Saturday, January 28, 2023 | Rajab 5, 1444 H
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Any more countries to visit? No, says this economist

@lijucherianoman -

“It has been a long way, many flight hours, many waiting times at the airports but all has been worth it. The reward has been very truly gratifying,” says Samuel Leon Hochman, a traveler with a world record from Colombia.

A Colombian economist has successfully set foot in all 196 independent countries. He accomplished his feat in May 2021 after he had started traveling the world over in 1981 taking him 40 long years.

As a professional traveler who travelled over all 7 continents which made his Pakistani tour guide nickname ‘The Legend.’ The legend in question is Samuel Leon Hochman who hails from Santa Marta, a port city on the coast of the Caribbean Sea in northern Colombia. The Sacramento-based International Travel News (ITN) magazine presented Leon with a citation of ‘Been There, Done That’, and the All Sovereign Nations Award.

At 70, Leon is fighting fit. Inspired by the adage, “Let your curiosity be greater than your fear,” he overcame several obstacles and travelled to all the countries of the world.

This world traveller who fought many adversaries has vivid memories of his visit to the Sultanate in November 2014 when he passed through the GCC countries.

Says Leon, “It has been a long way, many flight hours, many waiting times at the airports, full days without sleeping but all has been worth it. The reward has been very truly gratifying.”

This remarkable achievement enabled him to publish four books in Spanish about his travel trips made between 1981 and 2021.

In his book, Leon highlights the hospitality and helping nature of Omanis during his visit and recounts the magnanimity and friendship of the people of Oman.

Leon arrived from Kuwait a little after midnight in November 2014 and was surprised to see citizens wearing traditional Omani dress of dishdasha and Kuma. He went on to stay for five days moving around Muscat, Muttrah, Muscat Gate and Sea Road. He also travelled with an Omani guide to Nizwa, Al Hamra, Green Mountains, Bahla, Birkat Al Mouz, Sohar and finally crossed the border to Fujairah.

The Natural History Museum was his first itinerary in Muscat located inside the Ministry of Heritage and Culture. At the entrance to the museum he noticed an emblem of Lynx, chosen for his intrepid courage, bearing and for being the best representative of the natural life of Oman.

At the Bait Al Zubair Museum he was impressed by Falaj, the ancient irrigation system of Oman, and Barsati, a hut made of palms, few boats and a stone house.

He also witnessed the Muscat Art Festival which showcased goat sculptures painted by local artists which made him recollect how other countries showcase these artistic works with animals such as cows, flamingos and elephants.

Leon mentions how the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque looked “imposing with its gigantic dome and is an iconic architectural wonder.” The minarets, stained glass with artistic motifs from Islam and the surrounding beautiful gardens impressed him. At the end of the visit he brought some fine pashmina shawls and was invited to taste sweets and dates for free, accompanied by Kahwa.

While visiting Suhar he took the road route to the border between Oman and the UAE. This was the only border that he crossed by land during his entire tour. As a curious fact this was also the only border among all his travels in which the citizens offered him chocolates while he waited at the immigration.

Leon recollects how it all began in 1981 while living in Panama when he had to visit some regions of the Caribbean islands as part of his work. He thoroughly enjoyed the trips which he then followed up with visits to some of the neighbouring countries. Thus began a long, arduous odyssey which he completed in May 2021.

“I only thought about traveling and seeing countries where I had not been before. Years later, I noticed that I had traveled to most of the countries in the world and not too many were left, so I decided to visit all of them,” he says as a matter of fact.

Books of Leon are available on Amazon and his Instagram handle is leon_hochman_travels

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