As someone who has had to answer the question, “So what brings you to Bangladesh?” by holding up a pair of Jingle These Christmas boxers and saying, “My underwear were made here,” some might think I could vie for the title of The World’s Craziest Traveler.
But there’s a whole level of crazy that can’t be matched by underwear quests funded by second mortgages.
I was working at an adventure outfitter in North Carolina, when I encountered the craziest traveler I’ve ever met.
“I need a sleeping bag,” the man said, “a warm one.”
He looked normal enough: well dressed, bathed, no slobber.
“Where you heading?” I asked, expecting to hear something about the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains or maybe even a trip to the Rockies.
“Turkey?” The question was out there before I saw the twinkle in his eye. The twinkle that said, “I’m nuts and could pee in the corner or eat long underwear or book a trip to Turkey for bold and exciting and spiritually life-changing reasons that I’m about to tell you about for the next two hours.”
And he did.
The only thing crazier than the look in his eyes was his mission. He had been reading the Bible and noticed a pattern of prime numbers.
“Remind me, what’s a prime number again?”
Anyhow, this pattern of prime numbers had tipped him off to the location of Noah’s Ark on a mountain in Turkey and he was going to need a really warm sleeping bag because it was a really tall mountain and their was tribal infighting in the region that would make staying at a guesthouse difficult.
My co-worker knew his daughter and that he was recently divorced. His jittery hands hinted that his long nights pouring over the Bible were accompanied with a steady supply of stiff drinks.
Whether he had found religion or was looking for it, was anyone’s guess.
We didn’t have a sleeping bag prepared for the elements he would be facing and would have to order one in. But before we did, my co-worker and I discussed if ordering him a new bag with full knowledge of what he intended to use it for made us complicit in his imminent death.
We ordered it and then didn’t see him until months later. He was alive and looked mostly sane.
I was dying to know what happened in Turkey or if Turkey happened at all, but I didn’t ask. I knew he hadn’t found the Ark. That’s the kind of thing that you would hear about. But I was concerned that he would tell me what he did find, whether it was religion or himself or a Turkish bride.
Besides, I didn’t have the time to listen. I was planning my own trip to Honduras because that’s where my favorite T-shirt was made.
Got a candidate worthy of the title The World’s Craziest Traveler?