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Who’s Out There Now: Brendan

Written By: jeff

Posted On: July 5th, 2011

career break travel, Antarctica, round the world travel

Brendan in Antarctica. Copyright BrendansAdventures.com

In this week’s ¨Who’s Out There Now¨ feature, we bring to you Brendan, who runs the site BrendansAdventures.com. Currently circling South America, he’s been through some of the continent’s least traveled spots including Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname to way south of the continent down to Antarctica. His site’s a collection of his photos, quirky perspective, humor and even a little poetry.

1. So, where in the world are you answering these questions?

Right now I’m in beautiful Medellin, Colombia refreshing for a little while before heading to Central America and the Caribbean at the end of July.

2. I never noticed the time-lapse videos on your site before. Did I read correctly that the video is really a collection of photos? Where do you get the patience to put these together?

Time elapse videos are something that I’ve always been infatuated with, and I’ve just started doing them recently.  The last one I did was something like 2000 photos stuffed into 2 minutes of video. The truth is that the actual photo taking is easy, I just set my camera to shoot remotely through my computer and run a program that takes a photo every minute, second, hour, whatever I want.  So I really just sit back and drink beer all day.  The difficult part is that in some of the shots I have made them look miniature in the post-processing.  This meant I had to edit each photo in the series (about 200 images).  Each photo takes about 30 seconds to edit.  But I always think it’s worth it in the end.

3. You recently went through Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname. I tend to lump all three countries together, even though they have distinct histories. How similar or different did you find the countries?

I do the same in grouping them, it’s just because they really are so small aren’t they? And so close together. The truth is though that the three countries couldn’t be more different from one and other.  French Guiana is basically like someone took a chunck of the Caribbean and placed France inside it.  Suriname is maybe the most multicultural place I’ve ever been and feels part Dutch and part East Indian. And Guyana is much more Caribbean.  Throw a large African population, decedents of marooned slaves who have largely kept their cultures, into each of the countries and you have some of the most culturally interesting countries in the world.

4. How has your travel style changed since you first started traveling?

I’m not sure much has really changed since I started travelling to be honest, other than the fact that I am probably much more street wise than I used to be.  I guess if anything I’ve become less of a “gringo” that only hangs out with other foreigners and speaks English.  Now I spend a lot more time engaging in the local people and finding friends in the locals.

career break travel adventures in Mexico, rtw

Christmas in Mexico. Copyright BrendansAdventure.com

5. Career break, nomadic adventure, backpacking, how do you characterize your travels?

Wow, you sound like my mother!  I don’t know if I can answer this.  After university I tried to decide what to do with my life and all the ideas I had revolved around the possibility of travel.  I almost joined the foreign affairs office because I thought it meant I could travel with work.  At the end of the day I realized that if all I cared about was travel then I should be finding a way to make travel my life.  At the moment I am a travel writer and photographer, but really I’ll basically do anything as long as it means I can keep travelling and keep working for myself.  I guess if you were to classify my travels it would be as a “nomadic search for growth and understanding.”

6. One post that made me laugh was “Moments in Travel That Make US Feel Like We’re in a Movie.”  Would that genre be comedy, drama, horror or something else entirely?

My movie would definitely be a comedy.  Those who know me know that I rarely am found without a smile on my face or a joke to tell.  Furthermore, I am always getting into some sort of misadventure that might be scary for the moment, but makes a good story in the end.  To be honest, I’d love to instill some drama into my movie.  I need that drama for an ending of my biography.

career break travel adventures in Costa Rica

On Cerro Chirripo in Costa Rica. Copyright BrendansAdventures.com

7. What are some of the secrets to travel that you’ve discovered that you think more people who aren’t traveling should know?

That you don’t need to travel to have an adventure and to grow as a person.  Travel forces us to step outside our comfort zones and it forces us to grow as people.  But there really is no need to travel across the world to have that type of experience.  It doesn’t matter if you’re travelling or not, it is completely possible to have the type of experience normally associated with travel from your hometown; you just need to step out side of your box and try something new.

8. What was your first ¨I’m not in Kansas anymore¨ moment?

I think I’ve had two.  One was when I crossed the border into Mexico when I was about 8 years old with my family.  There was an old lady grabbing at my pants asking me for money.  The second was when I was in Japan at age 13 on a student exchange.  I was wandering through the town I had just arrived in, Kamikawa, and an old lady invited me into her home for a tea and to look at a local shrine that was on their property.  I swear though, you don’t need an old lady to have an “I’m not in Kansas anymore” moment.

career break travel adventures in Bolivia

on the Death Road in Bolivia. Copyright BrendansAdventures.com

9. What’s been your most ¨local¨ experience so far?

This is a little bit hard for me to answer because I’ve had so many. Obviously, when I was on my exchange in Japan I had a great “local” experience.  I was basically a local in Arequipa, Peru where I lived with my ex-girlfriend’s family for a while.  But also, anyone of the many homestays I’ve done from Peru to the jungle of Suriname have been great “local” experiences.  I’m not sure there is an sort of “local” experience that isn’t be a good experience, or at least a learning experience.

10. What has been your most embarrassing moment?

Oh no, I hate answering this question because I am too honest about in answering it.  Well, everyone, I think, has a poop story and I’m no different.  On my first backpacking trip I found myself in Costa Rica when Montezuma’s revenge hit.  I was at the side of the road waiting for a bus with a couple very good looking girls when the grumbles began.  I sent them off on their own as I went to search for a bathroom.  When I couldn’t find one, nor wait much longer, I ran into a shed from a local’s house.  I built a throne out of the bricks that I found in there and did my business.  Afterward, I ran out of the shed only to come face-to-face with the owner.  I mumbled “I’m sorry” in scared Spanish and sprinted away at top speed.  I would now pay money to see the owner’s face when he realized what I was sorry for.

career break travel adventures in Patagonia, Torres Del Paine Park, Glacier Grey, Chile

Glacier Grey inside the Torres Del Paine park, Patagonia, Chile. Copyright BrendansAdventures.com

11. What’s your secret for getting the most out of your journey?

My secret is to great travel is to try to do so with a child-like nativity and curiosity.  If you see the world as a place to explore instead of a big scary place you get so much more out of the experience.

12. Finally, our lightening round.

  • Best dish you’ve found so far – Noodle soup in Japan… Amazing.
  • Most exotic food eaten – I’ve eaten scorpion. I’m not sure sure that’s exotic or just strange.
  • Most breathtaking moment – Sneaking into Machu Picchu before anyone else was allowed.  Being alone in that place? Wow!
  • Biggest disappointment – Fish & Chips in London
  • Most memorable place – Tough one, probably Japan as I still remember as clear as day and that was 13 years ago.
  • Most memorable person –  The owner of the shed I did my business in.  I’ll never forget his confused face.
  • Best thing to have on a long bus ride – a good view
  • Worst thing to have on a long bus ride – diarrhea
  • Best thing you packed – Ziploc bags
  • Dumbest thing you packed – Some other guy’s clothes as I was leaving a dorm early in the morning… oops.
  • Funniest travel habit you have – Buying too much wine and having to pack it everywhere I go.
  • Place you wish you could’ve stayed longer – Antarctica. I could have photographed Antarctica for months without getting bored.
career break travel adventures in Egypt

In Egypt at the Sphinx. Copyright BrendansAdventures.com

You can follow Brendan online at Brendan’s Adventures. on Facebook and on Twitter @BrendanVanSon

Every week, Career Break Secrets profiles a different traveler or traveling couple who are embracing the ¨Because Life Is Out There TM¨ travel spirit.  These are people who have taken the plunge to embark on a career break and are currently traveling the world.

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2 Responses to “Who’s Out There Now: Brendan”

  1. Elle says:

    Oh man! That poor shed owner! I bet that was loads of fun to clean up after. Way to go Brendan!

  2. A very interesting interview. I think sometimes the ‘why’ of travel is often overlooked. I’m not sure what category I would fit into; however, after 6 years of continuously living abroad I’m in no, way, shape or form ready to stop :)

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