So I decided to set up this little corner of the site as a means of travel-inspirado as well as some interesting insight into the lives of my crazy, hilarious, fun-loving friends. Some of the people I’ve met while traveling the world, others I’ve met during my years playing music and others have been hiding right under everyone’s noses in my hometown. Here’s the requirements for making into the category of “Most Interesting Friends in the World” by my measure:
- You gotta be a cool motherfucker.
- You gotta do or have done some cool shit.
- You gotta buy me a beer or something.
I’m gonna start off this series with my friend Stone, who I met in Spain last summer. I know what you’re thinking… Stone. Coolest name ever. Right? Turns out, even a year after Stone and I parted ways in Europe I was still finding out incredible shit about the guy. After I left, I saw him playing with lions in Africa, hanging out with tribesmen at Machu Picchu in Peru and floating down the Amazon in a fucking dugout canoe.
I suddenly found myself wondering—Who is this guy really? So I sat down with Stone via Facebook and asked him some questions. Enjoy:
1. Okay first of all—“Stone?” Even your name sounds like an Indiana Jones spinoff. Is that the name on your driver’s license or did you somehow earn it by unearthing some precious stone in a hail of arrows by tribesmen somewhere?
Stone: Haha I wish! It’s actually my middle name. It was a family name on my dad’s side, but my mom said I needed a respectable first name… so the compromise was that my first name would be William, but they would call me by my middle name, Stone. An interesting by-product of that was that I had no idea what my first name actually WAS for the longest time as a kid.
Tom: Haha! If people were calling me Stone, I wouldn’t even care what my first name was anyways.
2. Speaking of growing up, did you travel as a child or is the “rambling fever” something you caught later in life?
Stone: I moved a bit as a kid, but I definitely caught my travel bug my senior year in college. I was supposed to go to Colombia with a group of friends, but they had to cancel last minute. I went anyways (despite being a bit terrified haha) and I ended up having the time of my life after being taken in by a local family in the Favelas… I learned so much about myself in such a short time that I couldn’t wait to get out and test myself, and push my limits again!
Tom: That takes a lot of balls, to go to Colombia on your first trip, and all by yourself! I’m getting ready to try my hand at solo travel, and coincidentally, the first place I’m headed to is Colombia. haha. Anyways, this leads us to the next question:
3: What’s the sketchiest situation you’ve ever been in while traveling abroad?
Stone: Hit me up when you go! You are gonna love it there, man.
So I arrived in Marrakech from Spain on an early morning flight. Got a ride to the main square and figured I could make my way to my hostel (about a block off it) from there. As I’m following my scribbled directions, locals start bombarding me with offers to help (i.e. offers to get you lost in the Medina and charge you to take you out, a common scam). I was pretty confident so I ignored them, and as I came around the corner where I SHOULD have seen it…. there was an empty wall with a squatting height entrance to an alleyway. Enter Mr. Sketchball. This guy walks up as he sees that I’m at a bit of a loss for what to do. Normall thats cool. However, this guy was wearing a big black leather trenchcoat in the sweltering heat, complemented by, I shit you not, an eyepatch.
He starts pestering me and follows me as I pick back up the trail to my hostel. He finally gave up after I refused to go down an alley that would have required me to bend over. (Even though I could SEE my hostel at this point) Nope. Nope, nope, nope.
Definitely a sketchball moment haha
Tom: Haha! I lost it at “eyepatch.”
Stone: Also, sorry for the length and slightly disjointed nature of these answers… I’ve been practicing assaulting phantom guerrillas all day so I’m a bit out of it.
Tom: No worries man! I think it will be a fun read. That actually leads me to my next question:
4. After all of this time I’ve continued to follow your crazy adventures on Facebook, a YEAR later I find out you’re also active duty in the US Marine Corps. Was there a reason (other than your characteristic modesty) that you failed to mention that to anyone?! How long have you been in the service?
Stone: Well thats actually a fairly complicated answer. The simple side of it is that while I’m proud of my service, I am very aware that there are many people around the world who may either be anti-American or anti-military. So primarily it’s a security concern. If I go around talking about what I do for a living, it elevates the potential for being a target of malicious actions. I would never want to put those around me, or my nation, in a difficult situation because I didn’t have the common sense not to talk about my work. On a more personal side, I am a Marine and I can demonstrate that through my actions. Being well spoken, thoughtful, honorable, decisive, and prepared for anything. I shouldn’t need to TELL people that I’m a Marine for them to notice those things in me. I try to live those values as I go. So, when or if I decide its appropriate to tell someone what I do, I hope that it wont surprise them, and for all the right reasons. At the time of my travels I was on inactive reserve status as an officer (which is why I got away with a beard haha). I was in the Reserve Officer Training Corps in college for four years, but I only started active duty this June.
Tom: That’s totally understandable. I think the thing that surprised me about it was—yes, the beard—and the fact that you’ve managed to cram so many awesome accomplishments into such a small amount of time. Thank you for your service!
5. I have one question before I let you go back to doing Indiana Jones things—if you could recommend only ONE of the places you’ve traveled to for people to visit, where would it be and why?
Stone: So thats a really hard question to answer, because each place has its specific pros and cons that make a country beautiful in its own way. The San Fermin, in Spain was the best party, Ecuador’s biodiversity was stunning, South Africa had some of the most friendly people and a heavy meat culture I fell in love with, Paris (well enough said, its fucking Paris)…. I guess if you had to make me pick, I would choose Colombia. The country is a spicy mix of astounding hospitality with the ever present reminder of the violence that pervaded the country for 50 years, and still lingers at the edge. For a people who have seen so many horrors in their lives, they are warm and friendly. No where else will people offer so much even when they have almost nothing. My first trip was to Colombia, where I was literally taken in by their kind people. Colombia has a place in my heart and I would go there any day of the week. Plus… Where else in the world can you find a city who’s ENTIRE culture revolves around dancing?! (Cali) lol
Tom: Thanks for such awesome responses, man. I have to admit I’ve been a little nervous about traveling to Colombia for my first time solo and you’ve taken the edge off a bit. I hope we can meet up for beers on the road someday and catch up a little more, as I can tell you’re a bit busy with active duty!
You can find Stone on his blog, although he really just keeps it up for friends and family. He’s a good writer though, and there’s tons of cool stories about his many adventures on there! If you have any questions for my buddy, leave them in the comments below and I’ll see that he gets them!
Thanks for reading, and happy travels,