By Jane Hielman
He walked into the store, big smile, a friendly face and that smile gave him my attention.
“You must be Ian,” I grinned. “I have been waiting to meet you!”
Earlier that day he had passed through our Visitors Center. A text followed “Ian has a story for you,” read the text. “He will return this afternoon.”
Our Co-op door opened in greeting and his smooth voice of steady excitement, along with the role of the storyteller, was all he needed in order to spill his story. A small audience gathered and there we were for quite a while. He was going to travel on, quickly to Portland, but he stayed. No cell phone reception had changed his plans.
Going back several years, he knew he wanted to travel, see the world, meet people and get away from everything, so Australia seemed right.
“I got a job mining in Port Hedland, Western Australia. There I met a girl who introduced me to recreational deep sea diving, then pearl diving.
“No, I never found any pearls!” Ian assured me.
So at 23, this was a good start for a young man. The young lady faded, the skills stayed, then on to farming west of Kalgoorlie on the edge of the desert in the south of Western Australia.
to New Zealand
“I took on farm work for seven months, this is a place I could settle,” he assured me.
From New Zealand
back to Ireland
“I worked at diving in Scotland, diving into shipwrecks and plane crashes, welding underwater and construction under water. No, I didn’t go look at the Titanic, it is too deep!” he assured me.
I realized there was at least one limitation to his bucket list!
From Ireland and a good job the wanderlust continued. Bessie entered the picture. Together they left for Europe, traveling light, together they explored Russia, met the people and shared food and friendships.
“Russia became my favorite place! I loved it all!” Ian said “Even though I could not speak the language, I used sign language which I had learned from my Aunt in Ireland who was deaf.
Then onto Mongolia, the sand desert was so isolated it was scary, so big and eerie. Then I crashed in the sand hills. No one around, I felt for my lucky charm, it was gone, instead I realized my collar- bone was broken and so was I. My left arm was carrying forward and I could feel blood flowing where it should not have been!
I knew by my directions I was a long way from everywhere, so I tied my arm up with a bungee cord and started walking. I walked two days to a tiny village. They had no way to help me, so I went another eight hours to a bigger town. They couldn’t help.
So I flew out and it took ten days to get back to Ireland and into surgery to relieve my discomfort.
Look, now I have full movement, cool aye? Meanwhile I had met a guy whilst travelling in Mongolia. I contacted him, he was from Finland, he went back and found my bike, dug it out of the sand and found I had broken a clutch in the crash. In my simple packing, I had made sure to take some extra replacement parts and had a clutch and some simple tools. He managed to get the new clutch in place and drove it to a safe place. The next day there was a huge sand storm if he had waited it would never have been found!
I lost half of my body weight in Mongolia; there was no fresh meat, just strange stuff to eat. Every day was an adventure. Sleep meant nothing to me!
Then from Mongolia to Kyrgyzstan where I spent one year rebuilding my bike. Then I moved onto Asia where I spent two very painful weeks learning self-defense.
Greece, Turkey, and many other lands, back to Ireland to reassure family of my immortality! Unsettled I left Ireland for Canada; I came in on the East Coast and traveled to the west, up into Alaska and now down into the U.S.
“People are so very friendly; 99.9 percent of people are good. They have good lives, live happy, no matter what. It’s the authorities that divide us.” I asked Ian, “What does appropriate governance look like?” Ian went on to say “At the end of each day everything is equal!” I asked what he meant by equal. He replied, “Equality, fairness, sharing.” At this point Ian has traveled 40,000 miles in adventure mode. He repaired his bike several times rebuilt it once. Now he is heading for Portland where he plans to pull it down and rebuild again. He finished, “There is so much more to see! I have never been as happy as I am now.” I asked where to next? Drifting off, he sighed, “USA, Mexico, and right down the west coast of South America. I will leave my bike there and travel over to Antarctica. Pick the bike up and head over to Africa. I will drive the west coast and end up back in Ireland. It should be 100,000 miles. I have not spent one cent on accommodation, my tent is all I need. I don’t eat out, but do appreciate hot food when it is offered!”
I asked him what he felt was the highlight of his travels thus far.
“Well, the night before I crashed in Mongolia, I was robbed. They took my lucky charm, my leprechaun that my cousin had given me before I left. I am delighted that I crashed! “The 10th ofAugust I went back to Ireland. I got surgery to fix my injuries, I was recovering, it was the day before my birthday. I went to meet my cousin, I knew something was wrong. I found out that my uncle and 10 others were out on a boat and they had not come home when expected. I felt the panic and called my boss, the dive business had many connections. He called on out and within a few hours they were spotted in the water holding onto the hull of an upturned boat. They were rescued after 10 hours in the water. Another hour and they would have all died of exhaustion and hypothermia. I realized something about myself I realized that I felt the emergency. I knew I had been sent back to address this incident. My cousins lived but my uncle did not!
I know now that I can’t stop traveling. It is me, happy, exploring, moving, making sense of my world, searching constantly for happiness and freedom. I am me! Doing what I love, being where I belong, free day by day to choose my own path, driving my own destiny. Bessie? Well, I’ll leave it up to you to work out Bessie’s role in Ian’s story. Clue- she has a new clutch!
360˚ clue: the world is round!
1/3 clue: air lifted back to Ireland!
“I have never been as happy as I am now!”
Clue, his name is Ian Horan, a 29-year-old guy from Ireland!