Living the life

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Thursday, May 3, 2018

I’m fascinated by on online piece this week in the New York Times about a gentleman named Mario Salcedo, a onetime business executive who burned out after 21 years of roaming the world. For the past two decades he’s made his permanent home aboard cruise ships. A resident of Royal Caribbean Cruises boats, he has lived 7,330 nights at sea. . . so far. The crew of Enchantment of the Seas calls him Super Mario.

Writes Lance Oppenheim, who with his film crew spent five days with Salcedo, in the Times piece: “The Mario we followed was not living the fantastical dream life of a ‘cruising king,’ as I’d seen him described. The Mario we found lives a life full of paradoxes: while he proclaims his independence from others, he surrounds himself with throngs of anonymous tourists, shaking hands and selling his lifestyle. I was determined to crack through what I perceived to be a facade. But as I floated dreamily across a sea of professional smiles with Mario, I realized that his facade had taken on a reality of its own, that his ongoing voyages to nowhere — and everywhere — provided an overwhelming sense of freedom perhaps not found on land. It is in that freedom that Mario has finally found his home.”

That’s pretty heavy stuff. I read the online comments. They seem all over the place, but really express two points of view. The first is what a sad, sad man this is (“Sounds like a terrible life,” “I don’t see happiness in this man’s face,” “What a pitiful, pathetic little existence”). The second point of view is go for it, Mario! (“I’d do it if I could,” “More power to him!” “No different than the life most people live in old age, hanging around the house, watching tv, talking with the workers and customers at the local coffee shop or deli. To each their own”).

This got me to thinking: If we could, would we live aboard trains? Don’t laugh at the idea yet. I didn’t say live on trains for 20 years. How about until you got it out of your system? Or got sick of fixed menus in the dining car (provided there is a dining car)? I wouldn’t mind the Canadian Prestige Class lifestyle, living in Room A of the Park car at the end of the train, at a cost of approximately $50,000 in U.S. dollars every month. No trip is ever the same, after all. Or circling the United States again and again and again.

I suspect I would soon get it out of my system. But is that such a bad outcome? As it is, I step off a trip aboard the Canadian and no matter how late it was or was not, within two weeks I am pining to reboard the train to experience the joy. I take time every day to see how those trains are doing headed east and west.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten with this idea. I don’t have $50,000 a month to put toward testing this idea, and I do wonder how Super Mario finances the lifestyle he long ago adopted; maybe it is revealed in the video, which I didn’t watch. What’s your take on living the railroad life, literally?—Fred W. Frailey


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