Many of you who have read my last two blogs might be wondering what happened in Iraq. I will continue that story a bit later. It’s important to me to explain a bit more about preparing for any long journey into the unknown, such as the journey I am embarking on now, in 2023. There are several very important things an HSP like me needs to have before venturing out on such a quest; riding a motorbike solo across the wilds of Central and South America. In fact, many of these things are required whether or not your HSP.
An Adventure Requires Money!
Firstly, one needs money! Most people these days are living paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t afford a trip to their neighbors, let alone a year-long adventure to Central and South America. I am not rich; in the sense I don’t have a lot of money. I lost everything in a divorce not 12 years ago. Fortunately, I am a good worker and hold a skill set aided by my HSP trait that allowed me to earn a decent wage. Generosity, however, robbed me of some of that hard-earned money I managed to collect over the same past twelve years, mind you. I returned to the USA in the summer of 2019 to be with my mom after my father’s sudden death, a very sad moment in my life for many reasons. After a couple of weeks, I reluctantly returned to South East Asia, where I had invested in two businesses only to discover the girlfriend I had at the time, a Thai lady had decided I was no longer needed and once again I found I had lost everything, everything that was except my motorbike.
Losing Everything Again; This Time after Divorce
It was a 2018 Honda Africa Twin, and I was in love with it. It took me on so many adventures while I lived in Asia that the bike and I created an undeniable bond. Realizing I had no option but to let the Thai women have the businesses due to my generosity and stupidity, a very valuable lesson learned, I loaded what I could on my bike and headed to Phuket. It was an eight-hour ride, loaded with the same two duffel bags I was allowed to have from my divorce. Upon reaching Phuket, I learned my mom was not doing so well. The loss of my dad was devastating to her. I also received a text message from the Thai lady who just took my business and now she wanted my bike. She had filed papers with the police, a very corrupt organization in Thailand, stating that I had stolen it from her. Panicked, I tried to reach out to people I thought were my friends in Thailand, Expats for whom I had done many favors, only to get silence as nobody wanted to get involved with the Thai Police.
I recall sitting in a coffee shop as a policeman was walking by. He stopped and started to walk around my Africa Twin. A lump appeared in my throat as I held visions of being arrested and thrown in the “Bangkok Hilton” as it is called. I knew right then and there that I had to leave that country and I had to leave today. Parking my bike at the house I was staying, I asked the owner, an Australian man if he would sell it for me, which broke my heart to do. He was back in Australia at the time and told me he knew people he could sell it to. It was a $25,000 dollar bike in Thailand, clearly out of the affordable range for most Thai women, let alone being able to ride it. It’s worth mentioning that $25,000 did not include the accessories I had bought for it, like Paniers, GPS, and a whole lot more.
I told the homeowner I would split the money with him as I prepared to figure out how I was going to get home to be with my mom in her time of need. As I was packing, I receive another text message, this time from the daughter of a long-time friend of my mom and dad’s. Now, I had never met her, but she offered to assist me in returning to the US, as well as finding a job. Clearly, in a confused state, I thanked her and agreed with one exception, I would pay my own way back. This didn’t turn out well at all. Upon my return, I landed in Boston where my living hell continued. The daughter wasn’t interested in helping me, she wanted a mate, and I was not at all interested. Being rejected as an HSP hurts us deeply, so we tend not to reject others, even though it would be in our best interest to do so. Needless to say, this is where I decided that women were not in my best interests and I needed to just be on my own. I also learned that my beautiful Africa Twin was now sitting in the police station, stripped of all her parts. She was now gone forever.
I headed to my mom’s more broke than I had ever been since my divorce. No Money and no job! It was mid-November of 2019 and I was headed downhill fast! I reached my mom’s and tried to put all my wows behind me. More like bury them until I could at least see my mom back to living again; HSPs will always put those they love first. We needed each other in a major way, but little did she know just how taxed I was, both financially and emotionally. Suicide was a constant thought in my mind, I so much just wanted to end the pain, but in doing so, I knew it would devastate my mom, and there was no way I was going to do that.
Challenges I Faced Posed by Global Politics and COVID
Between Christmas and New Year’s, I received an email from Iraq, offering me another job. My mom was doing much better and it was time I went back to work, for I was extremely broke. So broke that I embarrassingly had to go on social assistance. The Job was to start at the end of January, giving me enough time to set my affairs in order and spend a little more time with my mom. On January 3rd, 2020 the order was given by the sitting US president to kill the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. This took place in Baghdad, Iraq. With his killing so too did my job offer die, not immediately mind you, I was asked to hold off coming for a month or so until things settled down. Clearly, Americans were a high target. Thinking this was not an issue, that in a month or two I would be back to a well-paying job and life was going to get better was extremely naive on my part.
By the middle of February, COVID was the new F.E.A.R. that affected the world. The reactions by many governments needs no explaining here as we are still dealing with much of it. The bottom line is, my hopes to return to work were all but lost and so too were my hopes of crawling out of this dark hole I had found myself in. A hole, mind you, I take full responsibility for digging. When one is so lost in the wilderness of life, they tend to lose themselves, making matters even more complicated, not just for themselves, but for everyone they come in contact with. Like when I used to hide as a child in that old abandoned coal mine, believing it was a safe place away from the harsh world, only to discover it wasn’t (Chapter 4 in my book, Facing Fear through adventure).
A Friend in Need
It’s at times like these when true friendships are revealed. And like a shining star that breaks its way through what seems an impenetrable storm, hope is restored. My best friend Brian, actually he is my only true friend, having known each other for more than 20 years, reached out to me with the possibility of a job back up in Canada. Desperation was an understatement, and at the same time, I was very afraid. Afraid I would run into my two boys and not know what to say. I needed money, and those of you reading this know the power that it has over people. As an HSP, fighting a high level of anxiety meant reaching deep down inside myself and finding something I had lost, courage!
With much of Brian’s help and the help of my visa card, I managed to create an independent consulting company back up in Canada, as it was required to secure this job. The job being in Central British Columbia, which gave me some respite, as it was a very long way away from the last known address of my sons. I was accepted! However, little did I know at the time, the only reason I was accepted was that the “boss” I would be working for held a deep hatred towards my friend Brian and he wanted to use me as an example to destroy Brian’s reputation due to the fact Brian recommended me. Yep, that’s humans for you!
Toxic Work Environment & Switching Jobs
Having jumped through all the COVID hoops of quarantine (mandatory vaccinations hadn’t been imposed yet, thank God!), I found myself in what I can now call the worst work environment I have ever faced. I would have much rather gone back to Iraq, even with the threats attached to it than to experience the toxicity I experienced by what everyone on site called the “J&J circus.” They tried hard to prove I was not just incompetent, but inept! But no matter how hard they tried, no matter how many false accusations I faced, no matter how many two-faced attempts to intimidate me, I remained the person I knew I was. I had gained the support of every worker on that site, which pissed the J&J circus off even more. The project lasted only a few months, and near the end, the so-called boss let me go, in his final assault. I was happy to leave, now that I had earned enough money to get me back on my feet. On top of that, while I was there, I was offered serval positions back in the USA, one of which I accepted.
Working Hard but Dying Inside
When I returned, I immediately started the new job and all was good again. It was now August 2020 and I had managed to pay off all my bills, paid back Brian for his financial support, and had a couple of thousand dollars in the bank. I worked until January 2021, often 12 to 14 hours a day, six to seven days a week. Typical industrial construction shifts. After completing the first project with them, they moved me to another, where I met yet another worker who was a 3, possibly a 2 on my personality spectrum (See lessons learned #16). Feeling I was being attacked again, as HSPs often do, I wasn’t sure what to do. Fortunately, for me, the client we worked for recognized the problem and offered me to come work for them, and I did!
I continued working for the client as an owner’s rep up until December 18, 2022. Having had to deal with angry landowners, and again another harsh colleague, I decided I needed to really have a look at my life. I was now drinking half a bottle of tequila a night and smoking THC vapor just to fall asleep. I wasn’t eating and had secluded myself from any social involvement outside of work. I desperately needed a change or this life I was living was going to kill me. I had bought a small 18-foot cargo hauler that had been converted into a camper, along with an older, low-mileage truck. This was my home, my little hobbit hole. But more importantly, I bought a 2021 Honda Africa Twin. I recall one night, after one of the colleagues I was now working with caused me extreme challenges, that I wanted to go back to who I was. The person I once knew who loved adventure and yet had lost his way in the expectations of society and an unloving marriage. I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but I knew it meant I needed money….but how much? Most of us stuck in the industrial sector, we find ourselves in a preverbal prison, and most never escape, that is until they die; not of old age, but due to the lack of living a life.
And Idea Matures; An Adventure in the Making
I had talked about riding a motorbike through Central America and possibly into South America for a very long time, but like most people, talk is all they do. It was after having to deal with the nastiness of yet another work colleague that I sat down and did some research. After reading and watching YouTube videos of others that had done such a trip, I stumbled across Tim and Marisa Notier, of Notier’s Frontiers. Their story of adventure and love rocked me to the bone. I knew right then and there that I had to do this! So I started to acquire all the equipment I needed while trying hard to deal with the nastiness at work. I quit drinking and I quit smoking that crap and started to regain my health. In my planning, I discovered that one can easily do such a trip for less than $100 a day. Some even did it for far less, but I’m a bit older and my creature comforts at times are needed.
The Cost Estimation
So, I figured 365 days multiplied by $100 equals $36,500 to do this trip relatively comfortably. That is after you have the bike and equipment, in which I currently have close to $40,000 invested. I looked at what I had saved, not including investments, and divided it in half. The one half I put away, never to be touched unless of dire need. The other I had to pay all my bills for a year, covering any expense I had committed to. The remainder would finance my year-long journey. I’m a good saver, I live very basically while treating myself once in a blue moon. When all was calculated, I was shocked! I had enough money to do this trip at $200 a day! It was going to happen and it was like that time I freed myself from underneath that sunken 1972 Thunderbird (Chapter 4 in my book, Facing Fear through adventure), I felt life again.
An Adventure that Holds a Special Meaning for Me This Time
Life without true purpose is not exciting, it’s an existence. I needed a purpose for doing this trip. Was it to discover myself again? Absolutely! Was it to learn and grow? Without question! As HSPs, one of our strongest aspects is to help. And that’s when it dawned on me, all my problems in life, all the heartache and pain I endured and caused was due to the fact I was an HSP trying to be a normal person! When I learned of the HSP trait, back in January 2021 through William Allen, I also started to research it further. One thing we HSPs are very good at is researching the heck out of things, my friend Brian even calls me the human thesaurus. As mentioned before, it was a bittersweet education. One thing I did learn is that there was not enough positive awareness of our trait. The ones I did see, gave the impression that we were all overwhelmed all the time, and that is simply not true. So, my goal was to use this much-needed trip to bring to light the powers, the strengths, and the abilities of HSPs. Granted not all of us HSPs are adventure seekers, but if I can open the door, even a little to help someone understand themselves or those they might know that have this trait, I would be honored.
In closing this blog post, I want to thank William Allen for doing just that for me. You not only opened the door; you invited me in and I will forever be grateful. I also want to thank Tim and Marisa Notier for not just inspiring me to live my dream, but for showing me that true love is possible! Although I still need to heal from the wrong women I have had in my life, I am hopeful I can find myself once again.