This is the story of boy meets world. The boy, Norbert from Carolina, Puerto Rico; grew up believing that he never truly be able to travel the world till the day he was “super rich”. This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad notions of the “American dream” and a total misread of the concept of stability.
The world, on the other hand, did not share this belief.
Norbert meets the world on October 1, 2011. He knows almost immediately, that he is facing a long term relationship with the world and that this is what he really wants to do. This is how the next 500 days went by. **Please tell me you’ve seen the movie “(500) Days of Summer”… otherwise this will make no sense to you.
(10) – Had lunch with Kim Simplis Barrow, the first lady of Belize.
(168) – Reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro (highest mountain in Africa) and had the chance to see the most beautiful sunrise from the top of Africa.
(92) – Met the Mayor of San Pedro, Belize… I was drunk and with one Heineken on each hand. Way to go! Hey, it was New Year’s celebration!
(156) – My first African wild animal encounter. It was 1am and I was woken up by a series of chewing sounds. I looked, and all I saw was a 6000 lb HIPPO eating grass TWO FEET away from me! Coolest safari experience!!
(365) – Celebrated a year on the road in Puerto Rico! This video summarizes the entire year in 3 minutes…
(325) – Lost faith in humanity while in India. I got to the point where I couldn’t tell if the bodies on the street were merely sleeping or just dead and rotting.
(318) – Ukraine became my 50th country visited on the RTW. 70th in total.
(329) – Reached my lowest point in this trip while in Jaipur, India. Called home crying out of desperation. That’s how intense India is! I wanted to leave RIGHT AWAY! Spent the entire day cursing in Spanish:
Me cago en la madre de este país tercermundista!
(352) – Left India! One of the happiest days of my life! Seriously.
(214) – “Rise and shine! What a beautiful homeless morning! Nothing like sleeping on the sidewalk in front of a gas station in Paros, Greece.” That’s how I felt when I slept on the street for the very first time.
(318) – Unfortunate encounter with two corrupt Ukrainian policemen. They wanted to take me to the police station to “pay a fine” because I was “running away from the police”. The truth is, I was walking normally, but failed to stop at their “stop” command since I didn’t see them (they were behind), and they said it in Ukranian (I obviously don’t speak Ukranian).
They confronted me, accusing me from “running away”, which is the dumbest “persecution” when you’re walking normally, drinking a coke, and looking at your iPod. After I noticed they just waned me to bribe them (or else go to the police station to pay a “fine”), and that my honest explanation of the situation to them was not working, I decided to stop responding coherently by acting like I’m partially deaf and that I speak “vetty littel inglish”. After a while, they gave up on me and let me go. I was NOT going to pay a bribe for absolutely nothing!
(272) – Finished my crazy Euro trip in Italy! 10,300 miles crossed overland with my Global Eurail Pass, crossing 23 countries in 2.5 months. Exhausting, but TOTALLY worth it!
(26) – Maya villagers taught me how to make chocolate like they used to make it in their ancient civilization.
(500) – Just flew from Dublin back to Milan, which has been my home base for the past 3 months and now looking forward to visit Tunisia in a few days!
(31) – Went diving at the Blue Hole. My deepest dive ever!
(332) – Reached the Himalayas… Did a road trip on one of the most beautiful regions on earth.
(342) – Celebrated my birthday in Varanasi, India. Quite a gloomy and weird place to celebrate it. Everyone there is either dead, dying, or praying for someone dead.
(154) – Flew to Uganda by “mistake”. I was supposed to stop in Rwanda but the airline didn’t let me get off during the layover there. By default, I was lost and didn’t know what to do or where to go once at the airport in Entebbe, Uganda; but an awesome woman helped me and introduced me to the country.
(162) – Adopted an orphaned baby elephant! They are the cutest!
(142) – Got my iPod stolen at the Pyramids of Giza. Now that’s what I remember every time I think of the pyramids.
(435) – Got my iPhone 5 stolen in Milan. Ouch…
(34) – As I was diving in the middle of San Pedro’s reef… I saw Jesus holla at me while standing on the ocean floor.
(203) – Met someone really special in Turkey! I’ll leave it there…
(183) – Did my first ever bungee jump at Victoria Falls! Tankfully the cord didn’t snap.
(482) – Oddest entry to a country… Passport stamped but asked to wait. Taken to an office by 5 police officers. Interrogated and checked top to bottom and everything in my bag. (Supposedly required for any non European visiting Macedonia for the first time) Good to go, but not yet.
Female officer 1: “Do you think she’s pretty?”, pointing to officer 2.
Me: “she’s pretty”
Officer 2 starts flirting and says, “I’m single”.
Me: “oh, this won’t work, sweetie. Buuuut, what else do you recommend to see in Macedonia?”
Officer 1: “Macedonian girls, and she’s single” pointing to officer 2.
Meanwhile, officers 3, 4, and 5 are enjoying the matchmaking like if watching a romantic comedy. Hmmm…
After some unsuccessful flirting, I’m finally good to go… But wait, as I walked out another officer stopped me…
“You’re from India?”
“No, Puerto Rico”
In disbelief, the officer starts talking to me in Spanish, SPANISH! And a whole conversation/interrogation began in a second language.
(69) – Crossed illegally to Guatemala from Belize… just to drink beer. Totally worth it!
(186) – Hitchhiked for the very first time in Zimbabwe! I was literally in the middle of nowhere.
(448) – Confirmed that Phuket is the trashiest place I’ve ever been by watching a live gay sex show BY MISTAKE! My friend and I wanted to see one of the famous ladyboy shows, and the show started like that, but somewhere in the middle it deviated into hardcore porn.
(184) – Walked with LIONS and CHEETAHS! And thankfully I was not part of their meal.
(196) – Passed out for the first time in my life at a party in Johannesburg. Woke up hours later. I was on my own in a party bus in Pretoria!!! I don’t remember anything in between.
(447) – Celebrated the end of the world in Koh Phi Phi! I was massively drunk and playing with fire!
(1) – Made the best decision in my life: Quit my job, leave NYC, and travel the world for a year. I couldn’t stop by the end of the year, as you can see.