How I became an TEFL teacher... (part i)

Kelimutu Colored Lakes - Komodo, Indonesia
The other day, Sean Banville wrote about his journey into TEFL and Scott Thornbury reflected on his path to writing and also asked if our profession is indeed a profession... and I thought, well, hey, I'll share parts of my own road here too.

I've changed names, reordered some of the places and omitted a mention of dates to ensure the privacy of those involved who may one day stumble upon my blog...

He placed the pear-shaped, slightly yellowed, diamond ring on the table in front of me.

"It could still be yours."

I glanced at it briefly, this thing I had so desired for four years, and then looked briefly into his eyes noting the tear in the corner of the eyes of the only man I had ever slept with.

"And Andrea?"

Six months ago, he had come from a two-week vacation deeply in love.  He was twelve years older, I hadn't gone along on this trip because I'd final exams to study for and thought we would do well for having a break from each other.    When he came back with stars in his eyes and a spring in his step, everything in my life fell apart.   Everything we had co-created: our beautiful home, our wonderful cat, everything I'd held secure was turned into an illusion. 

"You can not run away."

I sighed.   I wanted nothing more in the world to be angry and bitter but I had found my own solution and could no longer care.

"I'm going tomorrow, Jack.  It's a little late for all this, don't you think?"  I shook my head at the ring, the ring I had chosen, the ring his new soul-mate would wear soon enough.

"What will you do?  What about your job?"

"I hate it."  I replied.

And I did.   By then I had felt so entirely suffocated by every choice I had made to be different and the only single thought I was still capable of thinking was that I wanted to be someone else in another, different world.

The next day, I climbed aboard a plane headed to Australia with a ten-day stopover in Thailand that turned into three months of exploring.  There are many stories I could stop here now to tell, but unfortunately they would take up an entire book and as this is just a blog post, I shall skip on ahead - past the meditation retreat in a Buddhist monastery where I learned to be silent for ten days; past riding through a jungle on the back on an elephant, race through finally reaching Oz and swimming there with sharks, falling to my death off a waterfall and escaping to have an ephiphany that my life should be about serving... surviving crossing a dessert and walking around a mystical red rock.

I shall jump in time from boarding a plane and arriving on an island filled with multi-coloured lakes with tribes one can only imagine meeting in a National Geographic magazine, skip hitch-hiking on the back of an onion truck and narrowly avoiding rape; only hint at the potential of prison because I'd allowed someone to use my loose tobacco pouch to roll something other than cigarettes and shall arrive back in Thailand where I had officially signed out from ever having anything resembling a normal, sensible life.

"Can I borrow some cash for a couple of days?" She asked.

"How much do you need?"  She answered and I gasped.  It was almost all the money I had still left.

She explained the emergency, a family member was dying and she had to pay the travel agent today - the money would be transfered from Canada in the next couple of days so she would  be able to pay me back however the only way to reserve the flight now was to borrow this quantity of cash now. 

I knew her very well, we'd shared a flat for four months in Australia and although we'd split paths in Indonesia we were now, co-incidentally on the same island in Thailand.   I lent her the money and she disappeared into India.  I would never see or hear from her again.

It took weeks for me to fully realize that I had been conned.  By then I was running very short of money and the embarrassment of it all was too much for me to make a call for help.   I could handle this, I thought.  I've got to get to somewhere I can work.  Brief chats on beaches told me that I had two options: Japan, sitting in bars talking to Japanese businessmen plying them with drinks or Hong Kong, normal bar work.

I went to the travel agent, flipped a coin, Hong Kong won.

When I arrived, I had twenty pounds to my name.   I asked the taxi driver to take me to the absolute cheapest, cheapest, cheapest backpackers' hostal.  He dropped me off at ChungKing Mansions: located just south-southwest of the end of the road of humanity...

3 Responses to “How I became an TEFL teacher... (part i)”

  • David Warr says:
    February 02, 2011

    Are you allowed to say the name of your cat?

    February 02, 2011

    Um... no can't, see, I didn't let "Jack" and "Andrea" keep "my" cat but instead gave him to someone else... and you never know who's reading this, see...

  • Anonymous says:
    February 06, 2011

    It seems as if you are an adventurer,you have share a great experince with us .At times we can have a good intention to help, but it might turn out to be against us .Do you agree time


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