Life & Travel Update: September 2017 – April 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve wrote a proper “my life in..” update. So here’s my life in the past 6 months. Feel free to hit “reply” & share yours!

Post-Montreal Phoenix

After Montreal in September, I returned to Phoenix. Within 15 minutes of reuniting with my family I was ready to leave again.

I spent a month in Phoenix before dipping out to Europe. It wasn’t too eventful. I made new friends, and was a completely different person.

London 

My first stop through Europe was London! Walking out of the train to downtown was… shocking to say the least.

London is magical. The architecture, liveliness, and excitement is wonderful.

I had stayed up very late on my last 2 nights in Phoenix, and didn’t sleep on the flight. I was insanely sleep deprived.

Instead of sleeping on the first night, I was convinced to drink with some traveler friends all night.

By the third day in London, I was so sleep deprived it felt like a drug high- without the high.

I got brushed on the shoulder, and I felt waves of soft electricity pulse through my whole body. I stood there for a minute shocked.

On my last night in London, I paid for an expensive ($80 USD) AirBNB  (this is cheap in London center). Even though I partied with a friend until late again, not sleeping in a hostel was magical.

My first solo travel experience was in San Diego, Cali. I stayed in a hostel and had the best time in my whole life up to that point.

I thought the hostel in London would be a similar story. Turns out, it was a sleep depriving nightmare!

Belgium

I took the “Eurostar” to Belgium. This goes under the Ocean!

I met a Belgian friend that I had met in Montreal. Her parents gifted us their car for the week, and we had an enormous amount of fun driving across Belgium.

My favorite destination was Brugge, Belgium. It is by far the most architecturally beautiful place I have ever visited.

Hungary

One short flight from Belgium to Hungary & I arrived in Budapest, where I thought I’d be staying for the next 2 months.

This was my first taste of Geographic Arbitrage. When you make money in one currency & spend in another, you are taking advantage of currency exchange rates. As a result, you become richer without having to work harder or legitimately make more money!

Budapest was fun, but something was not right. There felt like a hole- a missing piece to the puzzle.

I had a couple amazing friends, and we had some really good times going to Budapest’s famous ruin pubs. I had a magnificent, huge apartment. Budapest is simply beautiful!

My apartment later turned out to have toxic mold. I got super sick.

Toxic mold is also slightly intoxicating, so my cognitive abilities were far from peak.

While sitting in an AirBNB, I browsed flights from boredom and curiosity. Something was right in Budapest.

So, I hopped on the next flight to Sofia, Bulgaria.

Bulgaria: A New Home

At first I was planning on staying a month. In Phoenix I was obsessed about the “ancient theater” in Plovdiv, but I thought that it was in Sofia.

My friend in Belgium said I obsessed over Bulgaria, and same for a friend in London.

Something was drawing me here and I didn’t even realize it!

I could write a whole book on Bulgaria. My experiences, life, and adventure here have been unlike my whole life.

For once I feel safe. For once I feel at home. Sofia, Bulgaria will always hold a place in my heart, and I will return frequently.

I entered on the 7th of November. One month turned to two. Two to three. Then, I decided I’d extend my visa even longer…

Finding Love: Meeting My Soulmate 

I wasn’t planning on falling in love, nonetheless meeting “the one.”

But it happened. 😉

Before meeting her, I was not sure that things like “soulmates” actually exist. Alas, there are many strange signs proving otherwise.

For one, the exact day I booked my flight + toxic mold apartment in Budapest is the day she made a wish upon a shooting star to meet her soulmate.

Coincidence? I think not. In that day it was my destiny to get sick in Budapest, and hop on that random next flight to Sofia.

Another little sign is that in Sofia I had a choice between 2 AirBNB apartments. One was cheaper & larger, and the other was smaller & more expensive.

I told the host of the cheaper & larger one I would decide the next morning. It was a tough choice.

She said, “follow your heart.” I did, so I chose the less-logical option but more intuitive one.

This apartment, in which I “followed my heart,” is literally next to my girlfriend’s school. It takes literally less than a minute to show up to the front of her school.

I could go on and on, but I won’t. This relationship has been the best thing in my whole life.

Healing From Pain, Unlocking The Past 

As if inspired by the relationship, I’ve also began healing from chronic pain.

As you may have read in previous posts, I’ve extensively studied the mind-body connection. It turns out most chronic pain is caused by suppressed anger!

I’ve regular contact with the #1 physiotherapist in North America (and probably the whole world). He admits that almost all of his patients have suffered from sexual abuse, PTSD, cPTSD, or severe emotional / physical trauma.

While one accident (ie. car accident) might set off the pain, persisting pain is caused by a suppressed past.

My relationship has been critical in helping me heal, and showing me what real love is.

Once you unlock the suppressed memories & emotions, you understand the chronic pain. And let me tell you, the chronic pain is nothing compared to the shocking, horrible truth, that the past was…

In short, my life here in Bulgaria has been the best thing ever! I feel safe, at home, at peace, more than I ever have in my whole life. I’ve never been so certain about anything before.

Getting Kicked Out of Bulgaria???

All travelers know about “visas” and complex immigration practices. It is truly frustrating, I long for the day where freedom of movement is a thing.

I entered Bulgaria on 7 November, and on April 25, unless I can extend my visa, I will be kicked out.

It’s like a cruel joke from the world. To finally find happiness, a home, safety, love, and now to have to leave it (temporarily of course).

My visa guy told me we would be able to extend my visa. However, he has been very flaky, and will be calling me very soon as to whether or not I will be able to stay or go.

Most likely I will have to go. We have 6 days to do what took a month for the last visa extension. I lost money paying for a 6 month visa, but I got 3 months. It’s all part of the game of life I suppose…

This uncertainty & possibility has been devastating for me. I have not handled it well.

I am like a young child being torn away from his mother- a wreck.

The Truth About Travelers

The truth about travelers is that they are not traveling the world to see it. No, but we will do a good job of making you think that.

Every traveler I’ve met has a story. If I don’t get to hear the story, I see it in their eyes.

Much like how cancer survivors recognize each other by the scars on their necks, trauma, war, & abuse survivors recognize each others through “the look.”

And every traveler has “the look.”

While many the masses marvel at the feats of those who have accomplished greatness, they know little of the suffering which inspired such a reality.

Everyone “wants” to travel the world, but the people who do it have a story, a past.

They suffer from cPTSD, PTSD, emotional trauma, former sexual abuse, and/or former physical abuse. No sane person travels the world.

This isn’t a bad thing. I’m sure there are those who have traveled the world that had a wonderful family, great support network, etc.

But they are quick to return home. They may, at most, go on a 1-year journey to return home.

Those that remain travelers, or settle abroad, almost always “have a story.”

Not Handling Leaving Well 

It’s easy to have no attachments, and be “minimalist.” Always running is one solution to a problem.

And, it’s certainly better to channel your inner rage into business, success, and adventure.

But there comes a time where you must heal. 

I am at that point of healing. I am at the point of safety, of having finally found a place to call home.

And now there’s a possibility of being forced to leave- and in fact, a greater possibility.

Logically speaking it’s “just 3 months.” And I could presumably find somewhere near to where my girlfriend could regularly visit me.

I have the skills to make friends, learn the basics of a language, and get by.

But I don’t want to. Oh, the irony of the situation!

Because I’m healing, I’m in a very emotionally sensitive place. As a result I am like a child clinging to his mom (Sofia, Bulgaria).

I haven’t handled the uncertainty well. Knowing with certain whether I can stay or go will release a lot of inner tension, that way I can make a plan.

In the meantime, I’m preparing for the worst.

Where Will I Go? 

If I must leave, I must figure out where to go. This has been the greatest source of inner tension. Where the hell do I go?

The UK & Ireland is expensive. I’m planning on moving to Germany with my girlfriend in September, and accompanying her there in late July, which means I must stay out of Schengen Zone.

If I were to spend the next 3 months in Greece, I would have to remain outside of Germany & other Schengen countries!

This leaves UK, Ireland, and non-schengen Eastern Europe.

Eastern Europe does not share cheap flights, and right now I’m financially conscious, trying to save $ (hence why I’d avoid UK & Ireland).

This is a very tough situation. I desperately want to stay close to my girlfriend, and at least see her a few times, but the expense will be living in a place I don’t want to at all. 

There is another option: Thailand or Bali

The huge downside to these options is that I won’t be able to visit or be visited by my girlfriend. The plus side is it’s the only place I could handle being alone.

Meditation, yoga in nature, hikes, motorcycle rides, and surfing would keep me sane while I’m alone again.

I desperately would want to see my girlfriend. But I also would hate living in some random country I don’t care for while I can’t see her.

We will have to see how much she can realistically visit me, and whether it’s financially worth it. This is a tough situation.

I have to give my thanks to my friends that have supported me though. There is always a positive.

What I’ve learned is…

There Is No Wrong Option

Who knows, maybe I’ll love Ukraine. Maybe Romania will be heaven. Maybe living in the suburbs near London wouldn’t be that bad.

And maybe we could handle 3 months apart if I went to Asia (or a magical cheap flight could re-unite us).

The thing is right now I prefer depth over breadth. This could be an opportunity to visit several random European countries, but for what?

I’ve seen sights, visited places, and it’s honestly meh. Life is lived best with those you love.

You can’t buy friends, or a soulmate. Love is infinite & priceless. I want not to say I’ve been to 10 more countries, but instead to fall asleep with my girlfriend in my arms…

Alas, acceptance is difficult for me right now. My inner child screams, begs, kicks, and cries, as perhaps a new beginning is forced upon me.

Or maybe I’ll be able to stay. Maybe my inner fears are silly, and a magical visa solution will arrive? I’ve already contacted 20 Bulgarian embassy’s & consulates, found a new lawyer with insider connections, and my sketchy guy on the inside is working his magic.

Regardless, I’m not handling this well. It’s good meditation practice for sure.

Thanks to certain friends, I’m reminded that there is no bad option. Logically speaking it’s only 3 months of difficulty before I can be re-united, and then me & my soulmate will move in together around September.

So it makes everything worth it. Difficult, but worth it.

Losing Now For Nothing

This has all been a reminder that most everything in life is fleeting. Life is what you create it.

Be grateful for what you have because you never know when it could be gone.

I recall the quote of a famous rapper (name forgotten) whom was going to prison in 6 months for a year.

When asked about it, he said something along the lines of:

“My prison sentence is 1 year. Not 1 year and 6 months. I will go to prison in 6 months, not now.”

This has been huge for me. What it means is that he will not mentally torture himself with the thought of prison, and lose 6 months of his life until he gets there.

He can live fully, and enjoy 6 months, then go to prison. Or he can be depressed, upset, sad, and waste 6 months, then spend a year in prison.

I’ve been trying to practice this now. If I must leave Bulgaria, I don’t want to leave now. I want to leave next week.

So if I mentally torture myself in the meantime, it’s like having left now.

This is insanely hard to practice. The old ego loves to toss n’ rumble.

We will see what happens. Keep you updated.

Have a wonderful day,
-Michael