The Accidental Extremist is now online at www.theaccidentalextremist.com


Over The Edge [The Abyss]

 

Sometimes the sea calls, and we answer.

Sometimes the sea calls, and we answer.

           I never thought I had a death wish, but one experience on my recent travels had me reconsidering. I’d been traveling around South-East Asia by myself on a break from my studies to see the world. One day I decided go cliff jumping and snorkeling in Thailand; I’d seen signs all over advertising guided trips.  On the same signs there were also advertisements for swimming with sharks.  At first I thought it would be quite a day to do all three, but to swim with sharks I would have to get up at 6:00am. That is just not a time of day I wake up to go jump in the water with sharks.  That’s not even a time of day I’m awake to see super models swim in the water…

 

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Dive Into Paradise [Wardrobe Malfunctions]

  

 

Nothing like a refreshing dip in the pool!

Nothing like a refreshing dip in the pool!

           In March, 1997, I traveled to Puerto Rico with four of my freshman college girlfriends for Spring Break.  After a nasty winter in upstate NY, all we wanted was sun, sand and drinks.  We arrived and after getting a tour of our friend’s condo and the lay of the land (i.e., location of the pool, closest bar and the keys to get to the beach from our private, gated condo complex), we set off for some of that much-anticipated sun, sand, and drinks on the beach. 

            That night, our first, we decided it would be a good idea to finish off a bottle of tequila by doing numerous rounds of shots which got us in “party mode” for the beach bars [Ed: Always a sound plan! ]. After arriving at the Holiday Inn, hoping to find a club so we could dance to that popular Spice Girls song (hey, we were 19 and in college) and not finding anything resembling that fun club, we had the brilliant idea of going skinny-dipping instead… Continue reading



Is Just Like Amerika! [Off the Map]

Who needs a Eurail Pass?

Who needs a Eurail Pass?

 

In 2000 writer Brad Wetzler penned an hilarious report from the Czech Republic on a curious phenomenon, a kind of Old West mania, in Outside Magazine. Here’s a taste. Thanks Brad — CDB 

IF IT’S TRUE that you are what you eat, then I am a big, greasy kielbasa. I brought this on myself: For the past week I have been camping with a dedicated band of carnivores who favor canned meat and an alarming variety of sausages. We’re deep in the Brdy Hills, a rolling patch of beech forest as charming as a dream, about 30 miles south of Prague in the czech Republic. The air is full of the smell of honeysuckle, the buzzing of bees, the chirruping of bluebirds, and the sizzling of meat. The only human tracks within sight are our own.

            But this is a curious bunch. There is Jerry, the frequently drunk prankster who gets his kicks hiding pinecones in our sleeping bags. He whispers that his real name is Vladimir, but tramps are only supposed to go by their tramping names. Which is why “Jerry” is tattooed in boldface on his right forearm. George, a starry-eyed guitar player, can do a rendition of “This Land Is Your Land” in czech that would make anyone homesick for the hills of central Bohemia. Ace is a private in the czech army who always wears a Daniel Boone–style coonskin cap; he sucked down too much rum last night and, while dancing to George’s intoxicating music, fell into the fire. Lucky for him Sheriff Tom was still sober enough to pull him out. A one-armed bear of a man, Sheriff Tom is, at 45, the oldest hobo, and he happens to own the biggest bowie knife, making him the logical choice to be the group’s chief law-enforcement officer… Continue reading



Ne Pas Taser Moi, Bro [Dokuments Please]

          

Trains in Europe seem to move at a more stately pace of life.

Nothing beats the relaxing pace and Old-World romanticism of European train travel.

  Back in 2001, I was living in Paris, juggling language classes, a part-time job that I’d BS’d my way into and a seemingly unquenchable drinking habit. When a longtime friend — whom we’ll call Dave because he’s now a serious painter who takes himself, you guessed it, very seriously — asked to come over for a weeklong visit, I decided to add tour guide to my repertoire. With a stamp-saturated passport, a girlfriend (so what if she was my first?) living in Italy and a reputation to uphold at many a Parisian bar, I was already considering myself quite the international Casanova and so I figured, what the hell, I can show him a good time.

           The plan was to spend the first three spring days living it up in the bars, clubs and crêpe stands (real restaurants were financially out of the question) of Paris, then heading south for a long weekend of skiing in Chamonix. Following a few sleepless nights in the city of lights, including one in which I’d mistakenly lead us into a gay club in search of fine women, we made for the train station for a weekend of soul-cleansing skiing. Unfortunately, there was a train strike (one of many I’d incur the wrath of during my year abroad) and our alpine quest suddenly seemed all but hopeless….

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High In Hell [Narcotourism]

In 2007 the writer Kevin Fedarko got himself all the way to Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, to take khat, a chewable, psychoactive diversion shared by 99.9% of the male population. Here’s his amazing, hilarious account, from Esquire, November, 2007. 

Excerpt: So if you ever happen to find yourself skimming through the troposphere high above the Horn of Africa, the engines of your cargo jet clawing at the currents of sub-Saharan air rolling off the lip of the Ethiopian plateau and down toward the Red Sea, there will come a moment when you’ll have to admit that the cockpit of an aging DC-8 with a broken oil-pressure gauge and a washed-out picture of a Ugandan mountain gorilla emblazoned on the tail offers a damn fine view of the most wretched place on the planet…