From Italy to El Salvador to Albania, a true globetrotter
Today in European spotlight, Stripes talks with extreme traveler Warren Latham:
So, how did you get so adventurous?
Some people want nice cars. They want fashion. They want to be cool and everything. Our family is into, ‘Let’s have bologna sandwiches and hop into the Battle Wagon and drive cross country.’ We had a white station wagon, and we’d hop in the car and go to the Grand Canyon (from New Orleans). My father and I both have been to all 50 states. My brothers, sisters and mother have all been to at least 42 states. Everybody has been to Europe. My dad’s been to about 45 countries because he worked for Lloyds of London. We’ve always been a traveling family.
Are you a Four Seasons guy, or a tiny hotel room with a shared bath guy?
Depends on who I’m with. I went on a trip with my brother and we paid $120 per night because a place like Riga (Latvia) is not cheap. We just said, ‘Hey, we make good money. We can do it.’ With a friend of mine who wants to low-ball it, we’ll stay in a hostel.
Where’s the worst place you’ve ever been?
Albania. The roads are terrible. Farm animals everywhere. Horses are the bad ones. We saw every animal on the roads but goats, and when we stopped at this one restaurant, all of a sudden, here comes a herd of goats. I said, ‘All right. We can leave now. We saw every animal.’ We found a restaurant with a guard … because I was really afraid my car was going to get stolen. You have to pay to get into the country, and you have to pay to get out. And it’s worth paying to get out.
El Salvador’s another one. I never felt safe there the whole time. I felt safer in Colombia.
Colombia was pretty interesting. Four people were abducted while we were there. My friend was living in Cali. You know, the drug capital. We flew down from Panama to visit her. You hear how bad Colombia is, but we said ‘What the hell’ and flew down. You’re gonna die sometime. You have to live life the fullest and if it happens, it happens.
‘WE flew down to Colombia?’
My friend Christina (Summers), she likes to go to the most interesting places. If I want to go someplace crazy, where no one else wants to go, I call her up.
There are certain friends I travel with; we have the same travel experiences.
You’ve been to every country in Europe except …?
There are six countries where you need visas. Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, which are sort of in Europe. I haven’t been to Malta or Cyprus.
You went to Kosovo on vacation?
We’re driving to the capital, Pristina, and they stopped us. They said, ‘This road is too close to the NATO bases. You have to go around’.’ We’re looking at a two-hour drive around. I said, ‘No way. Wait a second.’ I showed my (Department of Defense) ID card and they said, ‘Okay, you’re good to go.’ Membership has its privileges.
What’s the best country you’ve visited?
The best country in Europe is Italy. Except for Milan. There’s nothing there. But from Rome to Florence to Venice, there’s no place like it. The food. The culture. I go (to Italy) two or three times each year. South Africa is great. We went horseback riding. Skydiving. And we met a lot of just nice people. Everyone said you’ll be shocked when you get to India. I was shocked. The Hindu culture is so different from the Christian world.
Interview by Terry Boyd.
Avocation: Extreme traveler. Latham has been to at least 65 countries, including some that no longer exist.
Day job: Rolling Hills Athletic Club coordinator, Baumholder, Germany