Alive Again

It’s been sometime since I left New Zealand and stopped posting on this blog. Today, I’ve decided to start posting again as an effort to start a challenge for myself and reorganize my thoughts as I have been unplugged from what is going on around the world. At least unplugged in the sense that I haven’t attempted to truly digest news as well as I should.

First off, the challenge that I have for myself is that I want to try to post in this blog at least once per day. The post also has to be at least a single paragraph. I know that’s small but it an initial start that is not so overwhelming that I stop after day two.

I returned to Miami after leaving New Zealand. I got a job rather quickly upon returning while my friend packed up and left to Orlando soon after coming back. A decision I’m rather jealous of. Though, I’ve been able to earn some money. Enough to build a new computer and save for a down payment on a car since I sold mine prior to leaving for New Zealand. Getting on my own feet is becoming a long and drawn out process.

Miami is a drag and it never takes long to give me reasons to want to leave it again. Nonetheless, I have pending job opportunities that could decide whether I stay in the city or move elsewhere.

I’ve been trying to keep a closer eye on a few topics these past few days and hope to be able to write about them one by one over time. Currently, The German election, The Kurdish Referendum, and of course the whole NFL/National Anthem craziness. Of course, I don’t plan to only write about politics and world affairs but also write about my daily life.

lifenowhere

A close friend of mine is having a child soon. This will be the first among my close friends to have a kid and it is blowing my mind. Of course, it’s making me feel funny too. It reminds me of that episode of How I Met Your Mother when Marshal and Lily think they are having a baby, they tell everyone and they start to re-evaluate their own lives. The only difference is that I feel like I’m constantly re-evaluating my life.

I’m trying to keep my current goal becoming independent. The leash needs to be cut.

Oh yeah, time is coming up to renew my domain name. Don’t let me forget.

See You Again Soon!

 

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Hindsight is 20/20

I have enjoyed New Zealand.My favorite part was when I was on the Kiwi bus jumping from location to location meeting all kinds of new people and doing all kinds of new activities. I had conquered so much of the country in such a little amount of time and I had fun doing it. Yeah, I felt a little rushed at times but, at the same time, it felt like an adventure. I wouldn’t give back that time for the world.

Wellington was fun too, it was just different. The goal was to live long term and it was time to buckle down and find work. It just wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Finding a hostel with a good atmosphere took time but I achieved that. Trek Global made meeting people incredibly easy. If my time in Taipei didn’t teach me this then it was definitely Trek that taught me that there was no other way to travel abroad than via hostel. The social factor completely transforms the experience. It can literally turn a trip from visually entertaining to physically entertaining. What does that even mean? Most people(maybe only Americans) travel to new destinations with no intent of meeting new people. If it happens then fine but if it doesn’t then so be it. However, meeting fellow travelers can amplify your vacation ten folds and now I wouldn’t recommend traveling any other way.

Of course, there is a trade off to this experience and it is specifically felt when traveling for long term. That is privacy. You cannot necessarily own things when you are abroad like this. It takes up unnecessary space and it is outside of your budget when your sole purpose of work is to fund your next trip. You trade material for experiences at 100 percent. You must basically live out of a backpack or suitcase which can get old fast. There is almost a constant pressure to be social, which can be exhausting if you’re someone like me who finds it difficult to pull myself in and out of this mood. I have felt all of this and I often struggle with deciding whether this trade off is for me. Everyone is different and I have witnessed some people thrive with this lifestyle.

What is it about me? My time in New Zealand has been a learning experience and has made me realize(just as the title states) that hindsight is 20/20. I keep thinking back about how I could have conquered both Islands of New Zealand in a month or so days and left to Australia with plenty of money to spare. There nothing that can be done about it but it drives me nuts just thinking about. There was a large portion of my time in Wellington where I’ve had too much time to think. Thinking about what I am doing here, what I’ve thought I always wanted, and what I really want to do next.

I always thought I wanted self sufficiency and stability. I told myself that for years and I suddenly threw that away for a life of constant instability. Maybe it was a bad move on my part but I had told myself for months prior that I needed to do something different for a change. I did it and what I discovered is that I love traveling and seeing new parts of the world but I also like stability. Most of all, I like independence.

I think I know what to do.

Promised Land

I’ve been in Wellington for quite some time. After hostel hopping, I found a sort of home base at a hostel called Trek Global. It’s a hostel smack in the middle of the CBD filled with other long term travelers. A lot of the people here are great, I have made a couple friends. I watch anime with this English-Indian dude named Jake and talk about the current state of the union with another English guy named Harry who can’t seem to control how fast he speaks sometimes.

When I first arrived in New Zealand I had the hardest time understanding everyone when they spoke. Everyone seemed to have an accent other than North American. I still have trouble understanding people but I think I have the most trouble with Kiwis. They tend to  speak really low and I haven’t quite figured out the Kiwi or Aussie lingo other than “sweet as”. A kiwi named Blake, who is also staying here at Trek, does exactly this.

I was looking for work for a while until I decided I was going to try demolition work. Due to the earthquake that occurred a few months ago, there a ton of agencies who are willing to take on anyone who walks in the door. Of course, eight hours of moving rubble around is no easy task. I am a skinny man so it didn’t take long for this to take its toll on me. I was sore for the entire week. I am hoping to complete an entire week this coming week as a sort of challenge to myself. Unfortunately, the money isn’t very great. Minimum wage runs at about $15.25 in Kiwi money which runs to about $11 in American. I am looking for other work while I am doing this. Hopefully I find something that doesn’t leave my body broken.

Many other travelers talk of Australia. In Australia, the wages are supposed to be higher. The minimum wage runs to about $17 in Aussie money but most gigs tend to pay higher than that. I am curious about what contributes to that. None-the-less, many travelers describe Australia as a sort of promised land for people preparing their next trip. Even visiting Australia itself is easy. Most things to see are right there on the east coast and it is a pretty straight shot north from Melbourne to Cairns. It really makes me want to wrap up New Zealand and head over there ASAP. I want to stock up on cash and visit a few Asian countries before I go back home. Korea, Japan, or some of the South East Asian countries are on that list of potential countries to see.

Hmm.. What else, what else…

In complete honesty, I am growing bored of Wellington. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice city but I miss the days when I was seeing a new town or location every couple days. Waking up early, hopping on a bus and finding that next destination makes traveling so much more thrilling. I am determined to just hoard enough money to leave the city and head south. Being able to compare Auckland and Wellington to some of the smaller towns has made me appreciate the countryside. I am just not sure I am finding what I am looking for here. I’m not sure I even know what that is.

Currently listening to: Hands like Houses – No Parallel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9XnrOad6mM

Liberal Hysteria

It’s been about a week since Trump has been the President and the left continues its hysteria in regards to the Presidency. Keith Olbermann has already called for Trump to resign. He claimed Trump is not in “sound mind” and that if he continues to be president that it be the “end of civilization” as we know it. Of course, it’s not only Olbermann freaking out. The waves of hysterical protests that occurred after the election followed by the ridiculous Huffington Post headlines that imply something terrible has happened when, in reality, nothing has really happened at all.

The man has barely done a thing and the left is already losing it’s mind. Though, this behavior isn’t any different from the way the left usually acts. The left always goes to the absolute extreme in protest, especially with the XL pipeline an the Dakota pipeline. The left screamed environmental disaster and that the rights of Native Americans were being oppressed.

As the Trump administration reinstated the Mexico City policy which restricts funds from going to international organizations that perform abortions, the liberal media screamed that women’s reproductive rights were being taken away. It would seem that the left has a difficulty differentiating between what freedom and what is “free.”

The left still has it coming

I had the interesting opportunity to view the Presidential inauguration from far away in New Zealand. I sat in my hostel lounge with a few other people watching the historic event on the TV. Everyone was making comments about how this is the end of the world or imagining watching Donald Trump be assassinated live on screen. It is pretty disgusting. Politics brings out the absolute worst in people.

I have seen disgusting rhetoric come from both sides of the aisle but I do feel that the left has taken things to an entirely new level. Over the past eight years, the left has grown cocky, elitist, and condescending when dealing with the right and the media has become their tool. When anyone gives a different opinion, they are immediately silenced as racist, homophobic, sexist, or hating the poor. As rioters storm the streets and destroy private property in low income neighborhoods, the media insists on calling them protesters who are merely misunderstood. The leftists themselves protest legitimate democratic processes by blocking the highways and creating major inconveniences for the working class. They harass the private homes of high profile individuals(that don’t even need to be politicians) or they destroy their public identity. The left will do this all in the name of tolerance and diversity or whatever.

When Trump won the election, I believed it was his protectionist message that won over key states allowing him to cross the finish line. I still believe that. Though, if the left continues these tactics while trying to critique his presidency, they will only allow Trump to win his reelection by a wider margin. Stop being bullies and get off your damn high horse.

Traveling bummers

It’s been about a month and a half since I have arrived in New Zealand. It’s been great(I promise) but, there are a few things that I have learned about New Zealand and traveling since I got here.

The Bar Questionnaire

This is probably the most important one. The problem is not exactly the bars themselves but the rules that exist around going out and drinking. It’s honestly a minor issue but I does irritate me a little. There is a law in New Zealand that doesn’t allow businesses to sell you alcohol if you are drunk are even think you are drunk. Whenever you go to enter a bar the bouncer always talks to you. “How are you this evening?” and depending on how you answer it he will follow up with “How much have you been drinking tonight?” as if you were getting pulled over for a DUI. If they are uncomfortable about your condition they may deny you entry into the bar or club. If you come how got into the bar, the bartender will just serve endless amounts of water no matter what drink you try to order.

I witnessed the worst of this a couple weeks back. There was a group of us who decided to bar hope down Courtney Place. Among us what this Dutch who had an absolute terrible accent when he spoke English. At our second bar, the bouncer continued to grill him thinking he was drunk until the rest of us had to explain that he wasn’t blasted out of his mind to the point that he can’t talk. He’s just Dutch.

The Same Introductions

When you arrive at a new hostel there are always new people to meet which means that introductions are frequent. Maybe a little too frequent.

Go ahead and picture this. You enter your new room of four or six at the new hostel.You throw your bag on the bed. If you haven’t said hello to your roommates yet then they have absolutely said it to you. Now you are automatically caught in one of those frequent introductions.

“Hey, how’s it going?”
“Where are you from?”
“When did you get to New Zealand?”
“How long are you traveling for?”

You cannot escape it.

Short live friendships

As you go from city to city and hostel to hostel, you come across so many different people. Some of these people you may find absolutely awesome after you spend a night out or even a couple of days with them. However, when i comes to traveling, not everyone is always on the same page. Some people have less flexible itinerary’s than others. Some have a goal of looking for work in specific location and others have a short amount of time to travel.

Over the holidays I met a group of some of the coolest people. We drank together in the hostel lounge and hit bars multiple nights a week. But, when the holidays ended, it was time for them to continue traveling and it was time for me to start looking for a job so that I could continue travel. This wasn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. You absolutely enjoy these awesome people and your time with them but having to day goodbye so often can be a tad bit… well, emotionally exhausting.

Every coffee shop is exactly the same!

This drives me nuts. The only reason this bothers me so much is because someone bragged to me about how great the coffee in New Zealand is when I first got here. Honestly, it’s a little overrated. There is no variety. It’s as if every coffee shop owner got together and agreed on a universal coffee menu.

Short Black
Long Black
Flat White
Americano
Cappuccino
Hot Chocolate

Holy crap guys, try to spice it up a bit. People like to rag on Starbucks back in the United States, but at least they give a constantly changing menu. I can happily treat myself with that White chocolate macho peppermint cappuccino frappe grande. Hell yes.

Also, anyone who says North America doesn’t have any decent coffee has never been to South Florida.
If you are looking to travel do not let any of this keep you from doing so. I have had a blast so far and I don’t regret it a bit. Even in the things you like most people tend to find something to complain about.This is just some of them.

“Sensible Swiss”

I was sitting in the hostel lounge recently reading Daniel Mitchell’s (Cato Institute) blog. Daniel Mitchell has become my go to guy when it comes to international economics. He doesn’t only talk about the things that have to happen but what is likely to happen and under what circumstances. He is a realist in that sense. It’s fun to hear libertarian scholars talk about the ideal conditions for prosperity but I find more worth while to hear about solutions in the situation at hand.

Of course, That is all besides the point. In his New Year’s Eve post titled “The Best and Worst News of 2016”, he used to term “Sensible Swiss” which he apparently first used back in June when Switzerland voted against Universal Basic Income in referendum. This is not the first time I’ve heard this praise for the Swiss by libertarians. The Foundation for Economic Education posted an article in 2015 titled “9 reasons Libertarians should love Switzerland” which points out that Switzerland is the fourth freest economy in the world. Libertarians tend to have this idea that the average Swiss citizen is smarter in regards to economics than the global average person. I had never met anyone from Switzerland before, at least not until New Year’s Eve in Wellington.

It was early on NYE. A group of us were sitting around the Kitchen talking about whatever came to mind. Since traveling, I’ve noticed politics and culture is a common topic. I sat next to a young blond woman and asked her where she was from (I have developed a problem that I ask people where they are from before asking their name) and we began a conversation about home. From Miami to Cuban food then finally Cuba itself. I immediately explained the event of Castro’s death from the perspective of the Cuban and South Floridian community and I received the response that I least expected. She told me how suspicious she was of the narrative she got from the media. The media was very sympathetic of Castro and his legacy. She was the first to point out the atrocities of the Castro regime to me. I was so pleased to hear that not everyone overseas was so ignorant of Communist Cuba.

Unfortunately, this is only me analyzing the judgment of one Swiss girl. Maybe they are as “Sensible” as Daniel and other libertarians make them seem.

 

 

Israel, Scotland, and Liberalism

I’ve transferred myself to a new hostel. The experience has been pleasant and the people are generally nice. Last evening I found myself talking to a small group consisting of a young American from Seattle, a Brit, a very proud Scotsman, and a young woman from Israel. Absolutely, Israel was the hot topic of the evening.

Apparently, meeting an Israeli is rare. This young Israeli had just separated from the Israeli Defense Forces and has been spending her new found freedom traveling the world. As interested as everyone seemed to be about her homeland the conversation didn’t take long until it turned to politics. Not surprisingly, I observed the Scottish man slowly maneuver this conversation as he would gradually input his opinion regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of course, he was never out right be rude about it. To an extent, I think he knew better. The Israeli seemed to tread carefully as the conservation went on but it also felt more like she had been here before. It was later confirmed that she gets asked about this very topic just as much as Americans get asked about the election.

I made several attempts to defend Israel as the sole functioning democracy in the middle east. I even reminded the group that Israel has large political parties that consist of Islamic Arabs which she confirmed. That conversation ended calmly. However, a later conversation took a strange turn. Probably because, at this point, most of us were intoxicated. No real shame there.

It started from a conversation about the election until I was trying to explain my disdain for Hillary Clinton and my own views regarding foreign affairs. It felt like she was trying to attach US foreign policy to me. She tried to make US foreign policy my views on foreign policy. Which I shouldn’t exactly be surprised about. I’ve discovered that when you travel abroad you act as though you’re an ambassador for your own country to other travelers. I had to keep clarifying that I could disagree with my own government and even the historical actions of my own government.

I thought for a moment that maybe she felt as though the actions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria played in favor of Israel and she didn’t want me taking a position of abandonment. I’m probably also over thinking that considering our mental state. She could easily just be a liberal Israeli. I was often reminded that Israel is a country like any other. There are those in Israel that don’t support Netanyahu and that Israeli is far from a one party state.

As for Scotland… as friendly as this guy turned out being, he was the epitome of how I stereotyped on Scots. Typical socialists.

A European Political Shift

 

Picture source: Washington Post

I woke up to two vicious attacks in the news this morning. A truck ramming into a Christmas event in Berlin and the assassination of a Russian ambassador in Turkey. Both are already being labeled as terrorist attacks by the respective governments. Both of these attacks are significant considering the German election and the Russian involvement in the Syrian conflict.

I’ve only been here in New Zealand a short time so I haven’t had many conversations regarding world affairs and politics. Considering those I’ve had, I am decently surprised by the range of views many people have had. I have seen quite a few Germans here and many tend to lean to the liberal side who’ve voiced some concern about the coming German election and the possible rise of the populist party, AfD. This usually comes up after we discuss the recent US election which I am frequently asked about. I try to be as honest as possible when it comes to this topic since it isn’t exactly black and white for me. Regardless, the foreign response has been more than pleasant, even with my conservative leaning views.

The immigration issue is a hot topic among Europeans. I understand the situation as an out of control influx of people entering European countries who have no idea what to do with them. I’ve found that my European friends agree with that description which allows me to skip the moral argument for accepting refugees and go straight discussing the social impact that had occurred within these countries. I am not opposed to immigration and neither is anyone I’ve talked to but we do find ourselves agreeing that immigration to this degree has huge unintended social consequences.

I met a French man who has very strong opinions on the immigration issue in Europe. He seemed to follow the populist wave going through the continent but not to the point where he would claim that he supported the French National Front party leader, Marine Le Pen. However, he described his experience going back home as almost a completely different place. Crawling with Somali immigrants. A fast and swift demographic evolution that could overwhelm most people. He talked about their inability to integrate and their habit to sticking together. I told him I was surprised to meet someone from France who is so open about that view. He merely responded saying that not everyone in France is a liberal. I laughed but it also made the political shift moving across Europe that much more real. It’s not something I only read about in the news anymore.

It’s actually all quite fascinating.