The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


July 23, 2012

World traveler shares passion for visiting cultures abroad

JOPLIN, Mo. — Last Thursday, despite triple-digit temperatures, Shaun Steele ran with the bulls down Joplin’s Main Street with nearly 200 others, avoiding horn-helmeted roller derby players on skates. Proceeds went to the Joplin Area Catholic School system and the Ronald McDonald House. The idea of it all came from personal experiences. Back in 2007, and again in 2010, Steele found himself in Pamplona, Spain, participating in the real deal.

“It was amazing,” said Steele, who ran for a Joplin City Council seat earlier this year. “It was such a wonderful experience. It was 24 hours, seven days a week. They only stopped the bulls to clean the streets.”

During his second run, a man tripped in front of him and Steele had to leap over the unfortunate man.

“(The bulls) have bells around their necks so you can hear them running up behind you,” Steele said. “You can almost feel one of those horns going up in you, but luckily the (bulls) were a little bit away from me.”

Later, in the arena, Steele ran up to a snorting bull to touch it with his hand.

“He turned around,” he said. “I just froze. And we were staring at each other, maybe 10 feet apart at the most. And then somebody ran between us and the bull took off after him. But for that moment, I was staring into the eyes of a very big and mad bull, and I was thinking, ‘Oh, what have I done?’”

Saving for sojourns

Running with the bulls in Spain was just one of many memorable moments from Steele’s multiple trips abroad.

The Joplin resident and McAuley High School graduate loves to travel -- so much so that he works a second job at Joplin’s Club 609 to make enough extra cash, or “fun money,” as he calls it, to travel abroad during the hot summer months. Steele also is a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service

“I started a bit late,” he said. “My first trip was to Europe in 2007.”

It was a 31-day, 1,800-mile odyssey that took him from Spain all the way east to Turkey. He stayed with family or friends along the way, eagerly taking in the foreign sites and sounds.

The effect was intoxicating.

“I’d always wanted to travel,” Steel said. “Once I did, it just stuck with me. Now I just want to travel all the time.”

He’s visited Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia and Lebanon, to name a few places. On his to-do list are future visits to Ireland, the Greek Isles, India, Vietnam and Cambodia. He was back in Joplin last week after an exciting stay in Central and South America, visiting friends in Costa Rica, Bolivia and Peru.

“I love seeing the different cultures,” Steele said. “To see how they live, their lifestyles. Everybody (was) so friendly. That always gives me a little motivation to go back.”

While some Americans visiting foreign places are glad to return home, Steele says the opposite happens to him. He hates it when his trips come to an end.

“When you meet people who are friendly to you, it’s like having another family,” Steele said. “To leave them, it feels like your are leaving your own home.”

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