After two years working as a roadie for a rock band, and another couple years setting up tropical fish departments for a major US import store, my career tac took an unplanned turn: I could have ended up a gun-runner in Central America.
Well, what my Honduran identity card said was: “PERMISO PARA PORTAR ARMA DE FUEGO”. I could bring in any gun, any caliber. I just had to keep them out of sight in “Zones Urbanas”. So, I quietly carried my 45 automatic Lugar to the job sites in the mountains of Honduras. I knew how to shoot the damn thing, too if push came to shove!
Riding horseback, loaded with dynamite and two weeks of supplies into the mountains overlooking Comayagua, we were transported to a place that seemed stuck in a time period of about 140 years in the past. It wasn’t exactly a dream job.
One day push finally came to shove. I wasn’t expecting it or prepared for it. Being pinned to the outside wall of a mountain shack with a rusty double barrel shotgun pointed at my head, and 20 peasants with machetes surrounding me and my companions, my exciting, see-the-world job seem to come with a potentially costly job “benefit”.
So I quit.
Next, it was on to becoming a lab technician for a civil engineering firm. They had wonderful seasick rides to oil well platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, then offered me a mission I couldn’t refuse: A six month stay in the dunes of Saudi Arabia. That’s dunes as in sand, not as in the name of a fancy hotel.
I stayed three years.
From that job platform, I’ve traveled throughout Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.
In no particular order, I slept in a prime minister’s bed, hugged the pillars of Stonehenge, lived in a Shanghai estate that opium built, climbed through an abandoned Ottoman Empire fort, stood atop the Leaning Tower of Pisa, traveled by river to the interior of Borneo. On a rainy afternoon, I attended a cremation ceremony in Bali. I became friends with the former personal police officer of Queen Elizabeth, climbed to the top of a refinery processing tank that Saddam Hussein later tried to blow up with a scud missile, and nearly drowned white-water rafting on a swollen, raging mountain river in Hualien County, Taiwan.
I even drank rice wine in a long house inhabited by Iban head hunters deep in the jungles of Borneo along the Baram River in Sarawak. Lucky for me, they stopped hunting heads after WWII. Or so I was told.
One morning the long dream ended as my alarm clock rang. It was snowing outside my Upstate New York apartment. This Texan stumbled out of bed. I dressed, loaded myself into my rusty bucket car, and drove to my no-so-serendipitous job selling wicker and wax.
It’s from this most recent phase of my so-called life that I’m hearing alarm clocks ringing, ringing, ringing.
It’s time to WAKE UP!
Currently in business management in Upstate New York, Baker, a native Texan, is a graduate of State University of New York (Albany) with a BA in Asian Studies (minor in classical Chinese literature), a masters (MRP) in Regional and Urban Planning (Third World), and a Graduate Certificate in US Urban Policy.
After several months working with a mining company in Honduras, he worked for three years in Saudi Arabia with a civil engineering firm from Houston, and traveled throughout Southeast Asia, China, and Northern Africa with Halliburton for several years, based out of Singapore. During his years living in Singapore he was also known for his radio and television voice over work. Baker returned to the US in 1985 to complete academic interests and has lived in New York since then. He is also a musician, song writer, artist, and published poet.