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Overview

  • 183 references 109 Confirmed & Positive
  • Fluent in Chinese, English, French, Spanish; learning Arabic, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese
  • 47, Male
  • Member since 2008
  • Itinerant writer, translator, university teacher, lifetim...
  • Linguistics, literary theory, biochemistry, pre-medicine,...
  • From Canada
  • Profile 100% complete

About Me

I am a Canadian writer, teacher, and vice-president of a company that offers language programs in Texas. I have traveled to almost 100 countries, lived on five continents, and written eight books. I speak Chinese, Spanish, French, and English, and can understand Portuguese, German and Japanese reasonably well.

Information about my writing may be found on my web page: www.blairbourassawriter.wordpress.com. You can read selections of my short stories, travel stories, and historical fiction, as well as listen to some poems from my recent poetry book.

I am a bit shy, but Couchsurfing has really helped me meet good people and enjoy my travels. I have even been featured in the official Couchsurfing blog here: https://blog.couchsurfing.com/i-would-never-travel-without-couchsurfing/

I have a ton of travel stories; check out the “One Amazing Thing I’ve Done” section below!

PHILOSOPHY
"All that you've loved is all that you own."
-Tom Waits”

“I do not exist. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved, all the cities I have visited."
-Jorge Luis Borges

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in“"
-Leonard Cohen

"Tourists don't know where they've been. Travelers don't know where they are going."
-Paul Theroux

"The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world."
-Alexander von Humboldt

“Finishing a novel is like taking a child behind the house and shooting it.”
-Truman Capote

“The mind is not a bowl to be filled. It is a candle to be lit.”
-Plutarch

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did."
-Mark Twain

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."
-St. Augustine

"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!"
-Rudyard Kipling

Why I’m on Couchsurfing

HOW I PARTICIPATE IN COUCHSURFING

I have stories to tell, books to share, music to play, places to recommend, hopes and dreams to collaborate on, a whole complex palimpsest of self, sought and seen. Meet me sometime and skim through the pages...

COUCHSURFING EXPERIENCE

I have met lots of interesting people in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, the USA, Eastern Europe, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Iceland, the Middle East, Belarus, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and every country in the former Yugoslavia...

Interests

I'm an insatiable traveler, and have been through a good part of the planet in search of knowledge and experience. The human race and its endless eccentricities never cease to intrigue me.

Professional stuff: Story writer, language teacher, director of studies at various language institutes around the world

Athletic stuff: Distance running, biking and weight training.

Academic stuff: Languages, history, sociology, pedagogy, medicine, art theory, literary theory, travel narratives, obscure scientific research, etc.

  • writing
  • literature
  • running
  • adventure travel
  • beaches
  • forests
  • foreign languages
  • good conversation
  • weightlifting
  • helping others
  • hiking mountains

Music, Movies, and Books

BOOKS:
Spanish: Borges, Galeano, Cortazar, Rulfo, Benedetti, Carpentier, Fuentes...
French: Rabelais, Sartre, Camus, Dumas, Hugo, Genet, Prevert, Céline, Ernaux, Zola, Proust, Auster...
Japanese: Akutagawa Ryunosuke, Murakami Ryu, Sayaka Murata, Yukio Mishima, Osamu Tezuka...
Italian: Boccaccio, Calvino, Eco, Ariosto, Levi...
Chinese: Luxun, Sanmao, Wu Cheng'en, Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng,...
Portuguese: Fernando Pessoa (Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, and Álvaro de Campos)
Czechs: Milan Kundera, Karel Čapek
Serbo-Croatians: Milorad Pavić, Marina Abramović
Poles: Ryszard Kapuscinski
Russians: Dostoeyevski, Svetlana Alexievich, Maxim Gorky
Arabs: Nizat Tafiq Qabbani, Khalil Gibran
American/British: Shakespeare, George Orwell, Upton Sinclair, Cormac McCarthy, Hubert Selby Jr., William T. Vollman, James Joyce, Edmund Spencer, Zora Neale Hurston, Charles Bukowski, William S. Burroughs, John Steinbeck, Gregory David Roberts, Philip K. Dick, Andy Weir, Alan Moore...
Nonfiction: Robert Caro, Robert Bergreen, James Bradley, Carl Sandburg, Sarah Vowell, David McCullough, Robert Cialdini, Mark Kurlansky, Mary Roach, Oliver Sacks, Peter Zeihan, Paul Theroux, Daniel Kahneman, Herodotus, Joseph Campbell, Timothy Ferriss, Plato

MOVIES: Some of my favorites films are:
El Lado Oscuro del Corazon,
Last Tango in Paris,
Secretary (The 2002 one, with Gyllenhall)
Chinatown,
Wild at Heart,
Memento,
Brazil,
The Passenger (with Jack Nicholson), and
Requiem for a Dream

Documentary films I recommend:
About travel and the beauty of life in general; "Baraka," and "Ashes and Snow"
About Chile and Argentina: "Operation Condor", and "Memorias del Saqueo"
About Brazil: "Manda Bala"
About Guatemala: "When the Mountains Tremble"
About Jamaica: "Life and Debt"
About Bolivia: "Our Brand is Crisis" and "The Devil's Miner"
About Cuba: Oliver Stone's "Commandante" (a positive viewpoint) and "Looking for Fidel" (a negative one),
About the USA: "Marjoe," "Food Inc.," "The Annabel Cheong Story," "The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan," "Killer at Large," "The Atomic Cafe," "Outrage," "The World According to Monsanto," "The War Profiteers," "Why We Fight"...

One Amazing Thing I’ve Done

One? How about a few? Some of my most memorable experiences so far have been:

Working in the silver mines in Potosi, Bolivia, side by side with the locals...

Participating in the Japanese Naked Man Festival in Okayama where 9000 men fight each other for fertility icons in a Buddhist temple...

Trekking for two years through 25 countries in Latin America, and stopping in every capital city to write one short story...

Studying traditional Chinese medicine and pressure-point massage near Beijing, and deep-tissue Thai massage in Chiang Mai...

Bicycling through the whole length of Cuba after being given a touring bike by a Couchsurfing friend...

Bungee jumping 150 meters in Greece because the pitch was "cheapest place in the world to bungee jump" (probably not the best reason to sign the waiver)...

Doing a reading of my poetry and short stories in the Museum of Macedonia and then being invited out for drinks by a woman named (no joke) "Arsenic" and her friend, who turned out to be the city's female chief of police--and a published poet... =')

Learning eight languages and then torturously forgetting them word by word and day by day...

Being chased by a police helicopter after dumpster diving with a group of CS friends in Pasadena...

Traveling almost the full length of the Amazon River by boat, including a visit to the incredibly hedonist Boi Bumba festival on the island of Parantins where I unwittingly wound up sharing a boat booked exclusively for gays and lesbians for six days...

Interviewing an opposition leader in Myanmar shortly before he was arrested (on fake charges) and thrown in jail for 13 years...

Observing a contract killing by a group of hitmen right outside my bus window in Honduras...

Seducing a woman who “hates all kinds of poetry!” with my poetry... =-)

Watching the Chinese student in front of me vomit with stress as we took the top level Japanese exam together in Inner Mongolia...

Living for five years in Asia and traveling through nearly every country on the continent...

Couchsurfing with a dominatrix, a multi-millionaire, a polygamous family, an exonerated ex-convict, a Nobel Prize-nominated writer, a porn star...

Running my first marathon in 2002... and doing my first shadeless, waterless desert marathon in Saudi Arabia ten years later... =D

Arriving in the capital of Tibet on the exact day of the 50th anniversary of its "liberation" by the gov't of China, and watching the gala festivities...

Building houses for the untouchables in Southern India...

Having a host die on me (sudden heart attack while he was outside the house) a few hours after I arrived at his home in Guatemala...

Being picked up by police officer for “illegal hitchhiking” in Mexico only to end up making a friend for life...

Being invited to a random Muslim man's wedding in Urumuqi, and offered the eyes of a boiled goat as an honored guest...

Seeing the pyramids of Egypt and Teotihuacan, the temples of Borobudur and Bagan, the beaches at Lencois Maranhenses and Botafogo, the view of the blue city of Jodhpur from the mountain fortress that towers above it...

Thwarting attempted robberies in Cambodia and Argentina and Ecuador and China and Nicaragua and Cuba...

Almost stepping on a six-foot diamondback rattlesnake while obliviously listening to music on my iPod in New Mexico...

Doing a 6-month road trip through 35 states of the USA in a donated car and not having to spend a single dollar on accommodation in the whole half year (thanks to CS!)...

Getting lost for three days and almost dying in the Andes Mountains, while condors circled overhead, waiting to eat my corpse...

Being taken to an unforgettable New York City S & M club by two “innocent country girls” I saved from harassment on New Years Eve of the year 2000 (my 23rd birthday)...

Visiting drug cartel-controlled villages in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and staying in a home riddled with more than 100 bullet holes...

Wwoofing on an organic farm in Costa Rica...

Finishing my first published story, first historical fiction book, first play, first book of poetry, first screenplay...

Doing my first public reading of my writing in a cafe in Lithuania and coming to the realization that maybe this was something I was good at... Then doing more in Serbia, Macedonia, Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Bosnia...

Watching students I taught go on to become medical doctors in Saudi Arabia...

Seeing refugees from war-torn countries that were sponsored at my institute in Austin, Texas give TED talks and go on to become successful professionals in the USA...

Having Canadian students I taught to be ESL teachers fly to Iran, Japan, Brazil, etc. and tell me how much they loved their experiences working abroad...

Meeting amazing people everywhere and being constantly humbled by the recognition of how little I know and how little I have done...

Teach, Learn, Share

I love a good conversation, but don't like noisy nightclubs or bars too much because I am sometimes painfully shy. I think every individual's opinions, personal knowledge and life experiences are incredibly interesting, and I love a good story!

What I Can Share with Hosts

I can share my writings, especially the ones about my travels, but also my short stories, historical fiction, poetry, etc.

I often give a digital “Couchsurfing Gift Pack” folder as a gift to my hosts, with music, films, and some copies of my books.

I can teach you some basics about other languages, like Chinese, French, German or Japanese, if you are pIanning a trip abroad.

Countries I’ve Visited

Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, England, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City State, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Virgin Islands, U.S., Wales

Countries I’ve Lived In

Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, United States

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