Travel Ideas for 2010: Why are Camels so Expensive?

Derek Personal Stuff 9 Comments

I was going to hold off on writing this post until I felt better, but it occurred to me that being doped up on three antibiotics while fighting off a body-crippling, mind-numbing illness that is ravaging through my body at the moment, just might be the perfect time to get creative. Especially when I’m trying to decide on where I’m going to travel in 2010.

I’m hungry. In fact, I’m starving for something different, and I don’t mean an alternative to rice, beans and tortillas. I am ready to travel in a way that I’ve never done before. I’d leave the planet if I could, I’d even buy a ticket for the next trip back in time. But it appears that I’ll have to think of other options as I’m unable to afford space travel and I think Dr. Emmett Brown has retired for good.

A few years ago, I made the intriguing (and at the time, confusing) discovery that traveling can actually be boring. Backpacking all over the place ALL the time simply wasn’t going to provide my life with enough challenge or fulfillment. I felt the need to break up my adventures using a variety of travel styles, each with their own specific purpose, whether it be rejuvenating my mind, giving back to a community or even toying with death.

I immediately began to shake things up, mixing my usual backpacking with some healthy doses of volunteer work, danger travel, long stretches of white-sand beach relaxation, educational travel (learning a language or new skill) and visiting friends around the world that I hadn’t seen in a while.

Somehow, I managed to do a little of each of those in 2009 and it was the most rewarding year of travel I’ve ever had. But now it’s time to start looking ahead to 2010…and in order to outshine 2009, I’ve realized the need to think way, way outside the box in terms of possible adventures.

Luckily for me, my brain is currently warped due to this illness I’m battling, allowing me to envision certain adventures that would have never crossed my mind under normal circumstances. Adventures such as…

  • Bicycling along the entire coast of Mexico, Central and South America, from Tijuana to Matamoros while wearing my Ultimo Guerrero lucha libre mask (as pictured above)
  • Finding a seldom-used trans-continental route to walk with a yak (not any yak, THIS yak) as my companion
  • Driving around the globe in the world’s smallest & cheapest car – the Tata Nano
  • Island-hopping to all 6,000 of Indonesia’s inhabited islands while wearing nothing but my favorite sarong
  • Trying to start a stand-up comedy club in Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Sharing an ice cream sundae with the mayor of every city, town and village in Azerbaijan
  • Spending one year in Bombay trying to make it as a film star in the Bollywood movie scene

For several years now, riding a camel from Africa to Mongolia has actually held the number one position on my list of potential travel ideas. I’ve even researched which type of camel would be most appropriate for the climates and geography involved and I even contacted several camel farms in the USA and Africa to inquire about prices. It was only two weeks ago that I finally received a response from a farm in Minnesota (I know, Minnesota?). The owner offered to sell me a “Bactrian beauty of the highest quality” for $30,000 USD, shipping not included.


So it’s back to brainstorming.

Which is not as easy as it may seem. I keep thinking “Why can’t I travel around the Middle East until I find the perfect hummus?” or “Why can’t I spend six months with a head-hunting tribe in Papua New Guinea?”

And the real problem is that I CAN do all of these things.

Ironically, once you break free from the rat race and find yourself possessing the liberating ability to do absolutely anything you want in life, it becomes inexplicably difficult to actually make a decision. How on earth am I supposed to choose the next adventure when the options are infinite?

I want to do it all. I want to meet the pirates of Somalia, do cartwheels along the Silk Route and paddle along the coast of Brazil in a canoe. I really do. As long as it’s unique and physically and mentally challenging, I’ll consider anything.

My main goal is to explore intriguing lands and to meet new and interesting people that I otherwise would never have come across by living an ordinary life. Sure, I could easily accomplish this through backpacking, but I’d much rather jump on that camel and see where the road leads.

And that’s not the intense fever talking either.

I sure as Burundi didn’t enter the world of freedom just to get bored.

I’m curious to know…what’s the most bizarre journey you’ve ever taken? Please add your tales or any suggestions you may have below, I’m always looking for new ideas!

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Comments 9

  1. Hey Earl,

    I’m interested as to which of these activities you ended up doing? The only one I’ve read about in your posts that seems obvious is your search for the perfect hummus in the Middle East! Where’s your pick for the best hummus, by the way? My fave is a tie: at the palatial-looking (but surprisingly reasonably-priced) restaurant ‘Abd El Wahab’ in Beirut, and at a little local eatery near the mosque in Al-Hatab Square in Al-Jdeida in Aleppo.

    Azerbaijan is high on my list, too: simply for the fact that I don’t know much about this country at all (so I’m craving to learn!), and I got a taste of the wonderful Azari people when I travelled in NW Iran, where they predominate. Also, was there any specific connection as to why you want(ed) to particularly taste ice-cream in every town in Azerbaijan? I just don’t see how ice-cream and Azerbaijan relate! But good luck in eventually getting to Azerbaijan one day, man…I expect it’s easier for Americans to get a visa for it than for Iran!

  2. Earl – this post was FANTASTIC. This made me stop and think about my own goals, and how badly I want to wear a mask! You’ve inspired me to kick it up a notch. Going to RT the hell out of this.

    Keep me posted on your plans! And take me with you!

  3. I had a blast doing a bike tour…

    I’m stealing your idea of taking a canoe along the Brazilian coast. Or just taking a canoe anywhere. That’s an awesome idea.

  4. Hey if you want to do something different, authentic and cheap, join me down a lovely Amazon cruise. I have tried to get people to go for this but everyone doesn’t see the adventure in it or has other plans.

    We would start in Ecuador at the Rio Napo and take it all the way to Peru in which it turns into the Amazon River. From there we would cross Peru until we come to the 3 corners of Colombia, Peru and Brazil. Then sail all across Brazil in the thick of the Amazon until we reach the Atlantic Ocean.

    Of course to make this authentic, we would build our own boat from local materials. When I say boat, I mean more like raft…but with creature-comforts too! 🙂 By-the-way, we’d also have to dodge local tribes men who are pissed in the Ecuadorian side and have been know to have killed a few missionaries before. But I think we’ll be ok as we wouldn’t be walking around in the jungle trying to trump someone else’s God or anything…just sailing down the river and soaking it all up.

    I figure this trip would take about 2-2 1/2 months. So it’s not a year project, would be super cheap compared to what you get (no $30,000 boats on this cruise) and you can honestly say you saw the Amazon afterwards.

    If your in let me know and shoot me an email back at my website. I’m American who is living in Quito, Ecuador and will be here for some time unless something else appears to offer something better.

  5. It sounds like we will need some popcorn to read your next years adventures…

    PS Ultimo Guerrero (the wrestler’s mask that you are wearing) should be your sponsor hehehe.

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