When I was a fresh sailor on my first deployment, we would pull into different ports. Some were in countries that weren’t that fun to be in while others were in amazing countries. That didn’t matter to me as an E-1 with little else on my mind beyond drinking. We would pull into port and we would head straight for the closest dive bar and get smashed, stumble our way back to ship, and do it again tomorrow. I was lucky for two reasons though. One, we never got into any real trouble. Second, three years later, on my fourth deployment, we went back to about 90% of the same countries that I was too busy drinking in to see.
In between those two deployments were two more to Asia. I was engaged for the first and married for the second, so I slowed down a bit and started going out on the town with married junior sailors. We, rather than go bar hopping, would find the good local food, do tours, and wander through the cities. Not only did this save money, but I actually got to travel. See, I didn’t realize it on the first deployment, but I didn’t really travel to those other countries, I merely saw the insides of bars, and one was the same as the other. Don’t get me wrong. All four deployments included bars, “beer on the pier,” and drinks at dinner, but the latter three did not focus on drinking.
So, who cares? Why talk about this? I know you hear at briefings, training, and on posters around base. This isn’t new stuff here. The reason I bring it up is because, as time goes on, I wish I had done more tours, visited the local scenes more, partied less and remembered more. This time in life will never come back and it is over before you can blink. Soon, you will be out or will be one of the crusty seniors on your way to retirement and all you will be able to say about port visits and country hops is that you were there, wherever there was. The bars were nice, right?
Take advantage of the tours offered by the MWR. Hell, you paid for them any way when you shopped on base, bought from the ship’s store, and bought in on poker night. Take the tours and see the countries. The best benefit, on top of actually seeing cool things in foreign lands, is that you will see just how amazing our country, America, truly is. I have seen wonderful things in many wonderful countries, but all of them left me wanting something back home. But, if all you do is sit in a bar, how can you know what cool stuff is out there and how can you properly appreciate the cool stuff here back home?
So, put the rum down, find an MWR pamphlet, and pick a tour. If you are too cool for MWR, then fine. Find a cab that has a locally raised driver and have them take you around. Have him show you what the locals do for fun, where they eat, and what piece of history is the pride of their town or city. If you find a good cabbie, he will drop you off and come back for you to take you to a new place. If you do it right, you can be a visitor of nations rather than a tourist, and that is fun.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.