Sunday, March 25, 2012


John Krackaur wrote a book called Into The Wild and in 2007 it was made into a fine movie staring Emile Hirsch. It is the true story of Christopher McCandless who went looking for something that was missing, something better then the trappings of his expected life. He had an incredible journey and did find what he was looking for. Call it what you want but it took his death, alone in the Alaskan wilderness for him to realize he had found what he was seeking. Just before he died he wrote, Happiness...Only Real When Shared.
In August of 2010 I felt it was my time. I had missed many of life's milestones and found myself going through the motions of my life but dreaming in my head. It was time to see what was out there and view the world with eyes wide open. Tragic or Romantic I was prepared to go the distance.

I put together a plan and to give it texture and I said 100 countries in 3 years with a 3 part plan. It was not until I started writing my blog that I realized how I used 3 as my safety net. I used it conversations and even blogged about it. The truth was I was not going to stop until I found my place, my happiness and I did not care where it was. I knew that when I found it that is where I belonged. I was going to embrace it with everything that I was..complete and unconditional. So off I went, a head full of dreams.

Now as I bounced around I found myself in places that were always a historical footnote. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua were war zones 25 years ago. Through Costa Rica and Panama and into Ecuador and Peru. The Patagonia in Chile and Argentina, small and fun Uruguay and the mysterious Bolivia. Ushuaia the most southern city in the world and then the crown jewel, Antarctica. Come on Ken really, Antarctica!! Such a small part of the world this trip, however the longer I was on the road more it became a bit of a chore to do so. How was wandering any different then sitting at a desk and going through routine when you are alone.

Looking for happiness is scary. You have to be totally honest with yourself. Who you are, where you have been, owning your past both good and bad. What is it that you want? How many people can answer that question?  Exposing yourself has to be the scariest thing a person can do, and its hard! However when you do, wow the things that can happen!

August 2, 2011 I received a bolt out of the blue. On November 22, 2011 my journey would forever be altered and on March 2, 2012 I understood... Happiness...Only Real When Shared.

In August of 2010 I decided it was my time, thankfully I did!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

That Big Bird Home

After 10 days of sorting myself out in La Paz it was time to got home, finally. I was ready. I had my emergency travel document, had my crappy rucksack packed and now just needed to wake up on time. I drank a litre of water before I went to bed which is an old school alarm clock. I did not feel real good about getting my 6 am wake up call.

I woke up at 5 30 and my wake up call did not come. Thanks old Indian wake up trick. Cleaned up and ready to go my taxi to the airport was waiting for me. Driving to the airport locals were setting up thier stalls of clothes, shoes and food. It was 6 am. Long days for very little pay. We should all remember that next time we complain about how hard our days are.

I had a few reservations about my travel document. First it did not have a green Bolivian entry stamp. If I had an immigration official who was a prick or having a bad day it was going to cost me.  I had a pocket full of american dollars just in case. Second, would the officials in Peru and El Salvador actually have the training and information to recognize the document. I mean I loved El Salvador but was not ready to spend extended periods of time in the airport, especially with someone waiting for me at Pearson Airport.

La Paz airport checking was easy enough with Taca. My rucksack would travel right through to Toronto. ** When ever I can I try not to transit through the States even it it takes more time and costs a bit more money. Just the aggrivation of having to recheck your bag and re check in is not worth the effort. The security guards in the States are pleasant enough but the aggrivation is not worth the effort, well in my humble opinion.

The Bolivian official seems a bit perplexed when I gave him my document and police report.  When he called over a couple other guys I just thought, man this is going to cost me. He asked how long I have been in Bolivia (30 days is when you are allowed) and I said 27. I had no proof at all as I forgot to print off my airline ticket into Bolivia from Argentina. Then he stamped my paper and just stared at his computer. I stood there for a second and asked if everything was ok and could I move along. He grunted. I said fuck it and walked about thinking alarms would go off and guards woul be tackling and beating me. I am pretty sure he was pissed he could not get a bunch of money from me. However I was off. One more official to deal with who was pleasant and we talked about the theft of my passport. Stressful step number one, Done. Next up was Peru

No worries in Peru. They did not check my document as I put my day pack through the scanner and was on my way to El Salvador within the hour. El Salvador immigration was a bit confused but after 3 guys looking at it with a magnifying glass, seriously, they waved me through. My connections were short and no issues. I was on my way to Canada.

Canadian immigration was easier then normal. I told my story and got a quick welcome home from the customs. Surrendered my document to immigration and walked through the doors to a huge welcoming hug and a Welcome Home Ken.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Embassy Dont Fail Me Now

I have been in La Paz for a week and a bit working through my Passport Issues. Now that carnival is over, I have learned to move to the beat of this very odd city and I have found that I really like it. However after 8 days breathing at this altitude is still tough, the smog gets to you and you can only eat so much deep fried chicken and cold french fries. La Paz does not have the arrogant charm or Buenos Aires, the modern flow of Santiago or the modern and old towns of Quito or Panama City. What is does have is a chaotic frenzy pace with a laid back feel if that is possible,  friendly helpful people, insane drivers, long rolling cobblestone streets, colourful native vendors selling everything from hats to dried llama fetuses, and hidden colonial buildings with pock marked history riddled all over them. La Paz certainly moves to its own weird pace.

Well today was the day. After some back and forth with the glorious Canadian Embassy I was told I would get my travel document at 1 00. Now as much as I want to say this has been stress free, well it has not been. I know the process and procedures just have to be followed, which I did to a letter but I am dealing with Government Bureaucracies and you know that somewhere along the way you are going to get the "oh, by the way we need this or you need to do that". Well there was a friendly voice back in Canada to help me through this and today was no different.

I made a point of being close to the Embassy so when the email came I would be on it like a fat kid on a smartie. I had the walk down as I had done it 4 times now, plus the three cab rides. I found a trusty Internet cafe, logged on to FB and Gmail. Then like a teenager waiting for a phone call I kept hitting check mail every 3 minutes even though the mail would come when it was sent. 12 20 the email comes, my document is ready. I was out the door and ran up the street like a wild man. Ladies selling vegetables we knocked over, cars slammed on their brakes, people moved to the side of the sidewalk or crossed over to the other side of the street. This Gringo was LOCO!

A 45 minute wait, come on! You just said you were ready. Oops forgot, its lunchtime and you can not mess with a government employees lunch break. I needed a beer. Lunch was over and with documents in hand I said good bye to my newest friend the security guard at the embassy door and noticed the rain outside. Screw it, I danced down the stairs doing my best Gene Kelly and walked back to my hotel in a downpour. It was a cleansing so to speak...and now I was getting the This Gringo is LOCO looks from everyone because I was soaked and smiling.

Now its time for a well deserved beer.