Friday, May 7, 2010

Ecuador (or, why is the title of this post not even mentioned until the end?)

The best way to describe my friend Mark is by the nickname we've given him, "the Cuban Caveman." He's stocky, hairy, loud, obnoxious, and curses like a sailor in family restaurants. He's also an intelligent, driven, and incredibly principled man. A fellow Academy grad, I've known Mark for about a year, and I can safely say that some of my more interesting moments in Alabama I owe to him. He doesn't live here any more, but visits occasionally and the last time he was out here nearly started a fight in the Officer's Club when poor dumb kid decided to make a sneering, yet unclever remark about his beard.
He just left after being out here a week, and I am run down. We've spent nearly the entire previous ten days barbecuing and drinking heavily into the night. You might think that days upon days of drinking beer and eating red meat might have made me more of a man, adding some chest hair and perhaps an extra testicle, but instead I feel slow, fat, and tired. It's all part of the game though and I wouldn't have done it any differently. Mark is one of those rare people I can enjoy drinking with just for the conversation. See, it is entirely possible that in a drinking session with Mark the dialogue will get more intelligent rather than less. We spent some our time screaming at each other about politics, while watching Bill O'Reilly. BTW, I can't help wanting to scream when I watch anything on Fox News, and Mark is a Cuban conservative, so a skyrocketing of the volume level is virtually guaranteed. I must say I'm lucky to have some friends that I can actually learn something from in a typical conversation. It could be drunk Mark philosophizing for hours on the nature of God's love and tolerance for others, as he did a few days ago (yes, I said hours). It could be Sal talking about the realities of growing up in a crime-ridden neighborhood, or maybe my friend Dan speaking on the need for a more practical and sustainable energy policy.

I had another one of these enlightening moments when I was talking with my friend Marques several months ago. Another Academy grad turned Air Force dropout, he was out here visiting Sal, and he started speaking of a feeling he had been having that he needed to shed all the superfluous crap in his life and go travel. With no timetable or agenda, just go on an adventure. Needless to say this is an idea that really resonated with me. From this one conversation sprung an idea that we both knew we had to follow. We will be taking a flight to Ecuador in August. I only bought a one-way ticket.
Marques' motivations are similar to mine, but I wouldn't want to speak for him, so I will just point you to his blog.
For my part, I am simply looking for a decent way to live a life. There has got to be some way to survive that doesn't relegate me to an office desk for 9 hours a day, taking orders from someone I don't even care to know. And I know I don't have to travel to Ecuador to embark on this quixotic little journey of self-discovery, but why the hell wouldn't I take that opportunity. That's kind of the point behind this entire exercise-- I'm just going to do exactly what I want to do. And I'm going to be writing all about it here.

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