Guest #16: Matt Candelaria

Name: Matt Candelaria
Lives in: Los Angeles, CA USA
Occupation: Quality Assurance Software Engineer

Matt Canadelaria, a childhood friend of Nick, joined the Drive Around the World team for its journey through India. A native of Los Angeles, you can normally find him sitting behind a computer or in the cockpit of his airplane. Maybe a far cry from his experience in India, but Matt earned his stripes while on the road, sometimes working under the Rovers, navigating or pushing paperwork in various embassies. His enthusiasm endeared him to the team and bestowed patience among the team as Matt searched for food that was not too dangerous or spicy for him. This was his first 5-week vacation since childhood, and served only to increase his resolve to accumulate enough wealth so he can have more time to spend with family and friends as well as his hobbies.

What kind of impact is the LONGITUDE expedition having in the communities they visit?

I think it is big. It is clear we were driving though areas that have never seen anything like this ever happen. On virtually every gas/bathroom/food stop we were swarmed with people curious about what the team was doing. People asked questions about where we were from and what we were doing. They were amazed at how far we had driven. Many wrote down the web site address and I am sure were learning more.

Would you be up for 9 months of travel like this?

? I would love to have done the entire drive around the world journey. It got very tiring at times but anytime I thought that I was not enjoying myself or using my time wisely I would just tell myself that anything is better than sitting at home and watching that stupid television, even spending the day waiting at the Delhi airport customs office to get a package.
What is your most memorable moment during your portion of the journey?
Meeting the Dalai Lama was the big winner. It will be hard to top that in anything that happens in my life. Second place would be Varanasi. While I don't plan on ever going back, going there once was something to remember.
What advice do you have for future travelers in the program?
Don't plan on any schedule or particular travel route actually happening. There are just so many things that can go wrong. Also give up the dream of purchasing a ticket to leave at a particular time from a particular place in the hopes of getting a low cost fare; it just isn't going to happen. Budget for a high cost last minute fare from who knows where because that is what you will end up needing.
What surprised you the most?
How much work everyone was doing! On driving days we were up at 5am and driving all the way into the night. On "rest" days there was always lots of things to do, working on cars, going to embassies, all sorts of little tasks that had to be done. To be honest this is what I enjoyed the most, the fact that I was doing something very different, not just sight seeing and eating. I figured that I could sight see and eat on any other trip. That is what made this journey different.
What was the best thing you ate?
Shrimp at the Hotel Dynasty in Guwahati. They were not particularly amazing shrimp, the real thing was I had been struggling with finding anything to eat for the previous three days. When I finally found this Chinese restaurant, I was in heaven. I actually left the table feeling full. How nice.
What was the most difficult part of the traveling experience?
Getting altitude sickness when heading to Leh. Not a happy thing. We had just past over a 16500 foot pass and had one more 16500 foot and one 17500 foot to go when it hit me. Fortunately medication took away most of the symptoms, all that remained was euphoria which was basically feeling like I was drunk. Not a completely bad way to spend the afternoon.