March 13th, 2008
Tony (the Tiger) has come back to our hostel for (I believe) the fourth time. He’s been the subject of a previous blog entry but we feel he merits another.
When it comes to travel, Tony just doesn’t stop. He’s been traveling for over a decade and has just arrived in Toronto by bus from New York City and announced that he’s finally visited all fifty states of the USA.
He’s also visited more than 40 countries. But what makes Tony’s solo travel adventures so compelling is that Tony is totally blind.
When Tony got back this time we decided to try a new blog format do an “interview” with him.
Canadiana: What was your inspiration for traveling?
Tony: My father. He traveled. A lot. He was in the Merchant Marine and he used to tell fascinating stories of his adventures. Although, I’m sure he made a lot of them up. Things like navigating around icebergs in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or crossing the Australian outback by rail. I vowed, early on, that I would experience similar things as well.
Canadiana: Of the countries/places you’ve visited, which were your favorites? And why?
Tony: New Zealand and Iceland. As you might imagine, for me, people are what make the places I visit interesting. The people in both places were really wonderful, helpful and welcoming.
Canadiana: What was your most memorable adventure?
Tony: Oh, easy! My first solo wilderness hike. It was in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies – Grizzly bear country, you know. It was around Whisper Mountain and it was only about a mile-and-a-half loop but it took me over three hours! Clean air, crisp weather – exhilarating! Since then, I’ve done treks in parts of Africa as well.
Canadiana: Any tips for novice adventurers?
Tony: If it’s adventure you want, try going places at times that most people don’t go. Like Sri Lanka during the Monsoons; or Iceland in late October; or like here in Canada right now! Lots of snow! Also travel light. I don’t have anything really valuable with me except my hearing aids and I don’t think anybody wants to steal them.
Canadiana: What are some of the most pleasant surprises you’ve had in your travels?
Tony: The kindness and generosity of the poorest people in some of the most impoverished places in the world. Astonishing! Humbling! And a testimony to the human spirit.
Canadiana: Are you going to continue traveling?
Tony: Of course! I travel for the feeling of exultation I get. You feel so alive from some of the simplest things. Places feel and smell differently. And the many moments of magic like meeting wonderful people; or feeling the ocean spray on your face; or breathing clean mountain air. I travel to recapture those moments.
Canadiana: Any final words of wisdom gained from your years on the road?
Tony: You know, being blind I could get up in the morning and say the heck with it, I don’t feel like doing anything today. Well, if I thought like that then I wouldn’t do anything! I live life for the moment. Life for me can be as easy or as difficult as I choose to make it!
It is now 12:30 A.M. and I’ll have to cut this interview short. Tony has found a couple of ladies (Sally from England and Emily from Oz) as he’s talked them into going to the local pub for a nightcap.
Tony on a glacier in N.Z.
On our patio with friends last summer.
Tony with his new friend the beautiful Tamara from Germany.