanderings – Any blog with ‘Wandering’ in the title catches my attention and when I read Todd’s post about whether or not travelers should give money to beggars, I was hooked. (You can read that post here.) Somehow, he managed to turn a difficult dilemma that few people like to discuss into a well-written, open-minded post. And the comments that resulted also add a great deal to this discussion. Overall, this fellow wanderer has an excellent, excellent travel blog.

Vagabond Quest – Dina and Ryan have recently (as in today!) begun a new series on their blog that shares the collective advice and feedback of many other world travelers. The first post in the series involves having several travelers listing the 3 travel gadgets that they simply cannot travel without. Combine this interesting series with Dina and Ryan’s open-minded explorations, which they write about with a wonderfully positive slant, and this is a great feel-good blog to follow.

There are literally dozens of more blogs that I’d love to mention and I will at some point. For now, please check out my Links Page for a more comprehensive list of some of the blogs I enjoy following (I couldn’t possibly list them all!).

And if you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. I’m always looking for new blogs to ‘discover’…

Before I forget, if anyone lives (or will be visiting) the NYC, Boston or South Florida area in the near future, please let me know. I’d love to meet up with as many people as possible on this trip!

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Comments 31

  1. Hey Earl how are you? I heard travelling to the US is so great, but I have no idea if its possible for an Iraqi like me to visit there? have you any idea what I have to do? and if you could tell me an estimate of how much it costs. Thanks.

    1. Hey Diary – That is a tough, tough question. To be honest, I have no idea at all what is required for an Iraqi to visit the US. The only people who can provide that information are those working at the US embassy. But as for costs, it is expensive to travel in the US. In most places, you would have to spend a minimum of $50 – $75 US dollars per day for accommodation, food, transportation and activities!

  2. Pingback: The Strange Habits Of A Traveler | Wandering Earl

    1. Hey Laura – Doesn’t it just seem wrong that our trips home are more hectic than our travels! My to-do lists are still growing every day with no end in sight. I’ll definitely be interested in seeing how you adjust once your trip reaches its end. But don’t think about that now. Keep on enjoying your adventures!

  3. I’m an aspiring Wandering Earl! I’m finishing up my last year of college, but not before I travel abroad to South America this year! It got me thinking though, there’s a lot of North America that I haven’t seen…have you considered traveling around North America? (Great Lakes, New Hampshire, mountains of the Northwest, Alaska, Nova Scotia, the Yukon, Arches National Park, Jackson Hole, Boston, Crater Lake, Waimea Valley, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore — well, these are all the places in North America that I want to go to!)

    Thanks for being a great inspiration..I really want to take the path you did! Your life story is so inspirational, especially for someone who is just about to get out of college and has the same aspirations/ambitions/passions as you! Thanks for writing all these entries!
    .-= Scott Shigeoka´s last blog ..Service Placement – Building Houses in Guayaquil =-.

    1. Hey Scott! I’m thrilled to hear that you’re interested in doing some global wandering yourself! Sounds like you have the determination to make it happen and I’d say that such determination is probably the most important factor. As for traveling around North America, I agree completely that there are an endless amount of amazing places to visit and experience. And I’m glad to see Boston on your list as that’s my hometown! At the moment, I just happen to be drawn to cultures that are different from the one I grew up in as I really enjoy the learning experience that is involved whenever I put myself out of my comfort zone. This is the main reason why I’ve been addicted to exploring areas outside of North America for so long…but I’m sure I’ll visit most of the places on your list above at some point.

      And thanks for the kind words. Although, your trip to South America is inspiring as well to the many people who don’t think it’s possible to do some traveling at such an early stage in life! So keep it up and if you ever have any travel-related questions, please feel free to send me an email. I’m always more than happy to communicate with and hopefully assist other travelers in any way I can.

      Have a great weekend Scott!

  4. Hey Derek,

    Let me know when you are going to be in Boston. Tell your Mom I said Hi! and look forward to seeing you.

    1. Hey Brian – I will of course let you know as soon as I have it all figured out. It will be nice to be back up there and be able to catch up with you in person. By the way, I’m still plugging away at Atlas Shrugged…almost finished!

      And my mom says hello as well!

        1. Hey Jennifer – I held off reading it for about five years but finally decided to dive right in a couple of months ago. It’s an incredible read and there is just so much of value for the reader to digest. Once I finally finish the book, I’m sure I’ll have to spend some time thinking about the story in order to uncover even more of its meaning.

  5. heeey heey heeey… so you are going to Disney? hahaha! I never visualized someone like you going there, it’s funny! I guess it is something different to do, right? Take tons of pics to share with us, LOL!

    Thanks for the links! Very interesting!

    1. Hey Liz – I’m not so sure I’ll make it to Disney yet, but if I do, I’ll definitely take some photos to share!

  6. Hey Earl, really interesting post dealing with something most of us who have done really long trips have to deal with in the end, the end of the trip. Sometimes its very cool to come back to the place you are from with a travellers eyes and start seeing things that you never realised were there. I can sympathise with the itchy feet too though, we have been back in the UK for a little over a year now and the lure of the unknown keeps getting stronger! Enjoy whatever you decide to do :o)

    1. Hey Tom – I appreciate the visit and your comments! It is indeed always interesting to return home to what used to be familiar surroundings after such a long time away. And it is just so strange to realize that my home country is more foreign to me now than are dozens of other countries around the world. But I guess I do get a little kick out of being here as a traveler and you make a great point about being able to notice things that I never would have noticed otherwise.

      As for the itchy feet, I think I read that you have some summer travel plans coming up yourself. I believe you mentioned Egypt and Japan as possibilities over at Anil’s blog. If you end up visiting both, that would be quite a unique itinerary as there’s nothing like visiting two contrasting destinations on the same trip!

  7. Hi Earl,

    Many thanks for the mention and nice words. I’m from New England and wish I was home to meet you. If you travel through the Balkans do let me know and if get the itch to travel home I see where you are.

    Keep up the good work, you blog looks great.
    .-= Todd´s last blog ..Mapo Doufu Recipe, Spicy Tofu and Pork (in Japan, commonly called Mabo Doufu) =-.

    1. Thanks so much Todd. Please do let me know if you’re ever back home at any point in the near future and I’ll be sure to keep you updated with my plans as well.

      And it really is incredible how many New Englanders seem to have embraced the nomadic lifestyle!

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  9. Hi Earl!

    I agree with what you say about Anil’s post. Great info for cumputer ignorant like myself!

    I finished a 10 month trip 2 months ago, unless being in Mexico with a fixed address is considered still traveling because I’m not from here. But I simply miss being on the road. Enjoying the new place and wondering what surprises tomorrow will give me. It has happenned every time I stop traveling and I don’t have a fixed departure date, and I guess it will always be like this.

    Hope your dentist visit wasn’t too bad! I had to visit one while backpacking in Malaysia and had to have my wisdom tooth extracted. I even made a video of it which is in my blog! lol


    1. Hey Federico! Permanent addresses are dangerous…every time I have one I instantly want to start traveling again as well. Where in Mexico have you been living?

  10. How nice to visit family for a while 🙂 The picture of you and your mom is really sweet, say hi to her from us 🙂

    How often do you visit USA/your family? So far I’m able to see my family (from Indonesian side) every 2-3 years, either they came to Canada, or I visited them in Java. My visits to hometown also usually full with socialize with family and friends, especially my mom and sister, go to shopping malls, and lots of food sessions!

    Hey, thanks a lot for mentioning our blog and our new series! I’m hoping the series will go well, I’m so glad that you have always been participating in it!! Without you and others, it won’t work! I’m open to any input of how make the series better 🙂

    I like Anil’s blog a lot too, and I’ll follow Todd’s more closely (I do like his blog about giving money to beggar or not).

    (Btw, why I’m not surprised you mentioned the mango lassi 😀 )
    .-= Dina´s last blog ..Top 3 Travel Gear Chosen by Travelers Around the World =-.

    1. Hey Dina – Of course there’s going to be mango lassi on that list!! I was thinking about listing that one item three times!

      I generally visit the USA once or twice each year, usually for 2 -4 weeks at a time. But my mom also visits me overseas once a year as well and some friends meet me in random places around the world at times too. I’m sure having your family so far away must be a bit trickier. Indonesia and Canada aren’t exactly next-door neighbors! Will you be stopping by Indonesia again on your current trip?

      1. *laugh* for the 3 times mango lassi 😀

        Yes, the distance matters a lot. It’s expensive and taking so long time just to go back and forth. Geographically 12 hours difference, can’t get much farther than that. We visited my family in Java last Christmas/new year, not so long ago. We are hoping to go there again in the way from down under to Asia.
        .-= Dina´s last blog ..Top 3 Travel Gear Chosen by Travelers Around the World =-.

    1. Hey James – That’s an excellent point and my change in diet just might have something to do with my allergies. I eat much healthier when I’m outside the US as well as it’s much harder to find fresh foods over here than in such places as Mexico. It’s funny though, because as soon as I leave the country again, my allergies disappear the moment the plane lands in a new place!

      And I’ll definitely let you know if I head up towards the St. Pete area…

    1. No problem at all Anil, it was an excellent series of posts you wrote. And I have no doubt that we’ll meet up some time soon, hopefully in NYC!

  11. Thanks for the link on laptop security! That’s always a concern whenever I stay in hotels.

    I can imagine it feels very weird to be back in the US. The last time I left for only a week it took me a few days to readjust! I interviewed photographer Greg Davis who took a year long trip around the world and he had a similar experience to yours. He found reality shows totally bizarre.

    Glad your allergies aren’t too bad!
    .-= Jennifer Barry´s last blog ..Cool People Wanted =-.

    1. Hey Jennifer – I’m glad that you found those posts on laptop security useful. And if you’re already experiencing a little reverse culture shock after a week away, I can’t imagine what you’ll feel if you take a longer trip. You just might never return!

      And as for reality shows, I’ll agree with Greg that those are definitely strange creations to the long-term traveler. At this point, I just don’t understand much of what is on television!

    1. Thanks Moon! You are indeed correct…as long as we follow whatever it is that feels right, there will be nothing to complain or worry about in the end. And I know that you’re doing exactly that as well!!

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