26 SEP 2012
Well, here I still sit. In Morocco, in my apartment. Not really going anywhere anytime too soon. It’s my own version of a staycation or a self imposed exile. I’m not sure which. The bottom line is that I’ve got work to do and the immediate environs of Sefrou just really don’t interest me much anymore. Not that it ever really has. But here I am.
Sometimes I think I never should have gotten married. Not because of my wife, she’s nice and sweet and pretty much is the perfect Muslim girl next door. And certainly not because of my daughter, the apple of my eye. The two of them make everything worthwhile for me – but the reason I think that I probably shouldn’t have gotten married is this damn wanderlust. I just can’t sit still and unfortunately, part of being married is providing a home and a bit of stability. I get that, I appreciate it, but it doesn’t do my head or soul any good.
Luckily, I married a woman who understands that and so she periodically sets me free so I can go out and find myself again. Oddly enough, I get more work done when I’m on a sail boat, sitting in the airport, walking around some strange city, or sitting in a hotel room than I do when I’m in my apartment or here in Sefrou. I blame it on constant interruptions and having to stop what I’m doing to say salaam a leycum whenever I see someone I am acquainted with. It’s why I don’t go out to work in coffee shops here – people just don’t understand burying your head in something and not having the focus to look up and have a small chit-chat session with your wife’s neighbor’s brother’s best friend who you met once at a after-wedding disco in one of the olive press warehouses. And the truth is, even a small interruption means a lost train of thought, a missing punctuation mark, or a bad turn of phrase left in place. Even if you want to just sit with a book in a Moroccan coffee shop, you can be sure that someone will interrupt your willing suspension of disbelief to ask you what country you are from. They mean well, but they aren’t readers here. Not like that. They read Quran- or maybe just listen to sura chants. I like those, actually.
I like travel because people generally leave strangers in peace. Jesus, I’ve become such a curmudgeon. So, the title of this column is a blatant lie. This isn’t a staycation – it’s sitting in my apartment and working 16 hour days to get what needs to be done, done. What needs to be done?
I’ve got to plan out my trip to the World Travel Market in London in November and Marseille at the end of October. I’m looking for interesting travel experiences and trying to arrange the right accommodation and flights. The work of Vagobond is actually never ending – whether it is revamping the social media profiles (did you see our new Facebook page? ) , editing guest posts, tweaking the theme, working with our writers, plotting out our 2013 editorial calendar, doing PR and promotion, or (rarely these days) actually writing content, sorting photos, and publishing our articles. Then there’s the whole range of working with advertisers, finding sponsors – but let’s not get into that.
Part of the reason I’m going to Marseilles is because we are going to be publishing a Marseille guide – ThingstodoinMarseille.org along with a whole slew of other things to do sites like ThingstodoinVienna.org and ThingstodoinBeijing.org - there are a network of 20 more sites that I am working to get ready. Obviously, it’s more than I can do alone – so I’ve been looking for the right assistant to help with the project. These, and another 38 sites are the core of Vagobond Travel Media, LLC which I set up earlier this year. I’m still trying to figure out how to be a great CEO and how t manage a multi-pronged media company. All of which is pretty fun when I get around to it.
Right now though, the big news is the new Vagobond Facebook page and the revamping of our social media strategies. Our old Facebook page is still connected to the site with the social media icons above – this is to give the nearly 5000 fans the chance to find our new page and not surprise anyone. That page began life as my personal writer page and now it returns to that – though I haven’t been doing very much writing lately. If you’re interested in my curmudgeonly ways – you’ll find that at http://www.facebook.com/vagodamitio.
What else am I doing here? Well – I’m signing up for airline miles programs. All of them. There are more than a hundred and it’s a big process but I figure it’s time I started learning a bit about this ‘travel hacking’ that I’ve read so much about in the past two years. Free flights? I’m there. The big impediment is that I don’t have any credit and as a result, I don’t have any credit cards. Back in 1994 when I got out of the US Marines at 22 years old, I had ten credit cards. I ran through them buying video games and comic books and then had no choice but to go bankrupt and the lesson I learned was that credit cards are bad. I haven’t had one since – but I may have to change that policy. They seem pretty essential to travel hacking.
So, I decided to repair my credit. I figured out a budget and began paying off my deferred student loans. And immediately was contacted by a collection agency for a student loan that hadn’t apparently been deferred. $3000 later, I’ve managed to pay off the fines and interest and consolidated all of the rest into one loan. I’m incredibly frightened that they will come back and tell me I have to pay a gazillion dollars a month when the paperwork all clears. It’s funny how that guy swooped down on me like a hawk the minute I decided to do the right thing. Just goes to prove, no good deed goes unpunished.
And that reminds me of trolls – but that’s another story. One you could probably ask my wife about after I’ve been home for several weeks without being a stranger in any strange lands for a while – I turn into Shrek on these staycations – but maybe I should call it a work-sentence instead.