First and foremost, WOW! This certainly was an incredible journey. I found myself laughing most of the way through this story. There were times I was also shocked and thought to myself, what a sheltered life I've lived. Of course there were points where tears came to my eyes as I realized what a truly remarkable experience Norm had and how much he had absorbed, and also given, through his life changing journey.
I would certainly recommend this read to anyone who is looking for some truthful experiences, and even those who could use some soul searching encouragement.
My take on the book-
This begins as many would imagine, a young man wanting to travel the world and enjoy himself in every new destination. As though he were leaving for a year long "vacation".
While his trip did begin this way, it soon transformed into a shocking experience. Not only did Norm, and his travel companion (for most of the journey) Shane, get to be a tourist in each of these destinations they visited but they began to immerse themselves in thier local ways. Meeting hundreds of new pals and learning an incredible amount of history and culture along the way.
Most of the heartfelt experiences came later in his year of travel, after he and Shane had parted ways on thier journeys because they were looking for different things. While I don't know what Shane went on to discover, Norm had discovered himself through his excursions and the many people he encountered along the way. I can't say that he changed the lives of anyone he met, however, he certainly made in impact, even if only for a brief time, by befriending several of those he came in contact with. He was always willing to lend a hand. Even while getting the odd looks and quizzical expressions by the other locals, sometimes even the person he was assisting. As he ended his journey, he visited his land of heritage. Thus bringing his journey to a wonderful completion where he was able to spend time with some of his own family and learning more of his personal culture before heading back to the U.S. to become "normal" again.
In the next ten years, Norm realizes that his journey is not actually complete. While he had made a good living for himself and at this point owns a home and a couple vehicles and has many material possessions, this is not what he wants. To be "normal". As he remembers a particular person he met along the way, he decided that he wanted to have a much simpler life and that he needed to be the "voice" for this person and many others who could not share thier own stories. Norm decides to sell/donate ALL of his possessions. He leaves the states once more to settle in Costa Rica and now has only a few clothes, a surfboard, and a laptop to his name. Now deciding that he needs to tell his story, more like the story of all those he encountered, he begins writing.
His creation being a beautiful compilation of his experiences. In my opinion, an honest and enlightening masterpiece.
Thank you Norm for this wonderful journey that you have shared with us all!