Grateful, People, Travel
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Mad to Live | A letter to James

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road 

Imágenes integradas 1

I woke up this morning to read a post from an unknown girl on Jame’s Facebook wall about memories she had of him. I had been thinking about him and his adventures in Asia so I clicked to read more. By the time I finished reading her post I was in shock. She ended it with, “I can’t believe this is real. You’ll be missed.” My heart sank as I scrolled through other posts on his wall. My friend James Hart had died.

We met almost one year ago when he messaged me on Couch Surfing for a place to stay while passing through Donostia-San Sebastian before his adventure on El Camino de Santiago. I could tell that we followed the same winding roads through life. We seeked adventure and we never would stop exploring. Of course I said he could stay with me. 

We both believed that people may come into your lives for a minute, a day, or a lifetime. But for however long, it means something. And he was a part of mine for a week. This is my goodbye below: a tribute to this amazing person so many of us had the privilege to meet.

Dear James,

I’ll always smile as I remember you running across four lanes of traffic to take a picture of the sun setting along La Zurriola beach. You squealed with excitement and fumbled for your camera to try to make those sherbert colored skies last forever. You got it, but the photo couldn’t quite capture the beauty of that moment. So we sat down on a bench and took a deep breath as the last bit of sun disappeared below the horizon, ending your first day in Donostia-San Sebastian.

We bonded instantly over Kerouac and good wine. We shared travel stories and dreams. We gave each other nicknames based on our celebrity look alikes and characters they’d once played. We stayed up late talking into the night and got up early to embrace the new days.

We only shared one week together, but forever your adventurous soul will live on within me. I’ll carry you and your dreams in my back pocket like our favorite book. The pages worn with so much love and passion. For even though travel burned within our souls, we needed to be reminded every so often to never stop. We have travelled the world looking for those that were a reflection of ourselves in others. Those mad to live like us. Those burning like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars. We found that beauty, that soul burning passion, that adventure in each other.

Although our time was short together you certainly made an impact. You reminded me to never yawn at a sunset and to never make an excuse for anything. Create adventures. Travel. Write. Make memories and live in the moment – for we’re never promised tomorrow.

I can see through all the lovely messages being left on your Facebook wall that you have touched many lives (which I had no doubt about even without all the love being shared). Everyone has a beautiful story to share about you and that only makes it harder to say goodbye – you taught people how to live, when many had only ever existed.

You were a great man, and I know you’ll be missed Thatch. But I know you also lived the shit out of life – and we’ll all keep you in our hearts and share our stories about the great James Hart.

Keep on burning bright my friend.

Love from Spain,



 && the official announcement.

This entry was posted in: Grateful, People, Travel


I'm a native of Maine, currently living and working in Portland where I write about my favorite travels and new experiences. I have been published on various travel blogs as well as have collaborated on writing projects with companies such as the travel search engine Hipmunk and Spanish hotel chain Bahia Principe. When I'm not writing, I enjoy being on the ocean, sipping tasty wines, waking up to strong coffee, and sharing all these things with my friends. You can follow my writing at

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