People / Personal

Tourism in Afghanistan & Pakistan – 2 (or Internal Ames Family Memos Re: Justin’s Forthcoming Middle East Trip)…

Start with the email at the bottom…

Hello Family and Friends –

Thank you very much for your expressions of love and concern. Although I am not the best at verbalizing such things, I do treasure this.

I’m sorry that you are/will be disappointed, but this is my life and I must forge my own path. That path certainly includes making mistakes and learning from mistakes – all manner of mistakes… Sometimes I believe the only thing that can be taken from a mistake or negative situation is the comfort that it will at least make for a good story. To put it less obliquely, this trip exemplifies who I am and what I do. And have always done… I just didn’t share the adventures of my youth as I share my activities now.

So, while it may appear to some that I have “no reason” for going, the reasons are uniquely my own and are important to me. I have always been frustrated by limits (admittedly to my detriment at times) and have always desired to see for myself whether mainstream impressions are correct or not.

As an information addict, avid reader and IR major, I am not going into this expedition blind. I am aware that this trip is a tad more sporty than a trip to Disneyland or Magic Mountain (although on one of my trips to Magic Mountain, I saw an unfortunate woman meet a particularly violent death at the hands of a roller coaster – which lends support to my next point), but I think there exists more to this region of the world than death and destruction (Jesus, I sound like a hippy).

If something does happen to me, I would hope that everyone could be at peace with the fact that I died doing exactly what I wanted and that I loved my life. Seriously, I have never been happier at any point in my life than I am now. Is it not far more tragic for someone to die in an automobile accident on their way to a job they are miserable in, but are forced to keep as they are trapped by their unhappy marriage, expensive mortgage and 2.5 kids – all while dreaming constantly of leading a life like mine?

As for your other questions…

I am funding this trip entirely on my own. While working for Liberty Mutual, I sacrificed a higher standard of living in the short term, so that I might have more options and freedom in the long term. Liquid assets = Freedom. I also avoided obvious mistakes such as purchasing a home.

Pain over my breakup? No, I felt pain for a month afterward, but woke up one day inspired by the thought that I was now free to lead the life I wanted. Now I just feel relief that that chapter of my life is over and some disgust with myself over many missed opportunities. So, rather than pain, I would say that the breakup focused my thinking on the fact that life is as trite as it is transitory and we should, therefore, do what makes us happy and lead as full a life as possible. For me, that means always seeing what is around the next bend and never saying no to an adventure.

Much love to all,



Michael Ames wrote:

James Ames, Duane Julie Q

Dear Brother,

I feel compelled to say my peace to you. We have always been truthful with each other and have always talked man to man. Per our conversation on the phone I must say, I have contemplated your decision to travel abroad in Pakistan and Afghanistan and am extremely troubled and worried that you are making an Extremely POOR decision. I have always understood your craving for adventures abroad and the excitement of meeting new and different people on your journey’s. However, I cant claim to begin to understand your thirst for the extremes and danger that you seek. I have researched the TRAVEL.STATE.GOV – website of Bureau of Consular affairs. ALL warnings for American travels to Afghanistan are extremely critical. I have emailed you several of the warnings and hope that you reconsider cancel ling your travel plans. I have to say little brother that I will be personally disappointed in you if you proceed with this trip. To go to an extremely hostile and violent area specially at this time is not only foolish but with no real reason but to put ones self at risk for the thrills and adventure is an act of selfish lunacy. PLEASE Do not go! As a thirty year old man, no one feels they can stop you from this trip. As your brother I am asking you to NOT do this trip! Please! Furthermore, everyone that loves you is not only concerned but worried and distressed over this trip. Who is funding this trip? Why is this dangerous risk so important to you to do? Do you realized how selfish it is to put such un warrented worry, fear and stress in to the lives of the ones who love you? I am truly dis-stressed and preying that that April 11Th never arrives. Are you considering, really considered the repercussions of the critical risk and pain that you will put the family through if you are kid knapped and/or killed for what we see as for no reason? Could this trip of danger be because of the embedded pain of your breakup last year? I have military work friends that have children in the military that have been deployed over to the middle east and I see first hand the daily dread and worry of there parents whom I work with. They justify it with duty for country and try to ease the fear with the fact that they are protected somewhat under the umbrella of our armed services. Please read the U.S. warnings if you have not already. It’s because I love you so much that I am compelled to state my mind. This decision is not only impacting your safety but the very lives of your family and friends that care about you. This trip is not just about you but now affects all of us. Again, I am asking you as a brother NOT to go on this adventure. If any thing happens to you I will forever imagine your final moments and how I could not have helped you. How needless losing my brother had to be. How maybe all he needed not to go is to have someone explain that he is loved by many and will cause deep pains in all if tragedy strikes. Read the warnings little brother. I have. Please don’t go! Please understand that this email is generated from a position of love and concern. I Cherish our adventures and want to have many more, specially as Nicholas grows up. I am trying very hard to convince you to change your mind on this. Your actions will tell if you respect the wisdom of loved one that feel this is an extremely wrong trip to make. I love you Justin, again I am asking you as your brother please do not put ME through this stress and worry. Love Michael

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2 thoughts on “Tourism in Afghanistan & Pakistan – 2 (or Internal Ames Family Memos Re: Justin’s Forthcoming Middle East Trip)…

  1. Hey Justin, I totally empathise with you – and with your brother. His concerns are understandable and come from the viewpoint of love with the possibility of loss and pain. Meanwhile, you’re hellbent on your own journey. Who knows what adventures or people will cross your path? Who knows what you will learn? Who knows what will happen to you. It’s a bit like those early sailors about to sail off the ends of the earth. Marco Polo, and others of his ilk, would approve. As do I. Go well, and go with God. Regards, Jan FitzGerald.

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