Should 44-year-old Mike Spencer Bown ever find himself portrayed in pop culture, the best analogue would likely be Dos Equis’ (fictional) beer endorser, the “Most Interesting Man in the World.”
His promo would read something like this: “He invented the term ‘Wanderlust;’ His Facebook profile reads like an “Indiana Jones” novel. The odometer that tracks his frequent flyer miles has rolled over — five times. He is… the World’s Most Traveled Man.”
More than two decades ago, Bown left behind Calgary with a dream to see the world. Now, after 23 straight years of travel and ample time in every country on Earth, he’s called it a wrap and returned to Canada. According to the Calgary Sun, that makes him “the most extensively traveled person in human history.”
While others have visited every country in the world, perhaps none have had exhaustive journeys on par with Bown’s.
He’s met witch doctors in Mali, lived in a leaf hut with an African Pygmy tribe, and faced down Silverback gorillas in Rwanda. In detailing his top 80 experiences to the travel blog “Backpackology,” Bown said he has been arrested “more times than he can count.”
In 2010, Bown made headlines when he flew to Mogadishu, Somalia, to the bafflement of officials there.
“We have never seen people like this man,” Omar Mohamed, an immigration official, told the Agence France-Presse of his visit at the time. “He said he was a tourist, we couldn’t believe him. But later on we found he was serious. That makes him the first person to come to Mogadishu only for tourism…”
“They tried four times to put me back on the plane to get rid of me but I shouted and played tricks until the plane left without me,” Bown recalled to AFP.
What’s the takeaway from all this?
“People are basically good and worth knowing whatever the race or culture they hail from,” Bown told the Calgary Sun in an interview Wednesday, just a day after ending his trip with a Guinness in Ireland.
And then, we imagine, he said with a nod to Forrest Gump, “I’m pretty tired — I think I’ll go home now.”