Finally, this is the completion of my nine-year trip around the world. I’m landing where I left from. Honolulu.
This was my trip. I graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in December of 2008. I moved out of my apartment in Manoa and started couch surfing with friends in Honolulu. I caught a plane and flew to Portland, Oregon just in time to do Christmas karaoke with old friends and then to travel by train across the USA. During that trip on the train, I started introducing myself as Vago. Vago the Vagobond.
I flew from New York City to Barcelona and then traveled by bus to Valencia, Grenada, and Tarifa and then for some reason, I took the ferry to Morocco.
I landed in Tangiers and took the train to Fes. I took a taxi to Sefrou and met my future wife at the city gates.
I left her behind to go to Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakech but then I returned to her. We became engaged.
I traveled to Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, England, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and then flew across the Atlantic again to land in Quebec City where I started walking across Canada’s massive Highway one but then decided I’d better stick my thumb out for rides because it was a walk that would take too long. All the way across Canada with no money and then walking across the US Border and back to my old hometown of Bellingham before heading to San Diego and my childhood home of Big Bear Lake. From there to Palm Springs and to my brother’s in Utah before flying back to New York City and then taking the bus to Boston and to Maine and a Ferry back to Canada and more hitching to get back to Quebec before taking a flight back to Ireland and Europe and then going back to Morocco and the girl I would marry – this time with all the proper paperwork.
I became an English teacher in Fez, we were married in the heart of the Sahara, and we had our honeymoon in Turkey and loved it so much we moved to Turkey where we conceived our daughter but then it was time for my wife to go home while I continued to work and write – I traveled Turkey and sailed in Greece, took a night train to Bulgaria, went to Serbia, Macedonia, Italy, San Marino, Malta, Switzerland, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and then to Egypt and back to Morocco for the birth of my daughter. And suddenly life was very different…
I navigated international waters to get my daughter American citizenship and file a Consular Birth Abroad and then began the horribly slow visa process to emigrate with my wife and get her American citizenship. We celebrated our two year anniversary in Turkey with five star luxury and hot air balloons over Cappadocia and we tried to live a good life in Morocco but all the while working to leave Morocco with the emigration paperwork and finally – we were approved. Wasting no time we booked a flight to the United States and with what I had managed to earn and save – we emigrated flying to Dubai and then to San Francisco.
We were met with my mother’s medical disaster – an American nightmare – a broken back and a doctor screw up. We were not forgotten, but unexpectedly thrown to our own devices – we lived in a squat in Sacramento while I looked for work in the San Francisco Bay Area. I realized that we couldn’t afford to pay first, last, and deposit on a $2k per month rental in California and that Silicon Valley tech firms were firmly unimpressed with my travel and writing and social media credentials – I was just a guy who had been self employed for five years without a good solid American rental history or high credit score.
I moved us to a dying town on the Oregon Coast where rents were cheap and my 650 credit score was impressive. I found a home for us that I could pay with eBay if I needed to. I tried to work in insurance. I kept shopping garage and estate sales. I had garage sales and sold on eBay. I opened a space in an antique mall. I opened a shop of our own. I started a small community paper. I scrimped and saved and bought cheap and sold as high as I could. I worked and worked and worked and worked and kept moving forward – encouraging my wife to find a job, to apply for jobs, to help. We scrimped and saved but still managed to travel during the off season – a trip to Disneyland with our 4 year old daughter, a trip to Arizona to see her grandparents, a trip to Victoria, B.C., and a few trips to California.
And finally, the citizenship process yielded results. At the end of 2016, my wife became a citizen of the United States. It was something we had been waiting for. Living in one place, filing papers, taking trips to the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Portland. Our daughter entered kindergarten, my wife got a job at the local school, I started making plans to leave the depressed and depressing Oregon Coast – we began liquidating everything – rather, I began liquidating everything. Nearly nine years and I haven’t been home, back to Oahu, back to Hawai’i.
As if to confirm the decision to go – the landlord of the house we have been in for four years notified us of her intention to sell and that we would need to vacate. My ticket is booked. I will land back in Hawai’i, back in Honolulu in a few days. I will look for a home for my wife and daughter. I will find a home for us. It seems right that I will return to Hawai’i by myself, the same way that I left. And from the moment that I step foot back on the islands, my 9-year-trip is complete. I’ve still got the same board shorts and the same bag. I’ve got the same aloha shirt and suit I left with but everything else including my cells and my mentality are completely different. It’s time to end this trip and go home. A new trip will begin. I am excited to see where the future takes us.