Here at the Itch List, we like to push boundaries and constantly seek out individuals who do just that. Going against the grain is a difficult choice, but read about Mohit Pradhan who took the leap and hasn’t looked back since! Hailing from Dombivli, he has done his Bachelors in I.T and went on to work for 2 years in companies like ATOS (Pune) and Kongsberg Maritime (Navi Mumbai). Read his inspiring story where he recounts his decision to prioritize passion over competition and his life changing experiences. From cycling from Nicaragua to Guatemala, communicating in a new language to visa issues, today he answers a few questions for us and reminds us of the joys of stepping out of your comfort zone!
What triggered you to quit your IT career and give dedicated time to traveling?
Since my childhood my parents used to take me to a trip every year which is how I developed a liking for traveling. I remember when I was 16, I went on a trip to Kashmir. I was hiking a snow clad mountain along with a cousin without proper hiking gear. We slipped and slide down almost half the mountain on the thick snow. Even then we continued hiking and reached the peak. That’s when I began to like adventure travel.
After my graduation I started to work as a Software Engineer. After working for more than a year in the IT sector, I realized that this was not what I really want to do my entire life. I used to sit and think about ways to get out of this 9 to 5 Rat race and dream about traveling to places one could only imagine.
I had promised myself to get my passport stamped before the end of 2015 as it had been blank for almost 3 years since it was issued.
When I came across Sachin’s story it made me realize that what I was dreaming was actually possible. That’s when I decided to get out of my comfort zone and do something which helped me to live a life which I really wanted.
Traveling long term was not possible while working in the corporate. That’s whenI decided to quit my job and travel to turn my hobby into my career.
You cycled across from Nicaragua to Guatemala in Central Americas, was this the first time you cycled across such a distance? Why Cycling?
Yes, this was my first time cycling across such a distance.
I decided to cycle as it is a lot more immersive than traveling on faster options. You get see the sights, meet people and have experiences that other travelers don’t have. Not just that, it is also a great way to regain fitness.
Moreover, I hadn’t cycled since the last 8 years and thought that it would be a good chance to regain my long lost love of cycling.
How was it different from cycling in other countries/ India?
The only place I had cycled in India was my own city. Cycling on the Pan-American Highway was a totally different experience. I had to follow the traffic rules, maintain a good distance from the speeding trucks and at the same time had to maintain a good speed in order to reach my destination on time.
Communication was a much bigger problem which I faced. I had to ask for directions in Spanish which I could barely speak.
When I was cycling in Honduras, I once stopped at a place to drink some juice to keep myself hydrated. The women who were selling the juice realized that my Spanish was weak and started talking in broken English. After a couple of minutes I was surrounded by kids and other people who wanted to click photos with me as they claimed that they had never seen any Indian before. It was the first time I felt like a foreigner for someone else.
While cycling in Nicaragua people on the roads would give me weird looks. But when I smiled at them they used to smile back at me. That’s when I realized the power of smile is greater than words.
Tell us about the most eccentric experience from your Central Americas travels?
I went on an island named ‘Ometepe’ in Nicaragua and hiked the volcano named ‘Volcan Maderas’. While hiking the volcano, me and another guy, got separated from our guide and the entire group.
The entire way was covered in fog, visibility was hardly a few feet and we had no clue of the way.
But still we decided to hike further till the volcanic crater. On reaching the top we realized that we were lost. I heard a strange hooting sound which seemed like a guy. I remembered an episode of Man vs Wild where Bear Grylls made weird sounds to communicate with native people in a forest. I started making the same sound and we both continued hooting for quite a long time. Fortunately, it was the guide and he found us by tracing the hooting sound that I was making.
The tough hiking route, strange flora and fauna and the amazing views of the volcanic crater made this my most eccentric experience in Central America.
Your visa experience was horrific, could you narrate it briefly? At any point did you regret your decision to visit Central America?
It all started when I was denied entry in El Salvador stating that my visa was about to expire in 24 hours. The 30 days Nicaraguan visa which was stamped on my passport was valid for entire Central America which meant I had to apply for an extension or fly out of Central America. I went back to Honduras to apply for an extension where the corrupt officials demanded a bribe of 150 USD which I denied to pay. A man behind me in the queue said “These officials are going to look at this as a money making opportunity”.
I decided to go back to Nicaragua and requested for an extension they denied it too. An official held my hand and started to drag me out of the immigration office. And that’s how I was stuck on a border between Nicaragua and Honduras at midnight without a possibility of getting entry in either of the countries.
I asked a security guard to share internet so that I could make a few calls for help. A friend finally managed to book an air ticket to Miami from Honduras. Even then the immigration officer was not ready to give me an extension claiming that he did not believe that I could get on the flight the next day. Finally when I managed to get my friend to talk to him in Spanish he granted me 1 day extension on my visa.
It was around 2.30am and I was starving the entire day. After all this I had created a prejudice that all people in Honduras are evil. But when the officer shared some food with me I realized that he was very friendly and was just doing his job.
I did not regret my decision of visiting Central America but felt disappointed as it was sure that I could not complete my cycling till Guatemala.Someday I intend to go back with better planning and complete what I had set out to do.
Did this experience change you as a person?
Yes, it did change me as a person. I understood the value of freedom, which we always take for granted. Also that the only way to get out of a problem is to face it.
Why would you recommend others to travel eccentrically? Maybe suggest 3 eccentric experiences that you hope everyone put on their itch list?
Traveling is more than clicking selfies, and that somehow is getting lost in this hyper-connected world. An eccentrip is about taking trips which you truly want to take and going where other travelers don’t. We, at eccentrips.com, feel it is a great way to learn more about the world and yourself.
The three experiences I recommend are learn salsa in Cali, Colombia, Hike a volcano on Ometepe Islands in Nicaragua and explore USA on a bicycle.
What’s next on your itch list?
I have learnt Karate and have been practicing it for the last 12 years. So my next Itch List is to learn martial arts in a Chinese village.
Mohit Pradhan quit his IT career to pursue the adventurous uncertainty of building a travel media brand called Eccentrips. He manages visual content for Eccentrips. in between trekking through tough terrains, cliff jumping, cycling and getting stuck in ‘no man’s land’. You can follow his stories on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and Youtube.
Did Mohit’s story inspire you to rethink and scratch off your pending itch list? Let us know in the comment section! Read similar stories of courageous people who followed their heart and decided to leave behind a 9 to 5 job.