“Go ahead. Try it. Be a little daring!” the stranger coaxed as we lurked in the dark near the balut stand. Balut is quite possibly one of the most disgusting foods ever, but the Filipinos love it. The stranger, EG III, tried it but I wasn’t brave enough to even attempt it.
I ran into this “stranger” a few more times over the following days at TBEX, a travel blogger conference recently held in Manila. When I finally asked about his blog, I found the name intriguing: “Reborn Stronger“. After a lot of small talk over very large German beers at the Oktoberfest party that evening, I finally mustered the courage to ask him for an interview.
His name is Edward G III (aka EG III) and he’s been “Reborn Stronger”. Here’s his story:
“Reborn Stronger” – the name comes from your recovery from a broken neck. How did you break your neck?
Just months after graduating from college, at age 22, I still had dreams of playing professional sports and no plans to immediately start any type of 9-5. I wasn’t working…pretty much just spent my days in the gym or on the track. I participated a spring training tryout with the Cincinnati Reds and, even though things didn’t work out, it made me hungrier. Then one day, just goofing around, wrestling, I landed awkwardly, head-first into the ground….that awkward landing turned out to be a completely fractured C-4 through C-7…a broken neck.
How did you handle the recovery?
Have you always had the EG III travel bug and a curiosity about the world or was that a result of being “reborn stronger”?
Growing up in the midwest, the only dreams I had of seeing the world were the ones that came at night when I closed my eyes. My family always took a domestic, typically road-trip style vacation every summer and I absolutely LOVED that; but at the same time I never even thought the possibility of international travel existed for me. No one around me was doing it. Many of my peers had never even left Indiana so simply telling friends I had traveled to random cities in Arkansas or Georgia was enough to cause envy.
So, what inspired you to be different?
My main inspiration for travel came shortly after the death of my mom in my late teenage years. For years and years she talked about traveling the world…seeing the world..exploring new places; however, her untimely death came before she could realize any of her travel dreams. Not wanting her death to come in vain, I tattooed her image on my right arm and vowed to myself that together with me, although gone physically, she would still be able to travel the world..right by my side.
You write very eloquently about your mother in “Atypical Travel: A Journey to the Heart”. What do you think she’d say about your current lifestyle?
My mother was always my biggest fan. Because of her, I constantly overachieved. If she were still here today, her cheers would continue and, knowing how social she was, she’d probably be my social media manager or play some type of role in further contributing to my writing and travel success 🙂
I’m sure she’d be very proud! So, what’s your favorite travel memory?
Tough, tough question. Where do I even begin? Well, I think I would have to go back all the way to my first international trip as an adult. At age 18, I traveled to Egypt with a multi-cultural group from my university and it opened my eyes to the world beyond the Midwest and the continental United States. This was just before the digital camera and smartphone boom…so all I had with me during that trip were two disposal cameras. Though many of the images I took came out blurry…the memories of that trip remain clearer than ever.
I really like your writing style. When and why did you start writing?
I first started writing in my mid-late teens, and it started with poetry. I didn’t really have a girlfriend during my high school years, but deep down I was a romantic at heart so my exploration into writing began with poetry. What really sealed my relationship with writing was when I decided to major in creative writing during my sophomore year of university. That decision came on the heels of attending a poetry reading where actor Danny Glover eloquently delivered the words of selected poems written by Harlem Renaissance author Langston Hughes.
Eddie is currently living in Saudi Arabia where he uses his writing skills working on various projects such as editing and curriculum development…
What are the most common misconceptions about life in Saudi Arabia?
What’s one bit of advice you’d offer to people who live inside a bubble…or to those who live in fear?
Be uncomfortable and be limitless. Being Edward the third (EG III), I live by the E-3 motto:
Envision, Engage, Excel
Anything you can see yourself doing is something you can then work toward…and, eventually, excel in!
After recovering from a broken neck, Eddie recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and wrote about it in an amusing and inspiring four-part series, beginning with “Day One Disaster on Kilimanjaro”.