So I’m Leaving

uncertain future
Margarita Island, Venezuela

The cowardly belief that a person must stay in one place is too reminiscent of the unquestioning resignation of animals, beasts of burden stupefied by servitude and yet always willing to accept the slipping on of the harness. There are limits to every domain, and laws to govern every organized power. But the vagrant owns the whole vast earth that ends only at the non-existent horizon, and her empire is an intangible one, for her domination and enjoyment of it are things of the spirit.

Isabelle Eberhardt

For most of the past six years, my job has been fermentation process development. I did experiments with cells (bacterial, yeast, and mammalian) in reactors up to 400 liters in size to maximize the production of biological agents that were engineered into those cells. I’ve worked on drugs aimed to treat anthrax, cancer, HIV, lupus, chlamydia, and arthritis, of which most are still toddling along in clinical trials. The work was interesting but not exciting—it was highly technical in nature and just not something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Plus I never felt motivated enough to be a corporate go-getter. The highlights of my day were lunch and checking my email after lunch.

I’m about to buy a one-way ticket to South America, a place where I can travel while saving money at the same time. I want to start in Ecuador, go through Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, and then settle in Argentina for a while before I visit Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia. I want to get there in July and stay for at least six months. Don’t worry, the blog will continue.

When I come back to the U.S., I want to try to live somewhere else, maybe Austin or Miami. It’s time to move on from this area. Much of the next couple of months will be spent with my family, playing with my little brothers, having serious discussions with my Dad, listening to my Mom complain about my stepmom, and joking around with my 20-year-old sister. It’s going to hurt that they will no longer be a stone’s throw away from me.

My only goal is that when my time has come, when I know that I don’t have much longer to live, I have done everything I could to have a meaningful and purposeful life, one lived to the fullest potential given to me. There is no one goal, one experience, or one accomplishment that can make this happen, but a way of life that enjoys it with rich experiences instead of things and cubicles and kitsch and money. I don’t believe in waiting until I’m 65 to do this. My health is good, my sexual drive is good, my savings is good, my mind is good—the time is now.

After I bought my first pocket digital camera, I would take it with me every time I went out with friends. But after about four years, I noticed I was taking pictures that were just slight variations of ones I already took. There are only so many different ways you can capture the same cast on the same stage with the same backdrop. Same as life. It has become too comfortable, too familiar. It’d be nice to experience something new and challenging.


  1. irina April 24, 2007 at 10:19 am


  2. mm April 24, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Good for you! I hope you have fun during your travels and pick a good place to settle down.

    When you get to Peru, can you pretty please take lots of pictures and post them?

  3. Sweat P. April 24, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Yeah, I’m going to Austin. Screw this.

  4. inowpronounceyou April 24, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Austin is bad ass…the only problem being that it’s surrounded by Texas.

    Godspeed, Roosh. I’ll pour out a SoCo and Lime for you.

  5. Jay Gatsby April 24, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Best of luck to you. I’m sure this is the right thing for you to do. Waiting to enjoy everything the world has to offer until you’re RETIRED? Screw that. NOW is the time to explore, learn and grow. Enjoy the journey.

    P.S. I can’t wait for you to post bikini shots from the beaches of South America! Definitely going to be OTH.

  6. johnchimpo April 24, 2007 at 11:19 am

    sounds like an excellent plan.

    If you want some good pointers of things to think about, check out this guys site, he just finished a long leg through South America and was quite good about giving an idea of what to expect and look out for.

    obviously you are looking to move out of the cess-pool that is Washington, DC, but if you are not adverse to colder climates, Chicago is one of the best cities in the States as far as I’m concerned. Add it to your list. The winters suck, but you really do get used to it. There is no other city quite like Chicago in the summer.

    a good quote to live by from Mark Twain:

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime”

  7. Brunch Bird April 24, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Hear that? It was the collective shudder and menacing growl of the fathers and big brothers of South America.
    Good for you dude.

  8. kayla April 24, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Totally random (or maybe not…) that I am listening to the Motorcycle Diaries soundtrack right now…

    All I can say is.. I am incredibly jealous. (Sigh.. South America is on my list of places I want to get lost)..I sense you won’t ever come back…

  9. namaste April 24, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Brilliant. The more you live according to your own authenticity, the more it will feel like doors are flying open for you that would have been rendered invisible and silent in a cubicle. Good luck and godspeed. (And may I recommend Miami over Austin. Miami is much more international.) Congratulations and safe travels!

  10. virglekent April 24, 2007 at 11:34 am

    I’m glad this finally came out! I’ve been holding this secret like it was the cure for fucking AIDS. All this time assholes thought you were just not working to not work and live off society.

    We still have a lot work to get done before I ascend the DC most hated male blogger throne…..

  11. Mandy April 24, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Yay southwest! Austin might be a really good fit for you (I live in the southwest and I’m a little biased)…and either way, I know Brazilians who live in both cities, so if you dig the Brazilian vibe you can’t go wrong 🙂

    Either way, the weather will be infinitely hotter/better than DC. That’s reason enough.

  12. Roissy April 24, 2007 at 12:03 pm


    in principle, i share your outlook. but the details… oh, the details. for instance, while it seems to make more sense to get your adventuring out of the way when you’re young and vital enough to enjoy it rather than when you are 65 and invisible to hot brazilian girls, by doing so you are robbing other arenas of life that also require youthful energy to flourish, like building a career.

    if you plan on eventually settling into some sort of long-term career then the window to build the foundation of such an endeavor will be in your youth, not when you are 45 or even 35 and mentally and physically tired as your kids snot all over you and the wife goes shopping for the next size up. employers know this, which is why most people (AKA cogs in the machine) in their 20s don’t sacrifice 5 years pouring drinks at tiki bars in the caribbean.

    openeing avenues by immersing yourself in projects along the journey is good advice. but so is contemplating the big picture. what is your grand plan?

  13. Dagny T. April 24, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Sounds like an amazing trip, and the perfect time to move when you get back. Good luck!

  14. Nabs April 24, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Good luck, glad you’re making the jump to a better life. I’ve been to South America, and not to knock it, but I found central Asia to be more interesting. If you are really looking for meaning you are going to have to immerse yourself into a completely different paradigm. Which is what i found in central Asia.

    The problem I have with South America is that the culture is similar to the one I found in Texas where i grew up, not that that is a bad thing, but when you are looking for meaning it doesn’t help much.

    If you are looking to have fun, then ya the area is great for that…great environment, great women, great food…if you are looking for more i recommend looking elsewhere.

  15. boc April 24, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Best of luck my friend.

  16. Some Catchy Chic April 24, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    That sounds like a great idea! Good luck with that. I want to go.

  17. mike says April 24, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    cheers, man. livin’ the dream.

    And even though Roissy came across as a raincloud in this thread, I’d be interested in the answer to his question, too; is there a grand plan, or is it live in the moment all the way through? I’m guessing it’s the latter or some hybrid of the two, if that’s possible.

    Congrats and godspeed, Roosh.

  18. gn April 24, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    I’m jealous! :sadwave:

  19. Helen Skor April 24, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    You’ve got cajones . . . not sure I could drop everything and take off into the great wide open. Best of luck.

  20. shmooth April 24, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    good for you.

    i sensed a general callousness from some of your posts (just speakin the truth – frank speech, that’s all) that you were still in the comfy confines of ‘home’. i used to be the same way. Even though i left my hometown at 18, i never _really_ left home until after college, when i started venturing to and living in cities all over the place, by myself. i think you need to get your ass kicked around a bit when you’re on your own to gain compassion for other people. lots of girls seem to have a compassion gene built-in – I did not, and I think many/most other guys suffer from the same affliction.

    good luck!

    p.s. i should invest in a straight-to-Flickr camera if i were you. that way, no transferring and having to have a laptop handy and all that nonsense. maybe you’ll work up to it. also, forums would be super-cool. i’d also like a non-NYT report from trendy Buenos Aires. 🙂

  21. Mr Boofu April 24, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Sorry Roissy but thats some programmed collegiate bullshit mentality. I know alot of people who are in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s who are starting their own buisness or new careers and choose not to sit at some resting home, drooling over a bib.

    Congrats DCB for having the fucking balls to take a risk and go do something different for yourself and not pretending that your existence is forever. The only thing I wanna add is be safe dude because the cool thing to do is kidnap Americans and hold them hostage especially in Brazil, Columbia, and Venezuela.

    Your best bet for a new city would be the west coast dude. People are open minded and have all kinds of interesting perspectives on life. I’m sorry but outside of Miami and Atlanta city limits, the south pretty much sucks, stuck in its racist, conservative, closed minded ways and I wouldn’t recommend it for anybody. Austin is only moving up because the tech companies and all the people who can’t afford to live in Cali are moving out. Its a good city but its still fucking texas…

  22. boc April 24, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    My name spelled backwards is synonymous with awesome.

  23. barzelay April 24, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Of all the cities in which I’ve lived (Tampa, Nashville, Austin, San Francisco, D.C.), Austin was my favorite. I fucking loved that city. San Francisco is a close second, and is much more cosmopolitan (but no more liberal), but nowhere is as cool and laid back as Austin. Whenever I’m in Austin I feel like everyone I meet has been transported from the 60’s, and everyone wants to have fun, new experiences. The city revels in its own uniqueness (as does San Fran), but it’s a small enough city that it still feels all the residents are in on a secret.

    Tampa isn’t so far from Miami, but I’ve only been there a couple times. I hate Miami. It’s somewhat “international,” (which in this case just means “Latino”) more so than Austin, anyway. But Miami is a lot more status-obsessed, money-obsessed, beauty-obsessed, and self-conscious. Austin is a lot more carefree.

    I have no reason to believe you and I would love the same things in cities, but this has been my experience.

  24. Eric April 24, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Awesome, awesome, awesome. You know you have a couch to crash on in Austin if you decide to set up shop here.

    Good luck, man.

  25. KassyK April 24, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Congrats! I am so excited for you. 🙂

  26. Jewcano April 24, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Austin I highly recommend. Miami, not so much. What little I’ve seen in it, too fake. If you want the Florida vibe, I recommend Cocoa Beach. Not nearly as touristy most of the year as Miami, not as big, way way more laid back. Good bars, good drunks, good beaches. Tourists tend to be way more college kids than families. On that line I’d recommend Charleston, too, but that’s my personal gem.

    Boofu, your argument is crap. People starting 2nd careers late in life generally didn’t just start their first ones. What allows them to do that is that they got so far in their first career that they can safely coast for a good while.

    The real response to Roissy is that it doesn’t matter when you start the rat race if your intent is to never start at all. There are plenty out there, especially in places like Austin or Cocoa Beach, who have no real job, maybe they bartend, maybe they clean rentals in between tenants, whatever. They make enough to be beach bums or bar flies, which is all they want anyway. It’s not a life for everyone but it is a life enough for few. I had a bunch of drinks with a guy in Fla who (supposedly) wrote for Rolling Stone. From what I could tell his job was keeping the barstool from flying away. Happy enough.

  27. Mr Boofu April 24, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Okay Dr Phil

  28. Roosh April 24, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Of course I don’t have a plan. I’m sure it will all fall into place… magically!
    Or I’ll just be a bartender again.

  29. average jane April 24, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    After living in Miami for 4 years, I can say that Jewcano is absolutely right. Miami is very superficial… and you’d fit in REALLY well there. Full of beautiful and easy women who are “exotic” by nature. They are pretty straight about getting what they want, no BS when it comes to so many things: Sex, drugs, and anything but rock and roll included.

    Anyway, go where your heart takes you, but just don’t expect to find happiness when you get there.

  30. sk3ptic April 25, 2007 at 1:42 am

    I’m going to colombia, medellin in decemeber since i was born there and I have LOTs of family. Highly recommend you go there if for nothing else the girls. I would show you around, if you like, because you’ve entertained me with your blog.

  31. CR April 25, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Good luck — I wish I had your courage!

    Since I’m Brazilian, if you want any tips once you make your way down there, feel free to shoot me an email. A lot of gorgeous places to see!

  32. Gunslingergregi April 25, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Good Luck on your adventure. You do realize though there are jobs that pay you to do that. 6 months adventure (do what you want)(company pays for flight), 6 months working under extreme conditions (some cases not so extreme). It is a lie you cannot have nothing in this world and be free. What is freedom without choices? It takes money to be able to make choices without being a slave to your basic needs.

  33. webcowgirl April 25, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    :pika: I QUIT MY JOB TODAY – must be something in the air. I have nothing lined up, no plan. But ulcers (literally) weren’t worth it anymore.

    Have fun on your trip. Austin is amazing as well. I go there every year. I’m also Texan and a bit partial!

  34. shmooth April 25, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    lots of folks pimpin Austin. zowie.

    i still haven’t made it down there yet, but any place that produces an anarchist-leaning film like Slacker is a-ok with me.

    and i suppose that sxsw thing is pretty cool, even if too many sf nerds show up there to try and spoil the fun.

  35. Sudamericana April 26, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Good luck! I am living in the UK now, but I’ll be in Argentina from July to mid September, doing fieldwork for my thesis. Email me if you are there, and I can show you around town in order to help you grasp the “native’s point of view” (just sat for an anthropology final yesterday, so I couldn’t resist using those words).

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  37. Tater Salad May 17, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    In Rio be mindful of women who seem very normal, but are in fact prostitutes. Even the well trained eye had difficulty differentiating between the two. I no longer have my digital camera, about 60 bucks, and two of my credit cards thanks to a run in with two hookers and their so called pimp.

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