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As a kid, my heroes were folks like Ernest Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson and Joseph Conrad. I yearned for the day I could travel to distant places and make everyone feel the magic of being in a foreign land. In college, I did some of that while living in Australia, but really notched that stick when I worked as a merchant seaman on a cargo ship from the southeast of Florida to the sister coast of Sao Paulo Brazil for the Journal of Commerce -- via Venezula in the mid-1990s. For the rest of that decade and through the first half of the next I collected datelines like postage stamps throughout Latin America, Europe and the Persian Gulf, living and working for a bit in Brazil.

Here are some of the darlings of my dispatches.

One country, two systems -- Cuba's quiet revolution --
Fairplay, May 1997

A day in the life of a seafarer -- In 1995, Mike Fabey boarded a container ship in Jacksonville, Florida bound for Brazil. He wrote a series of articles that chronicle the daily life of a seafarer.

Pirates, ports and defense -- Terrorist attacks on bridges, ports or other maritime assets -- modern-day pirates with Uzis.