OK, here i go ...
- In 1981, after graduating as an Engineer, my father gave me a “reward” of 10.000 Belgian franks (€ 250 – but with inflation this is probably more than € 500 now) and i went on my own to Iceland with my rucksack, sleeping bag, a stove, my tent … very beautiful country, lovely people. And … i met an Australian guy there, and we travelled, hiked and camped a week together. This guy had been travelling for 3 years without interruption mainly in Asia and Europe. I thought: WOW!
- In 1983, after working as a researcher at the University, i took my rucksack, bought a one-way ticket to Lima, Peru, and started my “World Tour”, hereby copying the idea of my Australian friend, with whom i kept contact. No internet, no Skype, therefore i phoned about monthly to my parents. In the local phone companies i had to ask how much the call would cost, estimate how many minutes (and dollars) i wanted to spend, pay before calling (like Skype!), wait for the operator to make the connection with my parents, and then we talked x minutes until my credit was gone. I took my time, and visited Peru, Bolivia, Chile (Pinochet was still there), Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay (In Asunción i played chess during one month with an American guy) and Brasil. I even crossed the border between Paraguay and Bolivia with smugglers, for my second visit to that country (and climbed a 6000 m mountain with Israeli friends). I stopped travelling after one and a half year after meeting my future Brazilian (and now almost former) wife on a beach! My trip didn’t last as long as the Australian friend however. But, it still is the best and most enriching period of my life!
- I’ve lived and worked as an expat in Ecuador (1987-1990), where two of my 3 sons were born, and also in Tunisia (1992-1995): without internet, long before the Skype era, so phone calls were expensive. I remember they installed next to their TELEX machine their first FAX machine at the factory shortly after i arrived in Ecuador in 1987: WOW, we could send a handwritten message or a drawing! My best Ecuadorian friend (Carlos) and my best Tunisian colleague (Adel) are now in my Skype contacts.
- Yes, I smoke, quitting for several days, weeks or
months and starting again. Not good for my health and with negative consequences on my sport, i know. I drink alcohol too (mainly wine and beer, sometimes cachaça, when i have it), and i eat everything that other people dare to eat, even poisonous Finnish mushrooms when prepared correctly.
- If nothing “wrong” happens in the meantime, in July i’ll go hiking and camping in the Swiss Alps with my Friend Fabio … the Australian guy: we made the appointment through Skype!