Travelling the world with the U.S. Navy
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Meet Fidel Che Hart. He has a passion for travel and photography but gets to see the world a slightly different way to most of us. Fidel is a communication specialist in the United States Navy. He began a travel blog as a way of showing his friends and family the places he visits each year. We interviewed him about life aboard a US navy ship and his travels around the world.
Hi Fidel, what first made you fall in love with travel?
I fell in love with travel the instant I fell in love with movies. Films like ‘Casablanca,’ ‘Roman Holiday,’ ‘Doctor Zhivago,’ showed me a world where people met, fell in love and traveled vast distances to find one another again.
What has been the most memorable moment on your journeys so far?
Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. It’s one of those landmarks that you grow up seeing in books, magazines and movies. You feel like you’ve arrived in the world when you can say that you’ve been to Paris. Thus, seeing the Eiffel Tower, I felt like I finally arrived.
What’s it like to travel the world aboard a US Navy ship?
On my ship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), it is a great adventure. We aren’t out at sea for months and months like many Navy ships. Our average number of days spent between port visits is about six, so we don’t get that restlessness to be on land. My job in public affairs as a mass communication specialist in the Navy, affords me an opportunity to meet a lot of people, take part in many events in foreign countries and lets my camera be a third eye. If I wasn’t doing the job I have, I don’t know if I’d like being on a ship as much.
You only have a few days in port. How do you make the most of your time on land?
I’m a part of my ship’s morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) team. We work with tour guide operators in many of the foreign ports we visit. I take part in a lot of the tours. They include doing things like scuba diving and snorkeling, riding elephants, shopping trips, seeing shrines and temples, etc. If we are in a port for four days, most Sailors will have three days of free time (called ‘liberty’) to enjoy the ports. During the day, it’s good to take tours with MWR, sight see, spend time at the beach. At night, just enjoy the nightlife. We get to travel to many exotic places for free, so I try and take advantage of the opportunites.
Where are you now? What’s it like there?
Currently in Yokosuka, Japan, which is my homeport. Yokosuka is about an hour south of Tokyo and 20 minutes from Yokohama. I spend most of my time going to Tokyo, Yokohama or Kamakura.
It took me a year to get use to living in Japan, adjusting to the customs and courtesies here and getting to know the people and their culture. I love it here.
What location in the world that you have been to would you recommend to everyone?
Florence, Italy. It combines many of the reasons people travel: Great food, friendly people, history, culture, excellent souvenir shopping, easy to travel, and many photographic opportunities.
How has your time traveling the world with the US Navy changed your view of countries?
It’s showed me a lot how colonialism affected the futures of a lot of nations. Most of the countries I visit in the Pacific were colonized by the British, French or Japanese. The natives of these countries were treated like second-class citizens and many of their resources were stolen and their traditions taken away. You can see that in a country like New Caledonia which is still a French colony. I think it’s a shame how beautiful many of these countries are, yet their citizens remain poor. It’s hard to take in the beauty of Borneo, Thailand, New Caledonia and the Philippines when you realize that the people who live there don’t enjoy the same luxuries that you do. It’s why I’m against bargaining down prices from vendors. Me saving a dollar that could feed their family isn’t worth it.
And lastly, can you describe how traveling makes you feel personally?
I feel connected to the world and proud that I have a gift I can give to people. My family and friends say they live through my travels and that makes me feel good and it helps me understand what my purpose in life is.
Check out Fidel’s website at www.scenewithahart.com
and follow Fidel on twitter @FidelHartTravel
Are you travelling the world now (or soon)? We’d love to interview you.