Ever since living in the Patagonia region of Argentina for a year as a high school exchange student, I’ve wanted to return. The host families I lived with were absolutely wonderful, as well as many of the great friends I made. Initially I kept in touch with everyone quite regularly, and hoped to one day purchase a plane ticket and take a vacation to get back down there. With the high cost of airfare to South America, I wanted to justify spending that much money by visiting for at least a month or two. When I was a college student, I had plenty of free time, but not the funds. And at various jobs after college, I was able to save up the funds, but never had enough time (with usually just 2 weeks of vacation time each year). So in order to do the type of traveling I wanted, drastic measures would have to be taken. And living a conventional American life, working desk jobs for large corporations, those drastic measures were too far outside of the box for me – and a bit beyond my comfort level.
About 3.5 years ago, I made a very risky decision to leave the healthcare information technology career path behind, and take a lower-paying job with some new adventure travel companies started by Scott Brady: Expeditions West & Overland Journal. As much as I enjoyed computer tech support, it wasn’t something I was passionate about. Now I would be able to take something that was a hobby & passion to now be my profession. Over the course of that time, I gained skill across the board, which would help me to be a more confident & competent international traveler – by way of both 4WD vehicle & dual sport motorcycle.
Never in the years after returning from the Patagonia had I imagined driving down there. Drive into Mexico; maybe. But keep driving south into supposedly even more dangerous countries, and eventually into another continent; no way! That just wasn’t something that normal, rational people did. And I considered myself to be both of those, even when doing “adventurous” things. Most of my risk taking had been very calculated & well thought out. But for the first time in my life I had employers that might actually be supportive of this crazy idea, and I wouldn’t have to quit my job outright. For various reasons (mostly personal), I was ready to take a break from my office duties at Overland Journal. I began brainstorming an idea to sell all of my worldly possessions and start driving south. But the trip needed to have more meaning that just an extended vacation as a tourist.
Thus was born my idea for World Apprentice. I would plan to stop & volunteer (or work) at different places along the way. Some of these would be planned ahead of time, and others I would discover along the way. I have plenty of skills to offer as help to others, and I would also document master craftsmen of various trades along the way. Through this, I could better experience all the cultures along my route, rather than distanced & protected as a traveler in a vehicle. When I pitched the idea to Scott, he was all for it, and thought it was a great idea. With 6 months notice, there would be plenty of time to cross-train others on my job, as well as prepare for the sabbatical/extended leave of absence. So for the first time since college, I would finally have the time. However, I did not have the funds. So I made another risky decision: to cash out most of my retirement fund that I had so diligently contributed to while working in healthcare. With this, I will be able to pay off my truck, procure a Four Wheel Camper, and pay for food & gas to drive all the way to Ushuaia.
Ever since making this decision, it’s woken me up out of a dead sleep in the middle of the night a few times – usually with my heart stopping while I think to myself, “what in the heck am I about to get myself into?!?” But there’s no stopping me now. I’ve got to do this. And I don’t want another 15 years to go by and regret not making it back down to the Patagonia. So with no intent of writing any country songs, it will be me, my dog, & my truck, hittin’ the road & headin’ south.