17 April, 2013

Travel Books - Adam Shepard takes off on an epic adventure - One Year Lived!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to feel the wind in your hair, be free and  take off for a year to travel the world?  No fixed itinerary set in stone, no restrictions on the time you could spend in one particular place before moving on to the next destination, or the things that you do there?   Imagine that freedom and that excitement, wouldn’t that be one awfully big adventure.

 From late 2011 to late 2012 that is exactly what author, motivational speaker and the Worlds slowest bar-tender, Adam Shepard did, as Jason Shaw recently found out.   Shepard saved up some money,  packed up a backpack with the bare basic essentials and after saving up for a while he set off on one of life’s massive adventures,  during which he visited seventeen countries on four continents and remarkably he spent less that it would have cost him to stay at home. 

In Australia he hugged a koala, in Slovakia, he bungee jumped off a bridge, in the Philippines  e went wake-boarding   but it wasn’t all relaxation and pleasure. Shepard also dug wells in Nicaragua to install pumps for clean water and in Honduras he served with an organisation that helps to improved the lives of poor children.

Shepard is no stranger to adventure,  even before this epic journey around the world, just three years earlier he made national headlines for taking a year to test the viability of the American Dream.  With just $25 in his pocket, he boarded a train and headed to Charleston, SC.  Where he lived in a homeless shelter for seventy days. He took odd jobs until he managed to find a full-time job, eventually earning enough money to buy a pickup truck and a furnished apartment. He wrote about his experiences  in the book Scratch Beginnings, which garnered a lot of publicity and interesting in the media, being featured on the Today Show, CNN, FOX along with many other publications.

 This time the handsome man from North Carolina has written with a passion and a refreshing view on his travels in the book One Year Lived,  published on 18th April.  Shepard hopes his story of an epic adventure will spur on young American’s to really become global citizens and travel beyond America’s shores.   “In Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Europe, it’s normal for people to pack a bag, buy a plane ticket, and get ‘Out There.” Shepard says, “But in the U.S., though, we live with this very stiff paradigm—graduate college, work, find a spouse, make babies, work some more, retire—which can be a great existence, but we leave little room to load up a backpack and dip into various cultures, to see places, to really develop our own identity.

  I recently caught up with Adam to find learn more his book One Year Lived and his epic adventure,  I started by asking him if the prospect of spending a year away from home comforts, family and friends was at all scary or daunting? 

“The prospect of being away was not daunting or scary, because I knew that home was waiting on the back end. I didn’t think twice about what I was giving up (career, etc.) by leaving, because I knew that this experience would supersede what I was skipping out on.”

 “The toughest parts of this journey were leaving places where I had spent a month or more, where I had developed friendships with people. I likely won’t ever see any of them again in my life, and I knew that as I left the place. “

“My mom? Dad? Matt? Korey? I knew I would see them again. Beatrรญz (my home stay mom) in Antigua, Guatemala? Likely not.”

  During this journey of discovery, you've visited so many places,  experienced so many different things,  are there any that really surprised you?

 “Many things opened my eyes. The three biggest things that surprised me were: How far an American dollar goes abroad. I took this trip when we were still “in a recession” but in many countries I went to (Central America and Asia especially), I was still able to do a lot on a little. How unrestricted many countries are. A lot of things you see abroad would never fly in the States. High alcohol-content liquors (absinthe, for example) are normal in Europe. In the Philippines, cockfighting is a staple. In Thailand, you can just go to the firing range and rent an AK-47 while drinking your beverage of choice. That it took me four months to get robbed. “

 That sounds nasty and could have been a real disaster?
 “Getting robbed in Nicaragua could have been a lot worse. They got me for a couple hundred cash and my ATM card, but if I would have lost my emergency credit card, too, and my passport, my journey would have been devastatingly stalled for a good amount of time.”

How far out of your comfort zone did you go? “The trip itself was not far out of my comfort zone. I always knew I wanted to take a trip like this; it was just a matter of timing and affordability.”

 “But the challenge I laid for myself was to make sure I didn’t leave any experience undone. I knew that I had the opportunity to live a pretty unique year, and I made sure I was front and center whenever there was a volcano to climb or corral to explore.”

 “The best example is with the volunteering I did. I believe in giving back, but I’ve done this with a few hours at a time or writing a check to my college. But for my trip around the world, one-third of the year was dedicated to service, namely on two projects: working with a vacation activities program for children in Honduras and digging for clean water pumps for the native Miskito people of Nicaragua.”

 “The most wonderful experiences of my year involved volunteering in Honduras and Nicaragua, and as such, one can say that the best times for me came when I stepped outside of the box of what my life had previously been.”

  Where there any scary moments during the trip?
Where there any scary moments during the trip?

 I’ve never been more scared than I was fighting bulls in Nicaragua. (Video here)

  What do you think this amazing trip has taught you about other cultures, yourself and humanity as a whole?

“How small we really are in this world. You can read a book and watch a documentary, but to actually be there among the effects of poverty or hang-gliding in New Zealand or riding an elephant in Thailand gives you the firsthand experience that cannot adequately be explained. And as such, a trip like this lends perspective on one’s significance in this world, that people across the world are both different and similar to you, and that there is both good and evil everywhere. “

 “Of course we all know these things. But to be there to touch it, to feel it, adds a different level of understanding.”

  Did you compare the living standards and ideal of those countries you visited with America? “On this topic, it is interesting to see how some people remain happy among the dilapidated living conditions that they people must endure. Seeing someone living in an open-air shack or sleeping in a hammock—and with a smile—provides insight into the base of happiness.”

Read the full interview on Jason Shaw's Seafront Diary  -   click here  -