Jumping off a 40′ cliff at 71 can be like discovering the Fountain of Youth, especially when you hit the water.
Thinking to myself “if once again I was 40 years old I too would be jumping off that 40′ cliff”. I sat on the rocks about 20 yards across the water from the famous Nauyaca Waterfall in Costa Rica. Watching my fearless 30 something classmates leaping into the water 40′ below, my mind was made up. I thought to myself “Hell yes you can do that”. I had actually made a similar jump 35 years before on a white water rafting trip on the Stanislas river in California. Having just hiked a challenging 4 miles up a steep, hot, and dusty trail to reach these beautiful but isolated falls I hadn’t intended to jump—but then I changed my mind, “why should I deny myself the fun,” I thought “just because your 71?” “I can do anything I put my mind to and this is no different.” I had given my swimming trunks to my new friend Jarrett, after his trunks had split on a daring 65′ plunge from the very highest point—so here I was stuck with only my underwear. “No problem” I thought as I pealed off my shorts and entered the cooling water swimming toward the cliff.
Water splashed annoyingly in my face as I strained on the rope to pull my heavy, water soaked body up the face of the falls. I was concerned that my feet might give way on the slippery rocks sending me crashing to the hard surface below. Two thirds of the way up our guide asked me if I wanted to jump from there—“Hell no” I said, wanting only the top. Finally with one last powerful effort I reached the summit carefully picking my way to the spot from which I would leap. Yes, looking down, I was nervous but honestly speaking the worst was now behind me. I took a deep breath and hurled my body out into space away from the cliff as far as I could go. SPLASH—it was over and I was fine, happy that I hadn’t given into my unfounded fears. “Now that’s how a 71 year old man acts like a 40 year old guy” I satisfactorily thought to myself. Forty eight years later my Marine Corps training had once again paid off.
Would you like a gift of 30 healthy years added to your life? I can promise you this—that gift is yours for the taking. You know being 70 but looking, feeling and acting 40 is a super thing. I, Scott Crosby, am a grandfather of 8 who has lived the last 40 years with no major illness and always feeling great. This is the result of 40 years of healthy living in which I constantly ate nutritiously, exercised regularly and lived a mostly low stress life. I am living proof that the way I lived my life really works. Here is how I did it and how you can too.
It all started with a book I read at age 27 about how we were designed by God to live to be 120 years of age. It explained that if we just treat our bodies properly we can live an illness free life—that the body is it’s own great healer—and you know I found over all these years that that’s really true. Another thing it said, that really impressed me, was that we could program our subconscious mind by using affirmations. So I would wake up every morning and repeat this affirmation—“I will live to be 120 years old and I will feel great every day of it.” I did this for years and in my mind I still believe it to this day—I believe I still have another 50 healthy years to go.
My path to wellness began in 1972 at about the age of 30. I went under the dietary care of Dr. Ed Wagner a cutting edge holistic doctor to the stars in Malibu, California. I followed Ed’s plan religiously for over a year before I adjusted to eating a more moderate diet. But in that time I developed a solid foundation of healthy and nutritious eating never returning to the “steak and potato” diet of my first 30 years. With Dr. Ed’s inspiration I began a life long passion for learning about all the facets of healthy living—still listening to different opinions but following only a carefully selected few.
I began running compulsively 10 to 15 miles a week a year before I discovered my new diet. Having been forced into “running”, at 23 in Marine Corps boot camp, I had sadly allowed my body to fall into a state of over weight dissipation by age 29. I actually remember the day on the tennis courts at South Pasadena High School being so disgusted with my winded condition that I threw down my racquet, walked a few yards up to the 440 track, and jogged a mile. This I’m happy to say was literally the first day of 40 years of continuous vigorous exercise which I now credit with being instrumental in the A+ rating I received last year from my cardiologist after giving me an EKG stress test at the age of 70.
After 10 years of only running, at the age of 40, I also began a rigorous regime of resistance training which I continued, along with the cardiovascular training, for the next 30 years. During that time I reaped the benefits of intense resistance training coupled with high intensity interval training which provided me with a lean, strong and muscular body, exceptional for my age, for many years to come.
Is feeling healthy and strong every day a way you would like to live the rest of your life? If you’re like I was, all those years ago, you are now an out of shape 30 something . I enthusiastically encourage you to take my 40 year example. Start putting “money in the bank” for your future years to come by beginning a program of exercise and healthy dieting today. Or if your a 70 year old who never exercised or ate a healthy diet—the good news is that it’s never too late to start—-you too can begin your new life today.
Finally the last key to healthy living is keeping a strong positive attitude coupled with a strong spiritual awareness. You have a choice to make each morning upon awakening— you can choose to be a happy positive person or you can choose to be a negative grump—it’s up to you—the choice is yours—who do you want to be?
Want to learn my secret? Do I have a grotesque and aging portrait, like Dorian Gray, hanging in my closet? No it’s much more fun and exciting than that. So join me as I share my story of 40 years of fun filled amazing adventure—where I learned about health, life and God. Living life like a millionaire only on a simple budget—yet living one rich in experience, relationships and exotic travel. Experiences that have taught me many of life’s most valuable lessons. Lessons not learned in books or school but ones learned in the challenging world of real life and distant travel. Lessons that provided me with a street wise sense of how to successfully move at will in a foreign land as well as at home—ones that you can only learn on the street of life and in the university of hard knocks.
Unknown to us, from the start, our plan was destined for trouble—big trouble.
The goal was for my Gahanian girl friend, Cassandra, and I to live together in another country outside of Ghana. This would be our second attempt. The first attempt failed when the Ghanaian KLM security people would not allow Cassy to board the flight to Amsterdam on her way to Quito, Ecuador, where I was waiting. They claimed she needed a transit visa to pass through Schiphol Airport. As clearly stated on their KLM website, they were wrong.
Subsequently, I had returned to Ghana from Ecuador in order to rejoin her and try again. Due to her traveling on a Ghanaian passport our choice of countries was limited. Cambodia, we discovered, like Ecuador, would issue a tourist visa on arrival to a Ghanian passport holder. Cambodia, we decided, would be our new destination.
The new plan was formed. I was to fly on Emirates Air from Accra to Vietnam and check things out before arranging to meet Cassy a month later in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Before leaving Accra I went to the Emirates Air ticket office and purchased Cassy an open date, one way ticket to Cambodia. (Unknowingly, a mistake that would later come back to haunt me). The ticket agent assured me that a “transit” visa would not be required for the two stops—Dubai and Bangkok. Because Emirates Air doesn’t fly to Phnom Penh the ticket included a transfer to Air Asia in the Bangkok Airport for the final leg to Cambodia.
Days before her departure date I spoke with Cass by phone. Reassuringly, I promised her that if she would take this giant step of faith, by traveling thousands of miles from home, she would not be sorry. “I would treat her like the princess that she was,” I promised. She had been raised in a loving upper-middle class Gahanian family. So it was a promise I didn’t make lightly.
The night of departure I called her while she was at the Accra Airport to make sure she was OK. Once again the security people were giving her trouble at check-in. I spoke with someone there, assuring them that I was meeting her at her destination. “Then she is on her way to you” he confidently informed me.
Only 20 hours and we will finally be back together I joyfully reflected. “I can’t wait,” I thought.
Eagerly, I watched the passengers from the Air Asia’s Bangkok flight #302 enter the visa clearance area in Phnom Penh International Airport. As the last of the passengers filed through the entry door my heart was pounding so hard I felt like it would literally burst. Where in the hell was Cassy. “Was there a beautiful young black girl on your flight” I enquired of two flight crew members? “Sorry no” was their reply. “Oh no, it can’t be,” I thought.
The feeling of total despair covered me like like a black cloud.
On returning to my hotel room I was In a state of panic. Where was Cassy? Dubai? Bangkok? Accra? Where? I called Emirates Air hotline and received only an answering machine. It was 11pm in Phnom Penh and everything was closed. I would have to wait until tomorrow morning. A sleepless night ahead, I could only imagine the pain and fright that Cassy, my little princess, must be feeling. Her first international flight. How exciting for her. And now this.
The next morning my calls to Emirates Air hot line we’re again answered by the same machine but this time I left a message and my number. Then I headed back to the airport to speak with the people at the Air Asia office. Maybe they could tell me something. The ticket girl couldn’t speak English but finally I found her boss who barely could. Since Cass had never boarded the flight they had no record of her. He directed me to continue pursuing Emirates Air.
On returning to my river side hotel, there was, thank god, a message and a number from Emirates Air. The number was for a manager named Arin Mazdani whom I immediately called. Once again I heard a recording.
Around 3pm I received a call from Ms. Mazdani. She informed me that Cass had been mistakenly detained by the Thai immigration people and was being held in their airport detention cell. Thank God, at least I now knew where she was. She instructed me to fly to Bangkok the next afternoon where she would meet me in order to arrange Cassy’s release from Thai immigration. We agreed on the place and time.
Greatly relieved, I immediately called Air Asia reservation, hoping to get a seat on the next day’s 4:00 flight to BKK. Thankfully they had a seat for me.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is one of the world’s largest and most cavernous airports. I was to meet Ms. Mazdani, not in the Emirates office but at a point close to where I would disembark my Air Asia flight. What if she’s not there I needlessly worried? So much has gone wrong—can something finally go right?
Sure enough, at 5pm, an attractive and intelligent appearing, uniformed Emirates Air lady, was standing at our appointed location. As I would soon discover, I was looking at one of the most efficient and professional individuals whom I have ever encountered. What I was really seeing was God’s gift to me—an angle from heaven.
For the next hour this angle marched me from one location to the next. Efficiently completing the steps necessary for arranging Cass’s liberation from the evil grasp of Thai immigration. Her making sense out of this giant hall, which for me was a state of total confusion—truly a gift from God. Steps that included buying an Emirates Air one way ticket from Phnom Penh back to Ghana as well as a ticket for that night’s flight on Air Asia back to Phnom Penh. (Thank God I had enough money on the Visa Card). She made it seem so simple, as though she had done this a thousand times. Finally, arranging the immigration paper work for Cass’s release including a rediculous $50 charge for the crap food they had provided her—which, typical of my little princes, she had fortunately refused to eat.
And then, with little fanfare, Ms. Madani announced, “we are finished. Now you can go to the Air Asia boarding gate and I will have someone escort Cassandra to meet you there.” And just like that this super efficient, angel from God, Emirates Air manager had accomplished what I never could have done on my own. Just as quickly she was gone—even before I could properly express to her my immense appreciation for what she had so efficiently accomplished. Skillfully lifting the dark cloud which had so oppressively covered me these last 48 hours.
After checking in at the Air Asia departure gate I started killing time by strolling back down the aisle. That’s when I saw Cass walking toward me accompanied by an Emirates representative. She was in such a dazed state that I hardly recognized her as she passed me saying nothing. I turned and followed the two back to the check-in desk.
Still in a state of shock, Cass said little as we waited for our flight. The last 48 hours had obviously not gone well for her. That I later learned was an understatement.
She had been subjected to the disgraceful treatment of a common criminal—finger printing and photographing. Then she was placed in an open detention hall with about 40 other detainees both sexes and mixed races. No widows, beds, or even chairs—the floor was her chair and her bed. And only one small toilet shared by all these poor souls. Her miserable home for 48 hours of not knowing when, if ever,she would be rescued.
Cass, being the strong willed person she is, had demanded that one of these rude immigration guards contact Emirates Air. This is when God sent her His angel, Arin Mazdani. Which is how she got my number.
Why was she arrested? Because of an arbitrary decision by some low level, Air Asia check-in girl to not accept her previously issued boarding pass. Her reason? She claimed it was because Cass didn’t have a return ticket to Ghana. The cold fact of life is that had I, a white American man, been traveling with her, she would never have been refused boarding—with or without a return ticket. These small thinking underlings love to jealously inflict pain on whoever they can.
What lesson had I learn? That there is a totally different set of rules for those who travel on a third world passport with little money. My naivety in not buying her a round trip ticket cost her dearly. Just because I, an American, can travel on one a way ticket did not mean that Cass could do the same—unless of course she is traveling with me.
Despite all my wonderful promises to Cass of the great happiness to come, it took less than 30 minutes after landing in Bangkok for her to be thrust into a world of fear and terror. And I was 100% to blame.
Then unbelievably only two weeks later mom died in California. Cass bravely insisted that I return for her funeral. Leaving her alone in this strange land.
And little did we know, the worst was yet to come.
The day had finally arrived. Walking on the two lane road toward the Zambian border the roar grew louder and louder. The roar reminded me how far the top was from the bottom.
Fear can be a powerful motivating force. Accordingly, this day my fear had become a powerful force. Today I was motivated to conquer this fear. I choose to conquer fear, any and all fear, by looking it squarely in the face and shouting YES when my mind is screaming NO. Today would be just such a day.
The white misty cloud rising above the trees marked the line from where the roar was coming. The closer I got the louder the roar and the faster my heart beat in anticipation of what was about to come.
I had walked to the bridge the day before just to get my first look at both the falls and the place from where I planned to make the jump. Looking over the side, to view the angry waters racing down the gorge almost 400′ below—I thought to myself “what have you gotten into this time?” Now I knew first hand what I would have to face the next day.
Seeing Victoria Falls in person proved to be more impactful than I had even imagined. Rated the largest waterfall in the world, 5604′ wide by 354′ high, Victoria defies description especially when standing in the same exact spot where explorer David Livingston stood 145 years before almost to the day. The thunderous roar that engulfs you is a powerful reminder of the awsome magnitude of the world’s grandest waterfall of all.
Working my way toward the bridge I stopped at several vantage points on the Zimbabwe side facing the falls in Zambia. Each spot offered a different view of this spectacular member of the “7 wonders of the world” club. The water quietly slipping to the edge, then hurtling out into space before crashing on the rocks hundreds of feet below.
The Victoria Falls Bridge bungee jump ranks as one of the world’s longest jumps. The fact that no one has ever died making this jump was, frankly speaking, of little solace to me as I, walking alone, approached the bridge. What if the cord snaps just this once I thought as I came closer to the spot from which I would make my jump. What if…
Standing on the platform from which I would dive out into space was the most completely unnatural feelings I had ever experienced. It seemed as tho every muscle in my body was sceaming—“what the hell are you doing—get back behind the railing”. Then as instructed I arched my back and thrust myself as far as possible into my “perfect” dive.
YEEESSSS I screamed on the way down. At age 58 I had faced my fear and once again had conquered it.
The anxiety washed over me as tho I was standing in the surf on a big wave day. Why? Where did this intense feeling come from? As usual it had started as a subtle hint of uneasiness and now it had built to this.
It was not the first time nor would it be the last. The feeling started deep within my core. Slowly flowing throughout my being until it covered me in a suffocating way that some times left me gasping for air. Depending on the circumstances the accompanying paralysis could leave me in a state of total immobility—or sometimes merely a feeling similar to being covered by a wet blanket.
This sensation had begun a few months back as a feeling of slight discomfort but now it had snow balled into a problem I needed to deal with and deal with soon. The reality of this emotion I had come to realize was always the result of an unmet expectation. The intensity of the anxiety was usually in direct proportion to the size of the expectation. Often times I wasn’t even aware , on a conscious level, of the expectation that was causing the problem. The time to act, clearly, was now.
The bible says in James 1:2-4 that “when the way is rough we should be glad because these trials will make us full and complete ready for anything”. This is a great promise because here God is telling us that when things don’t go our way; when we are upset by our perceived disappointments; that God, in His perfect wisdom, has a wonderful new plan and through this trial he has just made us stronger and better prepared to handle what ever it is He has ahead for us.
Understanding the deeper implications of this scripture was the first step toward lifting this cloud which could have such a paralyzing effect. This reflection brought me to understand that it was the gap between my own expectations and the reality of the disappointment of the actual failed event that was causing my despair. Rather than disappointment, the correct response should be one of joy now knowing that this perceived failure was really God’s way of pointing me in the direction of His plan. While at the same time making me stronger for the future execution of His plan.
It’s not always easy to jump for joy whenever things don’t go our way. But when they don’t I find that if I can just pause a moment and ask myself what the problem is, that on reflection, I will realize that I have merely been pointed in a new direction. This thoughtful response not only gives me peace but much better answers as well. While I am a Christian I believe that taking this reflective approach can work equally well regardless of a persons religious belief.
As a child when faced with disappointment my mother used to tell me—“equal joy with go or stay.” Oh how I used to hate to hear this when facing the cancelation of some much anticipated plans. But in my youthful ignorance I often failed to see the great wisdom in these six words. One never knows what tragic fate may have been avoided by this unexpected change in plans—or what yet discovered treasures lie ahead.
This lesson has changed my life and it can change yours as well.
Like a thief in the night the feelings described above can come upon me without a hint as to the cause. It may be much more subtle than an obvious disappointment but when I stop to analyze it’s origin 100% of the time I discover that it goes back to some unmet expectation that I had had that had not been realized. I have found that the best way to deal with this is to just let it go and welcome my new direction. When I am able to do that I always experience a new feeling of peace and tranquility that sweeps over me like a great release—and I am able to carry on my life with a new found joy accompanied by the positive expectations of good things to come—and so I think will you.
This then is a core lesson that has lead to the calming thoughts and feelings so beneficial to health and well being which is a major contributor to a long and healthy life.
Living at 9300′ altitude can be challenging. I needed to start doing some exercise but what? Since the one muscle in the body that directly effects everything else is the heart I thought that some type of cardio exercise would be a good place to start. Finding ways to exercise effectively can be particularly challenging when your traveling around the world. Joining a gym here is not really practical especially if you’ve been spoiled by the high tech American gyms. Now I knew that I particularly wanted to do something that worked my heart and moved the blood throughout my body—and I wanted to do it outdoors. What could I do here in the Andes of Quito?
Then it “HIIT”me—“high intensity interval training” that is—yes HIIT could be the perfect solution to my problem. It would be very simple and convienient as all I had to do was strap on my Polar heart monitor and walk out my front door. It would also be effective as I live on the side of a steep hill and just walking a few brisk steps up my street would wind me quickly. The next day I began to test my theory and by the end of the 45 minute session I had all but finalized my new workout—my perfect cardio routine.
The idea of HIIT, after a short warm up, is to go as hard as you can for a short period of time say 30 seconds to a minute and then rest for about 90 seconds until your heart rate has returned to around 67% of your maximum rate. It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you use as long as you can reach between 85% and 95% of your maximum heart rate by going all out within the 30 second or more time period.
As it turns out my workout was simple, straight forward and effective. Because I am either running slowly or walking fast up hill it is also low impact there bye eliminating the risk of a high impact injury such as a pulled leg muscle. Since my hill is very steep all I have to do is start walking upward as quickly as possible. BANG—my heart rate is up to 130 BPM or more before I know it—which is 87% of my maximum heart rate of 149BPM(220 minus my age of 71= 149MHR).
Don’t forget I’m at an altitude of 9300′ so the effect on my heart comes quickly. Because I’m outdoors on a street side hill I visually pick a good resting spot up the hill and head for it. Instead of using a clock as the measurement devise I use my heart rate monitor. So in this 8 leg course each leg I end up raising my heart rate between a minimum of130BPM and a maximum of 143BPM (which equals between 87% and 96% of my MHR) depending on the particular leg and how fast I’m moving. This for me is a perfect exercise.
By the time my heart rate is above 130BPM or more I am seriously sucking air, which is good, real good. ” Why” you ask? Because this is when, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola, the main benefits of a HIIT workout start to kick in. In his program called “Sprint Eight” he states that the optimum number of reps for a session is between 6-8 so being the over achiever that I am I do 8 legs.
Walking up the hill, each leg has it’s own particular look and challenge making the course more interesting. However the result is the same—work for 30 seconds or more and then rest for approximately 90 seconds or until my HR is down to around 100BPM—8 times. This all takes me about 18 minutes up because some legs are longer—then about 20 minutes to walk back down the hill—for about 40 minutes total and the workout is finished. In order to maximize the overall benefits I try to do it 3 times a week—which is perfect—but never less than twice.
This workout is short but it’s hard.
The first couple of times I did it I felt my heart pump so hard I actually thought it would jump out of my chest or that I might drop dead of a heart attack. But not to worry—according to Dr. Mercola this maximum stress is actually very good for your heart assuming you don’t have any pre-existing medical issues.
This workout is very effective.
Have you ever wondered why Olympic sprinters have those perfect muscular bodies while the marathoners look like the guys who get sand kicked in their face at the beach? The primary answer along with their genetics is in the way they train. The long distance athletes are basically utilizing a long and slow training routine—just like most of the people you see working those cardio machines for hours at the gym. While the sprinters are outdoors on the track running “repeats” of all out sprints. Did you ever wonder why those gym patrons always look the same? It’s because the long slow aerobic type of exercise just doesn’t work when it comes to body sculpting or even calorie burning. What does work is High Intensity Interval Training.
Here they are some of the the benefits of practicing the Sprint 8—High Intensity Interval Training.
1. With each correctly executed Sprint 8 workout session your body receives an injection of the growth hormone (HGH) which lasts in your system for 2 hours after the end of your work out. During this time I eat 4 boiled eggs in order to maximize the time the HGH remains in my system. Beginning around the age of 30 the amount of HGH in our bodies begins to decline—to alarmingly low levels for the sedentary majority. HGH has the effect of reducing excess fat while it hardens muscle at the same time.
Our bodies are made up of three types of muscle fibers: slow, fast and super fast—which moves 10 times faster than the slow muscle fibers. The Super 8 type of workout is the only type of workout that effects the super fast fibers and it’s only by effecting these fibers that HGH is produced. This production of HGH is the main reason why the Super 8 program is so effective in reducing the effects of aging.
2. It raises your basic metabolism for up to 72 hours after your workout is completed. The calorie burn in an aerobic workout is over shortly after the workout is over there bye limiting the calories burned to the exercise itself. However the increased calorie burn from the Sprint 8 workout continues on from 48 to 72 hours after the exercise has ended there bye accounting for a significantly larger number of total calories burned.
3. The last benefit may actually be the best one of all—adding years to your life on a cellular level. It is widely believed that we age because our cells age. It has also been shown that engaging in the Sprint 8 type of exercise will reduce the rate of shortening of telomeres which are the tails on the end of your chromosomes. Telomeres shorten for various reasons like smoking and a poor diet along with normal aging throughout a persons life until at a certain point they become so short that we merely die of old age. Scientists claim that even if we constantly ate the perfect diet and did the perfect exercise the most years we apparently could hope for would be 120 because of the natural telomere shortening. However that could still amount to up to an extra 30 or 40 years of healthy living.
I highly recommend the “Sprint 8” HIIT workout for everyone in good health.
While I do prefer running hills as my favorite form of Sprint 8 there are several other ways of achieving the desired results. For example, in 2011 I lived at the top of a 6 story apartment building in Accra, Ghana. I began a program of walking down to the street then running up to the top. As Accra is at sea level it was not quite as challenging as my Quito program (at 9300′ few things are) however the results were similar. Another method I found to be the best in the gym is the “stairmills” machine which is actually a revolving staircase where you must actually lift your foot off the surface for each step—just like climbing stairs. Outside of my Quito workout this is the best method of all as you can control the speed of the climb by touching a control panel and by not leaning on the rails during the work portion of each interval. Like Quito this machine can really kick your butt.
Strolling the streets of Budapest at 11pm at night in a semi-conscious state is a very surreal experience—one I do not reccomend. As I walked away from the club I was thinking to my self “I am in real trouble”—which I was, based on my feeling the physical pain of having just been beaten unconscious coupled with the mental pain of not knowing where I was. But as I walked my mind began to clear and I started to recognize my surroundings to the point of being able to direct myself back to the private apartment I had rented.
Opening the door to my pleasantly decorated one bedroom apartment I felt a real sense of relief as I sat on the couch and gathered my thoughts. Being knocked out cold in a strange place (or any place for that matter) is a very disquieting experience to say the least. I then rapped on my manager’s next door apartment. She was a pleasant 40 something woman who spoke broken english and could quickly see that I had had a problem which needed a little nursing. As she lightly pressed an ice filled cloth against my cut and swollen mouth I explained as best I could how I had been injured. She dramatically apologized for what had happened and assured me that her boss would help me achieve some justice in the morning.
My landlord, Laslo, was a tall slim, honest appearing Hungarian man in his mid 40’s and a very nice guy. I had met him two days before, standing on the sidewalk near his apartment, pictures in hand, pitching his apartments to potential renters. A common practice among other landlords in this neighborhood who were looking for business. Like his manager the night before he was very apologistic and wanted to help me any way he could. This “help” took the form of an immediate visit to local Budapest police station.
I had not seen the inside of many police stations, either in America or any third world countries, so this was a real eye opener for me. To say that this place was in a state of disheaval would be an understatement. It had only been about 5 years since “perestroika” had led to the Hungarians cutting down the barb wire fence on their Austrian border. This allowed the most adventuresome citizens to flee to the opportunities offered by rest of the free world. What remained in their wake left much to be desired in the eyes of this westerner. The recently constructed touristy “retail” shopping area was one thing. The remaining buildings that I saw in Budapest in 1994 were in a state of disrepair reflecting the striking difference between Western and Eastern Europe—Capitalism vs Communism.
I found myself and Laslo sitting in the very humble office of two plain clothes detectives. After a few brief words I was instructed to take a urine test down the hall. They wanted to see what or if I had been drugged as I was still feeling woozy 12 hours later. When the results came back the detectives said I had been drugged—confirming my story and validating my credibility.
The detectives, now feeling confident that a crime had taken place, were very nice and quite professional. With Laslo’s translating I was able to relate the event’s of the previous night in great detail. They actually were aware of this club and wanted to close it down. I was not the first tourist to report a similar problem. Places like this were not helping the tourist industry which was becoming an important part of the local economy. “The Russian mafia” they said actually ran and operated this club and other clubs like it.
The more we talked the more enthusiastic the detectives became. They really wanted to give these criminals a problem so they proposed a plan to do just that. They wanted me to meet them that night about 10:30. Then accompany them back to the club where I would identify the bald headed guy who had cold cocked me the night before. They would then arrest him on charges of assalt and haul him off to jail. I really wanted this bastard to experience some form of pain so I gladly agreed to their proposal.
As it turns out this and similar scams, in the early 90’s, were actually in their infancy. These newly formed Russian mafias were being fueled by the recruiting of unemployed KGB agents and officers. Following the disruptive influence of “perestroika” they were well on their way to developing a network of far reaching criminal activities both at home and abroad. In the years to come I personally encountered this “buy me a cocktail scam” in several countries including Las Vegas, America. A friend of mine, Mark Sanchez, actually encountered exactly the same scam in Budapest about 5 years later. By then the price had risen and the collection procedure had been refined. His bill was $650 and instead of knocking him out he was escorted to two ATM’s by 3 very large bouncers.
It was 2pm by the time Laslo and I arrived back at the apartment. I thanked him and agreed to meet again around 10pm. Once again I sat on the couch and reflected on the situation. No longer feeling that great about Budapest considering the events of my last 15 hours I thought about my options:
1) Meet the detectives and maybe Laslo tonight and go execute the plan against baldy and the club. I really wanted that guy to suffer. But on the negative side: . a) I don’t speak the language. . b) I don’t really know or understand the rules these guys play by.
2) I still have time to catch the 3:30pm train to Vienna.
It was my third night in this strange enigmatic Hungarian capital city on the Danube River. I had actually exchanged smiles and small talk with this pleasant little man the night before. Strolling off my dinner on the famous retail walking street I was not looking for anything in particular when I saw his smiling face approaching once again.
“Hello Americano” he greeted me stretching out his crude sales book of cellophane covered pictures featuring scantily clad young Hungarian girls. “See the pretty girls working in my club—only $5 for you to enter and only $3 for beer” he pandered on. “Please come with me—mixed drinks for you only $5”.
I was bored and he was nice, so I thought “what the hell’. “OK let’s go” I said and like a lamb being led off to slaughter I followed him around the corner.
It was a small non-discript building with no sign and 3 bouncers standing in front of a plain looking entrance. I paid the $5 and went inside first passing thru a small transition room before entering the main show place.
The dimly lit room was not large. There was a full bar covering the back wall. The wall to my left was lined with chairs filled with about a dozen clantily clad girls waiting for their turn to dance. The waitress pointed me to a couch and chair to my right. I sat down as a partially clad girl slowly worked the pole located between the bar and me. ” Heineken” I said in answer to her question as she walked away.
“Man this has to be the tamest strip show I’ve ever seen”, I thought to myself as I surveyed the sparsely populated room. Then from out of nowhere an extremely cute young girl dressed like a college coed was sitting on my right. “Hello” she said in very good but lightly accented english. “May I join you?” “Hell yes” I thought “why not?” This girl was dressed so conservatively—not like a sleezy prostitute—it really took me by surprise.
“My name is Sophia and what is yours” she smiled. “Scott” I answered. “Do you work here?” “Yes” she replied “but I am really a student at the local university.” We chatted for a while before she asked me to buy her a “cocktail”. No problem I thought, there only $5 and she’s very nice.
The waitress brought the cocktail as we continued chatting back and forth. After about 15 minutes another consevatively dressed and equally beautiful young girl was now sitting on my left. I actually recognized this girl from seeing her a few times on the street the last couple of days. “My name is Anna” she said, ” may I have a cocktail as well?” “OK” I said “I’m Scott.” Again thinking “why not” it’s only $5 and buying pretty girls a drink is no big deal—besides these two coeds were really hot.
The chatting continued on for about another half hour and two more cocktails when Sophia said, “You don’t really think these drinks are too expensive do you? Isn’t it worth it since we are so nice to talk to?”
“Oh Oh” I thought something is definitely wrong. “I’m out of here” I said to myself as I stood up and put my coat on. “Bring me the check” I shouted toward the bartender calculating that I owed about $23 for the beer and 4 cocktails. NOT!!! The bartender handed me a bill for $125 to which I immediately shouted “NO, NO NO.” He calmly picked up a sheet of plastic covered paper laying on my small table and pointed to the word “Cocktail $25”. The word was obscurely written on what I now realized was a cleverly designed menu. “Is not correct” I said as I handed him a $20 bill. I waited a couple minutes before he turned and left than I walked through the first door leading to the street.
What I didn’t realize was that I had been drugged by something they had spiked my beer with.
BAMM—The second I entered the small separation room a bald security thug cold cocked me with a sucker punch to the mouth. Simultaneously a second thug hit me from behind on the back of my head with a blunt object knocking me out cold.
The first thing I remembered was standing at the bar while a waitress held a wet towel filled with ice against my swollen mouth. I felt the back of my head, tenderly touching the bump on my skull while feeling my hair which was now matted with blood. I must have passed out again because the next thing I knew I was standing on the sidewalk outside the club. Between the effects of the drugs and being knocked out I was very groggy. I surveyed the three bouncers and two policemen standing there looking at me thinking “what’s next?”
I must be in big trouble my foggy brain rationalized seeing the policemen talking to the bouncers in a foreign language —going to jail was the last thing I wanted. Then the entrance door opened and out came a beautiful girl who looked very familiar. She walked over to me to present “the bill”—“oh yea” I thought that’s Anna the second girl to join me. Still in a dazed stupor I asked her if she would accept a credit card—-no she said only cash. I paid her in Austrian shillings and waited for her to return with my change. When she did I was so disoriented I amazingly thought to myself “how much should I ‘tip’ her?”
With the bill now having been paid, the police left and the others went inside leaving me to stand on the sidewalk alone. Dazed, I stood there for awhile before I started walking on the quiet side street. As I walked I asked myself —-“where am I ?” “Like I mean what country am I in?” It wasn’t long before I came upon a taxi parked next to the curb—“where in the hell” I asked the driver “am I?” “BUDAPEST” he answered. “That sounds really bad” I thought to myself as I walked off into the night, not knowing where I really was or where I was really going.
I knew I was in trouble when the taxi turned left.
It was 11:30 pm on a Monday night the 2nd of December, 2013. I had just left an upscale sports bar after watching the Patriots loose a close home game to the Packers on Monday night football. I walked out to the street, feeling satisfied with the game, and as usual hailed a taxi. I jumped in the back seat and gave the driver instructions to drive me back to my apartment. I knew the route, so when the driver unexpectedly turned left onto a small side street and began slowing to a stop, I knew that I had a problem. A BIG PROBLEM.
WHAM!!! 3 doors opened and in jumped 3 smelly Ecuadorian thugs shouting and screaming at me in Spanish. The big guy on my right hovered over the top of me making jabbing movements toward my face with a 12 ” screw driver held threateningly in his right hand. The guy on my left grabbed my left arm and pinned it between his legs while quickly using his left hand to rub some kind of pepper paste in my eyes blinding me instantly.
The chaos and shouting was frighteningly intimidating to say the least. My blinded eyes were burning causing me to scream out in pain while the two thugs were punching me with short glancing blows on the side of my face and body—I felt a sense of fear begining to suffocate my entire being. Deep inside my brain my first thought came over me like a black cloud saying—“they finally got me and I am in very big trouble”. Which was true. Here I was in a strange country where I didn’t speak the language, outnumbered and totally compromised by some very bad guys with no idea what the hell they had in mind or what would happen next.
They quickly emptied the pockets of my jeans of $60 cash, my debit card and my brand new California drivers license along with a $400 sports watch I was wearing and my cheap Nokia mobile phone. What else could they want? KIdnap me for ransome? Kill me for fun? Beat me silly out of a prejudicial hate for foriengn gringos? These thoughts filled my mind as I felt a level of fear, the likes of which I had never before experienced in 22 years of foreign travel, begin to take me over completely.
The guy in the front seat appeared to be the boss. Like the other three he spoke no English except to say “I want MONEY”. “Esta tarjet credit o debit?” “Debit” I replied. “Que es su numero pin” he demanded. With that the two thugs on either side increased the intensity of the punching in my face and stomach as if to let me know that I had better answer quickly and correctly or I would soon be getting a “real” beating. ” OK OK OK” I shouted hoping they would stop so I could respond with the number.
Giving your PIN number to a thief who has just stolen your card is the most unnatural response you can imagine—however when the alternative choice could include having a 12″ screwdriver jabbed into your eyes and face the choice becomes very simple. I quickly calculated that my downside financial risk was at most $2000 so the answer became very easy—“ocho, cinco, seis , ohco I shouted three times at my captors. “Es numero correcto hombre?” “Si si” I replied. With that he opened his door and was gone while the taxi sped away into the night.
So here I was blinded, sitting between between these two foul smelling low life Ecuadorian thugs, each pinning one of my arms between there legs holding me helpless while the taxi continued to move through Quito at a high rate of speed going I knew not where. Awaiting my fate whatever that might be. There was no use trying to resist so I decided to go completely passive letting my ams fall totally limp not saying a word. I had heard a former Navy Seal on Fox News tell what to do if caught in a similar situation. “Formulate a plan as best you can—then execute” he had said so my plan became one of complete passivity.
I was scared—really scared—“Please Jesus” I prayed to myself”protect me and bind these agents of Satan from doing me bodily harm.” The Jesus I know is a God who hears and answers prayer so as I continued to pray this prayer I felt a strange sense of peace and calm come over me. What are they going to do I kept thinking? I knew they were going to get at least $1000 tonight which was the banks daily limit. Would they hold me for days taking another $1000 each day till my money ran out and then let me go or kill me when the money was gone? As it turned out the guy got his $1000 at 11:55 p.m. and could have gone back for another $1000 6 minutes later at 12:01 am but he wasn’t that smart.
After about 45 minutes of continual high speed driving I heard them starting to laugh and talk loudly amongst themselves. They had received the call telling them of the money which they would now get. Cautiously I took the laughing as a good sign—at least they didn’t sound pissed. Finally the taxi slowed and pulled to the side of the road. My two thug buddies opened there doors and got out—was this where they were going to beat the hell out of their victim for fun and leave him by the side of the road. Still blinded I felt hands pull me from the car and stand me up by a roadside wall—then thankfully I heard two doors slam and the sound of the taxi driveoff into the night. Jesus once again had answered my prayer as I stood unharmed and unseeing leaning up against the wall thinking “I am getting way to old for this.”
Death is the one thing that gives real meaning to life. The one event for which you don’t want to be a minute late or a minute early. Just imagine at 70 years old being constantly mistaken for 40. Is this a blessing or a curse you ask? The answer may lie within the soul of the person in question or it may not. Most of us, to one degree or another, are constantly searching for the fountain of youth. But what if you actually were to find it? Like author Oscar Wilde’s fictional charector Dorian Gray the price of never aging may be a devils bargin, one far more costly then most of us are willing to pay. Or maybe the cost will be acceptable after all, a cost a reasonable person is most willing to pay.
Change is the thing most of us need beginning about 30 years of age. Change is what we need, to remake all the bad habits we formed through ignorance and laziness as we squandered the benefits of youth and fresh hormones during those first 30 carefree years. By the time we reach age 40 a persons age may begin to really show. Good genes no longer cover the signs of bad unhealthy living and it’s how you have lived your life that shows what really matters. This is the time that change is really critical for those who have been neglectful but still desire a smooth and natural transition into middle age and beyond.
Having now lived past 70 and still being taken by many for an age closer to 40 I am often asked the question—why or more to the point how? Is there a grotesquely ugly aging picture of Dorian Grey hanging in my closet? Or am I merely the effect of 40 years of carefully designed causes lived and executed with daily regularity. Being taken for younger than your years is not only a product of how you look and sound to others but more importantly how you carry yourself both in terms of attitude and countenance. Do you look and sound old and tired or youthful and fresh? Do you walk with a bounce in your step or slouch down the street with shoulders slumped and head down? When you speak does your voice carry a tone of confidence and charisma or a fearful wimper of doubt and uncertainty?
The answer to these questions comes in many life changing forms and is the subject of the book waiting for you in the following chapters. These chapters are not set out chronologically but reflect different events of my life which unfolded as the particular experience evolved. Each expierence usually either led to a new life lesson or as all to often the case merely served to reprove an old lesson which apparently needed to be relearned— reminding me that the more a lesson needs to be relearned the more painful and costly or even more valuable it will become.
This book is written for you—a person who not only seeks to add years to your life but life to your years. If your a 30 something you want to start now by taking the steps that I did 40 years ago that will lead to shaping your mind and body in such a way that 40 years from now you will be enjoying the benefits of looking and feeling much younger. This is like saving for your retirement—the time to start is now. You can learn from my mistakes begining now, not waiting till later when the cost of learning can be much higher.