By Eytan Uliel
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Four blokes take a week-long adventure trip – hiking, biking, or kayaking – each year, for fifteen years, starting in their late 20s. In the course of their travels, they hitch a ride with drug dealers in New Zealand, down kava shots on Fijian beaches, come face-to-face with a roaring lion in South Africa, luxuriate in a resort intended only for Vietnamese Communist officials, trek to Machu Picchu, and go ice climbing in Iceland.
Along the way they get married, start families, establish careers, and do all the stuff upright men are supposed to do. But when the challenges of real life come into conflict with the perfect lives they are supposed to be living, their friendship, and the yearly Man Mission, become something much more than an annual getaway – a source of stability, and a place to find redemption.
Part travel narrative and part roman à clef, Man Mission follows four regular guys across fifteen years, on an international, adventure-packed, humor-filled search for meaning and purpose, in a world where the traditional rules of “being a man” are no longer clear.
About the Author
is a storyteller, wanderer, global traveler, and seriously committed gourmand. After graduating from the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia, he practiced corporate law for several years, before moving on to a career in investment banking, private equity, and oil and gas finance.
An extensive work travel schedule has taken Eytan to every corner of the globe – over 70 countries, and counting. His successful blog – The Road Warrior (www.eytanuliel.com) – chronicles these journeys through a series of short stories and essays, some of which have been republished in various magazines and newspapers. Man Mission is his debut novel.
Eytan was born in Jerusalem, and has lived in Australia, Singapore, the UK, The Bahamas, and the USA. He currently splits his time between Los Angeles, The Bahamas and Sydney.
On Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NpXzVY
I found the taste of the kava bitter and grainy, like slurping sandy water. Although by the third round my lips and tongue were tingling, the rest of my mouth was numb, and I was in a remarkably mellow, relaxed mood. This was surprising, because I had been told kava—the national drink and full-time obsession of Fiji—was non-alcoholic.
Still, everyone else seated around the fire seemed to be in a similar, zoned-out frame of mind, so who was I to argue. After all, the post-kava period of relaxation—talanoa in Fijian—was supposedly the whole point of the ceremony, and as guests we were expected to stick around, drink more kava, laugh, eat, dance, and shoot the breeze.
But as time wore on I was finding it harder and harder to participate fully, much as I wanted to. My mouth began refusing to work. An hour in and I couldn’t form complete sentences, increasingly slurring my words and mumbling incoherently.
For their part, the chief of the village and his cronies found my amateur response to the kava incredibly amusing. Either that or even these seasoned veterans had got a bad case of the giggles, thanks to the multiple rounds they’d drunk.
I closed my eyes for a long moment, and when I opened them again, orange and purple bands of light were streaked across the sky, and the last of the campfire embers glowed, a dull and smoky red.
It was morning.