Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

Internet Romeo In Colombia

May 18, 2014

My first date in Colombia was with Diana. I called the number she had given me a few weeks prior, via email.

“Is Diana there?” I asked.

“No, who is this?” replied a female voice.

“I am Brian and I met Diana online on Colombian Cupid.”

“Ah yes, this is a friend of hers, my name is Adriana. The name of my friend isn’t really Diana, it’s Lorena.”

“Oh, can Lorena meet me today at 12 noon?” I asked, not at all fazed by a few names changes by my potential date.

“Yes, we can.” (It was very unexpected to have a date with two girls)

“Ok, lets meet at Plaza de los Periodistas (The Journalists’ Square) at 12 noon and then go to Monserrate (a little church on 10,000 foot high mountain) from there,” I suggested.

Image

At 12 noon, I received a call from Adriana, “Hi Brian, we are at the entrance of Monserrate, but we can’t find you.”

“Well, I am at Plaza de los Periodistas, waiting for you guys, should I take a taxi to Monserrate, and meet you guys there?”

“Yes, we will wait for you here.”

So, I jumped in a cab that was actually being hailed by another person from my hostel who was also going to Monserrate. It was with a girl who wasn’t quite sure if we had met before or not.

“Were you with the people from the hostel who went to the club last night?”

“Which people are you talking about?” As far as I could remember, I hadn’t gone out at night anywhere in at least a week.

Before she could respond, my phone rang.

“Hi Brian, this is Adriana, we have decided that we will come to Plaza de los Periodistas and see you, there are too many people up here at Monserrate.”

I quickly explained to the taxi driver and to my newly-acquired backpacker friend that I was getting out of the cab. The backpacker girl asked why. I explained that my friends had said that it was too crowded at the top. The backpacker remained in cab and decided to go on without me. I jumped out and started walking back to Plaza de los Periodistas. By the time I had gotten to Plaza de los Periodistas, Lorena and Adriana were already there.

Lorena quickly explained to me that she had given me the phone number of her friend (Adriana) as a way to protect herself from strange people. Although she didn’t explain why her real name (Lorena) was different from the name she used online (Diana).

Still really not having any idea what was going on, I agreed to go for lunch with my new internet friends.

As we walked through Bogota’s old town, Lorena/Diana and Adriana gave me an informal tour. The description given about every building by Lorena/Diana was all the same. It was either “delicious” or “cool.” What a great start, we had picked the most delicious and cool place in all of Bogota for our walk. We finally arrived at a restaurant that was in the touristy part of town and looked to cost a lot more than my standard $3USD meal that I was spending on lunch each day. Against my better judgment, I agreed to eat at this expensive restaurant. So we went in and all sat down. While ordering, Adriana made sure to get three appetizers and beers for everyone. My mind started to calculate the price of the meal. According to my estimate, the price at that moment was somewhere between $60-$75, (nearly a week’s budget for my food). I tried to relax and started showing Adriana some of the photos I had taken during my first week in Colombia. While I was doing this, Lorena/Diana got up from the table, walked out to the restaurant balcony and started talking on the phone with “her mother.”

As soon as the food came, Lorena/Diana came back from the balcony and sat down with us. She informed us that after the meal that we were invited to come to her mother’s house on the other side of town to watch a soccer game. I didn’t feel comfortable with doing that but I told her that I would go with them. We then started eating lunch. As we were eating, Adriana asked me how old I thought each of them was.

It was a strange question, since Lorena/Diana’s age (29) appeared on the website. I could definitely tell that Adriana was a lot older. But I didn’t want to offend Adriana, so I said, “29 and 32.”

Adriana (the less attractive and heavier one) looked to be very happy with that number and started talking about the many boyfriends she had in life, thanks to her charisma and beauty. At one point in her story she went as far to say, “If you don’t like Lorena, you could choose me.” At that exact moment when she said that, I was cutting my hamburger into more manageable bites and nearly cut my index finger off. It was the equivalent of asking to trade a horse for a Lamborghini.

My only response, was just to meekly smile while I tried to think of how I had gotten myself into this situation. Adriana then put her phone up to her ear, to make a call. The call didn’t go through. She then tried again.

“I am trying to call a cell phone that has been turned off, do you mind if I use your phone?”

I assumed that I either didn’t understand her Spanish that well, (because her request made no sense), or, she just wanted to see my cell phone to try and size me up for how much money I had. It was at this moment I knew it was time to take action. I grabbed my camera and backpack and said, “I need to go to the bathroom, I will be right back.”

I went to the back of the restaurant and went out the back door. It felt great to have skipped out on the bill, leaving two scam artists to pay for an overpriced meal. As I walked back to my hostel, I wondered what I would do if either of them tried to call me. I decided to turn my phone off for a couple hours. Fortunately, I never heard from Adriana or Lorena/Diana again. Unfazed by this first date, I was determined to find a special lady friend.

__________________________________

I Speak Colombian – The Book

When the country of Peru is mentioned, one imagines a peaceful scene of an Andean alpaca grazing along an Incan stone wall. When Ecuador is brought up, we imagine a rain forest panorama of frogs jumping off branches while butterflies mate in the background. When Colombia is mentioned, we automatically picture an overturned bus, being pillaged by men in ski masks. I think it is obvious, which country, a reasonable person like myself, would choose to go to in search of a beautiful Latin lover and a more fulfilling professional career.

DSC02273

The 3-Hour Work Week: The Gringo Guide To Online Dating, Learning Spanish, Avoiding Deportation And Making Money In Colombia is designed to inspire people to maximize life experiences and escape an ordinary life. Inspired by the ideologies of the self-proclaimed “Internet Romeo/All-Star Budget Traveler/Worst English Teacher in Colombia,” it has been described as the holy grail for those who want to explore opportunities abroad and network with hot Latin singles.

This is the complete guidebook on how to relocate to Colombia and become an English teacher/freelance writer/actor. This book illustrates the many advantages (affordable health insurance, the lack of tipping in restaurants and affordable plastic surgery) that the gringo visitor can expect to find in Colombia.

Funny, fact filled and always informative, The 3-Hour Work Week provides the knowledge you need to make the most out of the Colombia experience, and/or makes a great coffee table book you can enjoy during the commercial breaks of the Jersey Shore. Jam-packed with practical information, The 3-Hour Work Week addresses all the concerns and taboos a prospective ex-pat in Colombia needs to know, such as finding the right job to tips on which people to filter out while surfing online dating sites. While other books focus solely on the tourist experience, The 3-Hour Work Week discusses the life beyond the typical gringo trail, providing you with an in-depth and often hilarious guide to Colombian internet culture, food, drinking, dating, health and relations with its socialist neighbor, Venezuela.

The 3-Hour Work Week is a true adventure story about a 37-year-old socially-awkward man who decided that the best way he could deal with being refused a job at Barnes & Noble was to go online and look for a girlfriend in Colombia, and then hop on a flight to Colombia’s cagey capital in pursuit of a woman he has never met.

Brian sincerely believed the trip would put him on a track towards a life of excitement, intrigue, and far from his increasing first world debt. Instead, he unexpectedly falls into a job as an extra in a Colombian soap opera, almost gets kidnapped during an eDate, has panic attacks, watches other gringos lose their marbles, and blows half his paycheck on bootlegged DVD’s. Along the journey, he chronicles his friendships, the deranged ex-pats he meets, and his struggles/triumphs, including one fateful night in a Israeli restaurant that would change his life forever.

Advertisements

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scar Tissue, Orlando, George Clinton and Rehab

May 12, 2013

ImageThe relationship between lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers Anthony Kiedis and guitarist John Frusciante is similar to Kiedis’ relationships and Frusciante’s relationships with drugs; on again, off again. John Frusciante in a lot of ways probably reminds Kiedis of himself. The fact of the matter is that Frusciante has been on drugs on and off for at least 15 years.

Frusciante started his first term with the Chili Peppers in 1988. Fruscinate was content to be the guitarist for an obscure funk band that partied during the week. But, after the release of Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik in 1991, the whole dynamic changed. Frusciante was blindsided by instant fame, and struggled to cope with it. Soon after the album’s release, he began to develop a dislike for the band’s popularity. Kiedis recalled that he and Frusciante used to get into heated discussions backstage after concerts: “John would say, ‘We’re too popular. I don’t need to be at this level of success. I would just be proud to be playing this music in clubs like you guys were doing two years ago.'”

He finally dropped out of the band in May of 1992 during their Japanese tour.

He came back to the band in 1998, following rehabilitation for heroin addiction and lasted until 2009 before he got back into drugs and quit the band for the second time. The second relapse was no surprise to Kiedis. His response was, “Mentally, John checked out 13 years ago.”

The Red Hot Chili Peppers were strangers to Human Resources problems. The Chili Peppers have gone through three different drummers until they finally found Chad Smith through a friend of the band. This friend claimed Smith was the best drummer she had ever seen, that he ate drums for breakfast. The band agreed to audition Smith, however he was late and the last to audition. Kiedis recalled the first time he saw Smith by saying, “I spied this big lummox walking down the street with a really bad Guns ‘N Roses hairdo and clothes that were not screaming I’ve got style”.

Smith was a six-foot three-inch tall drummer who, according to Flea, “lit a fire under our asses,” from the moment they started jamming, Smith and Flea instantly clicked. The band knew they had their guy. Smith was a hard-hitting musician the Chili Peppers believed they would create a strong relationship with. Kiedis later said the audition with Smith “left the band in a state of frenzied laughter, that we couldn’t shake out of for a half an hour”. Smith was so much different from the other three. Kiedis and Flea were heavily influenced by the punk rock, where Smith’s taste in heavy metal music and biker appearance went against their punk rock views. Kiedis informed Smith he would be hired on one condition. As an initiation to the band, Smith had to cut his long heavy metal looking haircut. Smith refused though Kiedis wasn’t about to argue with the much larger Smith. Smith was hired in November 1988, performed a few shows in December of that year and three months later was in the studio working on the band’s next album.

The band had already written approximately 70 percent of the album by the time the group traveled to Michigan to record the album. Clinton decided that the band would spend a month with him before recording to bond and create ideas for new songs. Before renting a house of their own, the group members stayed in Clinton’s house in the village of Brooklyn, about an hour away from Detroit, for a week.  The band was excited to live with Clinton, but as soon as Kiedis moved in, he began experiencing severe heroin withdrawal, and became very ill. He attempted to offset his desire for heroin by using cocaine instead, but his relief was short-lived. After a few days, however, his symptoms subsided and he was able to join the group in playing music and connecting with Clinton. The Red Hot Chili Peppers felt a strong chemistry with Clinton and enjoyed his quirky personality and storytelling abilities. After a week of living with him, the band moved into a house on a nearby golf course.

The Freaky Styley album was recorded at United Sound Studios in Detroit. During the recording of the album the band and Clinton began using copious amounts of cocaine together, which had a negative effect on the band’s overall health.

It got so bad at one point that George Clinton’s Eastern European drug dealer actually came to the studio to collect on the debt owed to him.

“Look around at all this studio equipment, does it look like I am strapped for cash? Once we cut this album (Freaky Styley) I am the first mother….. to get paid and then you will be the second person who gets paid,” said George to his Eastern dealer.

The dealer brought some muscle with him and refused to leave the studio. George asked the dealer what it was going to take to get the dealer out of the studio so the band could continue to record the album. The dealer was really interested in the recording business and wanted to be on the album.  The track “Yertle the Turtle,” as stated by Kiedis in his autobiography, “Scar Tissue,” starts with the spoken lyrics “Look at that turtle go bro.” and repeats throughout the song. These lyrics were sung by the Eastern dealer.

When the time came for Kiedis to record his vocals, he decided to abstain from cocaine use for two weeks, an experience he likened to “deciding to be celibate when you’re living in a brothel.”

Flash forward to 1998 when I got my first chance to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert. They came to Paradise, California and played at the “Field of Dreams.” The show was on a Wednesday night and the price was $25. I was nervous about going to a venue that was nearly 25 miles from where I lived in a field somewhere. I also was a little bummed after hearing their latest album “Aeroplane” which didn’t meet my expectations. The additon of Dave Navarro/relapse of Kiedis into heroin brought a strange cloud over that release.

Fourteen years later I still have regrets I missed that concert.  So I was very excited about going to the first date of their latest tour in Orlando with my co-worker Don Bayer.  Don was one of the few employees over 30. When Don was younger he had gotten a job working as an extra on “Baywatch” for two episodes. Since then he had done pretty much every job; life guard, substitute teacher,  musician and had a masters degree in International Business from Pepperdine University.

“So, how does a guy with a Masters degree from Pepperdine University end up working at Club Adriatic as a life guard?”

“It is a long story. You want to go to the Chili Peppers concert with me?”

Later that week Don went to the mall and bought two tickets for $45 each. The kickoff tour date was scheduled for January 31 in Orlando. The concert was still a month away when Don bought the tickets. Just to be sure, I asked my boss if she could please give me the date off, it was on a Saturday.

A few weeks before the concert the word came out that Kiedis had broken his foot and the concert would be delayed for another few months.  Finally, March 31 rolled around and we were set to go to Orlando from Port St. Lucie. After we were about 20 minutes into the ride Don tells me, “The message therapist at the hotel offered me first row tickets for $65 a piece but I decided not to buy them.”

“Oh, what row are we in?” I asked.

“Our seats are in the fifth deck.”

Not wanting to blow my top within the first half hour of our trip and pleaded with Don.  “Should we go back to the hotel and try and buy the tickets?”

“No we can’t do that, she isn’t working today.”

“The concert starts at 8 pm, it’s not even 12 noon yet, let’s just get to the concert a few hours early and try and trade our tickets for some better seats,” I suggested.

Don nodded that was ok with him. As we were getting on the freeway we were given a “sun pass,” which is a flowery name given to the toll that everyone in Florida has to pay for using the highways there. By the time we got to our exit in Orlando we had been on the highway for about 2 hours. When we gave our “sun pass” to the guy in the toll booth he rang us up for $13. I thanked him for working that day and appreciated his soft hands.

We found our hotel which cost $75 a night and had a pool. We might as well have been at a Radisson, it had two rooms, a nice kitchen, refrigerator and a dining area. There is no way we would have gotten a room half that nice in any major city in California for that price.  As soon as we checked in the rain started coming on heavily. We rushed downstairs and across the street to the nearest Carl’s Junior.  I got an extra large burger with fries and a water. My teeth were hurting me a bit from drinking too much soda. I was so hungry I ate the burger while it was still red hot. While we were eating Don told me about a couple in the hotel who he went out drinking with.

After his story I told him a little about an experience I had at the hotel.

“My co-worker Mosher is one of those guys who threw away the playbook of life out the back window a long time ago, we were walking together by the volleyball court the other day and two lizards walked in front of us on the path. Mosher then looks towards me and says, ‘You ever make earrings out of dead lizards?’ I said that I didn’t. He then goes on to ask me if I know Tim the Taxi driver. ‘Oh man, you got to meet this guy. Every time I get a ride from the hotel to anywhere he tells me about his partying days.  But when he tells a story you can only only understand about one third of what he is telling you.’”

“Yeah, I know the guy, here are a few of my favorite stories by Tim, ‘$5 for a pack of toothpicks………(20 minutes go by)……. what else was I supposed to do with the handcuffs?’ or ‘What kind of questions was that…..(6 minutes go by)…….that’s why I don’t go out with American chicks,’ or ‘I used to pack each urinal with two cups of ice…….(2 minutes go by)…….he tap danced his ass out of my house pretty quickly after that,’ or ‘The Rebar, I didn’t even know there was one in town…..(1 minute goes by)…..and they will show a picture of you right there on the video screen if you are sober enough,’ or ‘I stopped partying 6 years ago ….(4 minutes go by)….that will make you forget about your big toe pretty quick,’or ‘I brought it to the dart board……(30 seconds go by)…….and the minute he gets out of jail, she goes right back to him,’ If you don’t believe me I have over seven different videos filmed with Tim while in his taxi cab,” I replied defensively.

The more we discussed about our working lives the heavier the rain got until finally I said, ¨Are you sure you want to go to the hotel pool after this?” trying to make light of the situation.

“No, let’s just grab a few Canada Dries and head back to the hotel.”

“What about the holes in the bottom of your shoes, I think it’s time to buy a new pair,” replied Don.

“These old DC shoes I bought back in 2007 and have held together pretty well. I paid $45 for them  at that time.  I went back to the store where I bought this year and they want $60 for the exact same pair but the weight of the new shoes are about half the weight of these ones. I think DC shoes are starting to skimp on the materials and selling shoes that aren’t as good as there were back in the day. When I originally bought these shoes I used to leave them by the front door promising to myself that I would take them back to the store the next day because they weren’t that comfortable, were so rigid and I wanted to find some high tops. Three months later they finally were broken in and they didn’t dig into my ankles. Now 5 years later  can’t get rid  of them because they don’t make shoes this good anymore,” I replied to Don afyer we arrive at the quick stop.

I checked my watch and we still had over 4 hours until show time. We quickly headed over to the quick stop and grabbed a few cold Canada Dries. We went back to the hotel and discussed how we  would make it over to the stadium.

We rolled up to the Amway Center exactly 2 hours early for the show. The place seemed like the atmosphere was picking, so we walked around looking for some ticket scalpers. Finally we met a guy who was standing underneath a bridge.

“We got a business deal we want to talk to you about,” I started in. “How about if we trade you our two tickets in the fifth deck and you give us your tickets in the third deck for $25 a piece?”

“Let me see your tickets,” asked the scalper as he threw his towel over he shoulder. For some reason it seems as if everyone in the scalping business walks around carrying a towel. They must sweat a lot standing under a bridge all day.

We handed over the tickets and the scalper seemed convinced they were real. He reconfirmed the agreement and we passed our tickets over and the money and he gave us his tickets.

We inspected our new tickets and started walking towards the Amway Center. A block in a half later we heard someone running up behind us.

“Sorry guys, I can’t take the tickets they have expired,” he belched out, clearly not used  to having to run customers down.

We tried to explain to him that the original date in January had been pushed back to March 31 due to the lead singer having a medical condition.

“Sorry, I can’t buy tickets from January,” replied the scalper.

We decided bot to haggle with him too much because we figured there must be thousands of people trying to sell tickets to this show walking around. So we gave the money and tickets back and got our old tickets back. We walked around for another hour talking to maybe 10 other scalpers and finding nobody who was really to trade their tickets for ours. Reluctantly I walked into the auditorium with Don at 8.15pm.

There was another band playing before the Red Hot Chili Peppers called something like, Blind Fist Punches Freedom. We listened to them while waiting in line to buy a few Canada Dries. We got our soda and headed to the 5th deck, It seemed like the elevator took 20 minutes to get there. We then walked down the corridor a few blocks and went into the seating area. There was no usher for the upper deck so we found our seats by ourselves. We sat down and were right in the aisle behind the stairs. I thought to myself, “Oh great we are going to have all the drunk people spilling beers on us all day.” I tried not to show my frustration in front of Don. After 15 minutes went by to people came over and asked to see our tickets. They apparently had a claim on our seats. When they checked our tickets we realized we were actually sitting about 10 seats over to the left. We apologized and looked for our new seats. We sat down in our seats and were dead center in front of the stage (still not close but at least we had a clear view to the stage). In our new found seats we got so excited we attempted to chat with the girls sitting to our left but they didn’t seem too interested in discussing the newly-released collectors edition of World of Warcraft.

Don went downstairs for a smoke right as the concert started. I warned him that there probably weren’t any smoking areas in the stadium. He came back 45 minutes later saying that he had actually flushed his lighter down the toilet and was looking for a new. As soon as he sat bac down we watched Kiedis shuffle across the stage with a brace on one leg.

I give the band credit, they played a solid 80 minute set. The only thing missing  felt was to chat up the crowd a little more. There was really no small talk in between songs except for a few comments about Trent Reznor.

We stopped at a McDonald’s on the way home which was in a working class neighborhood. Most of the other cars in line had spinning 22-inch silver rims. On our way home we decided to get off  one exit too soon. When we stopped at the toll booth at the exit there was nobody working there, so we just drove by without paying the toll. Twenty minutes later we were on an unlit road in the sticks being followed by a cop car. I had a bad feeling we were going to get stopped. We then came to a “T” intersection with the cop right behind us. I asked Don what I should do.

“Flip a U-turn,” he assertively responded with the tone of sending troops into battle.

I flipped a U-turn and thankfully the cop made a right. Two blocks later I pulled over and asked Don to drive.

“Luckily we weren’t in a lowered Honda or we would have been pulled over for sure,” I told Don during the switch.

“You got that right, there is no cop in all of Florida man enough to pull over two working class  white males in a 1993 Buick Sedan.”

Traveling The World on a Shoestring Budget

January 22, 2013

Brian Ward, 36, got his first taste of living in a Spanish-speaking country after high school graduation. Since then, his life has consisted of traveling around the world, surviving on canned tuna at some points, pretending to be pro-surfer Kelly Slater’s second cousin and spying on his Russian Mafia neighbors.

cover.ashx

Ward decided to compile his journals of living in Mexico, Spain and other countries throughout Latin America and Europe, with travel tips on how to live rent-free for under $25 a day in his book titled “Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man.”

His book, referred to as “a modern day version of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ except with more whining” by Lulu.com, a self-publishing company, follows Ward’s adventures, both good and painful, from sharing pants in Costa Rica, to traveling the European rail system on canned tuna, to surviving Mexico’s 60-year-old buses.

“If you can’t already tell, I was a loser in high school,” Ward wrote in his book’s introduction. “The only reason I got through it was because most of my fellow students thought I was completely out of my mind. My senior quote for the high school yearbook was, ‘Is the ringing in my head bothering you?’”

While traveling, nobody knew who Ward used to be, and he said he used this opportunity to constantly reinvent himself, sometimes attempting to impress women by telling them he was pro-surfer Kelly Slater’s second cousin.

“They don’t know you don’t have a job, you did bad in high school and your car’s a piece of junk,” Ward said. “You can just invent your own identity.”

Ward first experienced the art of identity crafting while living in Costa Rica. He jokingly asked his grandmother for a ticket to Colombia for graduation, and unexpectedly, she bought him a ticket to Costa Rica, where some of her friends lived.

He learned Spanish by while shopping for cigarettes for his host brother and spending the majority of his time listening to and learning about his family’s obsession with Levi’s Jeans.

“I brought this pair of Levi’s Jeans to Costa Rica that didn’t fit me, and gave them to the my host family. The whole family took turns wearing them. They were in constant circulation 24-hours a day,” Ward said. He explained that when one family member would take them off at bedtime, another person would put them on. “They’re probably still wearing those things,” he said.

Ward said this experience opened his eyes to how people live outside of the U.S.

“They really value any little token of gratitude there, and here, we don’t appreciate anything,” he said.

After a summer in Costa Rica, Ward began community college before working as a valet at a hotel in Monterey, Calif. He then traveled across the country with his father and entered a four-year university for a single semester before moving to Mexico.

Ward said while he liked the people of Mexico better than any other place he visited, its bus system has created some of his worst memories. He first discovered this while taking a three-day bus trip from Mexico City to Cancun on a “60-year-old piece of junk.”

“People were bringing 50-pound sacks of chips and blankets and bananas onto the bus; all these supplies like they’re leaving the country. I didn’t understand that you’re leaving civilization for the ride,” Ward said. “If you don’t bring water, you aren’t drinking.”

After returning to California and readjusting to American life, Ward turned down a job driving a delivery truck for Doritos before fleeing to Spain, where he experienced an entirely new type of adjustment.

“In Spain, the biggest cultural difference is these people are party animals,” Ward said, remembering a time when some friends asked him to go for “a couple of beers,” which turned into 15 hours of nonstop drinking.

“I slept in the door(way) of some abandoned building,” he said, adding that when he woke up “I was just trying to think what country I was in.”

Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is available on Lulu.com

Chapter 1

Modest Beginnings

The story starts in Mexico where the author, Brian, is camping with his Mexican love interest. After roasting marshmallows, Brian sneaks up to the cabin where his girlfriend will be sleeping. His plans go quickly array when his girlfriend enters the cabin and Brian loses his nerve. The book then flashes back seven years to just before Brian’s sophomore year in high school. It retraces Brian’s failed attempts with girls in high school. While outside of school, with his friends, Brian does a lot of inadvisable driving due to false confidence and inexperience.

 

This chapter outlines the challenges of dating girls in high school. This chapter spans fours years and shows why teenagers should not be given driver’s licenses. The end of this chapter uncovers a dilemma; although high school is torture, the outside world may even be worse.

Chapter 2

Adventures of Link: Costa Rica

Brian is persuaded by his grandmother to visit Costa Rica. When he gets down to Costa Rica, he realizes the family he is staying with speaks no English and spends the rest of the summer with his two host brothers who have one pair of pants between the both of them.

 

This chapter gives a brief introduction to on how to find practical uses for foreign languages. In order for someone to succeed in mastering a foreign language, they must find a worthwhile obstacle to be overcome; in this case it’s The Legend of Zelda (a Nintendo video game).

Chapter 3

Marine Biology Will Ruin Your Life

Brian starts community college and realizes he is totally unprepared for his tests or the personalities of his teachers in college. He becomes a valet at a hotel in Monterey, California and realizes that people in real life are more like him than anyone he met in high school.

This chapter shows how a complicated situation like not having the perquisites for a class or any knowledge of a certain subject matter shouldn’t discourage a person from taking a class. The best way to have success is seeking out peers who can provide knowledge based on their experiences on how to succeed in community college. The later part of this chapter shows how community college a just a minor achievement and the true test comes when a person gets a job and is thrown in with a cast of co-workers straight out of the TV series 21 Jumpstreet.

Chapter 4

Superstud and Son: Vacations with My Old Man

Brian reunites with one of the oddest characters of the book, his father, and they travel across the country trying unsuccessfully to fit it with small-town Americans and some Canadian truck drivers.

 

This chapter exposes the superficiality of making professional athletes and actors our heroes. Sometimes we have only to look as far as own immediate family to find role-models.

Chapter 5

Korean Mafia, Line #1

Brian starts at a four year university and has to do some quick thinking to avoid being thrown out of school his first semester. He meets his first girlfriend but falls in love with her roommate and then tries to get his friend to help repair the situation.

 

This chapter teaches proper phone etiquette when dealing with new roommates. He also discussed are tips on how to get up for living in the dorms, a place where round the clock role-playing is common and the need for residents to bring a set of keys to the bathroom with them are a fact of life. This chapter gives the best strategy for students on the brink of being expelled from. This chapter reveals the people who secretly control academic life on college campuses; teacher’s aids. They are the experts on arranging classes, where to obtain economical furniture and trends in the housing market.

Chapter 6

50 Kilos of Bananas on a Bus Bound for Cancun

Brian moves down to Mexico to study business, while failing accounting he requests a tutor and meets the most beautiful girl in school. He experiences the worst three days of his life on a bus to Cancun, but finds out it was well worth the suffering when he finally arrives to Cancun.

This chapter shows reader how to use the skills obtained in American universities can also be used to survive in Mexico. This chapter also reveals the names of discothèques in smaller Mexican towns are very hospitable to gringos.. This chapter will show how best to deal with Mexican migration when they are threatening deportment.

Chapter 7

Broken Bottle of Rum in a Burning Dumpster

Brian goes on cross-country trip in an RV with his mother and her boyfriend. He discovers a land where animals are on the top of the food chain when he enters Yellowstone National Park.

 

This chapter will show why sometimes reconnecting with one’s host country an be painful. Several near-death experiences and a broken pair of Ray-Bans mark Brian’s reintroduction to the United States. This chapter shows how visitors to Yellowstone National Park have not only to choose between the rugged falls and the revealing leather biker chaps worn by the locals for inspiration. They will also be mesmerized by other campers’ willingness to put their lives in danger to get a closer look at the many animals in the park.

Chapter 8

After Hours Partying at City Hall

Brian returns to university after being in Mexico for a year. He has trouble readjusting to life in United States but is helped through it by a cast of friends who make the Sopranos look like the Brady Bunch.

In the year Brian spent in Mexico, his friends from university have become the pit bosses of a town on the verge of anarchy. Brian can no longer rely on his old routine of going to class, eating microwavable burritos and playing Nintendo. With his friend’s new-found street credentials, not only is Brian supposed to attend three hour long seminars on wrist preparation in racquetball, but he is also brought along to participate in his friends’ verbal bashings of the local minor league baseball umpires. This chapter will also offer a look at interesting costal camping trails in Northern California.

Chapter 9

Louie Armstrong is Out to Kill Me

Brian turns down a job driving a delivery truck for Doritos and moves to the Costa Brava in Spain. Brian learns the ins and outs of living in close quarters with a group of Spanish Gypsies who are threatening to bring the entire east coast of Spain to its knees if it adopts the Euro as its national currency.

 

This chapter will illustrate why a college graduate should wait on paying off student loans and getting a job. If a person is going to poor and in a dead-end job, why not do it in Spain? Also discussed will be how Mexico and Spain really don’t have much in common besides a language. Also explained will be how a foreigner without much sense of direction or language skills, can navigate Spain’s 3rd largest city with relative ease. This chapter will also describe the difficulties of Spain’s proletariat in adopting the Euro as its official currency.

Chapter 10

“How ‘bout You Take a Picture of Me with Your Wife?”

Brian’s father resurfaces. He arrives to Spain just in time to board a train with his son Rome, Italy. While in Rome, they discover they have the entire city to themselves due to the terrorist attacks in New York City.

This chapter reveals the location of the most economical luxury hotel in Valencia. Also discussed is what will someday be known as the “golden age” of travel, the few months after 9/11. This was a time when hotels and airlines were practically giving away their services. This was also a time when travel by Americans to other countries was pretty rare, for those lucky ones who did travel, they enjoyed unmatched hospitality towards Americans abroad. In addition to the kindness experienced by tourists, world-famous attractions like the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel were at their most accessible levels in decades.

Chapter 11

Flying Pig Hostel

Brian meets up with his long-lost cousin in Amsterdam. Brian learns shortly after meeting his cousin Simon for the first time, that his cousin is planning on traveling Europe on a shoestring budget which has them surviving on canned tuna and sleeping on trains in between cities. 

This chapter will give a description of the months before the adoption of the Euro currency in Spain. It will also give a description of the Dutch language and how it can be very confusing because of its eerie similarities to English. This chapter gives the budget needed for a traveler beginning a two month tour of Europe. This chapter will reveal to the reader how to get a cheap bed and many friends in Amsterdam.

Chapter 12

Bonjour, Avec Linda, s’il vous plait

 

Brian falls in love with Moroccan girl living in Paris. He tries repeatedly to call her and is forced to learn basic French to get past the girl’s mother on the phone.

The chapter will make the reader aware of what makes Paris different from any other city. It will reveal a side of the city, which despite its size and bad publicity, can be a pleasurable if the traveler can put aide his/her inhibitions of making a fool of themselves. This chapter will also disclose some lesser-known museums in Paris that are astounding in their originality. This chapter will outline questions to anticipate while entering the UK via ferry.

Chapter 13

Irish Ferries Really Means Irish Transportation Services

Brian tours Ireland with his cousin Simon. They impress an Irish film crew in one of the hostels while show-cooking an omelet. They get separated for the first time in Europe and set about trying to track each other down while not missing their outgoing flight to Spain.

 

The best vacations are ones that are open to spontaneity. This chapter will uncover a method of air travel that is so cheap, the tax on the ticket is higher than the cost. This chapter gives the name of a hostel in Ireland that’s a guaranteed great way to meet college-aged singles. Also provided are details on how the reader can be the life of the party, even if they can’t drink or dance. This chapter will also profile an Irish hostel/mansion that only charges 8€ a night. This chapter ends by summing up the effects of the Spanish Civil War on the lives of people who were outside of the country when the war broke out.

Chapter 14

Spanish Men Dressed as Female Cops

Brian goes to his cousin’s house in Spain the night before Carnival starts. After living on the road in freezing temperatures for over three months, they have a chance to finally relax and get back to what they love most about Europe: Spain.

 

One of the most overlooked tourist destinations in Spain are the Canary Islands. Their festivals, affordability and vibrant Caribbean culture combine the best of Europe and South America. The chapter will show the precautions necessary to help readers avoid being robbed while traveling in Europe.

Chapter 15

Towel Boy for the Women’s Volleyball Team

Brian moves to San Diego, California where he is reunited with one of his best friends from high school. Brian does odd jobs around San Diego until he finds what he thinks is the secret to happiness: becoming the towel boy for the San Diego State Women’s Volleyball team.

 

This chapter will show readers how to get a free place to stay and a salary in the bustling city of San Diego. This chapter puts into plain words, how San Diego differs from any other California city on the coast. This chapter inspires readers by profiling a man who is able to live a full and rewarding life, despite his limitations. Enlightens readers as to where they can find the highest quality used clothing and best live concerts in San Diego. Chapter shows how, the low quantity but high quality of San Diego fans, can make an otherwise boring game come to life.

Chapter 16

Voodoo Crocodile Farm

Brian auditions for a job working for a hotel in Mexico, during the audition he has to do some quick thinking to impress the recruiter. While in Mexico, Brian becomes best friends with his roommate from Ciudad Juarez/El Paso. They attempt to visit every beach and cantina on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. On one of their excursions they meet a Shaman who owns a crocodile farm.

 

This is the chapter which reveals the secret of how to live in Latin America rent-free, also discussed is the rise of Club Med and trends for the future. The reader will learn the necessary skills to be successful in a Club Med audition. This chapter also gives insights on tried and true navigation techniques for Latin American airports. Readers will also be provided information on how best to get a job as an extra in a Spike Lee movie.

Chapter 17

Mexico Spring Break

Brian’s job at the hotel in Mexico quickly becomes more than he bargained for. Three months into his contract, his head is on the chopping block and his boss has to decide whether keeping Brian as an employee of the hotel is worth endangering the lives of the hotel guests.

 

This chapter explains the linguistic impact of the Spanish colonization on the Philippines. This chapter shows readers how to decode Tagalog into Spanish and then English. This chapter gives readers estimates of real estate prices of  tropical islands in the Philippines. Explained in this chapter is the typical diet of a person who grows up on Rodrigues Island (Mauritius).  This chapter shows the value of sticking with a job, even if you are not the best at it. This chapter also shows the reader how to tell a Spanish-speaking person you like them in a non-platonic way.

Chapter 18

Stranded in a Flooded Taxi

Brian falls in love with a Mexican girl and is forced to face his biggest fear; traveling on the Mexican bus system. His fears and paranoia quickly become reality as Mexico is hit by the worst storm since 1926.

 

This chapter explains how to escape a Latin American bus terminal that is on the brink of inundation. Also explains the impacts of floods on Latin American towns and how the local people deal with natural disasters. This chapter shows readers the willingness of Mexican taxi drivers to risk their own lives in order to get international travelers to their destination in a timely manner. This chapter also discusses the cultural significance of the Feathered Serpent to the Meso-American peoples. Also discussed are how typical Latin American families spend their recreational time together.

Chapter 19

Conehead Skulls on Postcards

Brian takes another vacation with his father. This time they visit Machu Picchu. While down in Peru, his father quickly discovers the lucrative market of smuggling women’s cosmetics into the country.

 

This chapter gives an in-depth description of the impact of the Incan legacy on today’s world. This chapter also compares the scientific knowledge of Europe to that of the Incan. This chapter gives a thorough description of the final days of the Incan Empire as well as how various Incan fortresses got their names. This chapter divulges the true architectural genius behind the Incan dynasty as well as some unusual surgical techniques that were carried out by Incan priests. Readers will also be informed on exactly how to get a behind-the-scenes tour of all things Incan in Cusco.

Chapter 20

Mexican Dentists

Brian has to get emergency dental surgery in Mexico. He visits the first dental office he finds, one that is conveniently located on the second floor of a women’s shoe store.

 

This chapter discusses exactly what separates U.S. dentists from their Mexican counterparts.

Chapter 21

Mexican Haunted Houses

Brian learns just how far $2 can take you while visiting the fair in Mexico.

 

The readers will be taken on a trip through the perils of a low-budget Mexican haunted house.

Chapter 22

Surfing in Mexico

In order to impress a girl, Brian pretends he is related to surf legend Kelly Slater. She calls his bluff and they end up in a dire predicament.

 

This chapter gives descriptions of two Mexican surfing destinations on the Pacific Coast. Readers will learn more about gear and precautions necessary before surfing in Mexico.

Chapter 23

Dead Pigeons Falling Out of the Sky

Brian takes his first overnight trip to Mexico City. While in Mexico City he tours an entire pizza franchise chain and meets the river dance king outside of the Northern Bus Terminal.

A thorough discussion is given on the geological conditions that are causing Mexico City to sink as well as the rising political tensions between Austria and Mexico due to pre-Columbian relics pillaged by the Spanish. Also discussed is one of Mexico City’s most priceless treasures that not even the National Guard can protect. A profile is done on one of Mexico City’s eccentrics who is living in one the most transient neighborhoods in the city. This chapter also gives a first hand account of what it is like to shop in the largest open-air market in the world as well as an ingenious method used to have a cheap and hot shower in the city.

Chapter 24

Gil and the Russian Mafia

Brian returns to Spain, this time as a student of International Hospitality. Brian’s studying competes with his urges to spy on his Russian neighbors, which he suspects are Mafia kingpins.

 

Chapter gives a profile of one of the most corrupt mayors in Spain and how the city of Marbella has been shaped by his legacy. This chapter explains the process needed for Americans to obtain a Spanish visa. Also included are rental prices on apartments in Marbella as well as the most affordable method to secure an apartment lease in Marbella. This chapter also gives tips on choosing clubs in Marbella based on preferred ambiance. The readers will also know how to get drinks at the best possible price in Marbella. The chapter also outlines the impact of the Russian Mafia in Marbella.

Chapter 25

Too Much Sangria = Food Fight

Brian quickly advances in the student ranks and is put in charge of event planning. The Hospitality School gets more than it bargained for when Brain turns a course on Event Planning into MTV Spring Break 2005.

This chapter describes the college life and curriculum of European students. This chapter also informs readers on how to prepare for living in Spain. Included in this chapter is a look at the difference between dating Spanish girls versus their American counterparts. Also explored are the traits of what make Spanish fiestas so popular. Tips are provided on how to get an mp3 player, digital camera and electric shaver working in Spain. This chapter also takes us to the concert of famous Spanish musician, Pedro Guerra and his thoughts on pop culture.

Chapter 26

Raisin Wine

Brian spends his Spring Break traveling through Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. While in Malaga, Brian visits Picasso’s childhood home and is fitted for a robe to take part in the Holy Week Procession of carrying around a 3,000 pound float with Jesus Christ strapped to the top.

 

This chapter gives an account of three of Spain’s most culturally diverse cities; Valencia, Cordoba and Malaga. This chapter also shows how a foreigner can successfully navigate Spain’s public transportation system during the busiest week of the year. This chapter shows readers how they can get a behind-the-scenes depiction of Picasso’s early career. Also provided is a sample of the rivalry of the three major cites in Andalucia; Granada, Sevilla and Malaga. This chapter will show how the Moors shaped what now-a-days is known as Spanish culture. The reader will also learn how not all Spanish provinces grow up speaking Spanish and the current international trade obstacles faced by young Spanish professionals. This chapter will take readers on a tour of the last Christian outpost in existence during the Moorish occupation of Spain.

Chapter 27

Beer Tour in San Miguel

Brian is forced to learn an entire course load of work in under ten hours. His roommate stays up all night to try and prepare Brian for the upcoming week of finals.

 

This chapter will highlight the hospitality offered to bar patrons in Spain. Also revealed will be a look into the European personality and how Europeans are more in touch with the inner-feelings and are more inclined to offer them to others. This chapter will also describe the immaculate conception of a marketing project that seemed doomed after its initial success. This chapter also deals with the difficulty in leaving a place that one is very fond of.

Chapter 28

Indian Restaurant by Day, Club Camaleon by Night

Brian moves to Portugal to start his internship at a casino on an island in the middle of the Atlantic. While not touring the many discothèques owned by Brian’s co-workers at the hotel, Brian watches Venezuelan television stations to learn about current events happening around the world.

 

This chapter describes the a foreigner’s arrival to an island most people couldn’t locate on the map. This chapter describes the experience of a foreigner in a country in which he cannot speak the language. This chapter describes the hierarchy that exists in hotels as well as the tasks performed by a person who can’t even properly slice a tomato. Also provided is an overview of the most prominent night clubs on the island, as well as the women who inhabit them. This chapter describes what it’s like to get worked on by a Portuguese surgeon who cannot communicate to his patient in their native language as well as an overview of the difference between Portuguese and American doctors. Also discussed is the overly humane treatment of hooligans by Portuguese police.

Chapter 29

No Size Medium Underwear?

Brian gets a job offer in Dominican Republic, and upon arriving to the island, he is alarmed to learn the hotel is run by the French and can only marginally communicate with his co-workers. He becomes friends with the only two other people at the hotel who speak English, a Greek tennis instructor and his Israeli assistant.

 

The chapter describes the sharp contrasts that exist between Club Med Ixtapa and Club Med Punta Cana. The readers will learn about the best spots to snorkel in Punta Cana as well as a sample of village life in Club Med. Three Dominican cities will be described; Bavaro, La Romana and Higuey. The influence of Haiti on the Dominican Republic is also discussed in detail. Tips are given to the traveler when they face a life and death situation after falling asleep on an air mattress in the Caribbean Sea. This chapter describes two popular industries in the urban parts of the Dominican Republic; rotisserie chicken and pirated DVD’s. Also discussed is the struggle by a foreigner in obtaining the desired services and products.

Chapter 30

Patience

Brian returns to Mexico to recapture the Mexican girl he originally tried to impress three years before by claiming to be Kelly Slater’s second cousin.

 

This chapter describes the author’s final run-in with his one true love. This chapter describes exactly what makes Latin girls different from any other girls the author has met. Chapter deals with the inconsistencies faced when comparing an actual woman to someone who he has been corresponding with via the internet.

 Single Abroad: Confessions of a Boyish Man is available on Lulu.com