What a way to celebrate our 100th day of travel. Fate led us to two interesting people– Adam and Michael. We will not soon forget either of them but for very different reasons.
Adam is a fellow long-haul traveler. He left his comfortable, corporate banking job in Sydney to spend the year in Europe. Rather than taking buses and trains, he is making his own way on a 2008 Bonneville T100.
His fuel injected, 900cc’s of fury have taken him across the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, and now Croatia. The bank gave him a leave of absence, but he has artistic aspirations and plans to attend school. His travel blog makes for easy reading. I particularly like his hooker story from Berlin and the time he fought off the crazed canine. Luckily, we haven’t had either problem yet.
He tried to explain to us why anyone would eat Vegimite, but I still don’t get it. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our conversations with Adam, and we hope he has a great trip.
We also met a gentleman from Denver by the name of Michael. Where do I begin…
Most people attribute anti-American sentiment to President Bush and our foreign policy. I completely disagree.
I believe Michael is the primary source.
I don’t mean to be a jerk, but I was not crazy about Mike. This 44-year-old loudmouth unleashed a campaign of shock and awe on every conversation for four days. You need to see him in action for the full effect, but here are a few quotes to support my case:
“You have to watch out for those turks in Germany, man. I know about Turks. I’ve seen Midnight Express.” A Turk was sitting right next to him…and it was his birthday.
“What is it with these fatties in America?! You walk around, and you go whaaaat the f**k! The only place you can find a skinny woman is in a f**kin’ strip club!”
“Well, f**k! I’m going to be careful in Ukraine. It is swarming with Russian mafia.” This gem was directed to a Ukrainian couple on their honeymoon.
“Germans are f**king miserable people. Just f**king smile already.” You guessed it– to a guy from Munich.
“Come on, you fag! You are such a f**king fag.” Just offensive in general.
“If you ask me, the NFL stands for N***ers For Life.” Are you kidding me?
Like some sort of reverse comedian, Mike had a set of monologues that he inflicted upon us every few minutes. Repeatedly. I escaped to our balcony whenever possible to watch the train wreck from afar. They usually included something about his 44′ catamaran, depressed Germans, and how horrible “American blacks” are. He especially liked that last one.
Was this some sort of elaborate performance art? I was waiting for Ashton Kutcher to bust in with an MTV camera crew.
The best was yet to come. Michael regaled us with a tale from his youth on our last night. On the candlelit pier behind our hostel, we huddled together to hear his story. It was a doozy.
I won’t bore you with every exaggerated detail. Believe it or not, this is the short version:
Michael traveled to Brazil with his mother shortly before his 17th birthday. On their flight home, he had the bright idea to smuggle 35 grams of marijuana in his shoes back to America. He was strip searched by big men with machine guns, and he was thrown in jail. His mother was due back at work, so naturally, she abandoned her underage son in Brazilian prison and caught the next flight. Seems perfectly plausible to me.
Mike was imprisoned for 16 days before being released to the mean streets of Rio with nothing but his suitcase and his wits (dim as they may be). Having no money or passport, he was forced to walk eleven hours to the Copacabana beach, bury his luggage under a palm tree, and beg on the streets. Just your typical coming of age story.
His mother hired 22 people to scour Rio for young Michael. I guess they found him, and he moved in with his lawyer’s mother. Not sure how he met up with the lawyer or the lawyer-mother. She found him a job repairing motorcycles. His buddies in the shop entered him in a motorcycle race (even though he had never ridden a motorcycle before), and he proceeded to almost break the track record. Wow!
Team Marlboro just happened to be present and were so impressed, they signed him on the spot! The professional racing team gave him an apartment and a car. For the next two years, he raced every weekend and beat off women with a stick.
The Brazilian courts released him at age 19, and he still has the judge’s home address and phone number. I’m surprised the judge didn’t ‘friend’ him on Facebook too.
He returned home to become a real life shrimpin’ boat captain, meet three US presidents, and get shot in the buttocks.
If we weren’t sitting outside in the dark, I would say he was pulling a Kaiser Souzai and weaving his tale from our surroundings (spoiler alert). “Did I mention the judge was fat? I mean, like orca fat?”
Now, don’t think we’re just hating here, and we do feel bad about gong on like this. We like to keep this blog positive, but I felt compelled to share this encounter.
We could forgive his exaggerated stories and repetitive monologues. Whatever. No big deal. However, we cannot forgive his highly offensive statements (see quotes above) and blatant cultural insensitivity. This type of behavior reflects poorly upon all American travelers, and I was outright embarrassed to be associated with him at times. You travel to have conversations with people– not at them. He did not stop talking enough to learn anything from any of us.
The vast majority of people we meet are terrific. Mike gave us a good blog entry, but we certainty don’t want an encore.
Get caught up on our other People of the Week! Have you run into a “Michael” on a trip or vacation?