The Mobile Lawyer

has been moved to new address

Sorry for inconvenience...

The Mobile Lawyer -- One Lap, No Jetlag

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Michael Hodson wants to stay in touch on LinkedIn



I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

- Michael Hodson

Michael Hodson
Owner at Hodson Law Firm
Fayetteville, Arkansas Area

Confirm that you know Michael

© 2010, LinkedIn Corporation

Friday, September 17, 2010

Getting the Travel Groove Back

So I have now been in Colombia for about a week, and frankly, I don't have my travel groove back yet. I simply haven't gotten into any type of rhythm at all yet.

During my last trip, movement was the constant. Because I had to make it all the way around without flying, I was moving fairly constantly. Three or four days in a place was my usual maximum, then it was time to hop another bus or boat or whatever. Now, I'm down in Colombia writing (and not doing nearly enough of that yet either) and not really moving at all. Frankly, not doing much traveling in any sense of that word.

One of the amusing exchanges I had with someone at the hostel yesterday. A guy had just arrived at sat at my table in the common area.

Him: "So how long have you been in Cartagena?"
Me: "Four of five days."
Him: "So what have you done?"
Me: "Nothing really. Just hanging out."

Now that isn't 100% accurate. I've walked around most of the old part of town. Had some beers at a couple places. Sampled some street food and a few restaurants. But I'm not really on any sort of "tourist" trip. I'm hear for a good long while, unless I decide to up and move to another spot. There really isn't any impetus for me to "do stuff." What I really need to do is sit at this computer and with my outline (yes, I actually have been doing some organization for the writing) and start hammering away.

And so I shall.

Needing to come up with some structure to the day. Carve up the time to my liking. I know that writing a book is a job -- I just need to figure out when my good office hours are going to be. Cooler mornings with coffee? Or is that the better time to walk around and think and clear my head? Hot afternoons, out of the sun? Don't know yet. But time to kick myself in the ass and get going.

Another thing that has caused me a bit of disconnect is the fact that I flew down here. A few days ago I thought about the huge difference in getting to Colombia this time verses last time, when I was browsing through my passport. It took me about 16 hours to get to Colombia this time. It took me 32 days last time.

I'm not saying that overland travel is somehow superior to hopping on a plane. God knows that if I wanted to write down here, I couldn't spend the time and energy going overland again. But what is different is the sense -- no, the feeling -- of what it took to get here. The last time, I felt the miles. This time, I took an afternoon nap and was landing at Bogota International Airport. It is hard to explain, but it leads to a completely different feeling once I got here.

And I suppose, being hard to explain, it might be something I should think about and put in a book. A book about traveling around the world without flying. Yea. I think that'll be an interesting one.

p.s. this is my last blog on this domain. I bought another domain name and I'm transferring all my stuff over there, hopefully this weekend. I'll post all the info and hopefully figure out a way to make this blog link to it directly.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Photo of the Day: Chalk Art in Florence

From Various old

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I Don't Like about Travel

On the eve of me getting back on the road -- and being pretty damn excited about it -- thought it would be a good time to highlight some of the things that I find not-so-great out there on the road, since most of my friends seem to think most everything is wine and roses out there.

(1) Widow Makers. You don't run into these too often, but the name pretty much describes the experience. You are looking at a shower head in Central America. The warm water is provided by a basic electrical coil contained in the shower head. Yes -- electricity plus water. I think I got a C- in high school physics, but I feel pretty sure that this is not a combination that you should feel overly confident about.

(2) Visas -- Hell, just border agents in general. As an American, I should be the last person complaining about visas and border crossings, because frankly, entering my country is the worst. The worst. So every time I have a problem at a border or have to pay $100 to get into a country, I take a few deep breaths and say to myself, "it's worse for them to come into my country." Then I get pissed off anyway.

(3) Loud and rude people in dorm rooms. I wrote an entire blog about the hostel/dorm rules, so I won't go over them all again, save to highlight one of them: we are all sleeping in here. It is 3:30 a.m. I'm glad you had a great night out, but please try to show some respect when you crawl your drunk ass back into the dorm room.

(4) Know-it-All's. Happens at home also, but the road variation is the person that keeps one-upping your trip stories or craps on your future travel plans. "Well, if you want to go to Cuzco, that's fine, but if you want a real taste of Inca culture, instead of that touristic garbage, you should go to....."

(5) Abject poverty. Don't want to make this one controversial, so let me preface it by explaining one of my philosophies that I've come to have as a core belief because of travel: we are all (at least those reading this, most likely) just damn fricking lucky. Our souls just happened to pop out in the United States or Canada or Western Europe or Australia -- at least that is where almost all my readers are from. There wasn't anything to account for that other than dumb luck. Given the population disbursement around the world, we were all many times more likely to be born in a 3rd world country, in abject poverty, with a crappy government and infrastructure, poor schooling opportunities, and little chance of moving up the ladder. We all ought to wake up every morning and just thank the big He/She/It in the sky that we were all lucky enough to arrive where we did.

That being said, what gets to me on the road is how many people are born without those possibilities. How many Einsteins or Churchills or Hemingways or Hawkings have been born out there and just withered away, because they had no access to education, infrastructure, and resources to develop their talents?? The mental resources that we waste as a planet just depress me. As do the direct effects of poverty -- deforestation, environmental problems, short life spans, crime, mistreatment of women. Arrrrrggggggg.

To be clear -- and to hopefully avoid lots of negative comments -- I'm not saying that people in the 3rd world can't lead happy and productive lives. Some of the happiest people I've seen on the planet are poor as dirt. On many days, I wish I was as happy as the kid playing with the stick and the tire on the side of the road.... but I'd also like him/her to have the opportunity, if they want to take it, to get educated, acquire some basic necessities, and perhaps change the world for the better.

(6) Getting ripped off. On the opposite end of the scale, I can't stand getting ripped off, even it it is just for a couple bucks. It isn't the money -- clearly, paying $3 for something that locals pay $1 for isn't that big a deal (and might actually help issue #5 in a small way), but I think it is the attendant implication of my stupidity that bothers me. Yes, I realize that you are ripping me off, Mr. Shop Owner. Not all tourists are blissfully ignorant rubes, there for you to pluck like ripe fruit off a tree.

And what REALLY annoys me on this front is when I get quoted a price for something that is eight or ten times the proper price. Look -- I expect that you are going to quote me double. That's fine. When I'm in a patient mood, a little bargaining is part of the fun of travel. But don't jack up the price to ten times normal, and then when I laugh at you, cut the price down by 80% to get to what should have been your starting price. I refuse to even bargain with you, seeing as you just basically told me, via your price, that I'm the dumbest person you've ever seen. Piss off.

(7) Cab Drivers. A specialized subset of #6. I have a true hate/love relationship with cabbies. I despise 90% of them and want to line them all up against a wall and pull a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie on them, but then one of them completely and totally saves my ass and I mentally reprieve them all. Then the vicious cycle just starts up again.

(8) The price of books. This literally amazed me. Books are ABSURDLY expensive throughout the world. I'm not talking the expense of buying and English language book in the middle of non-English speaking countries here -- I expected those prices would be high. I'm talking about the prices of English books in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Or of Spanish books in South America (not that I could read them anyway). Stunned me. Well, except for SE Asia, where you can buy illegally photocopied books at cheap prices. Then again, you can buy about any intellectual property there at pirate rates.

(9) Everyone speaks more languages than me. I'm an American, which basically means I speak English. That's it. I'm not banging on my country here -- there are some good reasons we don't speak foreign languages here -- the primary one being that the US is damn big and English is the language throughout. If I had clients in Texas and they spoke a different language there (like most Europeans find, when they go 300 miles to do business with someone), I'm sure I'd have a lot better language skills.

(10) The search for a good cup of coffee. You wouldn't think this would be that difficult a task, but 'o my, it can be. Even in some of the best coffee producing countries in the world (Panama and Colombia off the top of my head), it is tough to find a good cup of Joe. Most countries export their good coffee to.... the US, Japan and Western Europe. Pretty much around the world, you are going to be drinking instant coffee most mornings. I hate instant coffee.

Instant coffee verses cabbies. Now there is a battle that I might pay to see.

That being said, damn do I feel inferior when I'm traveling and run across pretty much anyone, seeing as most other travelers speak three or four languages. If I could wave a wand and have any knowledge immediately implanted in my head, it would be the full working knowledge of a couple of foreign languages.

Hmmmmmm. I know I've got a lot more of these small and large pet peeves, but can't think of any more off the top of my head. Then again, I'd love to hear your contributions -- what is not-so-great on the road in your eyes, fellow travelers?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Photo of the Day: Gondolier Break

From Various old

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Photo of the Day: Hoi An Market

From Hoi An

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kili and my Tattoo

Climbing Kilimanjaro was the most difficult, and best, thing I've yet done in my 42 years. It was simply incredible. Given that I'd made a promise to myself that I'd get one tattoo per continent, my choice for Africa was simple -- I needed a tattoo of Kili.

So, here is the explanation of this particular tattoo. First, I got it in Budapest. I wanted to get it in Cairo, but by the time I found a tattoo parlor there, I was leaving the next day to go to Dahab to go diving and I clearly didn't want a new tattoo combined with underwater activities.

The route I took (Marangu) is considered the easiest, since you sleep in huts every night. It is also one of the fastest routes up and no doubt the most crowded, though there were only about twenty people trying to summit the night we went to the top. On this route, you leave your last hut at midnight or so, in order to try to make the top of the mountain at sunrise. The tattoo has the date that I made it to the summit and also the Swahili phrase, "Hakuna Matata."

At this point, it is only appropriate to insert the reason this phrase is most commonly known in the United States, via a movie that I've never seen, but heard was quite good -- The Lion King.

Of course when I posted a picture of this new tattoo on my Facebook page last year, I immediately got harassed by my wonderful friends and their truly unique sense of humor. A lot of comments along the lines of "trolling the school yards, these days?" Quite comic.

Here's the real story. My guide was a great guy named Eyan, a local from the village immediately outside the Marangu gates. In fact, after we came down from the mountain, we had lunch at his family's house before heading back to town. He was/is a totally relaxed guy that has gone up the mountain some 200 times or so. Dreadlocks. Chill. Supportive. Everything is going to be just fine.

Ergo, hakuna matata, which roughly translates to "no worries." During the two days we were hiking, before the summit night, Eyan would occasionally toss a 'hakuna matata' my way and I return the same. The hiking wasn't too difficult in the beginning, but I was starting to feel the altitude as we got higher.

I told Eyan on the day that we were hiking up to the last hut (Kibo) that since I wasn't feeling altitude sickness and was in pretty reasonable shape that I was going to make it to the summit. No excuses. No turning back. Doesn't matter how long it is going to take. I also told him that I might end up swearing at myself repeatedly and directing a little self-abuse language at myself, and the mountain, to try to spur me on to the top.

So on the last night, you leave around midnight and climb pretty much straight up 1,000 meters or so, until you get to the top. It was a really tough climb, at least for me. And Eyan was the best guide of all times. Encouraging me. Reminding me to walk slower. Ignoring me when I obviously didn't want to talk. And probably my favorite on the way up:

Eyan: "How are you doing?"

Me after screaming obscenities for the last hour at myself and the mountain: "Hakuna Matata."

Eyan: "Hakuna Matata, motherfucker."

O' yea, we had a theme phrase now. And there was no doubt I was making it to the top with that inspiration. Though I didn't think that probably should be immortalized on my shoulder for all time.

Labels: , , , ,