For the longest time, I was always exhausted from working, partying and playing sports. I had never really taken the time to slow down and look around. My twenties were filled with doing everything I could do to absolute extremes, the hardest worker, just not in anything worth while, as I like to think of it. For the first time, I would Solo-travel at 29 years old, and would see that change, as I would have no choice but to stop and think about the disaster I had left behind me! Good god, I hope I am not turning to spirituality…Those guys are dorks and a little too flexible for my liking…Namaste!
After a day of exploring temples and Monasteries of Kathmandu, I would finally climb up to the roof of my hotel and watch the sunset over the Himalayas. Monsoon season meant that there were some amazing clouds for the fading sunlight to bounce off of. This was a typical end to my day in this amazing city. I would climb up to the roof once more, this time I would be met by a man of Middle Eastern decent puffing on a cigarette with the same idea.
After taking a hand full of pictures, I introduced myself to a man, who at first seemed quite cold towards me. An interesting character I would soon find out.
I introduced myself as my real name Joel, which was unusual as it was too hard to explain that it wasn’t Joe. I had changed it to Jay just to avoid the 10-minute conversation that comes with explaining the L on the end of my name…Life is hard sometimes!
So as I spoke of, we had the conversation before I eventually gave up and settled with Joe. To which the man explained Joseph, (pronounced Yoseph like Yeezy) who was a prophet in Egypt. He had also explained to me that even though Joseph is pronounced Yoseph the shortened version Joe is still the westerner way of pronouncing it; with a J…go figure!
Finally, after laughing about my name, the confusing pronunciations and the excessive time we had spent talking about it, we decided to talk about what we were doing in Nepal. I started off by explaining to him that I was getting lost in God’s back yard because the city had a cool name and my Thai Visa had expired, to which he laughed. He would go on to tell me that he was originally in town for 10 days to take a break from life but was called to “work” as a “co-worker” had been arrested and needed to be bailed out of jail which was ruining his holiday. My eyes lit up, as I try to discover more about this man, as discreetly as I could.
I would find out that this man needed no softening up!
I have met a few people in similar, but nowhere near as extreme organisations before, and I have found that the best way to approach a conversation in my experience is through pretending to be ignorant, to give off the vibe that you don’t care, having a normal conversation about life to soften them up before they pour their heart out to a complete stranger. This strategy proved to be effective once again, as he was dying to vent and who better to vent to than a dopey looking dork with his hat backward that seemed like he didn’t care.
He was dying to vent to someone about how his holiday had been ruined by the “coworker” in town to do a weapons deal worth 365 million with the Americans. In my experience with terrorism watching many movies with terrorism as the theme, his story seemed to tick all the boxes!
Americans, weapons, money and a Middle Eastern man…Yep, I have seen a few movies like that, no way was he making this up…
He wouldn’t tell me everything about what he was doing and I was a little hesitant on intruding too much, which looking back at it now I am kicking myself. Believe it or not, this was my first encounter and perhaps the last time I would meet a real life terrorist. This man was highly intelligent, spoke Fluent English to the point that he understood most of my Australian jokes and sarcasm that every nationality excluding the United Kingdom does NOT pick up on. Then again he probably thought I suffered from slight retardation!
Between venting about his ruined holiday, he would educate me on Egypt’s history and how amazing it was. He would teach me everything about the pyramids such as how it took 22 years to build. Also, how the Egyptian government had labor camps, but not in the way that we are all led to believe, there was no whipping to which I was surprised! I will not go into all the details of the history of Egypt that I learned that day as we talked for three hours, but let’s just say Egypt is number one on my bucket list. I absolutely cannot wait to do Africa!
Ebola? Ebola who?
The bits and pieces that I gathered from the conversation about what he was doing, was that his organization was planning something in Egypt against the government. He explained that he wasn’t holding his breath though, as he had seen several similar shipments of weapons go to waste over the years. The man explained that wars never seemed to happen and the money was better off going towards the education to better his country. The one thing I did gather from this man is that he was a patriot and proud of his once great country. He confessed that he was a terrorist out of desperation due to growing up in poverty because of the corruption and theft within the government. I felt bad for the guy to the point where I was justifying his choices to him, partly because I understood where he was coming from and partly because I was caught up in the story.
After three hours of one of the coolest conversations I had ever had with a seemingly legit terrorist and interesting man, we said our goodbyes and he was off. The perks of traveling alone, you meet some of the most interesting people. All I want to do with my life now is travel, meet people and find my real purpose. One thought I seem to have had regularly over the last 9 months is that my purpose seems to be drifting further away from Australia. Something I will ponder from now on.
Obviously, I do not agree with terrorism but I could definitely see myself getting caught up in the same situation being the moron I am, just luck I’m born in Australia and happened to be the quickest swimmer on New Year’s Eve 30 years ago! To be honest, poverty and corruption have been a re-occurring theme, with a lot of the conversations I have had with the locals I have met in these countries I had visited within Asia over the last 9 months, but that’s not exactly a shock. I really am grateful for being born in a lucky country but then again I was not born with the brain smart enough to want to stay in it. You would have to be crazy to want to leave the safety of Australia, to explore some of the most dangerous and poorest countries in the world. Africa, here I come!
I guess you should call me crazy…